Trinidad and Tobago already cashless, Mr PM

Prime Minister Dr Rowley - ROGER JACOB
Prime Minister Dr Rowley - ROGER JACOB

THE EDITOR: The Prime Minister is looking forward to TT becoming a cashless society. According to Dr Rowley, whose area of study is rocks and gases, a cashless society will have a tremendous effect on this country.

Not to be outdone, Finance Minister Colm Imbert also proudly parroted his leader’s sentiments. “T&T must continue its drive toward a cashless society,” he stoutly declared.

I foresee the introduction of a hodgepodge scheme very much like the disastrous December 2019 demonetisation of the hundred-dollar bill, which led to widespread panic and unimaginable stress for many. I truly hope that this is not the case and that these two erudite gentlemen were simply trying to impress their respective audiences that they are
au courant with global developments and the latest buzzwords.

The pompous declarations by the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister reveal just how far removed these two are from the reality of life for ordinary citizens in this country. It exposes how uncaring the government is. Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales’s brown-water spurts intermittently from our taps, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan’s roads are rapidly mashing up our vehicles, and National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds slumbers peacefully while people are killed left, right and centre.

In the midst of this mayhem, the Prime Minister and his sidekick are delivering grandiose speeches that in no way ease our daily struggles to survive.

The Prime Minister pronounced that moving toward a cashless society would reduce criminal activity. Absolute rubbish! Effective police work, independent of political interference, will reduce crime. A cashless economy engenders different kinds of crimes – cybercrimes. Rowley and his motley bunch cannot even catch criminals who boldly stare into security cameras, so how are they going to catch perpetrators in cyberspace?

The government has proven that it is impotent in the face of cybercrime. Recent data breaches at TSTT and SWRHA present stark, indisputable evidence of them getting caught with their pants down. As a result of their predictable incompetence, our personal information is now on the dark web to be utilised by perpetrators as they please.

In the recent past, heavy rains, thunder and lightning caused major power outages. Everything crashed. There was no electricity, no internet, no phones, no cable. Time stood still. Have Rowley and Imbert considered the required infrastructure for their proposed digitalisation of our monetary system? Are they even aware of the systemic risks?

Many of us keep spare change in the car for beggars and street vendors who come, hands outstretched, to our windows. Going cashless denies us the privilege of helping these unfortunate people and doing our little bit to give back to society. How will these ill-fated people survive? Cashlessness ignores the status of immigrants, senior citizens, the barely literate, the homeless, and those without bank accounts. The Prime Minister should understand the need to have a little cash in the pocket to buy chips from the neighbourhood parlour in Tobago. Very often cash is king.

Rowley said the world has changed and TT must keep up. He wants to put us alongside the best. He should start with a reliable water supply, smooth roads, and ensuring our personal safety. He should start working on crimeless before studying cashless. We are already cashless.


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"Trinidad and Tobago already cashless, Mr PM"

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