Monday, April 22, 2024

WILD COOT: A Trinidad parliamentarian

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A fellow from Latin America, friend of mine too, made a cogent observation to me the other day. I dismissed it outright, but it left a sobering impression on me that today I am seriously thinking about. Why do we not have a representative from Trinidad sitting in our Parliament, and also in our Cabinet? I expressed this suggestion to an old lady friend of mine; her reaction was startling – “Hey Wild Coot, that’s a good idea.”

Maybe when next we get a chance to speak to the lady, we shall ask her to select such a person, not within her parliament, who would be appropriate for the job. Seeing how Trinidadians are not known for “bobol”, he would be able to properly instruct our fellows so that their affairs would not be bandied about the country and Sam Couch and the Duppy know their business.

This representative would speak for the fellows to the people in such a way that he would be able to obfuscate the facts so that even the more intelligent people in the country would be fooled. Economists and accountants who are now airing opposing views would be so confused that they would be silent.

The lady said that a Trinidadian representative in our House of Parliament would be cognizant of the impact of high food cost originating from Trinidad, and would ask the authorities there to ease up. They could ease up on gas prices too. He would also be able to make a plea whenever he goes home to the fellows to desist from further investment lest more than one representative would become necessary.

A Trinidad member of parliament would be needed, according to this lady, to look after the wide interests of Trinidadian companies that proliferate throughout the island, so that the whole island does not go bankrupt from overcrowding. Going bankrupt would occur when all the profits have to be exported in dividends annually to Trinidad or wherever.

Being a foreigner, our people would have more confidence in him and would more readily believe the reports emanating from the government sources. He would explain to us why the National Insurance funds were raided to the extent that its liquidity was reduced from $722 million by almost half to $360 million between 2007 and September 2014. He would tell us that the funds are safely invested in Debentures and Treasury Bills that have increased by $1 720 billion since 2006. He would then explain to the easily duped public where the funds have gone and that the fund is stronger for government’s involvement.

This Trinidad parliamentarian would explain that Barbados was on a ‘tipping point’, and vulnerable to vultures that may want to take advantage of our position when promising construction investment in the island. He may say that due to our perilous (or parlous) position we are unable to go to the market and would have to wait until the market comes to us.

The Trinidad parliamentary representative would have to be a fearless person. He might even disclose that the figures quoted in our report for domestic and external debt, as at September 2014 of $8.5 billion, is double the $4.3 billion figure of 2006 not taking into account other obligation claims.

“But Wild Coot,” said this old lady, like a tick that would not go away, “what is the impact of the $235 million draw down from the commercial banks? Was that to reduce debt, and if so where does it leave the treasury for money to run the country? Is that why VAT and income tax refunds are now offered as certificates? Cud’dear, I feel sorry for the minister. I fully endorse calling in the Trinidad parliamentarian to help voice the concerns and help out the Minister”.

The old lady stringently required the Wild Coot not to call her name, as she does not want to be identified, in keeping with the tradition in Barbados. However she suggested that joining forces with Trinidad might be one way of saving us from the venomous clutches of the IMF who might even recommend a pole tax for the men and a chatter tax on cell phones for the women.

But Wild Coot, are you serious? I agree that drastic times require drastic measures. You are thinking outside the box.

• Harry Russell is a banker.

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