Category Archives: Recession

Pass the teacup

By Raffique Shah
April 12, 2021

Raffique ShahThere must be an ultra-secret super-Lotto somewhere in the universe, where only the super-wealthy and governments-by-vaps play for super-stakes—you know, jackpots paid in gazillions, in currencies-of-choice, and in cash, s’il vous plait. Really, there must be. Why else would Finance Minister Colm Imbert and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley strut around a country that looks like an abandoned steam locomotive whose era has gone, they looking cooler than the proverbial cucumber, seemingly without care or worry, while lesser mortals like your humble scribe worry to no end over the near-evaporation of foreign exchange, the unavailability of any good or service that we can sell in large enough volumes that will yield the billions of US dollars we require for our sustenance?
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We will survive

By Raffique Shah
March 01, 2021

Raffique ShahI cannot claim to have conducted any scientific survey by interviewing samples of the population the way political pollsters do, but I feel certain if I did, I would find that as many as seven out of every ten adults believe that ‘Trinidad and Tobago gone through’, in the broadest sense of that colloquial term.

Put in standard English, that implies that the economy has collapsed, institutions have imploded, law and order do not exist, poverty is of near-epidemic proportions, and every metric one can imagine shows a failed state on the brink of implosion.
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Now Dasheen, Callaloo, stir interest

By Raffique Shah
November 04, 2020

Raffique ShahA few weeks ago, in this space, and not for the first time, I made a case for stimulating the production of local foods as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign foods, and in particular, to chip away at the staggering TTD $5 billion per year in foreign exchange that we must find to pay for just about everything we eat and drink. However, I made the mistake of using the headline “Cocoa, Cassava to the rescue”. I was almost laughed out of town by many of my friends and some of my detractors, who chorused: Shah, yuh want to kill we with cassava!
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Cocoa, Cassava to the rescue

By Raffique Shah
October 13, 2020

Raffique ShahFor the first time in many years, food security and food production got some attention by a government in a budget presentation. This happened only because the Covid-19 crisis exposed the country’s vulnerability, its dependence on imports for almost everything we consume, especially food for basic sustenance. For decades, voices in the wilderness have cried out for the powers-that-be and consumers to understand the plight of a nation that was not producing much of its food, how it could be driven to its knees in the face of some global crisis. We didn’t think of a pandemic or plague then. We thought of war. But Covid-19 altered everything so fundamentally, we must be thankful to it as much as we are fearful of its deadly consequences.
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Periscope on Budget

By Raffique Shah
October 05 2020

Raffique ShahI am hopeful that Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s Budget 2021 will remain open to ideas that may come from ordinary citizens or professionals or anyone else even after he will have presented it to Parliament tomorrow. This is no ordinary Appropriation Bill. It is, or ought to be, an extraordinary document that contains the sum total of citizens’ prescriptions for rescuing and resuscitating an economy that has been battered and bruised by several governments over the past, say, forty years, and rendered semi-comatose by blows from the Covid-19 pandemic.
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Compassion and consumer power

By Raffique Shah
May 12, 2020

Raffique ShahBased on comments I’ve heard or read in the media on the likely economic realities that will confront us when Government eases the COVID-19 “lockdown”, I am worried about the future of Trinidad and Tobago. No one disputes that the country faces enormous problems, what with the near-collapse of the oil and gas sectors, the closure of several petrochemical plants in Point Lisas, and the absence of other export-driven industries that could earn substantial foreign exchange.
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In Defense of Teachers

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
April 29, 2020

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeAlberta Smith (not her real name), my dear friend, has been a primary school teacher for thirty years. She didn’t like last week’s article and didn’t put water in her mouth to tell me so. She sent the following response which I was free to reproduce once I omitted her real name. She wrote:
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Road Map To Recovery Team Needs Rethinking

By A. Hotep
April 17, 2020

Road Map To Recovery Team Needs RethinkingPM Dr Keith Rowley’s “Road Map to Recovery” team is mostly the same tone-deaf people who have us in our financial and social crisis today. There was no inclusion of members of the African community who advocate for addressing our racial and cultural issues which remain at the heart of disunity, insecurity and discriminatory social behaviours in this country. Why was the Opposition leader not invited to be part of this group? I am not aware of members of this team placing environmental concerns at the top of their agenda. Where are those who are concerned about the development of our agriculture and water management sectors? I rather suspect some feminists would also have similar concerns about being omitted.
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Hooked on foreign foods

By Raffique Shah
April 14, 2020

Raffique ShahLarge mobs of presumably hungry consumers virtually laid siege to fast-foods restaurants across the country last Monday evening after Prime Minister Keith Rowley announced that all restaurants and retail food services will be closed for business until the end of this month. Embedded in that eruption was a conundrum this country faces as it battles the COVID-19 virus.
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After crisis food rationing?

By Raffique Shah
April 06, 2020

Raffique ShahWhen we will have overcome the COVID-19 multi-pronged attack on Trinidad and Tobago, we will face associated problems ranging from the economy under severe stress such as it has never been before, with unemployment at a crisis level, disruption of the education system leaving all stakeholders confused, and possible shortage of foods. Just when the population thought it was safe to exhale, having survived the deadliest pandemic in modern history, the bugle will sound summoning couch-and television-weary troops to do battle again, and likely yet again, for love of country.
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