Category Archives: Finance

Trinis can, must, do this

By Raffique Shah
October 12, 2023

Raffique ShahFinance Minister Colm Imbert is too experienced in Cabinet to not know when he fixed the new minimum wage per hour—TT$20.50—he was, in fact, proclaiming a not-so-new maximum wage.

During my years as an active trade unionist, I became all too familiar with this legitimate, lawful reaction of many employers, mostly in the commercial, agricultural and some heartless manufacturers, stating to anyone who seeks employment with them, “You will be paid government’s rates…that is, $20.50 an hour, $164 a day for daily paid and roughly $3,300 for the month.”
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Shame on you, FCB!

By Raffique Shah
June 11, 2023

Raffique ShahI never thought the day would come when I would find it necessary to write a column like this—coming down like the proverbial tonne of bricks on a financial institution that thousands of patriots like me breathed life into well before it was born, and certainly before the people who currently occupy its management chairs were even ideas, far less born.

But after my experiences over the past few weeks, and listening to other customers complain, I felt compelled to raise the issues in the public forum.
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The screw and screwdriver

By Raffique Shah
April 25, 2022

Raffique ShahBy late last Tuesday eve­ning, the universe seemed to me to have remained intact as we have known it from creation, or more accurately, since we arrived on it—vast, mysterious, constantly moving—and the Earth did not stand still, as some politicians had hoped would happen, in a celestial display of anger by the gods against satanic price increases in auto fuels imposed by the heartless Government of Trinidad and Tobago on its people.
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In a ‘freeness’ state

By Raffique Shah
April 18, 2022

Raffique ShahIf we think this point in our history is the worst in our existence as a sovereign state, then it’s easy to blame the incumbent government for taking us there.

After all, the People’s National Movement (PNM) held power longest—35 of 44 years in the last century, 30 of those consecutively (1956-1986), and unless the party is removed from office by means other than elections—its current term expires in 2025, it will have ruled for 19 years in this quarter-century.
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Creating a failed state

By Raffique Shah
April 11, 2022

“Breathes there the man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said¸
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf, all in self,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And doubly dying, shall go down,
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour’d and unsung.”

—Sir Walter Scott (1771—1832)

Raffique ShahRarely do I use poetry in my prose, and rarer still my use of such an extensive quote to open my column. However, as I pondered the issue I want to address, and to bring it to life quite differently to readers and, hopefully, more readers and leaders in the society, those considerations guided me to one of Scotland’s great men of letters, Sir Walter Scott. He succinctly summed up the depths to which many leaders and their vocal supporters descend into and the ostracism they deserve for such sins.
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Phase in rate hikes

By Raffique Shah
March 21, 2022

Raffique ShahI have not been invited by the Regulated Industries Commission or anyone in the Public Utilities Ministry to submit my thoughts on proposed rate increases for potable water, electricity and other vital services with which the Government is obligated to provide all citizens. I have heard and read of residents in certain communities who intend to oppose any rate hikes, even property tax. They claim they do not receive adequate water, hence they should not be made to pay for services undelivered. Others with political agendas shout out loudly that they will not pay any taxes or rates—period.
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A call for social justice

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
February 15, 2022

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeI am not sure that I feel the same angst Ralph Maraj (a fellow columnist), former archbishop Joseph Harris, Raymond Tim Kee (deceased), Ken Gordon and others feel about the debilitating effects that Carnival has on the moral and ethical standards of our people.

Maraj laments: “Our society is threatened when tens of thousands come near to nudity, one step away from copulating on the streets. This corrosive cultural debasement has been eating at the nation’s innards, weakening the social fabric, nurturing generation after generation of young adults who are adrift, driven mainly by pleasure and materialism, so lacking in intellectual and spiritual depth they could fete every day with no commitment whatsoever to society and community.” (Sunday Express, February 6.)
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Talk to me about patriotism

By Raffique Shah
January 24, 2022

Raffique ShahIt didn’t take Nobel Prize-winning economists such as St Lucia’s Sir Arthur Lewis, or the USA’s Milton Friedman or Paul Krugman, to project that as the world economy emerged from an unprecedented virtual lockdown that lasted three, four, who knows how many years during the Covid pandemic, commodity prices, especially those of goods and services that are critical to the recovery of countries across the world, would rise rapidly, putting them beyond the reach of the poorest nations and the poor in every nation.
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Covid and gas pains: who’s crying now?

By Raffique Shah
January 03, 2022

Raffique ShahThe Covid-induced confinement imposed on citizens by the Government provoked a range of reactions—from anger and drunkenness to solitude and self-pity. Some persons came perilously close to crossing the thin line between sanity and insanity.

I was lucky to have lived the multi-faceted life I did before the pandemic—soldier, adventurer, prisoner, politician, teacher and a range of other life-skills that prepared me for just about anything I might face during the pandemic. Of course, as a human being and more so a humanist, I was shocked by the mass of people globally who were impacted by the virus, by how many were dying “live” before the lenses of reporters’ cameras, ­agony etched on their faces, questions writ large on them: why me?
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We Ent Wukking Anyhow

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
October 11, 2021

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeKaren Tesheira, in an insightful presentation on the budget 2022 statement, said, “A budget is far more than a number of figures cobbled together. It speaks to the government priorities, its values, its vision and its imperatives—in other words, its strategic plan for its citizenry.”

She titled her remarks “Government for the Rich and Powerful”, and reminded us of one of the main conclusions in the European Bank’s “Economic Inclusion Strategy [EIS]” (2017–2021): “The opening up of economic opportunities to previously under-served social groups is integral to achieving a transition towards sustainable market economies.” (Express, October 6)
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