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Viagara UNC-Style
Posted: Wednesday, October 2, 2002

By Stephen Kangal MOM

The election proposal announced by UNC Leader Basdeo Panday to reward new babies with a $1500 UTC "booty account" constitutes nothing short of a nonsensical, baby booming, vote- catching, money- dispensing policy that remotely has nothing to do with the problems of youths or cultivating thrift (Newsday Sept.30, p.5).

Is this a transfer of state funds to revitalise the UTC that is awash with liquidity or is it a Trojan Mare gift that can back fire on T&T and liquidate the gains hitherto achieved by the FPA for political expediency?

Does T&T have a population growth/ manpower problem as Germany, Scandinavia and Canada and need to increase its work force? What is the rationale for this policy that seems to have been plucked out or materialized from the precincts of the Centre of Excellence?

What in fact, are the demands of the prevailing socio-economic milieu to justify the need for this booty incentive to be given to the baby-booming business? Is it intended to alter the racial imbalance favourable to the UNC’s future election fortunes? I am convinced that the UNC is not sufficiently aware of the implications of this pie in the sky policy.

This policy must be assessed against the background of:

Shortage of educational opportunities at all levels as well as inadequate housing, health care etc.

The current unemployment problem (12%) which will be exacerbated by capital –intensive, jobless growth in the economy.

The increasing incidence of HIV aids owing to unprotected sex.

The current trend towards smaller, well cared for families globally.

Current annual population growth (18,000) is adequate to sustain our manpower requirements and does not needs any form of disguised UNC Viagara.

Progress achieved by the FPA during the last 30 years in stabilising population growth and encouraging responsible family practices.

Forty per cent of T&T families are already headed by single parents with its attendant social problems and deviant behaviour that pose enormous challenges to achieving a stable learning ambience in the educational system/classroom setting. Are we encouraging the growing trend/incidence of single parent families?

Are we contributing to the poverty trap since 300,000 Trinbagonians are already disadvantaged?

Is this proposal intended to accelerate the demographics favourable to the UNC to counteract and neutralize the proposed political union between T&T and St.Vincent and Grenada announced by Prime Minister Manning?

This policy has no clear socio-economic objective except reinforcing the principle of ethnic security because of the higher fertility rate among Indo-T&T.

Are we going back to the era of planting rice and sugar when the size of Indian families was a function of providing labour for the fields? In fact where are we heading? This policy is an enigma devoid of distinguishing social objectives.

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