Category Archives: Finance

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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Think small, score big

By Raffique Shah
June 03, 2020

Raffique ShahMemo #3 to Post-COVID-19 Recovery Team: Friends, Trinis, countrymen (and women). I feel certain that by now you will have submitted preliminary recommendations to the Government. I imagine the most urgent challenge is the state of the country’s finances, how best to manage our dwindling resources and severely reduced revenues, balancing these with servicing our huge debt—well over TT $100 billion—repayments being some $4 billion per annum.
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Do not squander this opportunity

By Raffique Shah
May 26, 2020

Raffique ShahIf there is substance to the saying that in every crisis there are opportunities, then the COVID-19 pandemic has delivered spectacularly, if only we the inhabitants of the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago would recognise them for what they are, grab them, and infuse them into the post-pandemic recovery narrative and action plans, just so we understand they may never be on offer again.
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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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Memo 02 to Team Recovery: Freeze motor imports

By Raffique Shah
May 4, 2020

Raffique ShahMemo 02 to the post-COVID-19 Recovery Team: Gentlemen, and the few ladies among you, greetings. I have chosen to communicate with you in full glare of the public because I do not wish to be seen as saying and doing nothing when my country needed every citizen to contribute what he or she could in the aftermath of a disaster such as the world has never experienced.
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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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A COVID Recovery Road Map with Too Many Junctions

By Stephen Kangal
April 26, 2020

Stephen KangalA third Road Multi-Sectoral and micro and macro conceptualised Map is now being engineered and brainstormed by the PNM Government. Both the previous 2020 and 2030 Vision Road Maps were shelved because the PNM is politically notorious for conceptualization plans but total failures when it comes to critical implementation commitments.
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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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