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posted 30 Apr 2014, 19:06 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 3 May 2014, 04:41 by Dave Smith ]

Nobody want to plant the corn everybody want to raid the barn.

(Anthony B)


Mary King, an economist, and former government Minister, penned an article in the Business Guardian of Sunday 20th, April 2014 under the heading “Investing for the long term”. In that article she commented on an address by Minister of Finance, Larry Howai, to the Centre for Money and Finance Venture Capital Seminar.


The Finance Minister, only recently, also  expressed his concern over the fact that the T&T economy is too dependent on gas and oil and it would appear that in his address to that Seminar he took it a bit further, by proposing that Venture Capital  is one avenue through which the region can restore growth.


She said that  he warned against reliance on the traditional debt and equity financing arrangements to finance commercial activity. She went on to say that he spoke about the benefits to be derived whereby nascent companies can ensure that they build and grow by becoming a breeding ground for knowledge transfer, strategic counsel, sound governance and application of cutting edge commercial best practice.


She said that he concluded by saying that the willingness to undertake risk and fail also makes venture capital unique for our economic transformation. She also made the point that in order “to be innovative and globally competitive we need not only acquire and implement knowledge, but also to create knowledge”.


King was critical of Howai’s focus on one aspect of a national innovation system, without mentioning the enormous constraints that our plantation history would place on its implementation. And in her usual style, was critical of the mentality of the business class who are only interested in making a fast buck and are not prepared to take any risk.


My Grand Father used to say “they would not spend a penny to see a red ants wine” You see the reality is that Mary King no doubt, has come to the realization that her relentless campaign for greater emphasis to be placed on developing the on-shore economy, is not gaining, and will not gain any traction, if the country is to depend on the current crop of capitalist leeches who occupy that Chamber Pot down at Westmoorings. These leeches much prefer to wait on the government to use public funds to invest in these new areas and when they become successful they then call on the government to privatize such enterprises.


They are not interested in spending money to open up new economic areas. It was the government that invested in the Point Lisas Industrial Estate. And I am sure we all can recall how the foreign capitalist hounded our country out of the steel market on the grounds that ISCOTT had an unfair advantage, because it was being subsidised with cheap gas and government subventions.


Public funds were used to bring into existence Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance, Trinidad and Tobago Home Mortgage Bank, Point Lisas Industrial Port Development Company, Phoenix Park Gas to Liquids Company and now that these assets have been proven to be extremely profitable, the leeches both local and foreign want to get their hands on them!

Privatization is the most glaring example, of how capitalist democracy is not and, will never be, democracy of the majority. One would assume, that a government which purports to represent the interests of the majority would consider it to be its duty to use the profits earned from these assets to build more homes for the homeless, provide care for displaced persons, build a more modern facility for the treatment of those in our society who are mentally challenged and so on.


Take a close look at what is happening in our economy and you will discover, that the areas in which the government has implemented the privatization strategy, are in the following: Road construction, health, finance and energy to name a few. In the health sector, the privatization is not complete, no doubt because the entities (the RHAs) appear to be too large for local or foreign interest to invest and because the National Insurance Scheme is yet to have a Medical Insurance component.


One of the constraints on the attachment of such a component is that of the cost to the Exchequer, because the youth population is growing slowly and the demographic age sixty to eighty is getting larger and more costly to maintain. Another constraint on the complete privatization of the health sector has to do with economies of scale. Our population is 1.3 million-more or less, and the catchment area for some of these RHAs may not be as profitable as they were first thought to be. But notwithstanding these minor constraints, privatization is taking place in the health sector.


Private Hospitals, Medical Centres and Clinics are appearing all over the place. The country is infested with them. They are appearing just like Chinese Restaurants and Groceries. So, while we are hearing quite a lot of chatter about governance, procurement, transparency, section 34, the leaking of a confidential Flying Squad report, allegedly from a government agency, none of those persons who have been chattering almost every day about those issues have expressed one single word of anger over the planned privatization of the family jewels.


Mary King, who has pointed out, quite properly, that “The history of the economy points to the inability of the current private sector even with government involvement to diversify the economy” has not expressed any adverse view against privatization of profitable state assets.


What is clear to me is that the political entities who come to us for our votes, have all agreed with the neo-liberal policy of privatization. They are all in the same camp as the Chairman of First Citizens Bank; in that there is nothing morally or ethically wrong with stealing from the majority to give to the rich minority. We have to be able to read the play in order to avoid getting caught in 2015.


We have to understand that it is One Smart and Two Smart who continue to trick us into voting for one or the other. It does not really matter to them who wins because they always win. We must begin to understand that these people are not of a higher moral standing than the ordinary con artist. Their main interest is to get their hands on the money bag - the treasury.


So in 2010 Two Smart came to us and say One Smart is corrupt; we must move him. We agreed and we move One Smart. Now One Smart is telling us that Two Smart is stealing more than them when they were in power, so we must move Two Smart in 2015. The sad thing is we may well agree with One Smart on the grounds that One Smart perfected the art of stealing under the table, while Two Smart, being newer to the game, is not yet aware that there are certain moral and ethical principles to be observed in the science of corruption (banditry). These are the issues which One Smart is annoyed about.


We have to begin to understand that these political entities, inclusive of that one whose name I shall not call for fear of being struck down by some unseen hands from the shadow of that cloak and dagger world, are all fronting for big local capital and foreign transnational corporations who control international finance, energy and construction.


This is why we must begin to investigate what is behind the chatter coming from talk show hosts and certain groups which have taken up the mantle of Minister Cadiz whose claim to fame was that he was able to mobilize hundreds of citizens against crime. He too was about saving T&T.


When you hear the chatter, try and remove the background noise and you will begin to hear the song they are playing, which is: we rip them off again! In the background you will also hear the voice of their handlers from whom they are taking their instructions. Remember Sidney Knox, Commander Bull Moose of NAR fame? Need I say more! It was Mr. Basdeo Panday, former Prime Minister, who told the country during the tenure of the NAR that there was a cabinet within a cabinet. Let’s listen and pick sense out of nonsense...