Friday, June 10, 2016


Reproduced unedited from the TRINIDAD EXPRESS - 09 June 2016
Colm Imbert
Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s dismissive response to Opposition Senator Wade Mark’s query about the purpose of the still mysterious Heritage and Stabilisation Fund drawdown registers as a slap in the face to the T&T public.

Mr Imbert probably felt he was putting the nosy UNC Senator in his place. His 11-word answer to explain withdrawal of $2.5 billion from the precious stash of national reserves, however, spoke volumes about his contempt for transparency in public affairs.

Certainly, the public are entitled to know, in detail less stingy than that provided, why the need, at this particular time, to dip into the HSF, and on what the funds thereby liberated are to be expended.

Mr Imbert provided no detail beyond the bland rationale: “Financing of the service of Trinidad and Tobago for the year 2016.” 

Then he took his seat, as if having discharged a responsibility to those, including the viewing public, hard of hearing, or weak of understanding.

It amounted to a performance that many members of the public must find alarming. Viewers and hearers must no doubt also recall that Mr Imbert, in his turn as an opposition loud-hailer, would mightily have blasted as “arrogance” any such governmental response.

Different standards for public discourse are now being proposed for acceptance by those aligned with the present administration.

As much is to be inferred from approving comments by Economic Development Advisory Board chairman Terrence Farrell. Dr Farrell apparently found nothing amiss in the style and the content of Mr Imbert’s condescending brush-off to expressions of legitimate curiosity.

“I don’t understand the surprise,” said Dr Farrell.

Less well-connected citizens had relied upon Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s December 29 statement of intent to withdraw from the fund $1 billion in 2016 and $0.5 billion in 2017.

Six months later, the expectation that a drawdown inexplicably exceeding the Rowley projection by $1 billion should not stir “surprise” unacceptably takes the public for granted.

The Finance Minister had indeed long signalled that he might need to withdraw from the fund carefully built up over nearly a decade. The HSF had been set up with the need in mind of some future national rainy day.

But sovereign wealth thereby set aside, a laudable amount for a small energy-producing country, is hardly unlimited. If the administration presumes the right to keep taking secret $2.5 billion nibbles, who is to know when the fund would have been all used up, why and how?

Mr Imbert’s non-forthcoming attitude communicates a disappointing message of the government’s lack of decent respect for the T&T people’s right to know about matters touching so sensitively on their economic well-being.
Express Editorial:


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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai