Last update: 06-Dec-2013 9:53 pm
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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UWI lecturer knocks 2014 budget
UWI economics lecturer Dr Roger Hosein has derided much of the 2014 budget measures as “foolish economics.” Speaking at a post-budget forum organised by the UWI Alumni Association on September 13, Dr Hosein said while the unemployment rate had been seriously decreasing since 1990, to the five per cent the Finance Minister boasted about in his budget presentation, it was really an artificial unemployment rate because while the private sector was starved for workers, the government had about ten per cent of the labour force locked up in programmes like Colour Me Orange. Ridiculing Cepep as a programme where people started work at 8 am and ended at 7.45 am, he suggested changes to benefit single mothers, but they must be over 18 “so they cannot go and spread joy and benefit from it,” and force fathers to take an interest in their children’s education, suggesting they show evidence that they attended parent/teacher meetings.
He said with such measures “we will kill this Cepep mentality in this generation.”
“We cannot afford Gate,” saying that the money was really benefiting landlords to build apartments on the periphery of the UWI St Augustine campus. He said students are taking the Gate money to buy mochachinos and cappuchinos at the campus coffee shop, spinning rims for their cars and paying $2,500 and $3,000 a month rents outside the campus for rooms with air conditioning, cable and other amenities. Stating that he helped design the Gate programme, Hosein said another of its major problems was that it was not helping needy households as much as the children of wealthy parents. He said the Government’s own statistics showed that low income households were among the lowest participants in Gate, while there were higher levels of participation by middle and high income families. He said the figures also showed that young people from urban families benefited more than rural ones.
Decrying this as “foolish economics,” a mantra he used repeatedly throughout his presentation, Dr Hosein said he had a problem with his tax dollars paying for students to drink coffee at the campus coffee shop and buy fancy rims for their cars. He said he would prefer to buy each one a bottle of Nescafe. He said another way Gate money was also being wasted was by encouraging people in setting up private tertiary educational institutions, some of which were merely “production mills.” He said he had taught in some of the best of these institutions and in one a principal approached him and told him to “set an exam the students could pass.” However, it was not all negativity. He commended the Finance Minister for reducing value added tax (VAT) and duties on inputs into manufacturing and the creative industries sector and for signing an agreement to build a port and dry-docking facility in Trinidad.
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