The presentation of our annual budget is perhaps the most anticipated event on the local parliamentary calendar. And with two elections constitutionally due in 14 months, there was a certain air of expectancy that preceded this one which was premised on a certain price for oil and gas.

Since I am not an economist or any foreteller of the fortunes of the energy sector, I will not advance a view on the achieve-ability of a $47.749 billion revenue prediction or on the practicability and viability of some of the measures announced.

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What captured my attention was not so much the fiscal measures announced during a presentation that spanned in excess of three hours, but what happened immediately after. For in the many years that I have been attentive to budget speeches, it was the first time that I had witnessed such rapturous, elated and ecstatic celebrations following one such presentation. Without a doubt, the greatest fanfare that ever followed any statement of this country’s finances was budget 2019/2020. Never before was there such thunderous applause and desk thumping by the members of the Government bench. There was jubilant laughter and wide grins. There were high fives and handshakes. For that moment the parliamentary chamber shook and rattled from desk thumping so hard and loud that it may have destabilised the structural integrity of the woodwork of the hallowed house.


IT is a well-established fact that politicians consort with gang leaders and other nefarious characters in the quest for electoral advantage. It is an ugly development in T&T politics, spawned in the vacuum created by decades of poor parliamentary representation which has brought gangsters into the role of political enforcers and organisers of the vote for a price. It is a devil’s deal that has corrupted the democratic process, emasculated the parliament and shifted power to dangerous extra-parliamentary forces. Nonetheless, it is an option embraced by politicians in pursuit of office by any means necessary and regardless to price.

Elijah Cummings, the 12-term Democratic congressman who passed away several days ago at the age of 68, belonged to a political culture that seems increasingly remote from the incivility which prevails in the Age of Trump. A descendant of sharecroppers from South Carolina, he grew up in a working-class home—his father worked at a chemical factory, his mother as a house cleaner and at a pickle factory —in heavily racialised Baltimore.

“Mad house”, even in quotes, just isn’t “kool”. We use the terminology without rhyme, reason, rationale. Or ration. What’s a mad house? Well, any house can be one. A mad house can be a home where parents are squabbling or at fisticuffs. A mad house can be a home where children have no discipline. A mad house can be a newsroom at crunch time. A mad house can be Parliament any time.

RUSSIA and its Syrian ally Bashar al-Assad win, the Kurds lose, and the United States leaves in disgrace. It has been a hectic few days on the Turkish-Syrian border.

Ancel Roget has me confused. His utterances seem like those of the present Prime Minister and his Finance Minister—to change subtly over time. It was reported on October 17, 2018, in an interview with Roget, that the OWTU planned to propose a “lease to own” proposal to the Prime Minister.