Help T&T become a Real Place

Our Prime Minister recently commented that some idiots say that Trinidad is not a “real-place” and whenever he reads that statement, he wishes that they could end up in Ukraine. Well Mr. Prime Minister, you cannot wish me to the Ukraine nor can you revoke my citizenship but we can play the board game “Not a Real Place”.  Maybe it will help you to understand some of the opinions being expressed when our people repeat the phrase “Trinidad is not a real place”.

Not A Real Place is touted as the highest quality board game in Trinidad and Tobago (my favourite however is “Doh Say Dat”).   It is a creative parody of the globally popular game “Monopoly” but littered with our Trini nuances.

For example, you can take corrupt actions to achieve your goal of winning the game.  Along the way potholes will stop your progress and owning nepotism cards will help you win.  The game accurately reflects our reality.  Daily social and traditional media bring to our attention corrupt practices which have almost become the norm while our leaders speak of solutions that have not been successful or impactful.  Daily potholes impede our progress while we witness nepotism helping incompetent persons to take leadership roles.

The continued repetition of the phrase “Trinidad is not a real place” is simply another cry from citizens asking our leaders to be fair to all and stop this binary response of if you are not with me (PNM) you are against me (UNC). 

We have become so politically minded that a recent show promoter was bold enough to offer a job to Errol Fabien and place as a condition “No anti-PNM jokes eh”.  Thankfully Errol Fabien was able to walk away from the opportunity to make some money.  How many other creatives can walk away? In his Facebook post, Errol said: “I need the work, but I need my manhood more. I did not do the show”.

These toxic political shenanigans must come to an end for us to develop as a nation and maximize the range of talent available to us.  It is unquestionable that as a country we have the talent to transform our nation and pull us up from this decline we are experiencing but what is needed is a government that is acting in the best interest of all, whether they are UNC or PNM, Indian/African/Syrian/Chinese/European, rich or poor, living in the north or in central, big business or small entrepreneur.

We are all Trinidadians, living in a beautiful space that to some seems unreal but underneath it all Trinidad and Tobago is a real place that is underperforming, to put it mildly.   Unfortunately, the game “Not A Real Place” is a real example of where we are now.  So, Mr. Prime Minister, while your wish that citizens go to the Ukraine will never be realized, it is in your hands to reduce corruption, potholes, and nepotism.  You can help our twin island nation become a real place.

New Marathon route off-course

Less than 1% of the global population finish a marathon every year.  My sincere congratulations to the 50 or so persons who completed this year’s Trinidad and Tobago International Marathon (TTIM).  You have demonstrated the grit, tenacity, determination, and dedication necessary to complete 26.2 miles (42.16) km on the road.  I salute you.

2023 marked the 41st staging of the TTIM and the first significant change of the marathon course that I am aware of.  In changing the marathon course, we have destroyed social activities which have made a difference to the people of our country.

That 26.2-mile run was one of a few activities which linked north and central Trinidad.  I recall my first marathon in 2006 when I became friendly with another runner as we traversed the course.  He admitted to me that it was the first time that he had visited Central Trinidad and how happy and surprised he was to experience another part of our lovely island.

As we ran through Cunupia, he was amazed that the rum shops and bars were open, playing music and their patrons cheering on the runners and offering them a drink or two as a way of helping them to the finish line.  He was surprised that there were rhythm sections on the pavement adding to the excitement.

The next jaw-dropping experience for him was watching the sunrise over the Caroni Plains.  As we approached the old Bailey bridge over the Caroni River, it was magical. It was indeed a uniquely beautiful experience to see the sun rise above the sugar cane fields while the darkness disappeared.  All along people cheered and encouraged the runners either from the banisters of their homes or on the side of the road.

By the time we hit Curepe, the sun had risen and again the patrons of the rum shops and bars stepped out to encourage the runners.  The mood of support and encouragement changed once we turned left onto the Eastern Main Road and headed into Port of Spain. Along the Eastern Main Road, we were generally heckled with some exceptions being persons bringing out their water hoses to help the marathon strugglers cool down.  The warmth and support increased again once we hit the 21-mile mark.

This old marathon course was gorgeous even though it was not closed to traffic as it likely would have been in developed countries.  We have replaced it with a dirty, boring, channel-like course where the maxi drivers are hustling to earn a living and don’t care about the marathoners.

My wish is for the TTIM to improve and develop a course that is scenic, closed, and focused on supporting the marathoners.  There have been occasions when more than 500 locals have challenged themselves to conquer the 26.2 miles (42.16) km. There is no reason why that could not happen again.  After 41 years, we owe it to future generations to stage a marathon that is beautiful and positively reflective of our country.

Dr. Terrence Farrell – Economic Outlook for 2023

An Economic Outlook for 2023 as presented by Terence Farrell, (Ph.D., LL.B, LEC) former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, and former head of the Economic Advisory Development Board at the National Conversation hosted by UWI’s The Trade and Economic Development Unit on January 27, 2023.

His summary assessment is that Trinidad and Tobago will experience low growth in real GDP in 2023 mainly from the non-energy sector driven by higher government spending. He commented that “GDP current prices will grow more strongly because prices will be higher. The external accounts will be in balance. Inflation is going to rise, but the rate of change is going to decelerate in the second half, although the removal of subsidies if affected, will contribute to higher measured inflation”.