From Territory Tax Leader to Minister of Finance

Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 16.42.17The appointment of Miss Allyson West as Minister in the Ministry of Finance may have raised an eyebrow or two.  The raised eyebrows are understandable especially since several of us were appalled when former Judge Volney jumped into the political ring straight from the Bench.  We asked where was the cooling off period or the distance that is required for sober reflection?
Yesterday Miss West was the Territory Tax Leader of one of the biggest and most successful Accounting organizations in this country.  She would have been advising on tax issues where large businesses are seeking redress or resolution of Tax issues with the government.  Today she is on the other side!  She is directly responsible for assisting the Government with the collection of Taxes.
In PWc’s Pre-Budget Bulletin 2017, and referring to the Sandals deal, Miss West’s document stated:
“While we appreciate that agreements of this nature require some level of confidentiality, we would encourage GORTT (ME) to be as transparent as possible on the fundamentals of the arrangement, with particular emphasis on the costs GORTT 
has to bear and the incentives granted vis a vis the expected returns to be enjoyed by T&T”. 

By putting her hat in the ring, Miss West is now impaled on the horns of a dilemma where on the one hand, her latent memory will trigger issues she had been working on or providing advice for and on the other hand she could be asked to provide advice and or guidance to Officials on the way forward with the very same matters.
Further, PWc has a consultancy arm and the new Minister is now in close proximity to decisions about arrangements which could benefit her employer as of yesterday.  In whose interest will Miss West ultimately act? Of course she is a professional and will serve the best interest of Trinidad and Tobago.
I would like to believe that but must express my feeling of unease.  The jury will be out for a while!  Until then, congratulations to Miss Allyson West, yesterday’s Territory Tax Leader for PWc and today’s Minister of Finance with responsibility for Revenue Collection.

1/2 Mile Highway = 82 Mammography Units +

When your country has the highest rate of cancer mortality in the Americas, Cancer detection aPink ribbon. Breast cancernd prevention moves from being an NGO problem to a national problem.  And when the evidence indicates that Breast cancer has the highest mortality rate among women in T&T, you – as a Government and particularly the Minister of Health must be having sleepless nights over this mortality rate.  (That’s if you care!)

In this scenario, it is discomforting to read that “a bank has contributed 1M$ and is appealing to citizens to match their pledge in order to buy a mammography machine”.  On the other hand an NGO would have to stage at least one thousand 5Ks to raise funds to purchase the machine.  Somewhere the priorities are wrong.  

Mortality from Cancer and Breast Cancer is now a national epidemic which can only be stemmed by early detection.  For less than one eighth of one mile of the proposed Debe to Mon Desir Highway, we could purchase  2 machines for each constituency.  Then we could invite NGOs to help run the Mammography centres. 

Even if the published estimated cost of the Highway is exaggerated, we may have to forego half a mile, but the point is, it is mind boggling to consider that one mile costing more than three hundred million when weighed up against other urgent needs of our country.