It is the belief that Finance Minister Colm Imbert is a very intelligent minister even among some members of his government and opposition MPs.
But for him to come with such a bright idea of a free light bulb replacement programme of all antiquated incandescent bulbs currently used in some 400,000 households in Trinidad and Tobago to be substituted with LED bulbs, he gets the thumbs up.
He said this will be done free of charge to households as a public service and will be a major boost to national energy conservation. He also announced the removal of all taxes and duties on LED bulbs for five years.
At the time Imbert was presenting his TT$53 billion fiscal package for 2019/2020, which many claim is an election budget since Local Government Elections are due on December 2, 2019.
Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte said the Government has allocated $7million “in the first phase” to replace the bulbs which work is expected to last over two years.
He said LED bulbs are safer and are capable of creating energy efficiency. The LED bulbs have a life span of 15,000-plus hours, while the incandescent bulbs last for close to 1,100 hours.
Imbert also came up with another bright idea to increase the minimum wage from $15 to $17.50 an hour, and URP salaries up by 15 percent starting from December 1, 2019 – the day before the Local Government election – which will benefit some 194,000 workers.
There is a saying that you could fool some of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
But the outspoken President of the San Fernando Business Association, Daphne Bartlett, is one who cannot be fooled as she sees Imbert’s move to increase the minimum wage from $15 to $17.50 an hour as a master stroke by the Government to capture votes in the upcoming Government elections.
She said the Finance Minister was very wise (bright) to increase the minimum wage in December just when the local government election is being held in December.
Imbert knows how to fool poor people who are going to welcome the extra change for Christmas.
Bartlett noted that Imbert’s plan is to entice workers to vote for the Government at the expense of the business community.
She said it is a political ploy and asked why it was not done last year when the Petrotrin refinery was closed down.
The South businesswoman said it is the small businesses which are going to feel the pinch over the pay hike because business has been generally slow in the South especially since the closure of Petrotrin.
Some other businessmen are saying that the increase is coming at a time when the economy is still depressed.
The budget was the main talking point among citizens and the man in the street over the past week.
So, when the rum posse of Ramsingh, Balkie, Blacks and Rasta went for their usual lime at Corky’s bar, Imbert came in for some heavy licks over the budget.
Ramsingh: “Barman ah see yuh smiling, like yuh glad yuh getting ah increase in d minimum wage. Ah wonder if the boss does pay yuh d minimum wage because ah hear some ah dem businessmen say dey does pay workers more than d minimum wage.”
Barman: “Nah ah do wuk for minimum wage ah does get $18 ah hour so dat go be 50 cents more than d new $17.50 minimum wage. Ah think d minimum wage should be $20 ah hour. Ah remember Kamla saying dat d minimum wage should be $20 ah hour. Talk cheap, yes.”
Balkie: “Imbert could only fool poor people when there is an election to try and get dem to vote for d PNM. Is dem CEPEP and URP workers all ah dem governments does use for elections. When ah government is in power dem political meetings does pack up with CEPEP and URP workers and if dey eh go, dey could lose dey jobs.”
Ramsingh: “Hear nah, Imbert really bright, yes. Like he does eat LED bulbs. D man come up with a plan to give homeowners LED bulbs free. He say dey go save on dey light bill compare to d ordinary bulbs dey does use, but ah feel dat go take a few years, probably until d next election. It have ah lot ah things Imbert promised in d last budget and dey cyar even implement dem as yet.”
Rasta: “Yuh eh see how he was getting ah high five from Young in d Parliament and dey laughing kyar, kyar, kyar. Imbert must be saying we ketch dem stupeedy poor people once again.”
Blacks: “Yuh eh see dat soon after Kamla done she response in d budget, Hinds jump to launch his attack on her. Rowley push he pothound on her who could only bark but cyar bite. Manning had sent Hinds to d political cemetery and when Rowley come as leader of d PNM and Prime Minister, he resurrect him. Hinds is ah big failure. Yuh know he does get ah ‘five days’ to act as Attorney General when Al-Rawi is away but when he was looking for ah food to eat all he used to get was some marijuana case in court. He used to represent dem bad boys in Laventille free of charge.”
Barman: “Ah never hear Hinds win no big criminal case. All Rowley does look fuh is is ah set ah square pegs in round holes to put in government. Ah hear people does say how Hinds is ah racist, but ah doh know if dar is true. Ah hear it have ah few ministers who are real racist. Ask Camille!”
Ramsingh: “Ah want to see how Kamla go make in dis local government election. If she lose all Hell go break loose in d UNC over leadership.”
Until next week.