Trinidad and Tobago
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Port of Spain reacts to budget


WAITING TO BOARD: Commuters wait to board a red-band maxi taxi at City Gate in Port of Spain on Tuesday. Many commuters say they are resigned to paying more for transport following the increase in the price of all fuel announced in the budget. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB –

The annual budget, read in Parliament on Monday, affects everyone in the counry. But the vast majority of people in Port of Spain whom Newsday approached yesterday said, “I didn’t really listen to it, inno.” Some heard one or two lines and ran with that. Others had no trouble voicing extensive opinions.

Self-described hustler Roger Khan said, “This is the worst budget in the history of Trinidad. Everything raise, bai, I fed up of them. How much you feel that income tax break will work out to? Maybe a couple hundred.”

On the health workers’ bonus, he commented, “Them ain’t getting no bonus. Them work for that, them overwork. That is not no bonus.”

Civil servant Carol Lakhan said, “The fuel rise is a killer. As it is, I paying enough to come to town every day – it’s $80 a week now. I can’t make any adjustment to my transport, I have to come to work.

“Food prices is too much. To be honest, we working on a 2013 salary, and everything gone up since then. It’s hard to survive. That four per cent offer cannot be fair. Everything gone up and our spending power is less now and the salary remains the same.”

Over the past months labour unions held demonstrations, including motorcades and days of rest and reflection to protest the government’s offer to increase public servants’ pay by four per cent. During the budget reading, the Minister of Finance refused to deviate from that offer.

Flow saleswoman Shenica Grant, 24, said, “I vex, because everything gone up.

“It not making sense living in Trinidad again. You working just to go to work. Light bill gone up, gas gone up. Just now you have to walk with your wheels in your hand.”

Store clerks on Frederick Street Shanice and Isaiah reacted to the lack of an increase in minimum wage with one word, “Failure.” They added, “The pressure is getting worser.”

Nutsman Aaron Small said,”Everything in the budget was disappointing, because the most you hear is everything going up.”

Royal Castle worker Mekida Roach said, “The budget is foolishness. It don’t make any sense, because salary is still the same and everything just raising.”

With the rise in gas prices, Roach predicted it would cost more to go to work and reiterated, “Pay is still the same.”

Not all the reactions were critical.

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Orlon Harlow, pieman on Henry Street, said, “I didn’t listen to it, inno, but I heard gas went up $1.

“I believe the government have to take action to save the country, because the country in a bad state. All over the world things hard. If they don’t make the right choice, the country will get more hard.

“For me, all the years, I find the budget does be a good budget, because the government have to know what they doing to run the country. It’s not an easy job but the government know what there.”

Lucien Theroulde was waiting for the bus in City Gate.

“I did not really listen to the whole thing.

“Is not everything everybody will agree with and I is not no politics man, but I does just listen. So I don’t want to bad-talk and say nothing. For me, the budget was all right. They trying to see if they could facilitate everybody to the best of their ability, so I give them praise for that. Real people does criticise, and if you put them there, they can’t do nothing.”

Arima taxi drivers said they had not listened to the budget or experienced the effects of the fuel increase as yet. They said Newsday should check them back in a month and then they would say how they feel about the budget.