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NCSHL distributes $1.8 million in grants along east/west corridor

The National Commission for Self Help Limited hosted its final distribution for the year for applicants residing on the east/west corridor today, Wednesday November 9th, 2011 at the Auditorium of the La Joya Complex in St Joseph. Minister of Community Development, the Honourable Nizam Baksh attended and delivered the feature address.

Up to 180 applicants residing in communities from Carenage, Diego Martin, Laventille, La Horquetta, Valencia, Cumana, Blachisseuse, Las Cuevas, Champs Fleurs, Santa Cruz, Arima, Couva, Caroni East, Caroni Central, Pointe-a Pierre received Purchase Orders for building materials through the Minor Repair Reconstruction Grant programme which is managed by the NCSHL. Each applicant received up to $10,000.

The following is the Minister's address (verbatim)
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Minister Nizam Baksh contributes to budget debate

Budget Debate - Fiscal Year 2012

Introduction and Congratulations

Mr. Speaker, I embrace this opportunity to contribute to the Debate on the National Budget for Fiscal 2012. The Budget, presented by the Honourable Minister of Finance, represents this Administration’s steadfast commitment to ensure sustainable national development even as we grapple with the challenges and impact of the volatile international economic environment. I further congratulate the Minister and his team on identifying innovative means of sourcing capital for infrastructural development and for the sustenance and expansion in our Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Sector. It is to the benefit of our children and future generations that the country is not being plunged into further external international debt; but the necessary funds are being sought internally through our local stock exchanges and the creation of an Infrastructure Development Bank. This country stands to benefit both in the short term and long term.

NIS Pension

As the Minister now responsible for the Division of Ageing, I too share the pleasure and joy of senior citizens as expressed when the increase of National Insurance Pensions to $3000 was announced. The additional funds will not only directly benefit the approximately 80,000 NIS Pensioners but also indirectly benefit those who contribute, their children, grandchildren and others, to the monthly expenses of the aging population.

I, also express dismay that the Leader of the Opposition’s first criticism of the Budget was aimed at the increase in NIS Pensions. How and why would such a measure be bothersome to the P.N.M? I am sure some of you on the other side receive NIS pensions? It is clear that th PNM feels that the $80,000 NIS pensioners should not have an increase to $3000 per month.

National Security

As the Minister of Community Development, I share the firm view that no community could experience true growth and development if it is under threat from within and without. This year’s allocation to the Ministry Of National Security of $5.17 billion gives us further comfort that our national community is being secured at ports of entry, along the coastline and in the cities; towns and villages. Why does this become the Leader of the Opposition and M.P for Diego Martin West second point of criticism, the population must ask?
It is in this context, Mr. Speaker, that I congratulate the Honourable Minister of Finance for presenting a Budget which remains securely anchored by the fundamental philosophy, policy perspectives and pledges of our Peoples Partnership Government.

The Budget presentation allows all to benefit from the policies, programmes and priorities as well as the resource allocation of this Peoples’ Partnership Government.

Community Mobilisation

Mr Speaker, the mobilization, engagement and development of communities is key to preparing our nation for sustainable development.

Ministry of Community Development- A Key Driver for Community Mobilization

Mr. Speaker, at the Ministry of Community Development we are ideally poised to be the key driver of this mission of community mobilization, engagement and development. We interface directly with members of the public through formal and informal groups, for example Village Councils, Women’s Groups, Faith Based Organisations and a range of other Non Governmental Organisations. Our interaction with groups enables us to acquire an intimate knowledge of the socio-economic conditions that characterize communities across Trinidad and Tobago. This allows us to mobilize and motivate communities to identify and address issues relevant to their development.

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Trinidad and Tobago observes International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Medical volunteer Michelle Perez (left) gestures as she prepares to take the blood pressure of Mrs Latiffa Baksh, wife of Community Development Minister Nizam Baksh (centre) during a free Health Fair hosted by the Minister in collaboration with Missions International for residents of Barrackpore last Saturday.

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Divali Nagar - world’s first Hindu theme park

by Dr. Kumar Mahabir

The Divali holiday will be observed on Wednesday October 26, 2011, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Divali Nagar, the first Hindu theme park in the world.

In the week leading to Divali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, over ten million deyas [clay lamps] are lit in homes, temples, offices, streets and parks. This festival has become the second-largest, open-air, national festival in multi-ethnic Trinidad and Tobago, after Carnival.

The hub of all Divali celebrations in the island is the Divali Nagar site in Central Trinidad, which was established in 1986. Indeed, the Nagar is the most-frequently visited entertainment centre in the country during Divali, second only to the Grand Stand in the Queen’s Park Savannah during Carnival.

The Nagar provides a public stage for local, regional and international performing artistes. These models, singers, dancers, musicians, choirs and orchestras entertain locals, as well as visitors from the rest of the world. The Nagar has grown to epic proportions, attracting many artistes and tourists to this international spiritual tourist destination. They come from Belize, Jamaica, St. Vincent, Grenada, St. Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guyana and Suriname in the Caribbean. Others come from French Guiana, U.S.A, U.K., Holland and India. Prominent guests included the President of India, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma and the two Presidents of Trinidad and Tobago, their Excellencies Noor Hassanali and Maxwell Richards.

Each year, the Nagar chooses a theme based on Hinduism and Indian culture for its presentation. The theme is researched and exhibited by Baba Satnarayan Mourya, an artist from India. Various modes of information, including designs, paintings, posters and photographs are showcased.

For nine nights, the Nagar is transformed into a blend of the sacred and secular, where the bustle of commerce mingles with the melody of prayer. Booths showcase and sell products and services to approximately 150,000 visitors. Commercial booths sell mainly Indian clothes, footwear, jewellery, accessories, music, movies, furniture, appliances, and religious and household items. In recent years, the Nagar has also accommodated an Indian Trade Fair. This is a flea market operated by about 25 businessmen from India.

The Nagar houses about 150 tents which include commercial stalls, religious booths, media houses and food kitchens. The kitchens - preparing local, hot, on-the-spot Indian delicacies - are the most popular. Pepper roti made on a chulha [earthen stove], in one of the food stalls, is extremely delightful.

At the Nagar, palmists and astrologists are sought and consulted. Mehindi artistes are in demand for decorating the hands and palms of mainly young women with artistic lines of paint. Itinerant salesmen peddle cotton candies, balloons, glow sticks and toys.

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Minister Baksh honoured for White Cane Day

(L-R) Rajendra Ramnarine, Secretary, Trinidad and Tobago Blind and Visually Impaired Cricket Association, Hon. Nizam Baksh, Minister of Community Development, Rawtie Bidassie and Thomas Bidassie, TTBVICA Member discuss an issue at the Blind Awareness Walk in Chaguanas on Saturday.
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Minister Baksh to speak at Conference on Poverty Alleviation

General News

The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Department of Behavioural Sciences in partnership with the Community Development Fund of the Ministry of Community Development will present its two-day International Conference on Poverty Alleviation 2011 on Thursday October 20 and Friday October 21, 2011 at the Learning Resource Centre in St. Augustine from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The theme for this year¡¦s conference is ¡§From Financing Micro-entrepreneurs to Debt Relief: Exploring Recommendations for Poverty Alleviation.¡¨

Minister of Community Development, the Honourable Nizam Baksh will deliver the feature address at the opening ceremony on Thursday October 20, 2011.

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Blind cricketers to honour Minister Baksh

General News

The Honourable Nizam Baksh, Minister of Community Development will be honoured by the Trinidad and Tobago Blind and Visually Impaired Cricket Association on Saturday October 15, 2011, which is being observed as “White Cane Day.”

An award will be bestowed on the Minister in a short ceremony at the end of the 3rd Blindness Awareness Walk hosted by the TTBVICA at the Edinburgh Gardens Ground in commemoration of “World Sight Day,” which is observed on October 13, 2011.

The walk begins at 7:30 am and will return to the starting point at 9:00 am. The distribution of awards is part of the organisation’s activities to mark its sixth anniversary.

Caption: The Honourable Nizam Baksh, Minister of Community Development (centre) and Ms Susan Corbett, Director Community Development Division (next to him on the right) along with members of the Trinidad and Tobago Blind and Visually Impaired Cricket Association, as they received computers for the visually impaired during a CARE cheque distribution ceremony at the Ministry’s Information, Training and Resource Centre in St. Ann’s in April of this year.

CREDITS: Information sourced from Trinidad and Tobago Blind and Visually Impaired Cricket Association
Photo courtesy the Ministry’s Communications Unit

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Community Development staff benefit from FOIA workshop

General News

The Heads and some staff of various divisions at the Head Office of the Ministry of Community Development attended a two-day training workshop on the Freedom of Information Act at its Information, Training and Resource Centre at #1 La Fantasie Road, St. Ann’s on Monday October 10, 2011 and Tuesday October 11, 2011. The workshop was hosted by FOIA officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Communications.

Participants were briefed on the history of the FOIA and provided with training manuals giving details of the Act, including how to proceed in accessing and disseminating various types of information from public authorities.

The workshop was geared towards Heads of Division and Community Development Field Officers.

Caption: Community Development staff members listen attentively to the contributions by the facilitators

CREDITS: Photo courtesy the Ministry’s Communications Unit

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RAPP to host family seminar for children in Belmont

General News

The Retirees Adolescent Partnership Programme, (RAPP) of the Ministry of Community Development, will host its second Annual Family Seminar at the Belmont Community Centre on Jerningham Avenue on Saturday October 15, 2011 from 9:00 am to 3:30pm. The theme of this year’s event is “Building Family Life.”

“The seminar is an initiative of the mentors and facilitators of the centre, who identify with the needs of the children whom they mentor. It is part of the process of facilitating a movement of change in the Belmont community,” Community Development Minister Nizam Baksh said.

Speakers at the seminar include: Mr Fitzroy Tyrrell, Lecturer at the Cipriani Labour College, who will speak on the topic “How to build the Family,” Mrs Carol Herbert, Manager, Ministry of National Security who will deal with “Anger Management,” Mrs Hamid O’Brien, Consultant, Ministry of Health who will address the issue of “Managing Family Finance” and Her Worship Magistrate, Anna Ryan will talk on Communication.
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Trinidad & Tobago Budget Speech 2011

Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a short statement on the state of our finances and the arithmetic of our

Mr. Speaker, our national economy is still at risk and remains vulnerable to external shocks.
Notwithstanding, our economy remains resilient and our financial system is strong. We must stay on
course in this time of uncertainty.

Mr. Speaker, our fiscal 2012 budget calculation was based on an oil price of US $75per barrel and a gas
price of US $2.75 per mmbtu. We have estimated a real GDP growth of 1.7 percent and an average
inflation rate of 7 percent.

The total revenue is projected at $47 billion comprising $18.1 billion from the energy sector and $28.9
billion from the non energy sector. Total expenditure is projected at $54.6 billion resulting in a fiscal
deficit of $7.6 billion or 4.89 percent of our GDP. The debt to GDP ratio remains sustainable and well
within international benchmarks.

Of total expenditure:
• Education and Training will receive $8,717.8 million
• Infrastructure: including Works, Public Utilities and Transport will receive $6,995.4 million
• Health: $4,724.9 million
• National Security: $5,170.5 million
• Agriculture: $1,954.3 million and
• Housing: $1,970.0 million
The unemployment rate as estimated by the Central Statistical Office as of December 2010, stood at 6.3
percent. We anticipate that there has been an upward movement in this figure since then, but it remains
lower than our foreign trading partners. The thrust of our investment programme and our policy
initiatives outlined in this budget statement are designed to reverse this trend.

To summarize Mr. Speaker:

• Total Revenue is estimated to be $47.0 billion
• Total Expenditure net of Capital Repayments and Sinking Fund Contribution is estimated to
be $54.6 billion
• For an overall fiscal deficit of $7.6 billion

With regard to the financing of the deficit, we estimate that 52.7 percent of the financing requirement will
be met from domestic sources, while the remainder will be sourced from external sources including
multilateral financial institutions.

Mr. Speaker, our Government and leadership shall remain firm in our resolve to transform the economy,
and in concert with the people of our nation, we have the confidence to create more jobs, achieve a safer
environment and increase our investment for the development and benefit of all our citizens.