& Tobago to host Americas summit, taxpayers unhappy
Port-of-Spain, April 15 (IANS) Trinidad and Tobago is agog
as it hosts the Fifth Summit of the Americas April 17-19 that
will bring together 34 leaders, including US President Barack
Obama, in this tiny oil-rich nation.
Obama, who is expected to arrive here April 17, will be making
his first visit to the Caribbean since he became president.
The world leaders will discuss a host of issues, including
climate change, terrorism and poverty.
Taxpayers, however, are not happy with the huge amount of
money being spent on the summit.
Minister of Trade and Industry Senator Mariano Browne, who
is responsible for the Fifth Summit of Americas, has not revealed
the cost for the conference to be held at the city's waterfront
Hyatt Regency hotel.
Earlier estimates put the figure at approximately TT $500
million ($80 million) but that figure has skyrocketed. It
is now said to be in the vicinity of TT $1 billion.
A Sunday Guardian poll reveals that 83 percent of those polled
felt that the summit was a big waste of money. More than half
of the people saw it as merely an "eye game" opportunity
for Prime Minister Patrick Manning to walk with US President
Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.
The Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU) and the Federation
of Independent Trade Unions (FITUN) are opposed to the conference.
They have been refused permission to stage demonstrations
during the summit over the socio-economic conditions in the
The security arrangement is unprecedented for Trinidad and
Tobago. Several Caribbean countries have chipped in and supplied
Some 5,000 specially-trained security personnel are on guard
at several hotels and places where the heads of state/government
Several banks, corporate and business organisations, and foreign
missions have announced closure of their offices on the opening
day, as employees would not be able to access their workplaces.
Major medical facilities, including the Mt Hope Medical Complex,
will be closed or will offer very limited services.
Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday has announced that his United
National Congress would boycott the conference as there were
more serious issues where money could have been spent.
Over 44 percent of the Trinidad and Tobago population of 1.3
million are of Indian origin. Their forefathers came from
India's Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states to work on the sugar
and cocoa plantations here between 1845 and 1917.
"Some Guidelines to Inner Life">>>