Monday, January 22, 2018

Weigh costs and benefits

Foreign aggregate is much cheaper than local, although there are those with a vested interest in the sector who want us to believe otherwise... So are quarries good for Trinidad and Tobago, considering the fact that they are increasing the cost of construction for the benefit of a few monopoly operators, endangering our drinking water security, jeopardising farmers' ready supply of water, while endangering the public with increased risk of the recurrence of floods?

In view of the fact of climate change, should we not make bold changes to protect our God-given fresh water?

In view of the fact of a collapsed construction sector, should we not be considering removing the closed market protection which aggregate enjoys here and importing cheaper, better aggregate instead?

How many hundreds of millions would be saved annually?

Would substantially lower aggregate costs stimulate our construction sector? What is the cost-benefit analysis for the impact of quarries on our drinking water resources compared to the cost of desalinated water?

In view of the fact that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) free market system has created an open playing field for global commodities so that subsidies and protected markets are a thing of the past, should we be subsidising quarries with this protected monopoly market at all? One of the aims of the WTO is to protect the consumer and to build competitive, corruption-free sectors.

While almost every other sector is forced to compete under the WTO Rules, why should quarries be treated differently? As a maturing nation, we must question why the long-abandoned old protectionism development model, which strives for self-sufficiency in all sectors at all costs, has been kept for this politically well-connected quarry sector.

If the damage caused by an activity exceeds the benefit, should we conduct such an activity at all?

Gary Aboud

Secretary, Fishermen

and Friends of the Sea