BREAST implants and BMWs. No water and no toilets.
This was the contrast of Trinidad society presented by Independent Senator Dr Rolph Balgobin during his contribution to the Senate debate on the 2012/2013 national budget on Tuesday at International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.
"There are sections of this society that are living it up. They are doing this in a very visible way, so you have pips and Porsches...people are buying breasts and BMWs," he said.
The Senator noted there is a very big breast implant business in Trinidad and he ran into someone considering what size of breasts to get. The cost was $50,000.
"I said 'look at that. You know how much poor people you could feed with that'," he recalled.
Balgobin said it was "painful" that several of these people avoid paying taxes.
He noted, in contrast, an area in South where people were bathing at the side of the road from a bucket and barrel.
He said in the budget's official figures there was 16.7 per cent in poverty and nine per cent vulnerable, about 26 per cent total, while unemployment is about four per cent.
Balgobin expressed his belief that a very large number of people are the "working poor" and the statistics are wrong.
He also said that all governments must stop being part of a "criminal enterprise" and giving contracts to gang leaders and known criminals.
Playing on the word "gang", he said some parts of the country were living it up "Gangnam Style", referring to the viral music video by South Korean artiste PSY, and wanted special plates for their Porsche.
Noting Government's plan to divest part of First Citizens bank, he suggested that some of the 56 State enterprises should be privatised as well, explaining that the high number was "too lumbering and difficult to manage".
The Senator said many State enterprises were saddled with "moribund" boards and sycophantic members.
He pointed out that the enterprises were "easy money" as governments could access it without the Consolidated Fund and most did not have the courage to walk away from that.
He also took issue with the $9 billion allocation to the Education Ministry as it was spending more and more money on a system that was not working, and many pupils were leaving the system unable to read and write.
He agreed with Tertiary Education Minister Fazal Karim's statements about the abuse in GATE. He said the previous dollar-for-dollar system, where students paid half of their tuition fees, "made the most sense" as people had to invest in their own education and not expect everything for free.
He said some students receiving GATE funding were doing two and three programmes or dropping programmes and "it is stunning how ungrateful people are".