Let Them Eat a $4,000 Cake

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On Sunday I read a newspaper headline that was so infuriating, so egregious, so insulting that I continue to be surprised that my beloved people of Trinidad and Tobago didn’t take to streets in a mass fiery protest.

What was this headline? “$4,000 CARIFESTA CAKE.”

$4,000 of taxpayers’ money was spent by the Ministry of Development, Culture and the Arts to celebrate the success of CARIFESTA.

Listen, I am big fan of cake. I wake up thinking, “Cake! Cake! Cake! Cake!” Rihanna style. I’m the adult at children’s parties who casually pushes past little kids to grab me a slice.

I also appreciate all of hard work done for CARIFESTA and applaud the Ministry for the success it was.

What I have a problem with is that our Government has warned us of hard economic times, advised us to spend carefully and then goes on to spend $4,000 on a KISS cake. It’s honestly a tad tasteless (ahh see what I did there…tasteless…cake…bad).

Furthermore what is also tasteless is that in the past employees of this Ministry have complained about having trouble to get the basic supplies needed to carry out their jobs.

Now I know some of you are probably stuepsing at the fact that I am making this an issue, and some may be thinking $4,000 that’s a steal of deal for a 32 by 40 inch cake. So let me put this into perspective, bear with me here.

Minimum wage in TT is $15 an hour, if you have minimum wage job and work an average of 40 hours a week, your monthly salary comes in around $2,400 before NIS and other deductions. So $4,000 is just $600 short of double your base salary.

After quizzing a series of mothers on a local Facebook group, it could be determined that an average of $2000 can easily be spent on books alone when sending a child into Form 1. So that cake could have sent two children to secondary school with their book bags full.

$4,000 can buy four two children families $500 in basic groceries that could last them a week or two.

$4,000 can buy on average 110 doses of intravenous antibiotics for children at one of our hospitals (I know this because a family member got and needed these drugs. Due to shortages, they chose to buy the medicine at an average of $35 a dose in 2016 and bring it to the hospital to be administered).

So to anyone who thinks $4,000 can’t really do much, think again. While it may seem I am making a mountain out of a mole hill, this cake hurt me. It hurt me because that $4,000 could have been used in a much more beneficial way.

I genuinely don’t believe Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly meant to insult anyone and thought it was probably it great idea to treat those who contributed to CARIFESTA.

However what it did instead was highlight the disconnect between many of our politicians and the public they serve. Yes, we have seen more money being wasted in worse ways, but in a time where unemployment is rampant and the economy is not exactly booming, this cake represents the type of careless spending that should not be taking place.

So to those who got to eat a piece of that cake, I hope it was worth it (although I seriously doubt it).


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