There was a time, not so long ago when the only juices you could enjoy at President’s House were sorrel juice, grapefruit juice, mauby, star apple juice and any juice that could be made using local fruits. I am told the fruits also came from the gardens on the premises. That was a period when the office still held some awe and mystique. Today, the “The Hassanali’s” are still spoken of in glowing tones as part of the good “ole” days. For that time, the serving of “home made juice” at President’s House was seen as disruptive. Fast forward to today and the Office has its own wine label at the expense of the citizens. There is inconsistency in the messaging here. On one hand we are saying that there is need for austerity while on the other, we commission a private label wine for the President’s House.
The recent budget announced an increase in the sin taxes (meaning alcohol and tobacco) which is a good initiative but if we are aiming to change the alcohol palette of the Trinbagonian, it didn’t go far enough. It should really have been a one hundred percent charge for all imported alcohol.
If we’re serious about reducing the foreign exchange drain, why not temporarily ban the use of alcohol at all government functions and on all government premises including the Diplomatic Centre and President’s House. At least we could implement this tax while the country moves towards economic stability. An old saying comes to mind: “People do what you do and not what you say”. There is a tremendous move to authenticity in today’s world and people are looking for behaviour which they can pattern. They do not respond to instruction. If you want to call out the best of others you have to be the best you possible. If we want the population to understand the dire straights we are in, then our actions must be consistent. The focus at the moment is on the Presidential label for his special wine but it is only a matter of time before someone leaks the bill for the Diplomat Centre and Household.