Thursday, 24 September 2015

Republic Day 2015

In many parishes in Trinidad and Tobago there is a  fair amount of respect for the country in which the parish operates, so much so that when masses are held either on a public holiday or close to one, the national anthem is sung during the mass. This tradition may have arisen from having so many priests function as school teachers during their careers so that the practices of the school come through into the life of the parish. Whatever the reason for or origin of  the practice, this morning on Republic day, it felt good to sing the national anthem.  I had  started the day with a bit of hangover from the day before, after celebrating the feast day of St. Pio so much so that I wanted to be in a state of grace and continue the year in that state. Having the anthem sung during the mass brought about a bit of remembrance of Dr. Eric Williams ( dec'd),  our country's first prime minister who like His Grace Archbishop Anthony Pantin ( dec'd) was another first for me. So much so that I was extremely mellow during mass.  Also being close to the Finbar Ryan Geriatric Home brought about a sense of reverence for both the Archbishop who held the post before Archbishop Pantin as well as his Auxilliary Bishop who laid the cornerstone at St. Finbars RC church'.  While they may have died before I was born, there are so many positive memories of them in persons who I encounter, that I am sorry that I may have overlooked them and their contribution to our society.  And then life returned to normal as I visited the Chapel of St Catherine of Sienna for a brief stay.... Here's to hoping that:
  • A soup kitchen is opened in the area as there are a fair number of older persons who reside within close proximity to the area and this service will be of benefit to them. That we ask for contributions to maintain the kitchen, so as to provide employment to persons in the community and build a life "style" in the parish.
  • We start a meditation area in that location and  in the surrounding areas as this will allow for the maintenance of mellow feelings. If meditation sessions are scheduled at regular intervals, there will be a flow of persons to the areas which will bring about a boost in foot traffic and in mellow feelings!
  • We start yoga sessions so that persons can learn mindfulness and all of the other benefits associated with yoga!
  • We start a mediation area to allow for the learning of new skills for everyone. This too will enhance the skills of both the receiver and the giver!
  • We start saying the national pledge to bring about a sense of continuity of who we were in school into our adulthood.  See the National Pledge below!
  • We document as much as possible on the lives of our priests, so that we keep information that will be soon gone in a state of readiness for the next generation. 

Here is a copy of the pledge, which you can say:

© Jennifer Bailey

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Some things I would do and continue to do going forward!!

Recently I saw a post on changes to the color of the sky over a city  which occurred over a period of weeks. Having not saved the post nor the name of the city, I would hesitate to  go into the details of the change, however in light of my desire to embrace going green some more, here are things that I would like to do:
  1. Have more plants around me! These would be hanging in baskets,  in addition to being kept in containers and growing in the ground.
  2. Grow more of my own food. This would entail growing green figs (bananas), plantains, bananas in the area where I live. Also I would consider growing beans, cucumbers, pumpkins on trellises!.. 
  3. Consider the period for  which I am making decisions. In real terms, this would mean enquiring about options should I acquire a home in a community with shared  or community space. It would also mean looking at the space which is available  and to which I am committing as in the medium to long term, the land which is available around the home would allow for more plants and a different life style. When I saw the gardening options in Cayman Islands, I realised that the supply of green bananas may be possible due to the availability of plants, however to reduce the cost of the investment, I would need land on which  to plant the trees. Think Pastelles and Paimi.See the attached link,
  4. Revisit the activities in which I am engaged... After viewing the blog from which the following extract was taken, I realised that  the activities which are available to support green initiatives offered opportunities for a life style challenge 
  • " We are located at #35 Doubloon Drive in the Bodden Town District. Doubloon Drive is just off Shamrock Drive exit between Beach Bay Road and the Northward (Prison ) Road. Shamroock Drive is the main road to the eastern districts of Bodden Town, North Side and East End. 
  • We are open every Sunday 2-5pm during which time you may tour the Gardens and purchase freshly picked items at our Sunday Green Market. 
  • Also, a Fruit/Produce Tasting Event is held on the first Sunday of each month, 5-6pm. 
  • Come and savour what's in season and learn more about what you are tasting in a eco-friendly agri-tourism setting. 
  • We also attend the Farmers Market at The Grounds in Lower Valley Bodden Town, every Saturday 7am-12 noon."
    Plantation House Garden Tours

    Plantation House Garden Tours

    4. Attend Farmer's Markets and Up Markets. This would allow me to support an industry and events where the development of markets, portable and otherwise would be taking place. While I was introduced to the concept of the Upmarket in Trinidad, I am discovering markets in other places such as the one which is available in Melbourne. Also there is a page of events which makes both the upmarket and the area very appealing as you can see what is happening for the months to come. See the following links:
    The Growing Friends Group holds two public plant sales each year. These are the only opportunities for members of the public to buy rare plants propagated from the Gardens' stock.
    © Jennifer Bailey

Tuesday, 15 September 2015



The photos show different spots in the same body of sea/ocean...  While both are taken to capture the color and perspective of the sea, be it the waves in the first one, versus the painting like quality of the second, or the tones in the color indicating movement in the first one, or the painting like quality of the second, both do not reveal either the depth of the sea or the ease of getting into  or out of the water in these areas....
In the midst of the reports of  drownings of so many children, due to accidents with the boats when they were crossing from Syria,  the flooding in Japan brought about by Typhoon Etau and the flooding in Dominica brought about by the passing of Tropical Storm Erika, this is a reminder that it is the same sea that unites us, with the lands separating us,  So perhaps we should take care of it... See links to some of the articles on the topics mentioned above.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Taxation 101

Having some experience in the preparation, review or printing of tax returns in various positions which I have held and having worked on the audit of a company which  had subsidiaries which operated in CARICOM countries, I pay attention to various tax matters such as Tax Amnesties, the National Budget, access to information on Tax matters such as the availability of tax returns online and so forth. So it was with glee that I discovered the website for the St Lucia's Inland Revenue was wonderfully updated and there were many similarities with respect to (wrt) the information which was available on the Trinidad site. Here are some of the areas of access:  This area deals with the concepts and applications with respect to employers and compliance. More importantly, the application of the concepts allows for a steady inflow of funds to the BIR/ Ministry of Finance on a monthly basis or as often as persons other than employees are paid ( which is my understanding of the way one of  these  concepts was applied) as outlined in the following extract from the site:

Employers may have tax obligations for employees and contractors working in their business.
These obligations may include:
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE) deductions
  • Contract tax deductions
These responsibilities begin from the day the employee or contractor starts employment to the day they stop. There are also some responsibilities if the business stops being an employer altogether."

Also, my exposure and understanding of the application of withholding tax has developed over the years. It is an area where great care is to be exercised as there may be a need to consider the application of the concept dealing with withholding tax  on a transaction by transaction basis.
There is at least one case, (which was decided in the court(s)) between a joint venture  which operated in  Trinidad and Tobago and the Board of Inland Revenue which provides insight  as to the thinking of the judge(s), and the arguments put forward by the attorneys on both side. Access to that opinion  should be made available on a pay per view, as it offers so many options on the way we think and alternatives which are available.
However, in practical terms, with respect to the application of withholding tax, some of my ease of understanding of the concept came about through  dealing with a section on the Trinidad and Tobago corporation tax return which was one of the most time consuming sections to prepare on the return depending on the operating activity of the company:

SCHEDULE I GROSS PAYMENTS AND DISTRIBUTIONS (TT$ ONLY) (See Instruction No. 20)  The following categories are to be completed:
  • Total Payments 
  • Payments to Residents 
  • Payment to Non-Residents 
  • Amount of Withholding Tax deducted and paid to the Board of Inland Revenue 
  • Receipt No. and Date 
The above was extracted from the 2014 corporation tax return, and is available via the link below.

In addition to the above, the following  link  provides information on some  of the areas which support the concepts and deliveries of such:


Funnily enough, if you understand the concepts with respect to payments made to individuals and corporations, then it is easy to apply  the concepts to the income side of the transaction :)

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Election of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Sept 2015

Every year I am excited when September approaches for several reasons, such as:

1.   The reading of the National Budget. This activity  gives some insight into what is going to happen       over the next year, whether the focus will be on:
  • Saving incentives for persons who are heading into retirement in the next 10 years or so, (See the extract from the 2015 Budget of the Republic of Trinidad and  Tobago)_
    " 9. Pensions I propose to continue the process of facilitating the ease of living for our senior        citizens. With effect from October 1, 2014:
Registered Annuities
I propose effective January 1, 2015, to increase from $30,000 to $50,000 the limit for contributions to registered annuities. This will impact 15,000 citizens at a cost of $75.0 million"
  • Housing incentives in the form of tax savings on the purchase of a home  (See the extract from the 2015 Budget of the Republic of Trinidad and  Tobago)
"13. Housing I propose to expand the existing 2.0 percent mortgage programme by increasing qualifying property values from $625,000 to $850,000 and by increasing the combined monthly income of households from $8,000 to $10,000 and to supplement that programme by introducing a new 5.0 percent mortgage programme for households with a combined monthly income of greater than $10,000 and less than $30,000, towards accessing a mortgage greater than $850,000 but not exceeding $1.2 million; this measure will benefit 26,100 applicants within the HDC framework and a similar amount in the private sector; and I propose to increase the tax allowance from $18,000 to $25,000 per household per annum on mortgage interest paid in the year of income for first time home owners for 5 years, including those years utilised by existing beneficiaries."
  • The investment in energy efficient alternatives
Also I get a chance to stop and think about  on which activities relating to the current budget that I need to spend more time and effort so as to make the best use of the opportunities which exist.  Here is a link to the 2015 Budget of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

As an individual I may think that an increase in the tax savings for pensions may be better delayed for the start of the next year, when there may be a greater reduction in personal taxation for that year if my income increases, especially if my cash flow is limited. However my knowledge of the value of time on savings may encourage me to invest today as the return on the investment may be compounded  and earn new income at the start of the next year. This will impact on the taxes which I will pay at some time in the future as well as alter the income aspect of the investment.

All of the above will also be impacted upon by the need for cash that I forsee in my short term phase.

2.  The debate of the National Budget and the opinion of the various groups, such as The Manufacturer's Association of Trinidad and Tobago. This is an area of interest as the manufacturers of the country are all keen on the various incentives. One of their areas of interest is indirect taxation which includes  Value Added Tax (VAT) the settlement of which is due and payable monthly or bimonthly. This area, has a huge impact on  the cash flows, the strategies of the companies and the planning skills of the persons who are employed with the companies.

3 The possibility of Local Government elections  being held either within the month or in another month. The excitement of this type of election comes from having a sister who is passionate about local government elections,  just as she is about Dimanche Gras (which used to take place on the Sunday night before Carnival Monday). While this type of election is conducted on a smaller scale, the results of this election adds a sense of anticipation to the country as much of the support for projects is impacted upon by the holders of the various positions and the results can have an impact on the nation.

4 The occurrence of  Divali. This celebration takes place in either October or November each year. The celebration of this festival is important to many from the view of the day on which the celebration occurs, whether there will be a three day weekend or whether it will be back to work the next day. This impacts on how long one can light and relight the deyas or how late one stays out to celebrate with friends and family.

However this year there is  an election for the House of Representatives in Parliament!  According to Wiki; "The House of Representatives is the elected Lower House of the bicameral Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. The House of Representatives sits in the Red House in Port of Spain. It has 41 members, each elected to represent single-seat constituencies." 
As a people, we have been abuzz with the activities leading up to tomorrow, either listening to the speeches, the presentation of the manifestos or attending the rallies. On a more serious note, coming out of tomorrow's election process, will be the appointment of a Prime Minister, appointments to the Senate and other appointments of a similar nature. These activities  may lead to the formation of the Cabinet comprising of persons either from the House of Representatives or the Senate.
One of the main responsibilities of members of both Houses is to review and approve drafts of Bills which will become Acts of Parliament. These Acts can have a serious impact on the future as they deal with national and multinational matters. However one of the bills will  arise from the National Budget and will be enacted through amendments to the existing Acts of Parliament or via the creation of new Acts.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Things I would learn as I approach retirement

Yes, I read the articles on choices which you are making as you approach retirement and I look at all the lovely white haired, fit, smiling couples who hold hands and saunter along the beach. Here are some of the "add ons" to those articles:
  1. The  life expectancy after you retire is approximately 30 years! That is how long your income, investments and cash are expected to last!!!! I would suggest that if you can learn about financial planning via a course, then learn  about the fundamental concepts!.  If you are so inclined learn how to use a financial calculator. Better yet, if you purchase one and pay for the courses, the payments can be classed as an expense for tax purposes, depending on where you live, file your tax returns and the benefits that accrue to you!
  2. Review your cash flows.  Things may not be the same all of the time, and decisions can be effective for a certain period of time. Currently, in Trinidad and Tobago the tax benefits on savings in retirement plans is advantageous for the following reasons: (i) the amount which you can invest each year  has increased over time, ii) the age at which you can withdraw funds and thus become subject to tax becomes even more attractive at 70 years of age, (iii) the annual return can be compounded (depending on the type of product and the provider) and the annual  return is also very attractive. So that the placement of funds for 5 years  from 65 to 70 years of age allow for growth on contributions and  returns which may not be available in the other markets which exist.
  3. Consider working either in the same company or in another position for a longer period of time so as to finance the savings which are available in option #2
  4. Invest in yourself via a hobby! Gardening can be small scale or vertical! Allow yourself the opportunity to learn and make mistakes.
  5. Keep track of your expenses so that you can review the decisions which you are making over time!
  6. Open an account for your business income which is separate to your other cash flows! In Trinidad, there are no charges on money market accounts and you can have one for each type of business activity.  The minimum amount  which is required to open an account is TT$100 which can be  a reasonable saving over time. The amount of effort which you put  into managing your deposits and payments can be tracked with a spreadsheet or on a simple notebook if you are manually inclined and would like to think in a different way, or if you are on the move during the day... I have found that the width of two pages can provide sufficient thinking space for me to see things or question things when I want to sort things out.
  7. Invest in stationary! Frequently there are sales in stationary stores and having stationary changes the appearance  of how you maintain your records! This is important for tax purposes. Also the use of a new notebook can allow for reassessment of the concepts which you are currently practicing!
  8. As you grow, there are laptops and cabinets to acquire if you do not have any of these at this time!
  9. Invest in a financial plan or planner!
Here is a link  and an extract from an article which I saw, which prompted me to revisit the post and make a few changes:

"If you decide a QLAC makes sense for you, you’ll want to take many of the same precautions you would take in buying an immediate annuity, including getting quotes from several insurers, sticking to insurance companies that get high ratings (say, A+ or better) from A.M. Best or Standard & Poor’s and, for an extra measure of safety, spreading your money among two or more of those highly rated insurers. You may also want to buy into QLACs gradually rather than investing all at once to avoid the possibility of investing all your money when interest rates (and payouts) are at a low"

Rethinking My Investment Choices

Over the last few month, due to the occurrence of several events such as:
  1. My completion of the fundamental modules in the Certificate in Financial Planning Education Programme.
  2. A short time line in which I was required to assess whether I wanted to further my studies in that field of study or continue working in the industry in which I was currently employed.
I started revisiting the investment choices which I had made in the past. To appreciate the choices which I had made, I had to emotionally review my thinking at the time of making the decisions. Here is a summary of the circumstances surrounding some of my investment choices:

  1. While I was working on a contract for which I was very grateful, I realised that I needed flexibility with regard to my savings. Bearing in mind that in Trinidad, there is a capital gains tax on the disposal of investments which are held for less than a year, the shares which were purchased would have to be held for longer than a year. I could justify the  investment in the shares as continuous professional development as:
  •  I would be learning  about the practical  side of the acquisition of shares which would have been knowledge  gained at another level 
  • This knowledge would have qualified as new knowledge which was acceptable for the purpose of continuous professional development
Luckily for me the local stock  exchange was in a state of transition from a manual approach to an electronic system with online trading. I was happy to have the knowledge that I did, as I had explanations which were provided that allowed me to be satisfied as to the possible fairness of the trades, the holding of stock and to the distribution of dividends.
As to the shares which were acquired? I purchased those so as to:
  • Access the financial statements  of  certain companies as an investor and 
  • To understand the investment decisions made by  companies which operated in sectors different to that which I had limited exposure.  For example there were companies which operated under the In Aid of Industry Act, where there were benefits to the company  based on either the location of the manufacturing site or the type of equipment which was purchased. 
  • To keep up to date with the accounting policy and note disclosures of companies which had defined benefit and defined contribution plans. This was an area where there was room for much discussion.
Over time, I was able to sell many of these investments and purchase others based on the timing of the payment of dividends and capital appreciation and to place my funds in other investments. Would I invest in shares again? Yes, I would!!!
The other types of investments would come with other posts..