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Sunday, September 10, 2017

The PNM almost forgot to celebrate the second anniversary of their 2015 election victory last Thursday. So much was promised to so many and so little has been delivered. The current Government has spent the last two years looking backwards to blame the People’s Partnership for every little mishap that has befallen them and neglected to look forward to offer a brighter future for the nation.

The constant complaining about what happened in the past unfortunately gave the impression that this Government is incapable of any problem-solving skills and only knows how to blame its predecessor for its inability to show leadership on the pressing problems of our times.

The worst signals possible from the Government on the day of their two-year anniversary in office was the absence of their leader overseas and the cancellation of the post-Cabinet media briefing. One would have thought that that would have been an occasion to speak with pride about the great victory of 2015 and all of the accomplishments to date.

When the People’s Partnership was in power, they used to hold an annual public rally to celebrate each year of their 2010 victory. What a contrast.

Sadly, the legislative agenda that has been published on the Parliament web site by the Government is woefully short of accomplishment for the 205-2017 period in relation to what the Government said it would have completed by now (the end of the Second Session of this Parliament).

The manifesto is replete with unfulfilled promises waiting for delivery to the population. When will the delivery start? There has been a lot of studying about the architecture of crime and a lot of talk about doing something about crime but unfortunately, the population is still waiting for action on the crime front.

There is an overall lack of performance that has not gone unnoticed. In last Thursday’s Guardian, an opinion poll done by HHB and Associates led by Louis Bertrand showed that people believe that the country is going in the wrong direction. Crime and violence was ranked as the single most pressing problem facing the society, yet Prime Minister Rowley seems to have utmost confidence in his team of Minister Dillon, junior minister Moses and Parliamentary Secretary Jennings-Smith.

He needs to revamp this situation urgently if he is to inspire any confidence in the population. He could find himself like former prime minister Patrick Manning who was wedded to the late Martin Joseph to deal with crime. Nice person that he was, his calling was not in the Ministry of National Security. Like Manning, Rowley may come to suffer from what, in public administration, is called “trapped administrator syndrome” which is where leaders remain wedded to non-performers.

One of the issues that the PNM criticized the People’s Partnership government about was the subject of governance. If there were challenges under the previous administration, this one has certainly put them in the shade between the Trinidad-Tobago ferry fiasco, the Port Authority Boards, past and present, fiascoes, the Le Hunte appointment fiasco, the Marlene Mc Donald fiasco, the failure to intervene in the Chief Justice fiasco, the Defence Force shooting range inquiry fiasco, and the list goes on.

At some point there has to be some leadership to take hold of these issues and rectify them. Instead of only being subjected to a full frontal view of PNM versus PNM on the Parliament Channel between the former chairman of the Port Authority Board and a former board member about the poor governance of the Port, the country should have been able to have some sense that the problems being faced at the Port are likely to have some resolution soon.

The biggest challenge facing this Government is whether or not it will make a decision about divesting state enterprises to private sector entities thereby reducing the burden on the Treasury for subsidies and transfers. Having signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Joint Trade Union Movement on August 27, 2015, the Government has found itself a prisoner of the unions and unable to take policy decisions based on a free market approach.

The unions know that the Government has free market economy pressures from the private sector, especially amongst its financiers, so that it is now torn between the two. That tug-of-war is literally ripping the Government apart as both sides have their supporters inside the Cabinet.

The unions have struck back by latching onto a foolish comment made by a prominent businessman on an international documentary about this country and are now seeking to publish a list of businesses that should be boycotted and another list that should be supported. In fighting th eir class warfare, the unions are now threatening to use racial profiling as a means of fighting that class warfare.

The Leader of the Opposition, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, had a field day on the second anniversary of the PNM’s victory to tell the population that she had warned them that the PNM had no plan. It did not work two years ago, but, after two years, we are still waiting for the plan.


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