The period 2014-18 has been very challenging. GDP and government revenues took a substantial blow from the decline in energy prices and the gas production shortfall.
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Crime down but no one noticed
The T&T Police Service (TTPS) has become quite good at releasing statistics that are supposed to show progress in the fight against crime. The problem is that no one seems to be convinced of this positive trend because of the ease with which perpetrators continue to carry out their violent missions while managing to remain at large.
Yesterday the very productive TTPS Corporate Communications Unit churned out the latest of those press statements, proclaiming a 12 per cent reduction in serious crimes for the first quarter of 2018. Significant downward trends were reported in the number of kidnappings, rapes and other sexual offences, woundings and shootings.
There was an admission, however, that there was only a negligible decline in the murder rate although the TTPS did assure that it was pursuing strategies to reduce it.
The problem is, after decades of worsening crime, with the body count steadily creeping up year after year, these claims of crime fighting successes do little to inspire confidence. The average citizen is not feeling any safer now than a year ago when, according to the TTPS, there was a higher rate of crime.
It will take a lot more than a few paragraphs of statistics to convince the public that real progress is being made. Indeed, it has been proven that actually catching and convicting criminals works best.
The controversies swirling around former Sport and Youth Affairs Minister Darryl Smith had long warranted a firm intervention by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
Before the recent court settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit, there had been other allegations casting a dark shadow over the ministry, with numerous public outcries. There was, for example, an alleged high-cost trip to Tobago, with a larger than necessary entourage and a costly stay at the Magdalena Grand. He survived that one but wasn’t as lucky with recent revelations, so the recently demoted minister has been dismissed.
These kinds of matters need to be handled swiftly and more firmly.
Better late than never
The trouble with allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, particularly in this era of #metoo, is that they don’t go away even when ignored. That is why it is such good news to hear that in 2018, almost 56 years after T&T gained independence, a sexual harassment policy is finally being developed for the public sector.
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