Political analysts admit that the People’s Partnership Government, during its first two years in its five-year term of office, has been challenged by various issues including managing its internal communications. The experts spoke recently about the performance of the administration on the two-year anniversary of its May 24, 2010 general election victory which will be celebrated with a rally on Thursday at Mid-Centre Mall, Chaguanas. Political analyst Dr Hamid Ghany said yesterday: “The Government has had problems with its internal communications as the competing interests within its ranks are all trying to have their agendas implemented because they each think that what they are doing is right or is the right way.” However, he said, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has done very well to manage these competing interests and keep the People's Partnership Government stable. “The difficulties associated with the implementation of public policy in some cases has more to do with entities inside the PP attempting to undermine the policy itself, “For example, the MSJ supporting the Highway Re-Route Movement. Being Government and Opposition at the same time is a major challenge facing this Government,” Dr Ghany said. “The major policy initiative over the last year was the state of emergency which was successful in reducing levels of violent crime in the society. The fundamental challenge will be to sustain the statistical successes of the emergency,’ he continued.
Dr Ghany said the Government had not been able to engage in meaningful public sector reform which would change the way that the state does business. He said for many citizens it was business as usual as delays in service and responses to the concerns of residents in communities still proved to be problematic. “The launch of some projects, like the Couva Children's Hospital, the UWI South Campus, the enhancement of PTSC services, the creation of a teaching hospital in San Fernando, the moving of some ministries to central Trinidad to facilitate decentralisation, the launch of a Green Paper on constitutional reform for Tobago, etc, are all welcome developments,” he said. However, Dr Ghany believes the major challenge continues to be the bureaucratic and administrative processes that govern the delivery of policy to the citizens. “The major political challenge is whether the entities that comprise the Government want to use it as a convenience to enjoy the spoils of office and behave like the Opposition. They have to consider the impact on their own credibility with their own members,” he said. Political analyst Derek Ramsamooj also commented on the progress, if any, the PP Government can lay claim to, after two years. He said: “The People’s Partnership Government is yet to define what their political principles are with respect to governance and the alignment of the political principles with the objectives of a UNC-dominated Government. “Clearly there is a huge division between the functioning of the PP and the actions of the political stakeholders of the PP. “The PP has not brought about the expected change of governance that was required and there is a fair amount of disappointment, even amongst the business entities that supported the PP,” he said.
Ramsamooj said although some symbolic progress had been made, such as the decentralisation of Government services and perhaps the exposure of different political groups to government patronage, the culture of state patronage dominating political culture has been further entrenched. He added: “There is some discord concerning policy direction and policy implementation. There appears to be a disconnect between the architects of such policy and the implementors of the same policy. “CAL appears to be one of those glaring examples. Government needs to have a critical review of what it deliverable agenda should be within 24 months.“ He said there was growing perception in various sectors about allegations there were public officials who were using office for private gain. “This should be of great concern, not only to the Prime Minister, but to all PP leaders,” he said. Last Friday, political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath said the Government had faced various challenges and among them was the issue of unity. He said: “It is one that comes to the fore in like way as the PNM. However in this case, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar appears to have better control over her members. “Whereas under PNM leader Keith Rowley, we have had instances among the PNM benches where some members have not supported their own member’s actions, we never saw that in the Partnership.” He added: “Beyond that the PP has made various mis-steps which has in a way caused them to lose credibility at times and in some instances, support. “They have had some achievements but this has been limited by some mis-steps and challenges. “I believe they will survive and last the term but we will have to wait to see if they remain as the PP or if there will be further problems.”