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Coup enquiry report: Past, present govts failed to fix damage
Governments have done nothing to fix the significant damage wrought on Port-of-Spain’s business community as a result of the 1990 coup attempt. This was noted in the report of the Commission of Enquiry into the 1990 attempted coup. The document, available to the public on the T&T Parliament’s Web site, said the Port-of-Spain business community had suffered losses of approximately $450 million. The report said “business and commerce in Port-of-Spain were clearly negatively impacted by the insurrection.”
“Arson and looting caused losses estimated by us, on the evidence provided, at approximately $450,000,000.” The report blamed the negative change in the nature and culture of the capital city’s business on the destruction which occurred in the city at that time. “Whereas, prior to 1990, Port-of-Spain was a desirable centre of shopping for Caribbean persons, after 1990, all that changed.”
“As a consequence, large numbers of shoppers from neighbouring islands have sought other destinations, while the local population has resorted to the several shopping malls which grew up as one of the consequences of the events of in 1990.” The report described the initiatives of the NAR government to assist the business community as “well intentioned but so complex as not to have been attractive.”
“We received no evidence that successive governments ever followed up those initiatives or provided any other form of financial assistance to assist the suffering business community.” President of the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (Doma), Gregory Aboud said past and present governments had failed to make even simple policy changes that would have assisted ion the growth of business in the capital city.
In an interview yesterday, Aboud said simple policy decisions regarding parking and security would have benefited the city. “In this case we can point a very strong finger at the Salvatori site which could easily have provided much needed relief to the city’s chronic shortage of parking,” said Aboud. He said this had to be analysed from the point of view that businesses had not asked for financial grants nor requested any kind of subventions or concessions other than the use of a vacant lot.
“Not only was this denied but it was denied at the same time that police began their merciless wrecking system.” Aboud said the 1990 coup attempt resulted in a loss of trust in the overall process of governance. He noted that in addition to the city being abandoned on the night of July 27, 1990, no one was held to account for the abject lawlessness of the looting which took place nor the actual event of the coup attempt itself.
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