Whereas T&T regularly comes into the glare of the international spotlight for violent crimes, murders, guns and drugs, it has recently made news for a positive “feel good” story of a Trinidadia
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Mixed reviews for PP at four years
While the PP Government believes it has done a lot in four years, political observers and some business groups have found them wanting in several areas. At today’s fourth anniversary rally at Mid Centre Mall, the administration, expecting a big crowd, will reveal plans for the next six years billed as a “National Recovery” thrust. This will be revealed by Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar and other speakers.
Asked about the pervading overview of the PP—a mixture of popularity for infrastructural delivery, threatened by unpopular perception of corruption and mismanagement—House Leader Roodal Moonilal said on Tuesday: “We’re heartened by the fact no one can bring credible evidence of any corruption or theft by government members unlike the previous PNM government. The society has generated mauvais langue and bacchanal involving talk of corruption, but we have little or no real evidence of that.
“Like any government we had challenges and mistakes, but in all, the Prime Minister has acted swiftly and decisively, including revoking ministerial appointments. She has the strength, where other leaders before her didn’t.” Moonilal said the Government had launched procurement legislation in the Parliament, an aid to good governance. “It would have been in place two years ago if the Opposition PNM had co-operated at committee stage and assisted passage,” he added.
“Among many other initiatives, we’ve reformed the parliamentary process to deepen accountability. From July, the new Standing Orders format will include systems for deep scrutiny and elicit information.” The PP’s achievements, Moonilal added, have been people-oriented. “At community level, we’ve had massive infrastructural development— drainage, roads, water, electricity—delivering things PNM administrations were elected to and failed despite 40 years.
“Among these, we have mega-construction projects including South’s teaching hospital, Couva Aquatic Centre, Children’s hospital, south UWI campus, oncology centre, fire and police stations, Grand Bazaar interchange, Pt Fortin highway extensions and the Children’s Life Fund, which saved 92 youngsters.
“Crime is down 37 per cent. But crime remains among outstanding challenges. There’s aggressive work under Gary Griffith. Other outstanding work involves construction of homes in various areas and some legislation, particularly on crime,” On the loss of the MSJ and other PP fragmentation, Moonilal replied, “We’re having a very large crowd at our anniversary rally, where policies and programmes for the next six years will be revealed.”
On election strategy, Moonilal said, “No one reveals strategy. We’re aware of the state of play and happy Keith Rowley was re-elected. He’s a known quantity. “In St Joseph, the majority of voters, voted against him. In PNM recently, 80 per cent of the 81,500 registered voters rejected him, since their election turnout was 20 per cent, they said. So eight out of ten PNMites didn’t come out to support him. It’s devastating condemnation of a party and leader.
“That makes him captain of a PNM pirogue. Rowley is well advised to leave his captain’s hat for Carnival,” Moonilal added.
Mixed reviews from outsiders
Observers, however, summarising the Government’s track record, reflected otherwise on what the PP may have failed with and needs to rectify. Former Public Service head Reginald Dumas said, “Credit-wise, they instituted improved systems for higher education and trade and did much infrastructure work. Debit-wise, they’re not very good at governance, leadership planning, public security and Caricom.”
Political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath said, “Performance falls short of manifesto promises. Thumbs up for infrastructure development, but performance in most other sectors? Best rated as fair.” Political analyst Winford James: “The PP flattered to deceive. The transformation development they were rated for hasn’t occurred. Plus they’ve been predominantly ethnic in their provisions.”
Political analyst Derek Ramsamooj said, “Deficiencies exist in governance issues, restructuring of public service delivery and response to the electorate’s needs. Also needed is the leadership to fulfil restructuring of society and attending to unity on the ground.” T&T Chamber CEO Catherine Kumar said the PP had enunciated a lot of plans but execution was limited. Kumar said a significant number of changes in ministerial portfolios had fuelled lack of continuity, which could affect investment.
Amcham head Hugh Howard commented, “A people gets the government they deserve. The PP has lived up to some manifesto/platform undertakings, but definitely not on some important ones, including sensitising people to a fair day’s work for fair pay, and the subsidy issue.”
T&T Manufacturers’ Association president Nicholas Lok Jack said, “The country still has to deal with the crime situation in a serious manner, the perception of corruption and government bureaucracy. These have been ongoing through several different administrations and it needs the political will to deal with these.”