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Forde: Rowley trying his best

Sunday, December 31, 2017

One of the longest serving members of the ruling Peoples National Movement (PNM) Ashton Forde is commending Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley for “holding the country together” despite challenging economic times.

Forde who will celebrate 50 years as a member of the PNM in March, said people’s expectations were high when the Rowley administration came into power.|

“But we are in extremely difficult economic times and the party could not deliver on some of its manifesto promises,” he told the T&T Guardian yesterday.

“We cannot do what we would like to do as a government because you cannot get more from less, so we just have to tighten our belts and hope we could live with what we have at the moment.”

Forde said Government has been able to hold the country together and “make sure that public servants and other people don’t lose their jobs, although there has been some fallout in some areas with people who have contracts.”

The former Arima Mayor, who now resides in Canada, commenting on concerns about Rowley’s style of leadership, said: “He is the kind of leader who has no patience for incompetence and sometimes when he responds it may rub people the wrong way.”

However, he is unaware of any “rumblings” within the party about Rowley’s leadership.

Forde, who has worked with previous PNM Prime Ministers Dr Eric Williams, George Chambers and Patrick Manning, said the leadership of the party over the years has changed dramatically because of changed circumstances in the country and the world.

He added: “Therefore you have to make adjustments to suit the times. As a party we are also changing. At the party’s convention in November the constitution was adjusted to include a social media officer of the party. When Mr Manning was there he added a fourth deputy leader. As time goes by and things change the party adjusts to suit.”

Forde is no longer involved in active politics, but over the 50 years he has been in the PNM he has served as chairman of the Youth League, Mayor of Arima, General Secretary, a Parliamentary Secretary and other positions.'

His advice to those coming into politics now is exactly what Rowley told party supporters when they won the 2015 General election: “You have to respond to the people and you can’t go wrong when you put the people first. Attend to their issues, their requests and you can’t go wrong and of course you cannot afford to mislead people and make promises that you cannot deliver.”

Forde said it is “important and imperative” that elected MPs keep their ear to the ground at all times to have a grasp of the needs of the people.}

“My advice is to address the needs of the people.” he said.

With the Rowley administration now at mid-term, those elected ought to have settled into office and be working out the problems and the demands of the people..

“You cannot satisfy all of the people all of the time. Peoples’ expectations will always be high,” he said.

He added that a good communications network is critical given the circumstances in the country.

Using existing structures at the local government level, co-ordinators in the respective electoral districts and foot soldiers will be critical to keeping the party and government in tune with the people. Forde advised.

For 2018, he wants to see Tobago’s issues ought to be settled, the burgeoning crime problem addressed with the appointment of a new Commissioner of Police, as well as issues in the health sector. Forde will return to the country in March to celebrate his 50th year in PNM politics.


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