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N Touch
Monday 19 February 2018

Fete over

Mas security: Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, centre, Chief of Defence Staff Commodore Hayden Pritchard, right and security officers patrol alongside a reveller on the streets of Port of Spain on Carnival Tuesday. Photo by Ryan Hamilton-Davis

TODAY’s Cabinet retreat at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, should set the tone for the rest of the nation to follow, sending a strong signal that Carnival is over and it is back to work.

All students, parents and teachers should heed the call issued by Education Minister Anthony Garcia who last week reminded the population that Ash Wednesday is a normal school day. According to the minister, most teachers come out to school but over the years there has been a decline in attendance of students. Well, the las time we checked Carnival Monday and Tuesday were not public holidays and no one declared Ash Wednesday a day of rest as has been the practice in at least one Caricom country. Staying away from work today therefore is a serious problem of indiscipline in addition to being a tremendous waste of resources. In the case of the poor student show, this has more to do with parents than children. Parents are the ones who opt to keep their charges away from school in favour of the beach or elsewhere.

Today’s Cabinet retreat is not only exemplary but also a fresh opportunity for the Government to deal with pressing issues facing the country, the most urgent being matters relating to national security. MPs should seek to get a handle on matters relating to the economy, the development programme and the legislative agenda. In relation to the latter, headway must be made on anti-terrorism and anti-gang legislation. Many are of the view that the Government is not showing much beyond the talk.

Accordingly, it is crucial that today’s proceedings are geared toward the achievement of results. The exercise must not be mere tokenism, and the Prime Minister must be reminded that the buck does indeed stop with him. It is also appropriate that with the start of a season of prayer and penance, that the churches also have a heightened role to play in mobilising their congregations to play their part.

The population, already made anxious by the dramatically mixed signals sent over Carnival by the police in relation to a report of a foiled plot to disturb the peace, will be looking for answers now that the dust has settled. If answers are not available, they will be seeking reassurance and clarity from the National Security Council which is chaired by the Prime Minister himself.

The Government has a lot on its plate if it is to placate and satisfy the demands of a population which remains affected by the parlous state of the economy, crime, retrenchment and the poor standard of public services ranging from the healthcare sector to basic infrastructure like roads and the sea-bridge. Still, it is for all sectors of our society, and not just Government, to get down to work. Citizens, too, should play a part in the finding of solutions to our problems. Our ability to bolster economic output is too often hindered by poor work practices. We have to come to the sober reality that the fete is over.


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