A BOSSY waitress once refused to serve a cup of coffee to St Augustine MP Prakash Ramadhar until he was seated, he related in annoyance to the Lower House in yesterday’s Budget Debate, to illustrate that Tobago must improve its customer service in the tourism sector.
At the time of that incident he was minister of legal affairs attending one of the People’s Partnership’s Cabinet meetings regularly held in the sister isle.
“That morning I remember coming down to the restaurant. I didn’t wish to have breakfast but I said I’d like to have a coffee to go. The waitress told me I cannot. ‘You have to sit down.’
“I said, ‘I don’t have the time. I’ll be late for another meeting.’ She said, ‘You have to sit down.’ Being minister doesn’t really matter, but it was an affront to me as a person, to ask for a coffee to go and be told in the restaurant in the hotel we were staying in that I had to sit down for a coffee.”
Ramadhar related another upsetting incident of going to a popular franchise fast-food outlet in Tobago.
“Having lined up for about 20 minutes to get to the cashier, to order a small meal, I was buffed, ‘That’s all you’re ordering?!’. “Notwithstanding all of these things, I still love Tobago dearly and I want to see its success, for all of us. But unless we deal with the issue of customer service, as referenced by the very admirable presentation by the Member for Laventille East, I think Trinidad and Tobago will not have a future in any of the service industries, unless we get in to our minds that we are not there to bully people, we are not here to insult them, we are not there to ridicule them. We are to nurture them and to bring their money and their business here.”
Ramadhar said without a reliable ferry service to Tobago, we are spinning top in mud.
He then asked which of the Government’s plans are to be believed for a proposed Sandals Resort, saying in the latest version the project is funded by the TT taxpayer? Saying events like the Tobago Heritage Festival and Jazz Festival help to preserve the sister isle’s culture but made virtually no profit, he called for projects for revenue generation.
Ramadhar chided the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM.). “What I have observed with the PNM is that if they don’t agree with you, then you are not patriotic. We must get rid of this fallacy.” Upon heckling, he then chided Port of Spain North/St Ann’s West MP Stuart Young, whom he said he had initially admired. Ramadhar said, “Every time he comes to this chamber he’s threatening to lock up somebody. The passion with which he had come into the chamber has now transformed itself into a level of hate, anger and animosity.”
He urged Young to do better in the future.
Ramadhar said it is dangerous for anyone to have a “self righteous” mentality that anyone other than the PNM is lesser and is unworthy of government.
He asked what has the Government done on procurement legislation and campaign finance reform in its two years in office so far? “Why has that not been the highest priority?”. Ramadhar said the need for procurement legislation was shown by the ongoing saga of the “ferry tale” to Tobago.