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Monday 21 January 2019
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Letters to the Editor

Squandermania and the tribe

THE EDITOR: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s charts, colours and all, seemed quite impressive and his figures of the UNC government’s squandermania, equally concerning, provided that both are accurate, which is a legitimate question to ask in times when paid-for stats and figures can be used to uplift or downgrade a product in the commercial/corporate world, and in the politics, to equally uplift or downgrade competing political entities.

In this country it is almost a given for the ethnic-based parties to denigrate each other, for in the past the PNM, like the UNC in this situation, has been also accused of similar squandermania. But if Rowley’s charts and figures pointing to a similar squandermania, to the tune of $29 billion, is accurate, the UNC has much to answer to the people.

The tenure of the UNC – 2010-2015 – is rife with allegations of mismanagement and corruption, none proven of course, but the hurriedly awarded contracts by the Estate Management Business Development Company as claimed by Rowley prior to the 2015 election seems a case in point, and it is difficult to miss the numerous UNC millionaires/billionaires, hardly with the legitimate earning capacity for such, that have emerged from that alleged period of wild spending.

Yet even with that extravagance one has to try and reconcile the extreme generosity, if it may be called such, of the UNC government as regard pensions and other social services, and in the case of public servants, the huge back pay and increases paid out to them before the elections, no doubt for votes, even as that was borrowed money which the incoming government had to repay, as Rowley claims.

And this brings to the fore the key moral question in governance: whether the interests of the people should come first in a real way, of which the UNC would have been an advocate in its policies, at the expense of “so-called growth,” or whether the people should be sacrificed, as is the case with Petrotrin and others to follow, for the sake of that “growth” which is the PNM’s mantra.

One wonders about this growth and for whom, for even as Petrotrin dies, other corporate interests stand to benefit, which brings into question the issue of power and control over resource, whether it be the unions and their control over workers as the owners of power and control over production.

It is instructive that the services that Petrotrin provided are now being supplied by the newly formed companies, with only the hands of ownership and control changing.

Rowley claims that he is climbing out of a hole which the UNC has created but at what cost? Retrenchment for economic viability seems the PNM’s new mode and taxation of the people the key to revenue generation.

It’s the pain of development some may claim, but to what extent are Rowley’s proposals truly revenue-earning and developmental in the way perhaps emphasis on cottage industries such as cocoa, tonka beans and balata and other small entrepreneurial activity, inter alia, can be?

His projects are basically capital, eating up revenue, with the prospect of re-earning it at best tenuous.

But will the tribe ever see this? At NAPA the audience was at best homogeneous and the applause, sporadic, but Rowley, nor does Kamla, has nothing to fear, for the vote is assured, nevertheless.

DR ERROL BENJAMIN via e-mail

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