THE EDITOR: What an ever-widening chasm between the words spoken by the present PNM administration, its lofty promises, and the conversion of these promises into concrete actions.
If one examines carefully the promises the PNM made in its 2015 manifesto and the unfolding of events over the past four years, the disconnect is so glaring that one can be forgiven for wondering whether the people who are charged with running our affairs today are the ones who uttered these hollow words just four years ago in their push for political control.
It is a profitable exercise to use the 20/20 vision that hindsight affords to try to marry these campaign promises to today’s harsh realities. Many online analytical tools are available to help us do this, eg ATLAS.ti, through which we can create a “word-cloud” to search the text relevant to the present administration’s 2015 manifesto and its annual budget statements – those presented by the present Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, in an effort to ascertain the extent to which his campaign promises have been kept.
The PNM, in its 2015 manifesto, lamented explicitly the large numbers of people employed in “low-wage, low-productivity, government-funded jobs such as URP and Cepep.” The minister regretted the large numbers of young well-educated university graduates who, despite their qualifications, were unable to secure employment.
Among the PNM’s proposals was the development of an agricultural programme to ensure the transition of low-wage personnel into more sustainable and meaningful employment. A noble proposition at the time but where is this programme?
The PNM promised in 2015 to encourage the private sector to be more actively involved in the hiring and training of such people. Have any steps been taken in this direction?
This country up to 2014 exported more than 1.5 million metric tons of steel products annually (cf: Central Bank’s Annual Economic Survey). All of this abruptly ceased in 2016. The Government has made no effort to restart this industry – one that has provided both foreign exchange and meaningful employment.
The PNM, in its 2015 manifesto, promised to develop our agricultural sector. Dr Rowley lamented that that sector had declined by some 15 per cent in respect of its contribution to our GDP.
In real terms (at constant 2000 prices) the real GDP growth in the agricultural sector increased from -5.8 per cent in 2013 to 1.7 per cent and 1.2 per cent in 2014 and 2015, respectively, but fell to -6.0 per cent in 2016. Construction fell from 6.4 per cent in 2013 to -7.6 per cent in 2016.
In just about every important sector of our economy there has been a significant decline over the past four years in spite of the Government’s sharp increase in borrowing, which must be examined in the context of its lack of transparency and accountability as well as its inexcusable wastage of scarce resources, all of which have resulted from the irresponsible policy choices made by the present cabal that rules the cabinet.
Without doubt the PNM will present the very same empty promises in yet another glossy manifesto that will not be worth the paper on which it is printed.