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Wednesday 22 January 2020
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Letters to the Editor

Legacy of Rowley-led PNM

THE EDITOR: This Dr Rowley-led PNM government is sure to leave as its legacy a series of impulsive population-wide measures that are neither grounded in accepted international best practice nor supported by predictable outcomes that are tested or measurable.

Consequently, the Government continues to set unreasonable deadlines for ill-thought-out measures that are reinforced by rules and regulations that are impulsive or that may even suggest a hidden agenda.

We saw them at work when they proposed their version of the property tax. At the time, Colm Imbert took recourse to the media to threaten citizens with an illegal penalty should they not have done the valuation of their properties within a specified period which was entirely unreasonable.

Then there was the issue of the vehicle inspections, which again were mandated to be completed over an unreasonable time frame determined on the whim of a Finance Minister who seems to have a penchant for arrogant harshness. These time limits are presented to the public without any rationale for their determination.

As it is, the country is faced with a runaway crime situation where criminal elements daily, in full view of the general public, and with brazen effrontery, deprive women and the elderly or the frail of their belongings with impunity.

In such a climate, the Attorney General declares he is “proud” to have been the architect of a three-week $100 bill demonetisation exercise. He and his Cabinet colleagues tell us that they will “catch” and weed out those people who cannot explain their wealth.

Just as with the property tax law, the Rowley Government proposed the present exercise in which – according to Faris Al-Rawi – “if you cannot explain where you got your money, you will lose it.” So, people who prefer not to deal with the banks – understandably so – and have been hiding their hard-earned cash over many years will now have to “explain” the source of their wealth or risk “losing it.”

Al-Rawi has made it so easy for defenceless older adults to be robbed. Every person in a long, slow-moving line in front of a bank up until December 31 is a potential target for criminals. He has assured a heightened “police presence” to prevent any “snatch and run” scenarios which have already been reported – not in the bank line-up but perpetrated against the frail elderly making a long lonely trek across a deserted walkover.

Those without a bank account, Imbert tells us, can go to the Central Bank, line up, fill out the required paperwork and wait in line. What an unempathetic hare-brained and callous scheme. It is typically PNM in concept, though.

Ironically enough, the “big merchants” are being granted special concessions by Imbert since he understands they will have literally tons of hard cash. Those with boxes of “blues” will not be in any line. They will be ushered into a private banker’s meeting to “legally” exchange their stash while the elderly (“unbanked”) pig farmers will be publicly embarrassed.

So, I ask: who are the real beneficiaries of this exercise when all the old mountains of “blues” are exchanged for the new? I hope this was not concocted for the benefit of the few privileged among us who are being handed a ready-made “loophole” by well-placed friends in high places.

STEVE SMITH

via e-mail

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