Duke: PM pushing dependence on government

Watson Duke
Watson Duke

POLITICAL leader of Tobago's Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) Watson Duke says the Prime Minister is attempting to promote a "dependence mode" among citizens by further tightening commercial and public health restrictions.

Duke spoke briefly with Newsday after Dr Rowley announced a total discontinuation of food services and non-essential retail business during a media conference on Monday.

In his address, Rowley said normal social services will continue, while the Finance Ministry was allocating additional public funds to people affected by loss of income, particularly in light of the newest public health measures.

Rowley also stressed that all decisions were being made through thorough consultation with the Health Ministry's top experts.

Duke disagreed, saying Rowley continued to make decisions about commercial and public health restrictions "unilaterally" without the input of important stakeholders outside the government.

"Covid involves all of society and crosses partisan lines," Duke said. "Therefore, all stakeholders should be given an opportunity to share their (views) in this national challenge. I would say, not just the government but NGOs, trade unions, churches, etcetera...The major groups come up with a way to treat with this (together).

"There is no think tank. There used to be ODPM (Office Disaster and Preparedness Management) involved."

Duke, who is also president of the Public Services Association, also disagreed with the latest restrictions imposed on all food outlets, saying t they could cause more damaging ripple effects.

"A lot of people depend on people (in retail fast food). So to shut them out of business is really insensitive, uncaring, and I think it is really true to the PNM style of governance.

"They govern very hard, they govern without feeling, they govern the people telling them, 'We love you just so. Stay so. And we take good care of you.' They want to take care of them and keep them in a dependence mode and they will take care of them. That is what the Prime Minister is pushing the entire country to."

He said he is also worried for Tobago's financial health.

"I think this prime minister is being unrealistic, and I understand where he is coming from in that he wants to be 'general.' He wants to be a war general.

"A lot of persons do not have time to prepare meals. They have to work and travel and sometimes they just can't or don't want to...They prefer to buy meals. It may be cheaper for them. They like it that way."

Duke shared his opinion on the basis of main points coming out of the press conference, since he said he had been unable to view it in full. He said he would offer a more in-depth opinion in his capacity of PSA president on Tuesday.


"Duke: PM pushing dependence on government"

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