An older man was boasting to one of his buddies, "My wife gave me an SUV for my birthday."
"Seriously? Wow!" his friend replied.
"Yes," the man said, "Socks, Underwear and Viagra."
It is a pity that Caribbean Airlines (CAL) did not choose to deal with a request for a vehicle for the chairman and board's use in as simple and erect a manner – keeping to the high ground and covering its anatomy at the same time. Instead, the whole matter became a huge typographical error and rapidly moved from the pubic to the public agenda.
It is a practice not entirely unknown to the State enterprise sector that the minister or chairman gets a car to use that is ostensibly owned or leased by the company and so is listed as being part of the "pool" but is really for the use of the said functionary.
In some companies a driver also comes with the car and the chairmanship.
There are other perks including "marketing" trips, first class travel, beach and "guest" houses, cell phones with unlimited credit and credit cards that do not distinguish between personal and official expenditure. Some hotels have found a code to get some expenditure passed. If you see a charge on the company credit card for "Non-Food Room Service" or "Television Services", you may be dealing with pornography.
It is not that we do not know about these excesses. The recent example of the Hindu Credit Union will suffice. It seems, however, that someone tried to send a message to and about CAL's new chairman Rabindra Moonan but instead of using the example to examine other instances of widespread and flagrant abuse of the rules in other State enterprises, the buck stopped with Moonan.
In fact, by moving to a smaller vehicle, a lot of bucks may have stopped but only in CAL and not, as I hoped, other State enterprises, especially in the energy sector.
I must confess when I heard the name Moonan, and given its association with moving mountains, I was quite surprised that a Prado SUV was requested for him.
I expected that a bulldozer would have been requested, especially given the magnitude of the cleaning up Moonan needs to do in CAL. In fact instead of something from Toyota, I thought that a John Deere vehicle might be more appropriate for getting rid of the weeds and "plants" – a Cal-cutter perhaps.
In looking at the situation more closely, I read that CAL returned a Honda Accord which was leased for a vice president. It seems to me that the departure of the Accord is really the reason for all the flak – when the accord goes what you get is discord.
However, the situation might be too late for the return of the Accord to change all the damage done by the Prado which is a huge and costly off-road vehicle that can punch a hole in a seemingly solid argument. What we should do is look at the different Honda models that may be more appropriate in the present circumstances. There is the Element but there is already more than one element of doubt and confusion in the whole Prado mess and the many questions about CAL's veracity, credibility and feasibility.
There is the Honda Vamos ("let's go" in Spanish) and perhaps people might interpret this as meaning that the government should let go of CAL and that Moonan should vamoose.
There is the Honda Pilot but unfortunately no Honda chairman – so we rule that out. There is the Honda Odyssey and given the oddities in CAL that might be good.
However, I would go for the Honda Civic – plain, old fashioned but it might remind everyone that the chairmanship of a State enterprise is a Civic duty.
If a chairman does not think so, he should get a LIFE.