Bring on Uff
Revelations before the ongoing Clico and HCU enquiries have triggered great outrage and anxiety among members of the public. But given past/recent experience with such commissions, we are inclined to temper expectations for justice as well as early corrective action or reforms.
More than 27 months ago then minister of Justice Herbert Volney had been assigned responsibility for an action plan towards implementing the 91 recommendations of the Uff Commission of Enquiry.
By last month, when Mr Volney's ministerial career went up in flames, no progress on this front had been visible. This has been a great disappointment to all who remember the sensational and scandal-ridden disclosures made during the Uff hearings, which were no less dramatic than those now emanating from the Colman Enquiry.
Two years later, the Joint Consultative Council, which represents the multiple interests of the construction industry, survives as the lone voice insisting on the implementation of the Uff Commission's recommendations. The JCC, which championed the demand for the enquiry and has been leading the crusade for procurement legislation, claims that it offered to assist the minister on three separate occasions, without ever receiving a reply from Mr Volney. It is now left to the recently-appointed Justice Minister, Christlyn Moore, to attempt to retrieve some self-respect for her portfolio.
For starters, she can do so by identifying her office, early, with action on the unfinished business of the Uff recommendations—well before the Colman recommendations land on her government's to-do list.
It is a sad indictment on the state of our society that even as we are blown away by evidence delivered before various commissions of enquiry, the public attitude remains steadfastly cynical regarding any outcome of justice. Having been this way so many times before, few are inclined to believe that these enquiries will lead to action.
It is illogical that the findings of such enquiries can simply be parked up and allowed to die a natural death while we continue business as usual.
Our aspirations to joining the ranks of functional and trusted countries in the world depend on our various institutions following through on the findings of these hugely expensive public enquiries. It is unthinkable that governments which themselves initiate the action, should allow commissions of enquiry to vanish like so much hot air into nothingness.
This newspaper therefore adds its voice to the demand for the implementation of the Uff recommendations. As the saying goes, it is madness to keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome.
If the Uff recommendations are not implemented, what reason could the public have for believing that anything will come out of the two commissions of enquiry now underway in Port of Spain?
These enquiries are far too demanding in terms of money, time and energy, both public and private, for us to allow them to be washed down the drain in acts of political expediency by successive administrations.
The public deserves both value for money and justice.