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Our blighted PNM country

By Capil Bissoon

I have said it before and I will say it again that the greatest disaster to befall Trinidad and Tobago is the fact that the PNM has governed us for most of the 52 years since independence.
The PNM took our country which in 1962 had a higher per capita GNP than Singapore and turned us into a struggling underperforming PNM country characterised by escalating crime; persistent poverty especially in PNM controlled areas; misallocated resources; an oversized, inefficient and expensive public service; a costly, unproductive welfare state; and systems that frustrate initiative and our entrepreneurial spirit.
If the PNM and Keith Rowley were to win in 2015 that would be an unmitigated disaster. We may not be able to survive.
It is a great pity that the two recent oil booms occurred when the PNM was in office.
The wastage of the late 1970s is recorded in history—O’Halloran affair, costly government to government contracts, incomplete comprehensive schools and a shift system that helped create the escalating inner city crime we now face, and the shift to imported foods.
To cut a long story short PNM’s ineptitude drove us to the IMF.
The second energy boom occurred under the watch of the last PNM government.
We know about Calder Hart, about Malcolm Jones’ failed and costly “gas to liquids” and “gas optimisation” projects at Petrotrin; about the secret scholarship fund for special people; about Gary Hunt’s $2-million flag; 75 outstanding wage negotiations and unquantified debts at Clico and HCU together with $6 billion owed to contractors. We know about useless blimps and significant loans from the Chinese—debts left for future generations.
It was not always that bad. In the “earlies” Eric Williams relied on the likes of Willie Demas, Patricia Robinson, Eugenio Moore, Lionel Seemungal and others to come up with five-year development plans.
Somewhere along the line, planning went out the window and the PNM began managing by vaps.
Today we are paying the price.
Comprehensive schools were not completed on time and Dr Williams in the 1970s introduced the shift system.
Then our women began migrating to the US in search of a better life. The shift system was the worst thing that any government could introduce. The combination of unsupervised barrel children (read Edith Clarke’s book: My Mother Who Fathered Me) and the lack of female presence in the home created today’s deportees and that missing generation who are “misparenting” today’s gang members.
PNM and their policy of managing by vaps has been the biggest blight even on its own supporters and by extension the country.
Let’s take CEPEP. It was intended to assist our youth by providing employment. Good, but why not introduce an educational component into CEPEP? A caring, sensible and intelligent government would have paid them to cut grass in the morning and in the afternoon provide real incentives for them to learn a trade. Further incentives could have been provided by reserving ten per cent of state contracts for graduates of the skills training programme.
I know that the PNM was told to add a skills component to CEPEP. If I am not mistaken Selwyn Cudjoe also made the call. But the PNM does not care even for its supporters.
Compare that with President Roosevelt’s enlightened policies in the US. At the end of World War II most GIs were unemployed and looking for leadership, just like CEPEPers. Roosevelt paid university tuition for all demobilised GIs. America, through the GI Bill, moved from being an agricultural society to the knowledge-driven, customer-focused, competitive society which we know today.
Americans were encouraged proactively to enter universities. Uneducated CEPEPers, under the PNM, remained cutting grass.
Clearly Roosevelt was not a PNM.
I will give another example of PNM’s ad hocism and vaps.
Did the PNM government have a moral responsibility to the original owners of lands at Chaguaramas? Their lands were taken from them in the Second World War. When the US returned the lands to the PNM government, what did they do with them?
Who owns it today? At least the original owners should have been given first right of refusal to repurchase. When and where were the leases/sales advertised? Where is PNM morality?
So Dr Rowley wants us, absent a policy, a plan and a programme, to trust him and the PNM with five more years?
Sorry Dr Rowley and your bloggers, I remain unimpressed.
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