Saturday, February 24, 2018

Too much musical chairs

Express editorial logo371

Mark Fraser

 PRIME MINISTER Kamla Persad-Bissessar has taken note of concerns expressed about the number and frequency of changes to her Cabinet.

“There has been some discussion on the number of times changes have been made in my Cabinet,” she said on Monday when, upon the resignation of Chandresh Sharma, she reassigned Tourism to Gerry Hadeed, and Communications to Vasant Bharath.

Though the Prime Minister attributed her serial reshuffles to the preservation of “high ideals” and “value-based leadership”, interest groups have lamented the effects of such portfolio switches on the connected areas of tourism and transport.

In just under four years, Ms Persad-Bissessar has tried four tourism ministers and four transport ministers. As the Tobago Division of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce has noted, however, the combined efforts of all these ministers have failed to bring about the upgrades to the ANR Robinson Airport facilities long promised to airlines like Virgin Atlantic. In consequence, Virgin has since stopped flying its high-end tourists to the island.

Tourism and transport are not the only areas feeling the questionable effects of the PM’s juggling experimentation with ministers. For one crucial area—national security—can hardly be said to have seen the benefits of the successive tenures, since 2010, of Messrs Sandy, Warner, George and now Griffith.

So the Prime Minister can take the high ground, referring to ideals and values, but she cannot escape the fact that these constant changes have had a debilitating effect on the output of her Government since it came into office. And there is no denying that some of those individuals she was forced to dismiss—or accept their resignations, whichever came first—should not have been there in the first place.

Based on their non-performance, it reinforces the argument that Ms Persad-Bissessar made bad choices to start with and no flowery terminology can refute the point that favouritism took precedence over the bottom line, which is doing what is best for the country and every single citizen.

The buck stops with her, she would no doubt agree, but she must also admit to some poor selections when it came to picking her team after the resounding victory of the People’s Partnership. 

But now, with some of those well-labelled non-performers out of the way, we can only hope that their replacements will buckle down to the hard work that is needed to correct the ills left behind by their predecessors, especially at the Ministry of Tourism.

That crucial portfolio, moreso when it comes to Tobago, has been treated like a poor relation, what with the musical chairs being played by the respective office-holders. But with the new appointee working alongside the relevant stakeholders, and listening to their advice, some good can come from this latest change.

And with regard to her entire squad, we can only trust they will now settle down and spend what is left of the Partnership’s current term pursuing productive endeavours to the benefit of all of Trinidad and Tobago, rather than politicking and campaigning for the next general election.