I live in Dow Village, Couva. When Caroni (1975) Ltd was operational, the villagers’ lives revolved around the sugar factory at Brechin Castle.
I grew up seeing the men in the village riding off on their bicycles at sunrise and returning in the evening, tired but satisfied after a hard day’s work. This was a common scene on my street, families working hard to educate their children and make their way in this life.
In 2003 when Caroni closed down, many of the workers were offered their voluntary separation of employment packages (VSEP), which they realised was their last paycheck and they had to invest it wisely. I remember my neighbour talking to my mother, and he was telling her about how he was going to invest his package at the Hindu Credit Union.
He wanted to use the returns from this investment to send his last daughter to medical school and use the remainder to fulfil his lifelong dream of making a trip to India. He was so excited by the prospects of making that investment, and he was certain of recouping his money since at the time, the Hindu Credit Union was doing so well. Or so he was led to believe.
My mother, a phenomenal economist whose formal
training consisted of common
sense and running a house, tried to temper his enthusiasm with some sagely advice, cautioning that “all the glitters is not gold”. I distinctly remember his response, “Gyul, that is the Hindu Credit Union, they wouldn’t fool they own people.”
He died in 2011, a broken man, having to borrow to finance his daughter’s education and never reaching India. This story would have been replicated throughout my village since many people placed their trust in Harry Harnarine and the story of success he was peddling.
I totally support the Government going after Harnarine since his absolute lack of fiduciary responsibility and risky investments with other people’s money is nothing short of criminal. Good going, Honourable Prime Minister.