Saturday, February 24, 2018

If it's not the OPVs, what do we need?

The current debate over the BAE Systems/Government "settlement" has once again demonstrated the failure of our politicians to come to grips with the fundamentals of an issue.

Indeed it is to be regretted that it is clear that the Opposition in the Parliament has been disappointed in not being able to reap a partisan political benefit from a hoped-for negative result a result which would certainly not be in the national interest had the Government, whatever the reason for the decision, been held liable for compensation for having cancelled the contract with BAE for its alleged failure to deliver on time.

Indeed this delay would have provided an opening for a change in policy by the incoming government.

I would be surprised if the "settlement" does in reality constitute a meaningful and tangible monetary "profit" for either side in this matter. This conclusion is based on the likelihood that, by whatever route or equation, the end result represents a "fair" settlement in the form of reparations acceptable to both parties the negotiation of which seemingly must have had an input from the government of the UK.

The fundamental issue which ought to be now attracting attention is whether the OPV- type or some other patrol vessel is the most suitable medium for achieving the objective of protecting the coastline of T&T from illegal activity.

I seem to recall that the decision by the Manning administration to acquire the OPVs from BAE was based on the assumption that T&T, as a "Caribbean Godfather", was designated to fill the role of patrolling the Caribbean Sea to at least as far north as St Lucia, a role which has not found favour with this present administration.

Indeed, it is to be noted that, even accepting this laudable role, doubt had been expressed as to the effectiveness of such an undertaking by the relatively large OPVs given the dictates of geography, in particular the ability of these vessels to pursue and successfully apprehend perpetrators. Is it that this type of vessel is more suitable to a country like Brazil with its relatively long coastline, thus making for greater effectiveness as to distance and falling marginal unit cost of operation? Let us not waste time over spilt milk and now debate the matter of the type of vessel most suited to the needs of T&T.

Errol OC Cupid