Thursday, January 18, 2018

We must do better

 If one were to ask the average person on the street to comment on the performance of the People’s Partnership Government to date, the response would likely be “this Government is the best performing government ever” or “this is the worst government ever, I thought others were bad but this one take the cake”.

The difference in the answers can be attributed to political affiliation, race, residency, religion or preference. If one were to base one’s response on facts, however, the answer may very likely be “the People’s Partnership Government is very similar to previous People’s National Movement administrations with few exceptions”.

It is possible to conclude governments past and present do not reflect the level of competence of the general population. It would seem those elected to represent the people of Trinidad and Tobago at almost every election lose their way upon assuming office.

Consequently, the hopes and dreams of many voters die mere months after election. Simple things become huge, impossible tasks, while large sums of money are somehow found to finance things that are of little benefit to the citizens.

There have been reports of sums like $73.5 million on a project called “Colour Me Orange” from which few benefitted. Among the other reported large sums with little benefit to the populations were: $563 million spent to host the Summit of the Americas, with $19.1 million to stage the opening ceremony and $125.5 million to host the participants on a cruise ship, $79.2 million spent on a LifeSport programme up to 2013, with a reported project paying up to $75 per day for a meal and $200,000 per month to cut grass.

While these figures are bandied about in the press, there are some things that remain undone over the last 25 years. Many of these simple things are not only inexpensive but they can generate additional funds to the nation, save lives and enhance the quality of life for most of our citizens. 

The Caroni Bird Sanctuary, for example, up to my visit on Thursday, remains a dirty-looking site, with hustlers offering visitors tours while wearing short pants, slippers and vests. There are exceedingly poor toilet facilities and unsanitary-looking wooden boats with outboard engines waiting to take tourists to the swamp.

There is an absence of security officers. No gift shops, no lounge, no lifeguards and no officials representing the Government at any level. While administrations boast of progress and performance, the country continues along the road of degradation. One can go on and on, but there are more than enough indicators to allow one to conclude the challenges of our nation remain largely unattended despite the political party in power. We must do better.

Steve Alvarez

via e-mail