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IT'S A WAKE-UP CALL

PM: Survey will inspireGovernment to do more

By Renuka Singh

A wake-up call.

That is how Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar described her reaction to the findings of the exclusive Market Facts and Opinion (MFO) survey. Persad-Bissessar, in a media statement, yesterday said the poll will "inspire" her Government to do more.

"What we take from it is the areas where we need to improve," she said.

"We can choose to shrug it off as imperfect or use it as a wake-up call to do more. The Government chooses the latter. Look out for an administration that is inspired to do even more," she added. See Page 5

"As a Government in its mid-term, the continued faith in us must be encouraging despite any misgivings on areas where the electorate felt we can improve. The People's Partnership was elected with huge expectation from a populace that had grown tired and frustrated with the former authoritarian, corrupt and uncaring regime they had endured for a long time. In this context, we always knew there would be an impatient public and an urgent requirement for much to be done in the shortest time possible," she said.

The Prime Minister added that the survey seemed to indicate "that the message on the development achieved by Government in several areas has not got through to the public".

"So it is a balance between working harder to do more in all areas and improving on the message development on what we have in fact delivered. It is a welcome introspection for the Government and an opportunity to revisit the way things are being accomplished and while we accept that there is always reason to question any survey, its mechanisms and process, it's always best to see what is wrong and work harder to make it right in service to the people," she said.

In an already tense political environment, the recent findings of the the MFO survey have become yet another bone of contention between the Government and its dissenters.

While some Government members dismissed the dip in favour as customary mid-term blues, the increased disapproval rating translated into more ammunition for the Opposition camp.

The MFO results, published in yesterday's Sunday Express, garnered mixed responses and, in some cases, no response from the main players in the political landscape.

People's National Movement leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday said the drop in the approval ratings did not surprise him. In a telephone interview yesterday, Rowley said he did not need a poll to tell him that people were now more unhappy with the People's Partnership Government.

"With this Government, things are going from bad to worse," Rowley said.

"Polls have their place but the MFO survey did not tell me anything I did not know already," he said.

Rowley said the MFO survey simply proved what the he and the PNM have been saying all along.

"We have been objecting to this Government for some time and instead of getting better, they are getting worse," he said.

When asked about the findings that despite the dip in approval, 53 per cent of the people polled said they would still vote as they did in 2010, Rowley took that with a pinch of salt.

"It is not for me to believe or not believe, that is for the people who they spoke to in the poll. The Government believes that their position is secure despite what is going on every day and they could believe that if they wish," he said.

Rowley said the Government viewed themselves as "the best thing since sliced bread" and as such could continue to "denigrate" the people of the country and still come out on top.

"They believe that if they spread money, they could buy their way into office and we are seeing that with the THA (Tobago House of Assembly) elections right now," he said.

Movement for Social Justice leader David Abdulah held a similar view. In a telephone interview from Antigua, where he is attending a conference, Abdulah said his party was vindicated by the MFO results.

"This is what MSJ has been saying, that the people are totally disgusted with the People's Partnership," Abdulah said.

"The Government has failed to meet its commitment to the manifesto and the Fyzabad Declaration and that has manifested itself in a low approval rating," he said.

Abdulah said initial polls showed that while people were unhappy with the Government, they were still happy with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. He said the dip in her own approval rating from 54 per cent in 2011 to 38 per cent in 2012 was "significant".

"It seems the sheen has worn off and people are seeing the Government and the Prime Minister has failed to deliver on its commitments," he said.

With regard to the continued loyalty to the party, Abdulah said that would be dependent on which constituencies were polled.

"How is that reflected? The bottom line is that the MSJ is vindicated. The Government is not living up to its commitment and this gives the MSJ fertile ground to continue to work," he said.

Congress of the People (COP) leader Prakash Ramadhar held a much different view.

"This is mid-term, these numbers are expected especially in an environment that is so politically charged at all times," he said. Ramadhar made the statement in response to questions from the media after the party's national council meeting at COP Operations office in Charlieville yesterday.

"Mid-term is a period when even your best supporters feel a little disheartened," he said.

"What is important is that, notwithstanding all of that, the findings as I understand it, says that if an election is called we will still win. I can't imagine that has ever happened in the past. If means that even though the numbers may reflect one thing that we have done far more in the hearts and minds of our citizens than past governments," he said.

Ramadhar refused to comment on the specific drop in approval ratings for the Minister of National Security Jack Warner and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

Ramlogan, too, refused to comment on the MFO survey which found him earning a 64 per cent disapproval rating. In response to texted questions regarding the findings, Ramlogan would only respond "no comment".

Warner, in response to questions, yesterday sent a e-mail response to the survey.

"Here we go again. Do you know how many times over how many years I have read about my political death? How many eulogies read? How many services conducted? This time around, it is a survey that provides the report on my growing unpopularity. It is not surprising and due to recent emerging attacks that my colleague, the Attorney General, has been added to the list alongside me. He must be doing something terribly right," he said.

Warner said he would use the survey to spur more productivity.

"Whatever the reason and purpose behind the poll, I choose to make it work for me simply by working even harder so that when the most important poll of all comes around, that is the general elections, the people's opinion will be best explained. Ultimately, that is the poll that means the most to me," he said.

"In conclusion I wish to say that since 61 per cent have no confidence in the media and only 56 per cent disapprove of me then I am in good company indeed," he added.

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