Billions spent without feasibility studies, or proper procurement procedures on unnecessary vanity projects like Australian boats, Sandals, the SSA, a Toco highway, and the Brian Lara stadium.
“Like a drunken sailor on shore, Dr Rowley continues his penchant for wasting hard earned revenues on questionable vanity projects that seem to come from nowhere, are not national priorities, and are subject to minimal cost/benefit analyses,” says Naparima MP Rodney Charles.
Many of these projects have no long term value to our country and are subject to less than transparent procurement procedures that are consistent with global best practices.
Most of our citizens only learnt about T&T potentially buying boats whilst Rowley was in Australia. One got the impression that Rowley went to Australia and “just so”, as if by “vaps”, decided that we needed three vessels.
Was Cabinet part of this process? Was expert advice solicited? Was the project properly costed? What is the opportunity cost of purchasing these vessels?
Political Leader of the UNC Mrs. Kamla Persad Bissessar has stated clearly that we do not need additional coast guard vessels. She noted based on reports that the present coast guard fleet, inclusive of 12 relatively new vessels, has been poorly maintained due to manpower and other funding challenges and is often short of fuel.
During her administration TT acquired four Damen Stan 5009 Coastal patrol Vessels, two Damen Fast Crew Supplier 5009 Utility vessels and six Damen D1 1102 Interceptors.
Why are we buying more vessels which we do not need with money we do not have when there are, by Rowley’s own admission, vessels currently in TT that are not operational?
Similar wastage can be seen with the proposed Sandals hotel. We were told one day that Sandals will build the hotel bringing investments to the country. Sometime later we were told that the taxpayer will meet a substantial amount of the costs associated with the hotel and Sandals would merely run it. Next we were advised of a host of expenditures associated with the project that the taxpayer will also have to foot given the lack of serious local or foreign investors in the project.
What we were not told are the total cost to the taxpayer inclusive of the new Tobago terminal, the projected annual taxes to be paid by Sandals, the project’s break even time frame and the quantifiable spin off benefits that will accrue to our economy.
No country in the Caribbean has achieved first world status using the Sandals model. The CARICOM experience is that Sandals is not all that it is made out to be even when that company foots the entire cost of the investment.
To date under this PNM administration we have spent more than $500 million on the SSA. This expensive agency could not even anticipate riots which took place in Beetham Gardens in the wake of the arrest of a community leader. It did not know about our citizens detained in Iraq. Whole families are killed one by one and our intelligence services appear clueless.
We keep wasting money on vanity PNM projects like a highway to Toco. The Curepe interchange will only increase bottlenecks on the Churchill/Roosevelt highway. Questions in Parliament on these issues receive inadequate, obfuscatory and irrelevant responses.
The less said about the exorbitant Brian Lara Stadium the better. It is yet to receive ICC accreditation. It joins the nearby Manny Ramjohn, the Ato Bolden, the Guaracara Park and Skinner Park as underutilized, uncoordinated and poorly maintained sports facilities.
Every action of this PNM government suggests governance by extempore.
With a straight face we were told that passage of the Anti-Gang legislation would lead to a reduction in crime. We were also told that research on the 2000 plus gang members had been completed and all that was needed was the legislation. Today we hear that the Anti-Gang legislation is not a panacea for crime and that our prisons, where presumably gang members will be detained if arrested, have been without water for weeks.
Rowley and his wasteful, misdirected allocation of time, effort and resources continue to be slaps in the face of all citizens who live in increasing states of fear of crime.
Murders for 2018 stand at 232. The latest victims being a couple from Williamsville in the constituency of Naparima.
This PNM government needs to step up, stop ignoring the crisis within our country and realize that its policies must be informed by comprehensive analyses and accompanied by specific and measurable objectives.
MP for Naparima