Former Tertiary Education Minister Fazal Karim, in responding to the Guardian’s Sunday March 11th 2018 midterm assessment of the Rowley-led Government, stated that after two and a half years, the PNM has failed miserably on every front.
Karim stressed that the PNM remains disconnected from the plight of the citizenry and is directly responsible for the cloak of hopelessness that covers the land.
On the issue of the economy, Karim indicated that the PNM has introduced misguided fiscal policies which have decimated small businesses and enriched the ultra-elites. The Central Bank reported GDP at -6% in 2016 and -2.3% in 2017 which has resulted in successive downgrades by the international rating agencies under the PNM’s tenure. After hounding the Central Bank Governor out of office, the forex situation remains unresolved and is at crisis proportions. Under the PNM, unemployment has escalated and under-employment is normalised, as employers exercise leverage in a buyer’s market for labour. Visitor arrivals are at an all-time low and domestic tourism to Tobago has collapsed because of the sea-bridge fiasco.
On the issue of crime, Karim lamented his own constituency woes. After repeated calls from the Opposition to establish a police station in Enterprise, Karim stated that the concerns of his constituents have fallen on deaf PNM ears. Recreational grounds and schools have been left abandoned and the idle hands are left to wander. Bloodshed in Trinidad and Tobago has afflicted all walks of life, while PNM Cabinet Ministers cradle reputed gang leaders in their bosom. Karim warned that ‘anger rests in the bosom of folly’.
On the issue of education, Karim stated that “one from ten leaves nought” referencing the statement made by former Prime Minster Dr. Eric Williams when Jamaica voted by referendum to withdraw from the West Indies Federation. Citing the score of nine out of ten given by political analyst Dr. Winford James in education, Karim stated that “the remaining one should be the focus and not the nine”. Karim noted that after two and a half years, The UWI South Campus, The UTT Tamana Campus, The UTT Aviation Campus, and many more secondary and primary schools remain closed or in a state of disarray. Hundreds of workers have been fired by the PNM at NESC, YTEPP, MIC and UTT. GATE funding has been cut from an all-time high of over $700 million under the People’s Partnership Government to $434 million in fiscal 2018. The Rowley-led Government has ensconced the philosophy that “the future is in your book bag” as taxes have now been reintroduced on textbooks and even computers. Yet, sparkling wines have attracted no further taxes perhaps because of a penchant by PNM Ministers for wine over rum.
On the issue of health, Karim stated that thousands are wait-listed for life saving surgeries and CDAP drugs for cancer and other chronic non-communicable diseases remain more scarce than the Member of Parliament for La Horquetta/Talparo. He stated, much like the ferry fiasco, the mothballed Couva Children’s Hospital is an even more glaring fiasco under the careless hands of the PNM. The Rowley-led Government has failed every sick child of Trinidad and Tobago.
Karim also stated that the middle class is shrinking and under siege by this Rowley-led PNM. Increased fuel prices at the pump on three consecutive occasions, daily increases in food prices, inaccessible quality health care, unattainable housing, increasing costs of education and an onslaught of criminal attacks are the direct result of failed PNM policies.
Karim concluded by stating that although the Prime Minister, Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Minister of Energy and Energy Industries were unavailable for comment on their abysmal report card, “rest assured that in 2020 these same Government Ministers will be walking the ground seeking your support. Choose wisely.”