by Capil Bissoon
On the night of his victory on September 7th 2015, newly elected Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley flattered to deceive when he told the nation that he would be the Prime Minister of all of Trinidad and Tobago and not of the People’s National Movement (PNM).
I was taken in by the apparent sincerity and for a brief moment considered taking off my partisan gloves. But my friends warned me not to be naive. Judge him not by his words but by his actions, they advised.
When I received my termination letter, indicating that “my services were no longer required,” I knew instinctively that my friends were right. Not a word about a cause for the dismissal based on lack of performance or something of the sort. Not a word.
And so UNC supporters, or those perceived to be, have just cause to be distrustful of this government. Khalid Hassanali, former President of Petrotrin, the President and managerial staff from NGC, of WASA, HDC and scores of state enterprises, the former Governor of the Central Bank, most managers and hundreds of URP workers and now CEPEP contractors know that there is one law for the PNM and to hell with everyone else.
CEPEP contractors who have three-year contracts now suspect that the PNM will find a way, as they did with the Central Bank Governor, to terminate their services.
As the Mighty Sparrow, with reference to another PNM mantra, mused decades ago: “Who not with me is my enemy and ‘dust’ will be their destiny”.
In Parliament rookie ministers, some with gray hairs but mother’s milk still dripping from their mouths, take it as par for the course to falsely accuse the former People’s Partnership Government (PPG) of causing the recession by annoyingly repeating their lie, “waste, mismanagement and corruption”.
Absolute silence last week when Standards and Poor’s, the international rating agency told us that a one in three chance that oil prices would not recover in the medium term was the sole reason for Trinidad and Tobago’s outlook being downgraded from stable to negative. Refreshingly, no mention about Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Clearly, Standards and Poor’s did not get Dr. Rowley’s memo.
Total ignorance by the PNM of the fact that every single oil-based economy, with the possible exception of Norway, is in the throes of a recession and that Kamla, notwithstanding her apparent and presumed superwoman powers, had absolutely nothing to do with recessions in every commodity exporting nation including Russia.
Every SEA student knows that falling oil prices is the single major cause of this recession. If oil prices miraculously recover, then we are back to economic recovery.
Last week the same Dr Rowley addressed the nation on the economic and foreign exchange crises facing our nation. He made the same insincere call for a united effort from all citizens to confront the challenges.
True to form, the previous PP government (and possibly the previous Governor of the Central Bank), had to be blamed significantly for our present crisis. This, notwithstanding the fact that the change of the system for allocating FX had nothing to do with the shortage. It was essentially caused by a lack of confidence in the economy due to falling oil prices.
FX is a national resource and as citizens, we all have a right to know how it is being used. Indeed, that is a non-negotiable right.
At the end of his speech last week, he requested a united effort to confront our challenges. What a hollow request.
Three hundred thousand plus, and growing numbers of UNC supporters, can spot the difference between words and action. We know that PNM calls for unity, on the night of electoral victory, or in the address to the nation, are based on insincere promises, a need to say the right things and not the result of principled conviction.
Fears of a Calcutta Ship invasion pervades primordially.
We also know that this government has no plan to take this country forward or out of this crisis. Predictably the plan so far is to cut expenditures by 7% across the board, raid the Heritage and Stabilization Fund, borrow $50 billion, freeze wages, raise more taxes, build more houses and hope somehow that oil prices will recover in the not too distant future.
Building more houses will increase demands on our FX and borrowing will lead to further downgrades as our debt to GDP ratio worsens.
Citizens are asking where is the strategic master plan which Dr Rowley and the PNM told us they had ready to implement once in government.