UNC Chairman responds to PNM Gen Sec Ashton Ford Newsday letter “Clearing air on PM’s residence in Tobago”
I refer to a letter in the Newsday newspaper today 9th September 2016, under the headline “Clearing air on PM’s residence in Tobago”, written by one Ashton Ford, General Secretary of the PNM.
Regrettably, Mr. Ford indulged in typical PNM complication and confusion in responding to a plaintive statement made by the Leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad-Bissessar in her response to the 2016-2017 National Budget.
In challenging the PNM Government’s misspending and lopsided sense of priorities, Ms. Persad-Bissessar questioned the planned half a million dollars work on the Prime Minister’s official residence in Tobago.
Mr. Ford managed to obfuscate a simple matter.
He presented a long-winded treatise on the history of the Tobago property, with an attempt at justifying the need for refurbishment.
But he sidestepped Ms. Persad-Bissessar’s assertion that, especially during the current challenging financial times, there should be greater priority on the provision of life-saving drugs, crime fighting and other critical matters.
No one denies the need for improvement works on the residence, but Ms. Persad-Bissessar was arguing for more judicious use of scarce financial resources in light of Dr Rowley’s recent statements that population must “wean itself” from its dependence on the government for roads, health care and “this and that”.
Clearly if there is a revenue shortfall a government’s prime responsibility would be to use its scarce resources to provide relief for the most vulnerable instead of taking a half a million dollars to renovate a property for the occasional use of the Prime Minister.
Crime is the worst it has been in recent memory; the economy is spiraling downward, basic services are disappearing and thousands have lost their jobs. While all this is happening the Rowley government continues to tax and spend, pumping scare financial resources into projects like the Tobago residence that benefit no one except contractors to do the work and the ego of one man.
Surely, essential pharmaceuticals and urgent surgeries are of greater national value and importance than renovating the official home for the Prime Minister’s occasional Tobago stop-over.
That, after all, is the essence of people-centred governance.
In his enthusiasm to defend his leader, Mr. Ford appeared to have missed that elementary point.
Dr. David Lee,
Chairman, United National Congress & Member of Parliament for Pointe-a-Pierre.