Monday, January 17, 2011





WHAT PART OF "IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!" IS
IT THAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND?



There have been 'rumblings and a'tumblings in the atmosphere' coming out from certain quarters in T&T that seem to indicate that there are a lot of people in decison making positions that just haven't got it. I am specifically referring to the Minister of Finance and his cadre of advisers as well as the Minister of Labour. I will readily admit that there may be others, but these two gentlemen are the chief culprits in the crisis that is slowly approaching us.

Let's deal with the Finance Minister first: He just doesn't seem to get it! The economy is at a standstill and there is serious capital flight. Why? The newspapers reported on Saturday that last year (2010) some $700 million TT fled the country. And yet, Trinidad 7&Tobago has ample foreign reserves and international rating agencies such as Standard & Poors are giving us an excellent credit rating. So why is there a shortage of foreign currency and why are wealthy persons preferring to convert their money and send it abroad stashing it in banks where the return on investment is barely 1%?

The answer has to be a ringing lack of confidence in the Finance Minister and his ability to handle the various problems that beset the country. Enter the Minister of Labour. He too has to take a major part of the blame. His absolute refusal to intervene in the ongoing PSA dispute has been noticed by the private sector. And they (the private sector) have voted with their dollars. "Let's get them out of here", the private sector has said, "at least until we are satisfied that things will settle down again". The Minister has categorically refused to use his considerable influence and credibility with the labour movement to help to settle this dispute, preferring instead to leave his colleague, Mr. Dookeran, spinning helplessly in the wind while the economy goes down the tubes. And you can talk until you are blue in the face! The private sector's first (and last) loyalty is to their own personal bank accounts. The wealthy did not get wealthy by "putting country first"!

The Prime Minister is trying to tiptoe around this problem. She has sent a clear signal that she is unable to deal with Mr. McLeod by putting another trade unionist, Mr. Rudy Indarsingh, in the Ministry of Labour, obviously hoping that Mr. Indarsingh's labour credentials will be enough to be able to talk to and appease Watson Duke, the head of the PSA. We can only hope that this move will solve the problem ... but Mr. Indarsingh will still only be a junior minister in the Labour Ministry, and my personal guess is that the unions will all look for a signal from his substantive boss, Errol McLeod. And Mr. McLeod and his sidekick, David Abdullah, have both made it crystal clear which side they are coming down on and that no such signal to settle will come down any time soon!

So the bleeding of foreign exchange continues; the currency continues to devalue; the Minister of Finance continues to dither and his advisers seem hopeless and helpless to deal with the deteriorating situation. And the economy remains stalled with inflation climbing and jobs being slowly lost!

If you were to ask me what to do, I would say to the Prime Minister that she has to have a very serious talk with Messrs. Dookeran and McLeod and tell both of them that they have a very limited time to perform or "get off the pot". Their mutual dithering (for different reasons, no doubt) is causing serious heartache. We haven't got a long time again to solve our problems and get the economy moving.

2 comments:

  1. This one is spot on!!!!

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  2. Good stuff. My view is that the PM now has to step up to the plate. She has pussy footed long enough and one wonders whether we are now faced with stable doors and bolted horses. jack Warner leading the herd!

    Is anybody realizing how we are frittering away our time on peripherals and not the important matters...grand piano(s) et al? Granted the piano was initiated by the AG but the PNM (Watson Duke and his cohorts) seem set on a campaign of distracting from everything substantial, lest their past indiscretions are more widely shown.

    Manning had become so awfully unacceptable to most so he was voted out because there was an alternative,..or so we thought, but after this lot what alternative do we have??? I often wonder if Dookeran has the ability????? As for Errol MeL'd...how people change?

    But if the PEOPLE (population) don't change then there will be no change. I am in total agreement with Michael Harris........JOKERS..all!

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