Thursday, July 14, 2011


Everybody knows that most of an iceberg is under the water. So if you are in either the Arctic or Antartic oceans and you see an iceberg towering, say, some fifty feet over the water, you know that there is at least three to four hundred feet hiding beneath the surface. I say this because I sometimes feel like the guy on the foredeck of the Titanic who on seeing the huge iceberg which the illfated ship was heading straight for, tried to warn those on the great ship's bridge ... but of course, they were too high up, too far away to hear the shouts and too "experienced" to listen to some unqualified peasant on the foredeck of the ship peering through the fog. What could he possibly see that they couldn't!?

Like the Titanic, the good ship S.S. Trinidad & Tobago seems to be heading directly for a large economic iceberg that is roughly the same size as the one that struck that great ship a century ago. By that I mean that I can see that the economy is shaky, that the slightest "tremor" can sink us and that the Ministry of Finance either doesn't have a plan or does not want to share the plan with the rest of us peasants.

Pay attention: The unions are threatening a general strike and the police are threatening a five day strike if the Government does not resile from its five percent cap on wages. The Government says that the country cannot afford to pay more. The unions say that this is nonsense! And here is where the rest of us come in. Like most people, I tend to believe that the Government is telling the truth, i.e., that the country really can't afford to pay more. But, like most people, I personally don't have the evidence before me that will prove that this is indeed so. Further, Winston Dookeran, if nothing else has to be just about the worst communicator in history! This is a man who for years preached transparency and open government, but on getting into power has practised secrecy and an absolute refusal to tell the nation exactly what is going on with the country's various economic problems. All we have got from him over the last year has been "this is what we are going to do whether you like it or not" attitude instead of "look, this is what is going on and as a result this is what we think is the best thing to do".

I have complained about this before; I call it the neo-colonialist attitude that has crippled our country since Eric williams came to power in 1956. In the "good old days" of the colonial period there were two rules: Rule 1 was that the white man or massa was always right. Rule 2 was when massa was wrong refer back to rule 1!! Just about every single Prime Minister from Williams to date has adopted these two rules as if they were gospel. The end result has been that instead of the country having a modern twenty-first century outlook, we have remained mired in outdated, out moded, unoriginal, old fashioned 1960's type of thinking. We continue to try and solve the same old problems with the same old solutions, Albert Einstein, what did you say was the classic definition of insanity?

In addition to Mr. Dookeran's obvious failures, we also have the image of a so-called Labour leader in the person of Errol McLeod who appears to be doing absolutely nothing to head off this most serious approaching crisis. I can think of only two reasons why Mr. McLeod will not intervene forcefully: Either he is totally and completely incompetent and is occupying a position that he is really not qualified to occupy, or he really doesn't believe his Ministerial colleague and believes that the country can pay more. If anybody can give me a third, or even a tenth, reason then please do. But this is all that I can come up with. And yes, I am aware of the neo-colonialist B.S. (Baloney for Sure) that I have heard Mr. McLeod spout about "process"! Please!! Don't come with that claptrap! When a house is on fire you don't wait for the "process" of the fire department to come. You start to throw water on the fire immediately. At least, that is what a modern twenty first century person would do.

We are heading for a period of potentially serious and possibly fatal social instability caused by the inability of those responsible in the Government to communicate effectively. The "iceberg effect"! In other words, once trouble starts there is no way that we will know how deep it will go. It is still not too late. Things can still be turned around ... and the best way of doing this is to tell us the truth. We aren't stupid and we see what is going on in the rest of the world. But people, especially working class people are hurting badly. The Government has to come forward and show all of us that it not only understands and empathises, but given the circumstances is doing the best that it can. But it will have to explain what these "circumstances" are exactly. Telling us that Moody's has given us a good credit rating means nothing to the man at the bottom. Explain! Explain! Explain! That is one way that you can serve the people! Serve the people! Serve the people!


  1. Yes Robin, but nobody is listening....They may last this term but are unlikely to get another if this keeps up. Dook is at sea...and in deeper waters than the Titanic

    The PM has recently dealt JW the unkindest cut of all...public humiliation with the downsizing of his portfolio, and for what reason I ask?...because he's popular???...silly insecurity and pettiness.

    JW is not my favourite but he certainly appears to be the people's pet. So given the ins and outs of politics, I fear she may have shot herself in the foot

  2. Excellent article!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Well said that Man!!!!!!!!!!!

    Expansion of Point Lisas, stock market
    Published: Sun, 2011-07-17 19:53
    Ira Mathur
    Ira Mathur

    On my way to interview Finance Minister Winston Dookeran in snarling traffic I remembered the first “story” I covered on him while still a student in the 80s. He was explaining to embattled sugar workers how the Frank Rampersad plan for the closure of Caroni (1975) Ltd would allow them land and economic independence. The sugar workers didn’t accept it. They booed him. He was public enemy number one. When the company was eventually dissolved, the workers got nothing sustainable. They must have regretted not accepting his plan. Caroni became a wasteland. For 20 years I have wondered how Dookeran, who has consistently resisted playing to the gallery throughout his career (often to his own detriment) and who most has recently come under fire from local economists including Dr Dhanayshar Mahabir for creating a “stagnant” economy, has navigated the murky waters of political and economic public life. These are excerpts from an exclusive, wide ranging interview.

    Q: You have come under fire for creating a “stagnant economy” by failing to spend more from the public sector investment fund as a means of pushing growth. What is your response?

    The growth strategy for an economy is a sequential one. Our immediate task was to get a contracting and debt riddled economy under control. This included Clico’s $20 billion dollars debt to investors—(ten per cent of our GDP) and five billion dollars to contractors. Globally there were economic crises developing in Greece, Portugal and Ireland and even the US was facing tradeoffs between expenditure and taxation. I took all this into account arriving at my current economic policy.

    I knew we had to take a step by step approach to avert economic disaster. First, we stabilised the deficit, got the debt situation under control and secured the credit rating of the country. This was a precondition of growth. The risk of T&T’s financial position deteriorating was averted notwithstanding the enormous demands on the treasury by Clico depositors, contractors, banks and wage negotiations. This resulted in an international rating that moved from us from negative to positive. full column on Guardian website