Friday, August 19, 2011


"Unless we find a way to either reduce our import demand and replace that with domestic production we are going to be struggling with maintaining a relatively stable TT dollar versus the US dollar,"

Put another way, what the Central Bank Governor is saying in the above quoted article that we look as though we are heading for an inevitable devaluation. More than one reader of this blog has in fact written we to tell me this. Well, the short story is that I agree with them. It certainly looks that way. The long story, though, is a little different in that it ain't necessarily so! A devaluation is not necessarily inevitable and can still be warded off.

What I mean is this: The sad truth is that in the 15 or so months that he has been Finance Minister Mr. Dookeran has done little to engender the necessary confidence in the business community that he has the financial situation under control. They look at the fact that there has beeen an extremely tight rein on Government expenditure and that promised projects and payments are inexplicably delayed, that there is suddenly a huge squeeze by the commercial banks on hitherto good customers ... which squeeze the banks say is being dictated to them by the Central Bank ... and the absolute dearth of clear information as to exactly what is the state of our finances. After more than two years the infamous Clico accounts, we are told, are still in a mess! Really? If that is true, then where in the name of heaven was the Regulatory Authority (better known as the Central Bank) in all those years previously when Clico and its executives were bestriding the world like a colossos (or is it 'colossi'?)? Where were the auditors? How come nobody has been charged with fraud?

It may very well be that Mr. Dookeran is doing a fine job in his Ministry and that he is indeed saving us all from an even greater calamity that could befall our tiny nation state in the global economic hurricanes that are blowing at this time. But he just isn't telling us a thing! And this is the man who preached transparency, new politics and open government all the while that he was in opposition! So, what happened? Was all that just a lie? Is he a hypocrite who says one thing but does another? What? Why can't he explain?

A Finance Minister has to lead ... and the only way to lead is to lead vigourously. He cannot stay in his ivory tower, drink coffee and hold meetings with the IMF boffins who tell him that he is doing a great job. He might be , but we don't know that!!! And therein lies the problem. Why can we not be trusted with the truth?

The TT dollar is sinking as against the US dollar. The US dollar is sinking as against many of the world's major currencies, so we are getting hit not once, but twice! And the main reason that our dollar is sinking is because there is a lack of confidence in Mr. Dookeran's management of the economy. And the main reason for that lack of confidence is because he simply will not explain to us what exactly is going on.

The time has come for Mr. Dookeran to be replaced as Finance Minister ... before it is too late. If the reality is that he is really doing a good job (which I will be the first to admit might be possible) then keep him on as a junior Finance Minister where from behind the scenes he can help. But put a person who can lead ... Vassant Bharath comes to mind for example, although agriculture is so important that I would hate to see him go from there. The problem is that the Finance Ministry is the most important ministry of all. Without good management and leadership there nothing happens! It is still not too late. The economic situation can still be turned around. What is needed is a huge dose of confidence to be injected into the national pysche. And it is clear that whatever his virtues (which may be many) Mr. Dookeran's ability to engender confidence is clearly not one of them. Because, mark me well, in the words of Gypsy's immortal calypso, Captain, the ship is sinking and without that confidence the very bad storms which are gathering on the not so distant horizon will strike to the detriment of all.

Isn't there a saying about who doh hear must feel?

1 comment:

  1. Of course, this sentiment applies to so many aspects of our National Development where we react instead of being proactive.
    Pick any area.
    Sports?.... 'we boy' is supported only after he has performed in the international arena and no longer really needs our support.
    Business?... so now we go after the Harts and Clicos after the horses have bolted, but fail to go after those who are continuing to perpetrate the rape and plunder.
    Governance? .... not enough space to comment on that.

    Wise Men Learn from their mistakes,
    Enlightened Men learn from the mistakes of others,
    But, Trinis never learn

    party on,