Monday, January 30, 2012


Almost every businessman that you talk to today will tell you privately that he is worried about the country and where we are heading. They will complain that the country is becoming uncompetitive and is falling behind in just about every sphere of business imaginable. They will tell you that there are glaring weaknesses in the schools and in the graduates coming out of the University of the West Indies, that crime is out of control and that clearly nobody has either the will or the capacity to get it under control. They will also complain bitterly about the stagnant economy and the obvious incapacity of the Government to get things moving. Most of all you will hear them complaining about what they perceive to be a lack of leadership and the stagnant economy.

To be fair, most of the complaints about leadership can basically be summed up like this: Rowley ain't cuttin' it. He clearly can't make. Like Manning said, he is like a dog that barks at every passing car in the hope that one day he will catch one. (This leads to the obvious question: what does a dog do when it does eventually catch the car?) But to continue: on the other side a lot of the businessmen say that they still like Kamla but that she has to take control of her Cabinet. They feel that there are some elements in her Cabinet who exercise undue influence on the Lady (the capital "L" is on purpose) and that she is being given poor advice. Further, they point to the rumours of corruption that are swirling around her administration and say that they believe them to be true. Labour is acting up and it is generally felt that trouble will begin after Carnival.

In other words, what is being said by many in the business community privately (and not so privately) is that they are most concerned about the future. They have absolutely no faith in the PNM under Rowley and feel that he (Dr. Rowley) is simply not a credible alternative. On the other side of the coin they feel that Kamla too is failing, though they prefer her to Rowley.

This perception is dangerous in that it creates a feeling of unease in the society that permeates through to all levels. In the past, the PNM was always there as the "default" political party. In other words, we could try ABC party or XYZ but if they didn't work we could always go back to the PNM. The problem is that under Dr. Rowley the PNM is no longer a credible "default" or alternative. The perception is that the PNM has turned sharply to its core African support and really does not care about being multi ethnic or multi cultural. Dr. Rowley didn't help this perception at all with his rather silly criticisms of the Prime Minister's trip to India and her touching the feet of the Indian President ... a gesture that is very acceptable in Hindu culture. Defenders of the Prime Minister have pointed out (quite correctly) that you didn't hear any of these complaints when the Pope visited Trinidad and then President Ellis Clarke ( a sincere and devout Catholic) knelt before him and kissed his ring!

In other words, it was felt/perceived by a sizable portion of the population that these criticisms of the Prime Minister were motivated more by race and ill will than by any honestly held opinion as to her action being an affront to our national identity.

So? What can be done? The present situation is not acceptable and contains within it the possibility of leading to some serious social unrest downstream. The only test of leadership is to lead, and to lead vigorously. The best way for the Prime Minister to get out of this deadly downward spiral that she is now finding herself in is to get the economy moving again. In order to do this she is going to have to deal with her erstwhile Finance Minister and give him the message: lead, follow or get out of the way. There are too many people now who see the nation's glass as being half empty. That perception has to change. We have to be shown that the glass is half full. If she doesn't do that ... and soon ... we will have a very long and dark night to go through.


  1. Excellent! You have hit the nail on the head!

  2. Never had much faith in Robin Montano, but I must admit that what he has described is so true. People are fed-up and if Kamla doesn't take the lead in Her government, we are heading for serious trouble.