Monday, October 29, 2012

Letter: Maybe the government needs to shout a little more about its record of governance

Dear Editor

I was listening to the contribution of MP Dr Suruj Rambachan dealing with the motion of censure against the Attorney General when he made an interesting observation. 

He said that there are two things upon which the government is being judged, delivery and governance. This caused me to think and to reflect. I asked myself if the government is delivering as much as he said and from what I have read in the PP’s published magazine “Fulfilling the Promise”, I want to agree with him and to support his contention that the delivery by this government has exceeded my expectations. 

However, though the amount and speed of delivery is indeed formidable, the many noises which have arisen especially over the last year has drowned out the good work the PP government has been doing.

I am amazed that in every area of this country there are projects to improve the infrastructure, drains, roads, bridges, landslips that are being repaired as well as water mains being run for the first time in many traces and streets. 

The record of Dr Gopeesingh in delivering Early Childhood Education Centers is also noteworthy as is his building of primary schools. Vasant Bharath’s vision to cut down the time it takes to register a business or to clear a container speaks about a thinking government in the sense that the government understands the importance of becoming globally competitive. 

The examples of delivery that is meeting the needs of citizens abounds and we must give the Government credit in this regard. Even the attempt to reform the URP program by sticking to the principle of four hours of dedicated work for $69 (17.25 /hour) is a statement of the courage with which the government seems to be approaching even its social programs. If this is an indication that the government wants to push productivity and discipline then it must be supported.

This however brings me to the matter of governance. Has the PP governed badly or is it that the newspapers have made us believe that the government has failed in terms of governance. 

Let me say that the government has not violated the rule of law, has not interfered with the Judiciary , has maintained the separation of powers and has been very forthright in the Parliament with information as well as with its track record of answering questions posed by the opposition. 

Indeed if I heard correctly of ninety seven questions filed, ninety seven questions were answered. This is a tremendous record and despite my reservations on aspects of governance, it ought to be highly complimented. 

This is in stark contrast to the PNM during their last term where they would dismiss the opposition with an air of arrogance with respect to questions filed and would defer answers without apology or explanation.

I believe also that in the interest of good governance and true to her words to be a responsible, accountable and transparent government the Prime Minister herself has taken serious decisions against her Ministers. 

The firing of Mary King, the firing of Justice Volney, the removal of John Sandy, the demotion of Vernella Toppin and the firing of Collin Partap are examples of strong leadership and decisions which could have affected the fortunes of her government but she took them because the public good demanded that they be taken. 

There has not been a Prime Minister who has been so forthright as Mrs Bissessar. Let us also remember her recall of Ambassador Cornelis Baptiste as was again required and demanded by a citizenry who felt deeply embarrassed by the Ambassador’s utterings and behaviour. 

The only flaw in her governance has been the appointment of Reshmi Ramnarine for which she apologized. The matter regarding Section 34 was not of her making. We seem to forget that the entire Parliament and both houses to boot, voted in favour. Further, she acted swiftly to recall parliament in order to repeal the section and again had the humility to apologize.

Let us be truthful to ourselves and let us be objective. There are forces in the country who will like to see the back of this government. The reason is simple. They were beneficiaries of largesse under the PNM which is now beyond their reach. They are not happy with this. The cost overruns and high prices for jobs are no longer available. 

The Ministers of government are taking a serious view of value for money resulting in many of the traditional suppliers and contractors being replaced by a newly emerging group of entrepreneurs from South and Central Trinidad. 

This too has caused problems for the PNM and their supporters to the point where they openly speak against the projects which this government has been advocating for South and Central but refuse to acknowledge that POS and the corridor have not lost any funding.

Governance can be measured in terms of equity and fairness. This government supports all the cultural groups. In fact for the first in the history of this country, the PM has been giving $5000 to each Mandir for Divali, each mosque for Eid and each established Church for Christmas. 

When she distributes toys for Xmas she goes to all parts of the country. Rural underdevelopment is being addressed for the first time in a serious way. The Equal Opportunities Commission has not been closed down and despite the quarrels with the media, the Press is as free as any press in any part of the world. 

In fact under this government people are fearless in their statements critical of the government and also are no longer afraid to be seen demonstrating against the government. This was not so under the PNM. All children get laptop computers! I repeat ALL! So where is the question about poor governance.

Finally, the legislative track record of the Government is an impressive one. The laws passed have all had benefits for the entire population and have dealt with issues relevant to the society at this point in time, viz, crime, money laundering, gangsters, terrorism, protection of children, judicial reform etc. All of this is also about governance!

I started by saying that I agree with Dr Rambachan that the government can be evaluated on delivery and governance. There are no issues in my view with delivery. They are delivering. 

Unfortunately, the issue of governance continues to be raised in a manner designed to paint a negative image of the PP government, when instead, on careful analysis, the PP government has done a creditable job in terms of governance. Maybe the government needs to shout a little more about its record of governance. 

It is this government which has raised the bar with respect of people participation in political decision making. The attitude of the government not to stifle public opinion has led to political conversations and criticisms of government which were uncommon prior to May 24 2010. 

We have a short memory in this country and seem to forget the climate and environment for participation in national decision making prior to May 24th 2010. Maybe, this is as good a time to remind ourselves about this.

And finally, how many times have the PNM taken matters to the Integrity Commission about the PM and they have been overruled? I rest my case.
Sincerely, Chandra Harnanan | St Johns' Road, Via Cipero Road San Fernando

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai