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Take politics out of Chaguaramas

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Chaguaramas is one of the most diverse and beautiful parts of T&T with its tropical rainforests, caves, waterfalls and other natural features on more than 14,000 acres of land comprising a peninsula and five offshore islands. With its strategic location on the northwest of Trinidad, it has been the venue for key historical events having served as a World War II US base as well as being the place where the Treaty of Chaguaramas, establishing Caricom, was signed in 1973.

The potential of the area, which remains largely unexploited, has never been in dispute and in recent years efforts to develop it into a prime investment and entertainment destination have been ramped up.

It is such a pity that ongoing development efforts, which are concentrated on just 11 per cent of the lands in Chaguaramas, have now become so bogged down by politics.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s comments about “giveaways” of lands along the peninsula were hardly the first salvo fired in what have been very rancorous exchanges been the PNM and the former PP administration over plans for that area. In fact, the political squabbling dates back quite a few years, casting a shroud over a project that can be of benefit to the entire country.

Some of the completed projects, including the boardwalk and the zipline, have already resulted in increased leisure and entertainment activities.

With still-to-be-realised aspirations for tourism, agricultural and commercial initiatives—which, combined, could be an engine for economic growth of the entire country—it is time for the politics to tone down and for the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA)—which is saddled with significant debts—to be empowered to carry out its mandate.

Days of rest ill-advised

Low productivity is one of the biggest problems in T&T’s workforce to the extent that the country’s attractiveness as a destination for investment is hampered by reports of high absenteeism and inadequate output among employees. That is why the call by Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke for workers of the Board of Inland Revenue and the Customs and Excise Division to stay away from work on Thursday and Friday is ill-advised.

Mr Duke who, facing challenges from at least three opponents in PSA elections later this month, is calling for the industrial action to protest the planned establishment of a Revenue Authority. His intent, he claims, is to protect the jobs of hundreds of workers in the two entities.

However, Mr Duke, who has developed a reputation for shutting down work at ministries and state agencies for a variety of reasons—from health and safety concerns to stalled negotiations—may be doing more harm than good with his latest campaign.

In the face of declining revenues, the focus should be on finding ways to develop a more productive, efficient workforce, not the opposite.

TTPS connecting with the community

Too often the focus of any conversations about the T&T Police Service (TTPS) centres on the low detection rate and the high levels of violent crimes. It would be easy to overlook the recent efforts that are being made by the top brass of the TTPS to engage the wider community with town meetings being held regularly in the various divisions.

This is the type of community engagement that must be sustained over the long term.


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