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Let good sense prevail, Mr Duke

Published: 
Friday, November 10, 2017

None of the reasons given so far by Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke justify his call for a two-day “holiday” protest by workers of the Customs and Excise Division and the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR). His claims of concern for the job security of the workers is a clear case of jumping the gun since indications are that they will all be transferred to the proposed T&T Revenue Authority (TTRA).

Apart from an extended, unauthorised long weekend for the public servants who decide to heed Mr Duke’s call, the only thing that could possibly be achieved by the current protest is a marked drop in productivity levels at two significant public sector entities.

However, it is clear by now that improving on public sector productivity and efficiency are not priorities for Mr Duke. Indeed his tenure at the helm of the country’s largest public sector union has been characterised by the labels he has used to bring about work stoppages in essential services where strikes are illegal—from exaggerated claims of health and safety violations to the current excuse about job security.

The planned TTRA is yet to be shaped properly, yet Mr Duke is demanding guarantees of employment for the workers involved. It doesn’t matter to him that given the grave economic situation in the country, Government needs to reduce expenditure and become more efficient.

At a time when money has to be borrowed to pay public sector wages, Mr Duke’s insistence on no job reductions is, at the very least, irresponsible. The hope is that the outspoken PSA leader will allow good sense to prevail when he meets with Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Monday to discuss the TTRA.

Contractors should pay for bad public work

Every year, billions in scarce taxpayers’ dollars are handed over to contractors to repair dilapidated roads, broken bridges and clogged drains. Anecdotal information suggests that many of these works have to be undertaken to remedy shoddy work—and sometimes even the remedial work itself soon has to be fixed.

In the heat of protests, where accusations are often directed at line ministers and political representatives, the culpability of contractors when there is shoddy workmanship is often overlooked.

While there has been a hue and cry over the huge debts Government still owes to some contractors, little is heard about how or whether contractors are held to account for shoddy or incomplete work. At the local and central government levels, there are too many examples of badly done projects for this important fact to be ignored.

What about guarantees and warranties and who is responsible when there is official signing off on projects that need to be redone within a few short months or years?

Evidence suggests that T&T often does not get value for money on infrastructural work.

Crawford inspires a new generation

More than four decades later, the accomplishments of Hasely Crawford, this country’s first Olympic gold medallist, are being celebrated through the National Gas Company’s (NGC) National Heroes Project. On Wednesday the Hasely Crawford Exhibition opened at the National Library in Port-of-Spain giving a whole generation of Trinidadians and Tobagonians who were not even born when Mr Crawford became the fastest human in the world, an opportunity to learn about and be inspired by his historic feat.