PM hints he needs Jet

By Clint Chan Tack
Thursday, April 3 2008
www.newsday.co.tt

Manning And The JetPRIME MINISTER Patrick Manning last night announced that two of the country’s 14 local government bodies will be axed.

In a televised address to the nation, the Prime Minister disclosed talks have begun with the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) to “identify new boundaries for local government” ahead of the local government election which will be held “later this year” .

Manning also hinted the Government still plans to acquire an executive jet with this country due to host the Fifth Summit of the Americas and Commonwealth Heads of Government summit next year and to honour overseas commitments in China, India and Africa.

A deal between Caribbean Airlines and Bombardier on the purchase of a jet fell through last month and the airlines said it is still looking for a jet to launch its service, in spite of a public outcry.

He subtly criticised Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday’s actions in Parliament last Friday, reminding the country “it is the responsibility of all citizens to do nothing through which our country will be ill-served.”

“We should all at this time, intensify our patriotism rather than pursue the purely partisan agenda. Government will continue to respect the democratic rights of the citizenry to express themselves on any issue but will also ensure that the best interest of the nation is protected at all times,” the Prime Minister declared.

Describing the local government system as “quite dysfunctional,” Manning said the Government is proposing a reduction in the number of local government bodies and a review of local government boundaries “to achieve greater administrative clarity and increased effectiveness in the deployment of national resources.”

He said a green paper on new responsibilities for local government would be laid in Parliament.

“When this critical issue is decided upon, we will then proceed to design a new administrative system as well as new executive councils, an idea already placed in the public domain by the PNM.”

Manning said the new local government boundaries would be “co-terminus with those for the general election” to bring the same size of population under the ambit of each regional corporation “while at the same time expanding the reach of our municipalities consistent with the expansion of our urban communities.”

Apart from hosting two major summits next year, Manning said this country has “long outstanding requests” to visit China and India.

“It is clearly in our national interest to strengthen the economic and cultural ties with these two long outstanding allies,” he stated.

The Prime Minister added that his “increased foreign travel” will also be required to keep TT’s energy cooperation initiative with ten African countries alive.

http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,76152.html

24 Responses to “PM hints he needs Jet”


  • Patrick Manning used his address to the nation to once again sell the idea that he needs a jet for his international travel commitments. To me, that was the real reason for his address to the nation. The speech mostly repeated promises with no substance about how they would be implemented.

    High food prices, crime and traffic jams are directly affecting most people (certainly not the Prime Minister) and Manning is trying to give the impression that he is doing something about it. But in doing so, he kept talking about the amount of travel he would be doing as the country is hosting summits and is offering assistance to several African nations, which was simply about selling the need for a jet.

  • A Trini of whatever ethnic group, or social class, wanting to go to Nigeria, India or Kenya has to travel first to Europe or North America, wait in transit, which is a glorified cage, and then connect to one or two other flights to get to his/her destination.
    In plotting a trip to Nigeria earlier this year, from a North American city, I had hoped to go to Ethiopia also, to visit the headquarters of the African Union.

    Well. This is how it would have worked out. First fly to Europe- London, Paris or Amsterdam, connect to Nigeria, visit for the wedding I was going to, then fly back to France to catch a flight to Addis Ababa. The cost? Way outside my budget. A friend in the oil business flying to Nigeria and then on to Angola, first had to fly USA to Paris to Nigeria, then back to Paris then on to Angola. Since his business in Nigeria had not been concluded before the trip to Angola became necessary,it was back to Paris, then Nigeria, then back to Paris again then on home. Ridiculous!

    These routes were designed to benefit our European colonial masters. Nothing has changed in the fifty years sicce Ghana became independent, and began the domino effect on the British Empire.

    In all these intransit lounges, an African man, head of state or not, is not offered any special protection based on his status.
    I have seen the Governor General of Jamaica, Sir Harlan Cooke, waiting in a US city, in an open basement garage for his car to pull up. In the Caribbean, he would have been given better treatment because of his status. For hundreds of years we have been pulling out th estops for heads of other countries who took vcations in our countries at our expense. Anybody ever calculated the costs of that? When UWI students protested in the 1960’s they were branded as hooligans, though one went on to found the Unit Trust Corp.

    I say, buy the jet. Our dignity is worth something, but lease it out as needed for heads of state of other Caribbean countries, so it will not sit idle most of the time.They must pay cash, upfront. I would caution though, that the maintenance crew be given the highest possible clearance, and constantly vetted for corruption. Bank account numbers must be part of their security clearance.Presidents of places like Pakistan and others have been done in on special planes.

  • I suspected that the absence of certain commentators on this issue was because they wanted the Prime Minister to buy the US $65 million jet purely based on party loyalty.

    Patrick Manning has not shown why it is necessary to saddle the public with this tremendous expense.

    Manning tried to appeal to the different races in his vainglorious attempt to justify the purchase. He mentioned that Trinidad and Tobago was to freely assist several African nations in developing their energy sector, then he added that he plans to visit India and China (state visits). Is Patrick Manning now implying that because he plans to visit countries with races that connect with Trinidadians and Tobagonians ancestrally then people should not have an issue with him acquiring a jet? Did he toss in the bit about a state visit to India and China to appear to be balanced in his travels?

    If African nations want Trinidad and Tobago’s help in developing their energy sector, the least they should do is pay the cost of travel where necessary. I am suggesting that there is hardly any need for the Prime Minister to visit those countries if Trinidad and Tobago wants to assist. But if he and other technical people have to visit Africa once a year or so, then using regular flights should suffice, and I would be strained to add, they could continue chartering flights.

    We have not gotten the government’s travel expense for the last seven years. We have not been given the details to justify this increase in travel expense and why the current method of chartering flights is no longer acceptable.

    Several of us have long been asking for the government to look into the feasibility of our airline facilitating direct weekly or fortnightly flights to Africa. I know it may not be financially profitable to have regular direct flights from Trinidad to Africa until there are more people making those trips. Until then, airlines will prefer the colonial routes as they would be able to pick up more passengers.

    Linda Edwards:

    “In all these intransit lounges, an African man, head of state or not, is not offered any special protection based on his status.”

    Are you saying that White Heads of State get special protection in transit lounges that African Heads of State do not get? If so, explain how this is done. As far as I know, an African Head of State with a diplomatic passport is not treated like other passengers. When there are security or time concerns they do make special arrangements with different countries or they can use private jets for direct travel at rates way below what was proposed by CA.

    Manning is no champion for African causes. In fact, during Emancipation celebrations a few years ago, he spoke of our ancestors as “your ancestors”. He did not think our African ancestors were his too. He also supports neocolonialism so he is not about removing European and American hegemony in Trinidad and Tobago. Your implied claim of racism in transit lounges and your talk of routes that benefit colonial masters are not the concern of Manning. He has never shown any concern about those issues.

    Here it is you are trying to exploit race/racism to support Manning getting a jet when you seem to have a problem with others using race to explain issues with comments like:

    “It should never descend into another racial discussion, but like race in the USA, it is the eighthundred [sic] pound gorilla in the room. It affects the balance of all arguments.”

    Some people conveniently use race for political agendas. When the issues surrounding race are used, in context, but in ways that do not favour their party, they are opposed to racial discussions.

  • At this point in the debate to acquire a jet or not to acquire a jet is not the question which should be answered immediately. What is even more important and disturbing here is the duplicitous manner in which the government slipped this information and announcement to purchase the jet to the public. They have conspired to cover up their true intentions by dishonestly involving and coercing Caribbean airlines into this plot, while making it appear that the purchase was the business of Caribbean Airlines. Initial denials of the proposed deal by Imbert were later moderated in the House and finally, to add insult to injury, the new “before the courts”, unelected recruit in the Ministry of Finance, Mr Browne, casually announced that he approved the funds to purchase Manning’s jet. This government has undertaken some excellent initiatives, but this is not one of them!

  • Now on to the action, Mr PM

    His statement comprised a combination of encouraging proposed measures, a few in the process of implementation, rehashed plans and vague contentions which need to be substantiated with details.

    With regard to the latter, none more so than his first attempt to seek to justify the purchase of an executive jet aircraft for prime ministerial and governmental use. Mr Manning threw together a rough agenda for travel, mixing the travel of experts to assist certain African countries with prime ministerial travel, general statements on travel to finalise plans for the two summits the country is to host next year, and proposed visits to India and China.

    However, using his words, “we must be able to fulfil our international obligations in an efficient and cost-effective manner.”

    While there can be little doubting the reality of the travel commitments, it would be incumbent on the Government to publish a cost benefit analysis that would compare the cost of purchasing and maintaining an executive jet as opposed to using commercial air services or leasing aircraft on an as- needed basis.

    Full Article : guardian.co.tt

  • Instead of fiddling with his laptop, Mr Panday should be asking tough questions in the House. For example:

    Is T&T now providing foreign aid to countries in need? How can the Government justify spending enormous sums of money to purchase a jet to facilitate foreign aid when it is failing to fix its own house?

    Why is the Prime Minister so preoccupied with fulfilling “international obligations” when his government is failing and has failed to provide basic services to the people of T&T?

  • “These routes were designed to benefit our European colonial masters. ”

    – What??? routes are chosen based on passenger demand, profitability, airport fees, weather patterns, air-space restrictions and a number of other variables – not one ‘X’ that figures out how the best benefit Europeans.

    “In all these in transit lounges, an African man, head of state or not, is not offered any special protection based on his status.”

    – Only African men are not offered special protection? Do they require special protection? Of course the statement quoted is false and meant to mislead as I have personally seen Manning and his entourage in the VIP lounge in London Heathrow. If the President of tiny Palau could stand up to security at Manila International and refuse to be frisked, surly Manning who is head of a far more “globally important” country as he put it in his address to the nation (i.e. sales pitch for a plane) doesn’t need to go through the same screening process as civilians if he demands it.

    “I say, buy the jet. Our dignity is worth something”

    – yes, our dignity is worth ~$400 million dollars so we can look good in the eyes of less developed nations. Never mind the dignity of not having patients sleeping on concrete floors in San Fernando General or families not being robbed and terrorized because police say they don’t have vehicles to respond to calls. When Manning used double talk saying government had no intention of purchasing a plane and then months later pursued a deal behind the population’s backs…how much was out dignity worth then?

    Where are the figures that show how much travel Manning intends to do? Where is the feasibility study to compare chartered flights directly to the proposed destinations?

  • To fill out his transportation needs, and to be sure that he can identify with all his constituents, it is recommended that the Hon. Prime Minister buy two additional modes of transport.
    One: a cart drwn by buffalypso, for visiting constituencies in wet, flood prone areas, and two: a donkey for riding through the dry hills, and landslide prone areas. He might also get a bike while he is at it, to ride through POS’s constricted traffic.
    How the people of St. Anns would respond to a donkey’s braying in their front yard,or the smell of dung from both animals will be another issue.
    Then too, there will be countless opportunities for people to make jokes about which is the jackass, the rider or his ride.That should distract from the constant complaints about food prices. In the Williams years, we had price controls, and many people got into spending on things they could not really afford, because the prices of basic necessities were low.

    Times have changed now. Those two generations of microwave people, who buy food from vendors and heat up, could learn to cook, to save prices.

    Every fast-food place is still filled, while we bellyache about high prices.

    When prices are too high, I cut certain items out of my lifestyle. At the same time, the history of European “bread riots” is there for all to ponder.

  • While the criticism a of Manning is valid and to a large extent justified, the issue of a ajet for travelling heads of state should not be tied in with matters of crime, the hospital and other matters of the sort. Each issue should be discussed on it’s own merit. Manning cannot OWN the jet, it will be the property of the government or corporation as the case may be, but I do not fault a prime minister for flying ‘in style’. My problem with them is the way they chose to procure the item by making phony excuses and building silly excuses. We are grown people and in this day and age mode of travel is important in how business is conducted. Would the use of a jet facilitate this process? – the answer is yes. Should the prime minister allow simmering issues like what is taking place in the hospital to continue ad infinitum? No. Should he be more concerned and show greater effort in the fight against crime? Sure. Should he be more effective in the deliverance of services from WASA? Definitely. There are hosts of problems that he should deal with simultaneously with his drive to obtain a more direct mode of travel to and from Trinidad and Tobago. Those who have criticised his methods to obtain the jet are justfied as well because he needs to demonstrate to the population a serious sense of urgency and committment in dealing with the other problems.

  • Riaz Ali:

    “These routes were designed to benefit our European colonial masters.”

    – What??? routes are chosen based on passenger demand, profitability, airport fees, weather patterns, air-space restrictions and a number of other variables – not one ‘X’ that figures out how the best benefit Europeans.

    While air (and sea) travel routes do follow the afore-mentioned criteria, these routes were initially developed by European colonial powers to suit their travel desires, which include their economic interest. The passenger demand, profitability, airport fees, air-space restrictions and a number of other variables were initially set up to suit colonial powers. Presently, these former colonial powers are the ones that mostly benefit from these travel routes.

    The fact that these routes were established that way meant that over time people would have been accustomed to using these European airports as transit hubs thereby making it more profitable for any developing or small airline to use those established routes instead of developing new ones.

    To change that pattern, we would have to create a demand for an alternative route in relation to tourism and trade to make it economically viable.

    If previously T&T governments were willing to facilitate Trinidadians and Tobagonians in developing closer ties with our diverse ancestral countries, then they would have been trading more prominently with Africa, India and other countries, instead of depending on the US and other European countries as trade partners. That way, more people from T&T would have been traveling to these different countries and maybe today direct flights from T&T would have been economically viable.

    I believe the T&T government is being encouraged by the US government/oil companies to develop closer ties with oil producing nations in Africa to further assist US oil companies in getting into those markets. T&T’s interest in “freely” assisting Africa’s oil producing nations is certainly not out of benevolence, and we should be highly suspect of these claims especially since T&T government usually acquiesces to the US government.

  • As Heru rightly said, “To change that pattern, we would have to create a demand for an alternative route in relation to tourism and trade to make it economically viable.

    Emphasis on the word “create.”

    The airlines that are based in Europe will run according to customer demand for Europeans wanting to go to a destination or persons from a particular location wanting to go to Europe. In the case of Africa, more Europeans travel to Africa for tourism and/or business than the other way around. You can’t ask say, BA to fly between Harare and Mombasa exclusively the same way you can’t ask Caribbean Airline to fly between Toronto and Ney York alone. All routes always tend back to the direction of the home base.

    The African based airlines do serve the continent well. Take the example Linda mentioned about wanting to go to Nigeria and then Addis Ababa. Instead of flying back to Paris in between destinations, a trip can be made with a stop in Nairobi or Douala. It would require using a non-European based airline though i.e. one that uses routes not beneficial to the Europeans. A colleague of mine flies directly from New York to Nigeria and sometimes continues onto South Africa. Privately owned airlines fly where they make most money.

    Each route will benefit some group of people…if they didn’t then there would be no routes. BUT these routes don’t only benefit Europeans alone and some don’t benefit them at all.

  • L.Logan well said. I think your thought process is on point.

  • L.Logan said:

    While the criticism a of Manning is valid and to a large extent justified, the issue of a ajet for travelling heads of state should not be tied in with matters of crime, the hospital and other matters of the sort. Each issue should be discussed on it’s own merit. Manning cannot OWN the jet, it will be the property of the government or corporation as the case may be, but I do not fault a prime minister for flying ‘in style’.

    It is quite absurd to think that the issue of the jet should be viewed separate and apart from other compelling issues in the country. The money that is spent is being drawn from the same funds belonging to all the people of Trinidad and Tobago, and as such, the people should have a say as to how and where the money should be spent.

    This money should be used for the benefit of us all but, unfortunately, this is not the case as the whims and fancies of the government has taken precedent over the needs and wants of the people.

    Anytime government wastes money, people are right to point out all the other goods and services the money should have been spent on including, “…crime, the hospital and other matters of the sort.”

    A poor use of funds in any area of government has an adverse effect on all other areas of government control.

    There is a host of issues that Manning should address before considering a more luxurious mode of travel but the Prime Minister has demonstrated that he puts his desires first before the needs of the people. He increased ministers’ salaries umpteen times; he built a $148, 000,000 palace; he is even bent on acquiring a multi-million dollar jet without even showing why it is necessary.

    The fact that most people are in disagreement with the idea of Manning purchasing a jet should be enough to convince him to shelve the idea instead of belligerently pursuing it without proper transparency and accountability.

    Remember the uproar from PNM supporters when UNC, coming to the end of their term in government, purchased two Mercedes Benz for the official vehicles of the Prime Minister? When PNM won the next elections, the PNM ministers made public some of the entertainment expenses of Basdeo Panday to show how excessive he was. There was much condemnation about UNC’s excessive conduct. They made much of the amount of money the UNC government spent in renovating the Prime Minister’s residence and the current office of the Prime Minister, funds no way close to the $148,000,000 that Patrick Manning’s government spent to rebuild the Prime Minister’s residence (that was recently renovated). Basdeo Panday left office before he had driven the two Benz that were purchased for the Prime Minister’s use and Manning inherited them, but the PNM government still purchased new luxury vehicles for the Prime Minister.

    So there is a history of excessiveness associated with the Prime Minister’s office and the attempt to purchase a jet is part of this. People have a right to voice their discontent and a responsibility to ensure that their displeasure is made known so that corrective measures can be implemented.

  • L. Paul – Your point of reasoning is the same as saying that ‘in a democratic society we all have the right to criticise the government and be prime minister ourselves, if we want’ and you will be right if that is how democracy really works. the criticisms you made were made for every major development we invested in Trinidad. When the government introduced the sewer systems (Lock Joint), they were wildly criticised, same points you are making now. Savonetta -same thing, Point Lisas – same thing, even UTT. Who determines what is the ‘poor use of funds’ as you call it? Since you made the argument – I will challenge you that paying ministers and other parliamentarians well IS NOT a waste of money. I want my parliamentarians to be paid well. That is NOT a naive comment. I want to know that the tax payers pay them well, so if and when they are caught in corruption they must be severely dealt with. The ‘$148M palace’ that you spoke of, if your pm of choice were to be elected today, do you think he would say that he does NOT want to live there?, it is foolish to describe a head of governmenttravel as ‘luxurious’ – do you want them to travel in a box cart? I aagree that the way Mr. Maqnning is going about his request is wrong. He should make a case for it that should NOT point to himself but the need for it. But that too does not constitute ‘a waste of money’ because the owner of the jet would still be the people of Trinidad and Tobago. When the money is diverted into private hands you should RAISE HELL. What is wrong with Rapid Rail, Water Taxi – the concept is NOT wrong. Everything being equal those projects should benefit the people – NOT the corruption(if any).

  • L.Logan,

    You misrepresented what I said.

    L.Logan said: Your point of reasoning is the same as saying that ‘in a democratic society we all have the right to criticise the government and be prime minister ourselves, if we want’ and you will be right if that is how democracy really works. the criticisms you made were made for every major development we invested in Trinidad. When the government introduced the sewer systems (Lock Joint), they were wildly criticised, same points you are making now. Savonetta -same thing, Point Lisas – same thing, even UTT.

    In a democratic society we do have the right to criticize the government and we should be aware of our rights to ensure that the elected government operates to serve the needs of the people. In case you didn’t know, Manning did not ascend to the Prime Ministership by divine right. It was the people who elected him into power. If there were widespread concerns about the “…sewer systems… Savonetta… Point Lisas…even UTT” then the government should have taken the concerns of the public into consideration and should have given us the details about those investments. People should be in uproar over the lack of accountability and transparency surrounding that university. Unfortunately, the government is not noted for being transparent. If they are uncertain that these measures are not what the people want, they could, for example, look at systems used in other countries (Venezuela our nearest example) and have the public decide using referendums.

    L.Logan said: the criticisms you made were made for every major development we invested in Trinidad.

    What are you speaking about?

    L.Logan:
    Q: Who determines what is the ‘poor use of funds’ as you call it?

    A: The People. As diverse as their views may be on this, the people’s views should be considered and with transparency and accountability we can reasonably evaluate how our funds are being spent.

    L.Logan said: Since you made the argument – I will challenge you that paying ministers and other parliamentarians well IS NOT a waste of money. I want my parliamentarians to be paid well. That is NOT a naive comment. I want to know that the tax payers pay them well, so if and when they are caught in corruption they must be severely dealt with.

    Again you misconstrue. I never said that “ministers and other parliamentarians” should not be paid well so you are not challenging what I said. What I did say was:

    “There is a host of issues that Manning should address before considering a more luxurious mode of travel but the Prime Minister has demonstrated that he puts his desires first before the needs of the people. He increased ministers’ salaries umpteen times; he built a $148, 000,000 palace; he is even bent on acquiring a multi-million dollar jet without even showing why it is necessary.”

    L.Logan said: The ‘$148M palace’ that you spoke of, if your pm of choice were to be elected today, do you think he would say that he does NOT want to live there?

    What does this have to do with the criticisms made for the excessive spending of the government. Does this somehow justify the extravagant spending? What you are saying then is if one does wrong and someone else (possibly an adversary) may later reap the benefits, then the wrongdoer should do it anyway.

    L.Logan said: “it is foolish to describe a head of governmenttravel as ‘luxurious’ – do you want them to travel in a box cart?”

    Considering that Manning has not properly explained the need for a US $65 million jet as opposed to his customary mode of travel which he has not given sufficient reason for abandoning, the idea of that jet is indeed luxurious. In fact, having our Prime Minister ride in rock-star royalty without proper justification for it, especially when the country faces mass poverty, high crime rates, rising food prices, imperialist exploitation of our natural resources, corruption in our highest offices inter alia, demonstrates that it is an expense that is unwarranted. It is luxurious spending.

    Going to the extreme as others have done to suggest that government ministers should “travel in a box cart” is just being ridiculous.

    L.Logan said: But that too does not constitute ‘a waste of money’ because the owner of the jet would still be the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

    So if the people of Trinidad and Tobago (the majority of which would never ride in this jet) do not want their funds to be spent in a particular way, are you saying that they should accept it because they would be the de jure owners of this jet? The majority of the people are in fact saying that they do not want to be the owners of this jet.

    L.Logan said: When the money is diverted into private hands you should RAISE HELL.

    If people do not see how they benefit from government’s spending, to them, it is tantamount to giving away money to cronies or pocketing it themselves; in this case people feel that only few would “benefit” from the use of the jet…the few that get to ride it. There has been no cost benefit analysis or any a proper reason to show how this expenditure would benefit the majority of people.

  • I am NOT PNM, UNC or COP. I find political affiliations too clustrophobic, I aam a free thinker and as I said before, in a democratic society people have the right to protest, demonstrate, disagree and petition the statisco. The same way L. Paul makes the argument that the people/public have the right to do those those things, the powers that be have the same right to ignore when those same arguments do not collectively add up to be objective. When governments travel the wrong path and the collective will of the people ais used objectively to address those concerns, any government will respond. Problems with the conversations I read here are that ninety nine percent have overt political overtones which tend to suggest that issues of national concerns almost always get two opposing sides (because of party overtones) and seldom amount to a ‘people’s national issue’. The politics of the arguments are almost always slanted towards the party that they sympathise with as opposed to national (meaning cross party lines)interest. Most of what you argue, I may find easy for me not to take issue with but then again I find it immature when we blame government for every single one of our ills. This does not mean that I am pro government, what it means is that I understand the role of government and ppeople have a role to play in those decisions that government makes. ‘Democracy Is Not A Spectator Sport’. Most governments respond when they find that the will of the people represents truth. When those truths are expressed in ways that are not totally representative, you make it ahard for government to identify whether they should respond or not.

  • well is either a jet he wants or a deputy prime minister.. my money on both options 50/50

    maybe we go have to start calling hazel DP hazel..

  • L.Logan said: I am NOT PNM, UNC or COP. I find political affiliations too clustrophobic, I aam a free thinker and as I said before, in a democratic society people have the right to protest, demonstrate, disagree and petition the statisco.

    Stating that you are not a member of a political party does not amount to much. Not belonging to a particular political party does not mean that you are unbiased or honest. It does not mean that you have a better view of things either.

    L.Logan said: The same way L. Paul makes the argument that the people/public have the right to do those those things, the powers that be have the same right to ignore when those same arguments do not collectively add up to be objective.

    No. The powers that be do not have the right to ignore the concerns of the people under some illusion that the concerns of the public are not “objective.” What does your entire statement really mean anyhow? Are you suggesting that the government is in some way the custodians and conveyors of objectivity?

    L.Logan said: When governments travel the wrong path and the collective will of the people ais used objectively to address those concerns, any government will respond.

    The government could respond in many ways and one of the ways is to weigh the cost of dismissing what the public is saying against the possibility of the said public actually taking to the streets in protest and eventually removing the government. The government is persistent about acquiring a jet that most citizens do not want. The calls for transparency and accountability have been very objective and the government still has not responded to that.

    L.Logan said: The politics of the arguments are almost always slanted towards the party that they sympathise with as opposed to national (meaning cross party lines)interest.

    This may be so in general, but which party am I slanted towards?

    L.Logan said: Most of what you argue, I may find easy for me not to take issue with but then again I find it immature when we blame government for every single one of our ills.

    Where in what I have stated did I blame the government for every single one of our ills? Where is the evidence that people are actually blaming the government for all the ills? However, people are right to take the government to task for promising that they would solve many issues and not delivering on their promises.

    L.Logan said: This does not mean that I am pro government, what it means is that I understand the role of government and ppeople have a role to play in those decisions that government makes. Democracy Is Not A Spectator Sport’. Most governments respond when they find that the will of the people represents truth.

    Anybody can say that they don’t support a political party and yet still defend the wrongs they do. What many people have been asking for with regards to the jet issue is transparency. In 2007 Manning went on a test ride on the jet and people voiced their suspicions about a possible jet purchase. The government hurriedly said that they had no intensions of buying a jet. They lied! They did so because it was politically expedient to say that and not risk losing votes over the issue. From then to now they have continually lied about their intensions over the purchase of a jet. You also said, “Most governments respond when they find that the will of the people represents truth.” This is nonsense… hardly the reality in most cases. You are trying to give government a divine status.

    L.Logan said: When those truths are expressed in ways that are not totally representative, you make it ahard for government to identify whether they should respond or not.

    I don’t know what this statement means. Governments are not known for being truthful; just opportunistic. If they do what is right, it is only because they can politically profit from it and not because they have a policy to be truthful and righteous.

  • L. Paul my arguments are simple.
    I am not saying that government is the custodians and conveyors of objectivity, what I am saying is that when we blame and lays the responsibility of resolution on government, such protest, blame or accusation must seem to have legitimacy from the accusing forces. The truth and objectivity must lie in the claim. The merits of the claims must not be ambiguous. Lets say, the issue of crime – I do not think that any segment of the population is happy with what is going on, regardless of party affiliation, location, region, religion or affinity. But it does not mean that because I am against the government’s ineptitude on crime I must join with people who protests with a coffin to put the prime minister(symbolically) in his grave. Actions like that do not help the cause of the protest, they weaken it.
    My reason for stating political affinity is because we appear to taint everything we do and say with party labels, to me that weakens any argument even though it is sometimes astute to identify such affinity. The merit of the argument is stronger when one makes the point as a Trinbagonian.
    Whilst, it is ok for citizens to protest the acquisition of a jet it is also weakening the argument when they feel that government has the right to show the public it’s balance sheet before making such
    a decision. The people made the judgement that the government is capable of running the affairs of the country in November, 2007, like it or not. But we cannot act as accountants and auditors for everything the government does.
    I continue to say that there is a need for such a jet but the pm is making the wrong argument for it.

  • L.Logan said: I am not saying that government is the custodians and conveyors of objectivity, what I am saying is that when we blame and lays the responsibility of resolution on government, such protest, blame or accusation must seem to have legitimacy from the accusing forces.

    This does not make sense to me. First of all, if before a political party is elected to office they promise to deliver certain things, then fails to mete them out when elected, then by all means the public should blame them if they fail. Secondly, if the government feels that the concerns of the people are illegitimate then they should sufficiently inform them as to why the way of the government may be a better for the well-being of the country. If the PNM was honest from day one about their desire to purchase a jet and give sufficient information to the public as to why it could benefit the country then the people could have swayed in their opinion by way of reasonability. This was not the case and, quite frankly, the PNM government lied, and based on their utterances, they have no real need for a jet except to be used as a status symbol.

    L.Logan said: The truth and objectivity must lie in the claim. The merits of the claims must not be ambiguous.

    From what you have written, it is the government that is the sole determinant of what is ambiguous and what is not.

    L.Logan said: Lets say, the issue of crime – I do not think that any segment of the population is happy with what is going on, regardless of party affiliation, location, region, religion or affinity. But it does not mean that because I am against the government’s ineptitude on crime I must join with people who protests with a coffin to put the prime minister(symbolically) in his grave. Actions like that do not help the cause of the protest, they weaken it.

    This, to me, is quite silly. In any protest there would be those with their political agendas but do you remain silent because it looks bad for the current ruler and the ruling party? Also, who said that you had to, “join with people who protests with a coffin to put the prime minister(symbolically) in his grave?” If people generally support a party but disagree with a decision they can still voice their concerns and not betray their loyalties. Too often people believe that they must remain mum because they don’t want to appear as if they are disloyal to party or be seen as giving ‘the enemy’ one up on the party of their choice.

    L.Logan said: My reason for stating political affinity is because we appear to taint everything we do and say with party labels, to me that weakens any argument even though it is sometimes astute to identify such affinity. The merit of the argument is stronger when one makes the point as a Trinbagonian.

    This again proves that your attempt to critique my responses is based on your assumptions of my political affiliations. But, even if I am politically affiliated with another party, that does not invalidate my arguments. Only those with very base ideas about partisan politics may feel that because one criticizes wrongs done by the incumbent government means that they are anti-government. Unfortunately, this is the nature of Trinidad and Tobago (and world) politics. Also, what is this really supposed to mean: “The merit of the argument is stronger when one makes the point as a Trinbagonian?” If one makes the point that Manning’s jet aspirations are so far unjustifiable as a COP, a UNC, a PNM, an Indian, an African, a Mixed person, a Trinidadian, a Tobagonian, a Trinbagonian or even someone who is not native to this country but if following up on this issue, how do you measure the strength of their argument? This also speaks of a superiority complex you may feel because you claim that you are not aligned to a party and you feel that others hold an inferior perspective on the issue because of their possible political alignment. So, quite clearly, not being aligned to a political party has not absolved you from being prejudiced and ill-informed.

    L.Logan said: Whilst, it is ok for citizens to protest the acquisition of a jet it is also weakening the argument when they feel that government has the right to show the public it’s balance sheet before making such a decision.

    Government has a duty (although people are generally not aware of this and may not feel the need to challenge every government spending) to show the public how the money is being spent, especially when the public have expressed that they want the money to spent in other ways such as for better health care facilities, schools, crime solving mechanisms, etc. By the way, this is partly why government has to present a budget and it is debated in parliament. Political parties also put out manifestos to give the public an idea of how they would be utilizing the country’s resources. Unfortunately, quite often, they spend outside of their manifestos and the budget, as they are attempting to do with this jet issue. So the public is quite right to demand full disclosure and not allow the government to feel that they have successfully hoodwinked the nation.

    L.Logan said: The people made the judgement that the government is capable of running the affairs of the country in November, 2007, like it or not.

    This does not mean that the people should close their eyes to what the government does during its tenure. Some people may have voted for this government because they believed that they could fulfill the promises laid out in their manifesto. If the government fails to deliver or if they decide to do something or purchase something that they did not bring to the attention of the public during or before an election then they must get the approval of the people before implementing. As I suggested earlier, using referendums can greatly assist in this regard.

    L.Logan said: I continue to say that there is a need for such a jet but the pm is making the wrong argument for it.

    Well, neither you nor the Prime Minister has put forward sufficient reasons for owning a jet. Also, if the PM is making the wrong argument for the jet as you say, then how can you suggest that there is a need for it by the government? The need comes with the reasoning. Otherwise, it is an unnecessary and unjustifiable waste of resources.

  • So far it seems that L. Paul arguments are for the people and mine for the government, even though that is not my intention, I argue with the belief that the government is of the people and as such representative of the people, because the majority almost never get up in arms and march against the government, I must assume that the government speaks for them. L. Paul on the other hand believes that those who protests, rants and rave speak for the people, even the silent majority and therefore the government must listen. There is no right and wrong in these arguments, because truth prevails in both. But one should not take the concepts of democracy too literal because it also takes the form of structures, process, institutions and law to guide, protect and rule the population. We do not literally take the freedom to take government ‘by its horns’. We use advocacy as the means to convey our sentiments and will and that must be handled thru the different aspects of the governing process.

    My point – government want to buy a jet, a faction of the people say no, the majority is silent, the protesting faction thinks the majority is in their corner and therefore speak for them while government by it’s mandate think when it speaks, it speak for the people. The next battle for for the government vs the people will almost certainly food prices and they will almost certainly blame government for this state of affairs.

  • Flying to fulfil global ambitions

    Guardian’s Editorial

    Ahead of the final flourish in his address to the country last Wednesday, Prime Minister Patrick Manning sought to massage the national ego and to lift citizens’ eyes to a wider horizon.

    National affairs, including crime, traffic congestion, rising food prices and the availability and supply of both food and water, constituted the major part of his address, which acknowledged “challenges” and pointed to solutions.

    Under the heading “Our country in the international spotlight,” however, Mr Manning stressed the significance and implications of two international conferences scheduled for Port-of-Spain in 2009.

    The Summit of the Americas, exactly one year away, and the Commonwealth Heads meeting in November, 2009, should be historic occasions.

    Decisions to hold both summits here will have followed diplomatic demarches that are to the credit of the Port-of-Spain administration.

    Mr Manning noted that one head of state expected for the Americas summit is the next President of the United States.

    Queen Elizabeth II, and leaders from Canada, Australia, India, South Africa, Nigeria, and elsewhere on the African continent are other likely appearances for the Commonwealth summit.

    International media will be drawn to the presence here of such figures.

    Referring to this, Mr Manning projects, with only a little exaggeration, that “our country (will move) to centre stage in global affairs.”

    National self-respect requires application of our best resources and capacities to the end of concluding arrangements for the successful holding of these international conferences.

    Mr Manning, as chairman of both summits, will be busied by the planning and co-ordination of inputs and participation at the highest levels.

    “This will involve increased foreign travel for me,” he said.

    If his foreign travel on official business has become a sensitive issue, requiring suitable advance notice, it’s only because he has linked such travel to the provision of air transport dedicated to the purpose.

    Controversy, last month, over the acquisition by state-owned Caribbean Airlines of an expensive executive jet for the use of the T&T Government cast a lingering shadow over official foreign travel plans.

    Mr Manning sought to predispose public opinion in favour of his travel schedule, referring to “many meetings in different countries” during the next 18 months.

    The Commonwealth and Americas summits are clearly settled national obligations. To the extent their preparation requires foreign travel by the Prime Minister, citizens will understand.

    Mr Manning has, however, sought to stretch such public approval to cover what appears to be additional, discretionary, travel.

    The Prime Minister, in January, 2007, had offered technical assistance in energy development to African countries, including Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania, Uganda and Benin.

    While the opening of a T&T diplomatic mission in Uganda, and the existence of missions in South Africa and Nigeria may facilitate contacts and co-operative activities in east, west and south Africa, it certainly helps to smooth economic and diplomatic relations if the head of government opts to visit.

    Moreover, Mr Manning appears keen to write his own open ticket to fly to India and to the People’s Republic of China.

    “It is clearly in our national interest,” he asserts, “to strengthen the economic and cultural ties with these two long-standing allies.”

    Given the economic, trade, diplomatic and military trajectories of both India and China, there can be no doubt about the importance of visits, at the highest level, to these 21st century giants.

    In fact, the question is why has the Prime Minister taken so long to accept invitations from those governments, and why did T&T choose to establish a diplomatic mission in Kampala before setting up one in Beijing.

    Mr Manning argued that “we must be able to fulfil our international obligations in an efficient and cost-effective manner.”

    While that is certainly the case, the nation, surely, remains unconvinced that the acquisition of a US$60 million executive jet is either the most efficient or the most cost-effective means of fulfilling the country’s international obligations.

    ©2008 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

    http://www.guardian.co.tt/editorial.html

  • PM leaves for Mexico today

    Tuesday, April 15 2008
    newsday.co.tt

    PRIME MINISTER Patrick Manning leaves today for Mexico to attend a two-day meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Latin America.

    Manning was specially invited to attend the conference by Mexican President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa and WEF executive chairman Professor Klaus Schwab “in order that he (Manning) play a prominent role in the deliberations by actively contributing to a session on Central American growth.” A statement from the PM’s Office at Whitehall said the forum will provide a valuable opportunity for dialogue between government, business and civil society leaders ahead of the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port-of-Spain in April 2009.

    The TT Government will co-host a civil society forum in Miami next month that will discuss crime, rising food prices and other issues which will be discussed at next year’s summit. Government officials yesterday could neither confirm or deny whether a jet was being used to transport Manning to Mexico and back.

    Manning will be accompanied to Mexico by senior officials from the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank. Minister in the Office of the PM Dr Lenny Saith will act as Prime Minister until Manning returns home on Thursday.

    http://www.newsday.co.tt/politics/0,76972.html

  • Taking us for a (jet) ride

    By Reginald dumas
    Tuesday, April 22nd 2008

    I was going to continue my articles on the situation of Tobago fisherfolk, but I felt I should interrupt them to look at the Prime Minister’s remarkable – and remarkably unfortunate – address to the nation on April 2.

    As many persons have already pointed out, he said hardly anything new. It was the usual recitation of plans, so often unfulfilled, that administrations in this place always say they have in the pipeline for us. The population is not consistently engaged: it is enough for governments, infinitely gifted at self-promotion, to proclaim their labours on our behalf. We in turn are expected to be duly grateful for those labours (even if, as is frequently the case, they bear bitter fruit or no fruit at all) and to vote accordingly when the time comes. Given a relationship of such little mutual empathy, it was no particular surprise that Manning could treat our pressing concerns over escalating crime and food costs with his accustomed bloodlessness. We’re victims of collateral damage, he seemed to be saying. Violent crime and expensive food are problems everywhere, after all.

    No, the real reason for the address was clearly an attempt to justify his intended purchase (with our money) of a private jet by telling us about the amount of travel he would soon have to undertake because of next year’s Americas and Commonwealth summits to be held in this country. And oh yes, he would have to go off to Africa and China and India as well. Energy initiatives, you know. Invitations. That sort of thing. All in the national interest, of course.
    Full Article : trinidadexpress.com

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