By Michael Harris
April 27, 2015 – trinidadexpress.com
But there are more serious issues behind the promise of a causeway.
First of all while there is no question that the UNC did “tief” the PNM promise, we do have to ask ourselves why this particular promise. One answer has to do with what the Government is doing to the Chaguaramas peninsula. According to Planning Minister Bhoe Tewarie, the Government’s plan is to “monetise” the peninsula.
We must understand clearly what that means. The Chaguaramas peninsula is a public asset owned by the citizens of the country who visit the area to enjoy its many natural wonders free of charge. What the Planning Minister means when he speaks of “monetising” the peninsula is that he would lease this public asset to private investors who would then charge citizens to access “attractions” built on land owned by the very citizens.
Think about it for a moment and you would understand that the promised causeway, which is going to be built at enormous expense to the taxpayers, is going to be built for no other reason than to facilitate the increased flow of traffic of those same taxpayers to visit the various attractions for which they will have to pay.
It is the height of corruption and crookedness. And do not be surprised if after the causeway is built we see acres of pristine woodland, wetland and agricultural land being bulldozed over to make room for concrete and asphalt parking lots, all at taxpayers’ expense of course.
But there is even more behind the theft of this particular promise than the corruption going on in Chaguaramas. For, in this election season, promises can be worth their weight in gold to the two dominant parties neither of which have any comprehensive plan to put before the electorate for the economic and social development of the country.
In the absence of such plans, the election campaigns and the so-called manifestos of the two dominant parties, when not focused on bacchanal and mudslinging, rely on casting as many promises as possible before the electorate. These promises are varied. Some of them are directed at particular sections of the population. For example increases in the Old Age grant.
Other promises are aimed at wider portions of the electorate; for example, increasing GATE or cutting taxes or building houses, etc. Now most of these promises are understood by the electorate to be vote-buying proposals. They are naked and unadorned with no pretence at any developmental rationale other than that of garnering a few additional votes.
But occasionally, very rarely, the parties may come up with what can only be described as beautiful promises. These are promises which give the appearance of satisfying some real developmental need, yet they require no discussion or consultation with, or persuasion of, the population. No one is ever discommoded. Once there is the money implementation can take place. And everybody is happy.
The causeway to Chaguaramas is one such beautiful promise. It appears to solve a real problem i.e. traffic to the western peninsula, it discommodes no one except the fishes since it is being built over the sea, and it is going to be frightfully expensive which is going to present opportunities for lucrative kickbacks.
In short, it is a promise well worth stealing by the UNC and well worth the howls of pain coming from the PNM on finding that it was stolen.