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Transforming a Vision Into a Nightmare
Posted: Sunday, October 24, 2004

By Stephen Kangal

It never ceases to amaze me how retrogressively a most expensive and grandiose Vision 2020 process is being transformed into a cash-hungry, bureaucracy-consuming and media-friendly nightmare.

Conceptually the media-hyped Vision 2020 Draft Document is nothing more than a centralised, glorified composite development plan of the individual plans of the line Ministries loosely strung together without any connecting and /or macro-economic, social or philosophical underpinnings. It will self-destruct and fizzle out when the feeding frenzy, the novelty and the political mileage have dried up.

I now hear of the macro strategic plan being watered down into three 5-year development modules to be finalised by December 2004 for submission for bipartisan parliamentary stamp of approval. Parliament was marginalised in the initial process. MP's have been kept in the dark until today. Accordingly this manifesto for developed country status is not likely to receive the requisite cross party support as indeed it must to have credibility.

Kairi Consultants that is facilitating and driving the data collecting consultative process appears to be way out of their depth through lack of expertise. It has adopted an obsolete, repetitive kindergarten approach to the stakeholders meetings that formerly proved ineffective during the Public Service Reform process of the mid-90's and was terminally abandoned.

But Kairi would have learnt from the dialogue and dialectics of the consultative/farcical participatory process. It is strategically positioned to distill the inputs derived and finalise the document.

But lo and behold comes a stranger to the whole process- the Institute of Business (IOB) that wants a piece of the action. IOB was nowhere in the conceptualisation/ brainstorming equation but lands another lucrative contract to complete the document. What can the IOB do to usefully complete the process if not to convert a vision into an implementational nightmare and consign participating civic society groups and the respective implementing line Ministries into the proverbial bamboo?

I empathise with the negative verdict, the let down articulated by Dr. Kirk Meighoo, a member of the Vision 2020 Steering Committee. I share his "illusionary consultations" debacle (Express 17 Oct. p. 11).

I participated in the Culture and Ethnicity Session of Saturday 16 October. I was palpably depressed by the pre-schooling, "dolly house" methodology used by Kairi Consultants. Officers of the Culture Ministry would have achieved superior and more relevant results to impact on and to be factored into the visioneering exercise. I do not foresee any radical departure being proposed to deal effectively and meaningfully with our challenging multicultural and multiethnic relations that constitute a crucial pillar to support the way forward in cosmopolitan T&T.

At the end of the meeting representatives of cultural NGO's actually drew "dolly houses" and were encouraged to daydream about the year 2020. I agonised during a virtual nightmare of methodological and procedural chaos and exorbitantly priced irrelevance.

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