A COVID Recovery Road Map with Too Many Junctions

By Stephen Kangal
April 26, 2020

Stephen KangalA third Road Multi-Sectoral and micro and macro conceptualised Map is now being engineered and brainstormed by the PNM Government. Both the previous 2020 and 2030 Vision Road Maps were shelved because the PNM is politically notorious for conceptualization plans but total failures when it comes to critical implementation commitments.

The current nature and the nurture/spread of the COVID-19 enemy is catastrophic enough. Added to that biological debacle is the collapse of the energy sector that is the second unknown factor challenging our best minds in this contingency planning scenario.

How can you conceptualise, brainstorm and plan with reasonable accuracy for the social and economic re-engineering of a post COVID T&T society in this period of extreme volatility and unpredictability relating to the unprecedented current and future health and welfare of the population and the declining economic and financial state (GDP) of T&T?

This is a PNM ploy to talk and introduce the narrative of recovery in a small time frame of one month (end of May) to increase political expectations when galloping uncertainty is the name of the game. Additionally T&T cannot plot a recovery path all by itself in imaginary, deceptive and splendid isolation from the gyrations and meltdown of the global interdependent imperative.

When the shut down is progressively relaxed and the second wave begins to inundate the health infrastructure to breaking point we must prioritize for this eventuality given the high public nature of our modus vivendi.

Short and medium-term survival must be the mantra driving all our current planning scenarios. This talk of creating “a new economy and new society” is wishful deception at worst.

There is need to brainstorm urgent food production, health infrastructure readiness, on- line education strategies, psycho-social assistance for coping by the aging population while maintaining medium term social distancing/face masking as the heart of the contingency response to the pandemic.

The contemporary world that is now one large ‘village’ state will act in concert. T&T must make some prognosis of what the world is likely to become with COVID-19 unless an urgent effective vaccine is discovered to stem the tide of this pandemic and we develop antibodies post-infection that is now in doubt.

Trying to forge a post-COVID-19 road map independently of the rest of the world for a T&T economy that is world-linked in the energy sector is an exercise in political brinkmanship geared to dovetail into the GE 2020 after which all will be forgotten.
This is an exercise in futility by bureaucrats who have not established a track record in futuristic thanking whilst they were in governance and in academia.

11 thoughts on “A COVID Recovery Road Map with Too Many Junctions”

  1. This government has opened the treasury to the tune of $21,000,000,000 coming from the empty treasury. With a little over 50 cases of covid19 virus agent, one cannot understand the long delay in opening up the economy. What are they doing? People are starving, unemployed, don’t have money to pay rent etc. Yet they say they giving grants that no one is receiving to date. It is no different than the money for flood victims. It never arrived. A lot of talk and no action.

  2. South of the Caroni has not received the masks promised. Rowley cannot deliver us from the grip of this pandemic.Calling landlords to forego rents when he promised payment of rental assistance and much more

    1. This so call pandemic is nothing compared to H1N1 where there was a big coverup. Or dengue where many died no stats taken. I contracted dengue and almost died.

      With Covid 116, 8 deaths, 58 recovered. Meaning only 50 with Covid and most will recover. But this is fear drive and it shows the character of this government. Taking care of their supporters whilst ignoring the rest. It is in their DNA.

      1. Mamoo, like the dengue affect your brain. It is because of the steps that were taken by this government and governments around the world (social distancing, stay at home, washing hands, etc) that more people didn’t get the virus and more people didn’t die. Or maybe you want us to become like New York, or UK or Italy or Spain where, because strict measures were not taken initially, thousands died. Perhaps you think Prime Minister Modi was subject to a “fear drive” because he initiated the biggest lock down in history to mitigate the effects of the Covid 19 virus. Prime Minister Boris Johnson started off talking about “herd immunity” but when he contracted the virus and ended up in the ICU he changed his tune and is now saying that “I refuse to throw away all the effort and sacrifice of the British people and to risk a second major outbreak and huge loss of life and the overwhelming of the NHS…I ask you to contain your impatience because I believe we are coming now to the end of the first phase of this conflict.” While President Trump did not issue a nationwide lockdown order, he did leave it up to the various states to decide on what mitigating measures to use. Sadly the United States has about 25% of the Covid 19 deaths in the world. The big issue now is when to reopen and get things going again and there is a big debate about that, but the issue is not that the mitigating measures were wrong; the issue is when it is safe to reopen. And there are differing positions on that issue. So Mamoo, global warming is not a hoax, the earth is not flat and please don’t inject yourself with disinfectant if you think you have the virus.

  3. Stephen Kangal writes: “Trying to forge a post-COVID-19 road map independently of the rest of the world for a T&T economy that is world-linked in the energy sector is an exercise in political brinkmanship geared to dovetail into the GE 2020 after which all will be forgotten.”
    It is foolish and intellectually naïve to think that anyone one in the Caribbean charged with plotting a course for any Caribbean country does not think of the influence of the “rest of the world”. Caribbean countries have been doing that for decades; after all we are island states in the “America Lake”. Any country, however, can plot a course for economic development taking into consideration these global influences but looking at the nature of its own peculiar characteristics that account for its strengths and weaknesses. We can for example think about investing in various sectors that within the global economic environment and in terms of our own peculiar circumstances may redound to our benefit. Agriculture for instance, we have seen how our dependence on imported foods may leave us vulnerable to the vicissitudes of international supply and demand. We can also see for instance how tourism may be affected in a post-Covid world. The local and the global aspects are intertwined; we attend to the local aspects of the economy while taking into consideration the global aspects. To think anybody is doing otherwise is to buy into propaganda.
    One of the most important variables that would impact on us here in T&T and the rest of the world is the November election in the United States. Two parties are vying for leadership with radically different policies that would impact on us. So we need to envision the various scenarios that may unfold. To give some examples: 1) The Paris Agreement within the UNFCCC to mitigate global warming. Small island states have put forward the loss and damage clause that addresses the impact of climate change, the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage has been adopted to address those issues. Global warming causes the rise in sea level which is of a great concern to us in terms of flooding, erosion of coastal areas, etc. President Trump has signaled his intention to withdraw from the Agreement. 2) President Trump has announced that the US will stop funding the WHO which is of particular concern to developing countries. The WHO is the UN global health body founded with a mandate to promote global health, to protect against infectious disease and to serve the vulnerable. The US funds about 15 % of its budget.

    In terms of the economic recovery, many economists are trying to envision what shape the recovery will take –V shaped, U shaped or L shaped. It may be that for different sectors, there will be differently shaped recoveries. In any event, economists will have to plan for these different scenarios. In terms of the oil prices, with the immense slowing down of economic activity globally, demand for oil had dropped. In fact there is supply glut in oil markets so oil prices have dropped significantly. When economic activity is resumed globally, we can expect oil prices to rise, but there is no doubt that T&T has suffered great revenue loss from this drop in oil prices. We need more than ever good management of our economy. In my opinion, the the Prime Minister in conjunction with the Finance Minister have shown that aptitude: https://www.looptt.com/content/pm-government-not-magic-management

  4. Only in Trinidad and Tobago will we find it difficult to appreciate our own success when it stares us in the face. With a population of about 1.3 million people we have about 116 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and about 8 reported deaths. In any universe this would be considered a blessing if not a success. Yet we indulge in back biting and infighting like it is going out of style. Sure we could have done better. More widespread diagnostic testing would help. More targeted social support is desirable. But please give ourselves a pat on the back during these difficult times. I believe that we owe at least a morsel of support to strong, decisive government action in the face of a lot of opposition even from people who should know better. Blocking entry into the country by air and sea, with little leakage, went a long way to keeping potential cases of the virus away from our vulnerable population. Enforcing a stay at home policy on land, while still a bit lax, was critical. And extending the lock down even after the “flattening of the curve” occurred is to be applauded, especially since we are not out of the woods as yet. Of course our geography played a small part. Being the southern most, last and remotest in the chain of Caribbean islands,does help us to escape hurricanes as well while our neighbors just to the north of us are ravaged. Remoteness has its advantages, even in the face of pandemics. Certainly, the control policies of our government were guided by sound scientific and public health principles with the benefit of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) headquartered here in Trinidad. While there is a lot to complain about our healthcare system, there were adequate facilities and hospital beds that were reasonable suited to the quarantining and isolation process especially at Caura and Couva. Better step down units than those at High Dependency Units, Transition Facilities, and the Sangre Grande Brooklyn facility are still badly needed and can be improved.
    But all in all we have a lot to be thankful for as the virus wrecks havoc around the world. Our road map has guided us well so far through all the junctions.

  5. The first proposal made by the Recovery 22 is the holding of a fire-sale for CLF Holdings to realise cash to splurge wildly to bribe the electorate ahead of the 2020 Elections. When money done we suck salt in 2021.

Comments are closed.