I do not know Brian Lewis, president of the T&T Olympic Association, but in one stroke he has earned my admiration.
According to an ad on Radio I95.5 Lewis, accompanied by a few sporting and media personalities, intends to walk the full 26 miles of the T&T marathon route next Sunday to build momentum for the 2024 Olympics.
His goal? T&T must start preparing, from now, to win ten gold medals in that world celebration of athletic prowess.
Thank you, Brian. Somebody got it, finally!
I am hoping sometime soon, someone, somewhere in the national leadership will follow Lewis’ example of strategic thinking. But the vacancy up there is just part of the overall crisis that we face; instead, we get daily doses of irresponsibility and mediocrity.
Sadly, this is on display in the Government’s responses to the world energy crisis. Successive governments have talked repeatedly of the need to diversify the economy, particularly because of our dwindling oil and gas reserves and the severe consequences the country experiences with every cyclical crisis.
This Government has been no different. What is different is its failure to explain to the population the severe impact of the crisis on T&T, and the “new normal” being created. At the policy making level, this demands structural adjustments and drastic alterations in the expectations, spending and overall lifestyles at the level of the citizen.
To the Finance Minister’s credit, in the 2015 budget, he did explain his proposals to use two state enterprises, invesTT and exporTT, to stimulate activity in other sectors.
He proposed incentives in the areas of food and beverages, the creative arts, entertainment and maritime, yachting and financial services—what he called “the re-balancing of the economy in favour of the non-oil energy sector and the development of a sustainable economy”.
But in recent weeks all this has changed; every aspect of Government activity in 2015 demands much more than even the strategic thinking that Lewis has demonstrated.
Our immediate challenge is the falling revenues from the oil and gas sector. First, the Finance Minister, admittedly under personal pressure from his alleged role in the ten-year-old TCL insider trading issue, must convince the population that the Government possesses a strategic formula to deal with the shortfall.
Unfortunately his response—asking individual ministries for a $45 million cutback each—reflects haphazard analysis and poor evaluation of state resources, with little thought about the exploitation of possible alternatives.
Then there was the Prime Minister’s response, again ill-prepared and without the necessary budgetary evaluation, that her Government’s social and make-work programmes would be untouched.
At present, the Government needs to show that it has a long-term strategic understanding, and that it possesses a comprehensive framework, a conceptual map, to diversify the economy, probably into some high-end industries.
But to date, its performance has been all about not the politics of the common good, but the retaining of power. Last week, I warned that this year will unfold in three phases, the current “Seductive” phase, to be followed by the “Intimidatory”, then the “Blunderbuss”—a friend preferred the word, “Bazooka”—in which the masks are off, and any and everything goes, because it is not about strategic, national planning—but the retention of power.
It played out last week with the AG jumping to claim victory in Emailgate, because of a possible error in the judicial system. He was right, however. The Opposition Leader’s attorneys should have been more alert in the matter.
The country has entered the phase in which anything goes. So those attorneys should have been in “red alert” mode, particularly after the statements by the family of the late Dana Seetahal and the allegations of the former assistant sports director on social media.
Probably, that red alert should extend to the anticipated legal battles when the Opposition Leader is summoned in the Las Alturas Commission of Enquiry. That sitting begins next week.
In the meantime, I continue to search for the positives, such as Sunday’s 26-mile march in the T&T marathon.