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A STATE OF COLLAPSE By Ken Howell

posted 28 Nov 2017, 17:13 by Gerry Kangalee
It is said that looking back sometimes allows one to see things clearer than it was possible at first sight. One thing that I am sure about is that the PNM government of the Dr. Eric Williams era and successive governments which followed failed to build on the opportunities which the Declaration of Chaguaramas presented as a result of the 1970s revolution.

While it is true that the government, over the years, had increased the influence of the State in the economic affairs of the country, this occurred, only because the local capitalists decided to invest in economic activities which guarantees a fast buck. But it is important to remember that Doctor Eric Williams conceded to the revolution’s demands at a time when anti-imperialist/anti-colonial revolutions were rampant on the African continent.

We must also remember that it was never the intention of the PNM to build a welfare State or to develop a mixed economy in this country, if one is to judge by his decision to attempt to develop the economy through the process of “industrialisation by invitation.” The result was a total failure.

Then good fortune/misfortune struck. The Organisation of Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) got together and the price of crude oil skyrocketed. This allowed the government to declare that economic planning was no longer necessary, because money was no longer a problem.

The country was awash with US dollars. That attitude persisted throughout the 1970s up to the 1980s. It was during that period, that the culture of corruption was given life. The culture of getting money without working for it came into existence and was allowed to flourish in make-work programmes such as, the Special Works Programmes, Unemployment Relief Programmes and so on.

It is not unreasonable to speculate that the decision to encourage this culture was deliberately intended to inculcate in the society attitudes which have been inimical to the healthy collective psychological development of our citizenry. Hence the reason why we are currently experiencing an escalation in criminal activities, mental illness among children of school age, a high incidence of drug use and a calculated destruction of our indigenous culture.

Now that institutions which once purported to be the custodians of our judicial, moral, ethical and spiritual values are all in a state of collapse and we are once again in economic crisis similar to the 1980s.

The only solution the fine minds in and out of government can propose are IMF policies, which are no different to pain killers prescribed for a patient with stage four cancer. That is what was prescribed for Greece. Now at this very moment not even radiation therapy or chemotherapy can be of any help. But the government has chosen to walk that precipitous route; beginning with the implementation of a tight fiscal regime, which is designed to restrict/reduce spending on education, health care, social programmes, reduction of subventions and allocation of funds to public utilities, statutory bodies and state enterprises and the reduction of subsidies on oil and zero fated food items. In addition, a number of new tax measures were introduced and has taken or will take effect soon.
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