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FARRELL’S TABANKA by Ken Howell

posted 15 Sep 2018, 20:48 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 Sep 2018, 21:01 ]
Dr Terrence Farrell
There was an article in the Trinidad Express on Sunday 9th September 2018, written by Doctor Terrence Farrell, entitled: PETROTRIN EARTHQUAKE ERUPTS. You may recall that the goodly Doctor was the Chairman of the government appointed Economic Advisory Board, from which he recently tendered his resignation. 

It is alleged, that his resignation was precipitated by the indifference demonstrated by the Prime Minister who received two reports from that board without acknowledging their contents by way of comments or studied discussions with the committee. What is certain however is that the goodly Doctor has learned the hard way about the devious nature of these political conmen, confidence tricksters and snake oil salesmen, passing themselves off as politicians with the interest of the people at the centre of their decision making process.

He would have also learned that these conmen make it their favourite pastime to use and abuse professionals and intellectuals of his ilk, whom they would have perceived to be drunk with the wine of their own self-importance.

He opened his discourse by commenting on the position expressed by the various commentators in the print and electronic media on the Petrotrin catastrophe as well as on social media. Some he agreed with and there were those with which he did not. The central thrust of his piece was to imply that the decision of the Chambers administration to buy Texaco in 1985, in order to save jobs, was a bad idea. He did so by referring to an article in the New York Times in which his brother Trevor Farrell, who was also an economist, felt that it would have been cheaper to put the displaced workers on the dole.

Image result for central bank of trinidad and tobagoProceeding from that premise he agrees with the decision to shut down the company, but the decision to do so was taken too late. When he sat on the Vision 20-20 Economic sub-committee, he knew of the problems in Petrotrin; prior to that he was Deputy Governor of the Central Bank. Central Banks are known to have knowledge about all the economic affairs of their respective countries. In addition to which they are well positioned to give financial advice.

He must tell us what advice he gave to the PNM who held the rudder of government for more than thirty years. He certainly cannot claim to not know that it was the stated position of the PNM that it would dispose of state enterprises when it was appropriate to do so. If he knew and did nothing about it then he was fully in agreement with the plan to ensure that Petrotrin fail. So the fact that he is now shouting from the roof-top and shedding tears about rampant corruption as one of the causes of the collapse of the company, is really crocodile tears. ‘

He knew all along that the friends of Dr Rowley are now confident that they can invest in the oil business, since a few of these private sector companies have been involved in one way or the other in the energy sector e.g. Massey.

They all played the waiting game, while they overcharged the company for services rendered, while the management performed the hatchet job from inside. In order to achieve that end, transparency and accountability in the management of the affairs of the company had to be eliminated from the culture of the company. That was necessary in order to allow political patronage to reign supreme. The corruption about which he speaks was the poison which was injected into the daily practice of the company and as a result, every Malcolm, Haniff and Lindsay took their pound of flesh.

This was by design and not by any devious plan hatched by the workers and their union during negotiations around the table. The failure of the company cannot and must not be placed at the feet of the workers and their union. He, like the other goodly Doctor who currently holds the reins of governmental power, in their propaganda blitz is inciting the population to believe that it is the high wages and salaries which the employees of the company earn which has brought the company and the country to this catastrophic place. Hear Doctor Farrell “trade unions love State enterprises because it allows them to suck at the teats while regaining the ability to blame management or government” when things go wrong.

Doctor Farrell has been around long enough to know that all registered collective agreements contain a clause which clearly establishes the right of the management to manage their respective enterprises. In companies where trade unions have recognition rights, the management is provided with a copy of the certificate of recognition on which it is stated the bargaining unit for which the union is certified. That certificate does not charge the union with the responsibility to intervene in matters which clearly fall within the purview of the management.

So when he implies that the union must take responsibility for the corruption that was rampant, he is trying to lay blame where it must not be placed. Maybe he is hurt by the fact that politicians do not have a very high opinion of economists. They see them as tools to be used to achieve a particular end. And it is possible, as he was unfortunate to discover, that one could be working diligently on recommendations which technocrats believe can correct chronic structural problems, when suddenly the political directorate decides to abandon the project. But this is something which he should not have difficulty understanding.

He is an avowed capitalist admirer, one who believes that government has no business intervening in the economy. He strongly believes that government cannot manage business efficiently which should be left to the “private sector”. The financial collapse of 2008 put the lie to that point of view. On the contrary, there is evidence to suggest that what is required is efficient and knowledgeable management which consistently adheres to the principles of transparency and accountability.

Image result for trinidad 1970 demonstrationsAs he is well aware, it was the revolt of the masses in 1970 which placed nationalisation on the national agenda. As a result of which, the PNM government under the leadership of the late Doctor Eric Williams, in the famous “Declaration at Chaguaramas” announced plans to nationalise certain companies.

Dr Farrell will know that the international political climate at the time was favourable to the demand for nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy. He is also aware, that the status of the local capitalists are a little above that of the suitcase traders. While there is some truth in some of what he said about how we arrived at this sorry pass, he cannot deny that the whole thing was cleverly staged managed. In time we will all learn, in whose interest this treacherous act was committed.

Dr Keith Christopher Rowley was one of the many young men and women who participated in the many marches in 1970 under the banner of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC). At that time he was not yet a member of the PNM, while misguided young men, such as Louis Lee Sing and Harry Ragoonanan, were already members. So one would assume that the young Rowley knew why he was participating in the marches. What it all boils down to is that he was and is an opportunist of the worst kind. And because he is, he was able to spot elements of his ilk. Could it be that is how he viewed Dr Farrell? If that is true, well, it is sufficient to explain the apparent Tabanka which Dr Farrell seems to have at present.
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