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posted 15 Jul 2012, 09:13 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 Jul 2012, 09:37 ]

P After P After P After P: Part 2

by Dr. Godfrey Vincent


Dr. Godfrey Vincent is Assistant Professor Tuskegee University
Department of History and Political Science; former Part-time Assistant Professor of History at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia.
A former secondary school teacher, Dr. Vincent was a Community activist in Petit/Valley/ Diego Martin/Carenage/ St.James/Maraval area. He is a former member of the United Labour Front; Committee for Labour Solidarity (CLS) and Motion.
He is a former Vice-Chair Person of Youth Voice and former President of Simeon Road Superpan and Co-ordinator of CLS West. He is a former member of the Summit of Peoples' Organisations (SOPO).
He is a Rapso artiste (Brother Cymande) and a former Shop Steward of DC 37, Local 2054 and a delegate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Progressive people are often accused of making up stories and are out of touch with reality. For example, when we say that the government intends to pursue a policy of privatization, there are those on the right who accuse us of not bringing facts to bear. 


In part one of this series, I stated that the government will be embarking on a policy of Public Private Partnership as part of its privatization thrust. In part two of this series, this essay will further make the case that this is true by using a speech by the former Minister of Finance, the Honourable Winston Dookeran on Public Private Partnership at the Hyatt on November 1, 2011.


Winston Dookeran is one of the leading proponents of the neoliberal-based Washington Conensus in Trinidad and Tobago. Even before the term was coined, Dookeran was a Cabinet member in the NAR government that promoted the privatization of State enterprises.


When the trade union movement, the CLS, SOPO, PPM, NJAC, and leading UWI intellectuals attacked its program, the party tried to reframe the discourse by saying that the selling of State enterprises is not privatization but divestment.


From 1986 to the present, Dookeran has remained steadfast to his ideological position unlike some of those who purported to be on the “left” and abandoned their radicalism to become Government Ministers, Government Senators, Ambassadors and Board members.


Dookeran and his troops have conquered them and won them over to accept the neo-liberal “virus.” Having done his job, he has continued to see his plan come to fruition. By examining the speech at the Hyatt, we will understand why his government is adamant in promoting Privatization.


In the opening paragraph of the speech, he acknowledged the Canadian High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago and the International Finance Corporation as co-organizers of the seminar.


In doing research on the Public Private Partnership, I discovered that the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnership put out a position paper on the topic in 2009. It is no co-incidence that the Canadian High Commission endorsed this seminar. The IFC was established in 1956, and it is a member of the World Bank Group. Moreover, it is the largest global development institution that focuses on private sector growth in the Global South (Developing countries) (see IFC Home- www.ifc.org).  


In 1987 International Finance Corporation noted that former Prime Minister A.N.R Robinson was a Governor and Selby Wilson as Alternate of IFC as from June 30, 1987 (www-wds.worldbank.org/external/). Therefore, it should come as no surprise why Minister Dookeran and his government are interested in promoting PPP in Trinidad.


By the third paragraph, Dookeran outlined the main reason for the seminar. He stated that, “What we are about to discuss here is essentially engagement of private partners for delivery of public benefits" (pp. 1).


Arguing that the state should play a different role in this new dispensation, Dookeran noted that his government …. “have begun the preparation by establishing the unit (PPP) in the Ministry of Finance to undertake what is required to promote this new area of opportunity" (pp. 5). Moreover, he stated that in the last budget, among other things, his government spoke of embarking on public offerings of state enterprises with more to be divested in the near future (pp. 5).


In addition, he identified more areas for the PPP initiative and asserted that the government will work closely with the IFC to develop “new modalities.” Justifying this new approach, Dookeran noted, “It is done with the firm belief that public private partnership can allow drilling down for development in the development process to bring about the change that people want” (pp. 5).


I am not sure that this is the type of development that the people of Trinidad and Tobago want. Dookeran and his government have not engaged the people in this decision making process. By people, he must have been referring to the private sector folks who have funded the COP and the PP. In the areas of PPP, he identified three broad areas for “private partners delivering public benefits.” These include Infrastructure areas; Public Utilities; Social Good- Health and Pensions.


Some years ago, Black Stalin sang “Better Days Are Coming.” They are certainly coming but not for the working class and working poor. The establishment of PPP in the near future will further intensify government’s privatization of health, public utilities and pensions.


In the US, Wall Street wants Social Security to be privatized. In Chile, Social Security was privatized and it led to disaster (see “Chile’s Candidates Agree to Agree on Pension Woes,” New York Times Jan 10, 2006).


In terms of health, the government has an arrangement with Johns Hopkins Hospital to train doctors. In the near future, this arrangement can deepen whereby Johns Hopkins Hospital partners with the government to take over administration of the hospitals in Trinidad and Tobago. Some people say Trini love to Party but after the Party beware of the P AFTER P AFTER P AFTER P.