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posted 23 Feb 2016, 01:46 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 23 Feb 2016, 01:47 ]

The government so far, has not said what it intends to do about agriculture. However, suggestions are coming from several quarters.

 What we do know, however, is what it intends to do with profitable state enterprises. Its intention is to dispose of entities such as N.G.C. and T.S.T.T. What are the tell-tale signs pointing to this conspiracy?

 The first one is the appointment of Emile Elias to the position of Chairman of TSTT and Gerry Brooks to the position of Chairman of the Board of National Gas Company (NGC). Mr. Gerry Brooks was for many years, the Chief Operations Officer of the McAl group of Companies.

 The second is the articles by Anthony Wilson in the Business Guardian on January 24, and 31, 2016 respectively. These two articles continued the campaign for the privatization of state enterprises. In the piece on January 24, the target was the Banking Insurance and General Workers Union; specifically attacking the position of the Union on privatization, by posing an example of one employee purchasing shares in the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of the First Citizen Bank as opposed to one who did not.

In his article on January 31, 2016, entitled: “Should sale and lease-back arrangements be considered?” the issue of privatizing TSTT and NGC is presented as a means through which the government can fund the shortfall in its Budget estimates.

The third is the Breakfast meeting to which the Prime Minister was invited, at the TATIL Insurance building, on January 28, by McAl Chairman/Chief Executive Officer Mr. A. Norman Sabga. It is interesting to note that the media was not invited and the Communications Minister did not have a clue that the Prime Minister was having a breakfast meeting with the Sabga Empire. He tried to put his best face on a bad situation, by giving the impression that he was aware of the meeting and that it was one of those events to which it would have been unethical to invite the Press.                                                                

Several issues, which should stimulate our interest immediately, arise from this event. These are: ownership of the Media; the real reason why the media was not invited; the fact that Anthony Wilson is an employee of GML, a subsidiary of McAl and what were the issues  to which  the Prime Minister was required to respond to at that meeting with the McAl Chairman.

With respect to ownership of the media we know that the Sabgas own CNC3, the Guardian Newspaper and many Radio Stations. The fact that none of the media houses had a clue that this breakfast meeting was on speaks volumes about the power of the Sabgas in this country.  In other countries the media were going to be on the door steps of TATIL camping out, waiting to get a story, or a picture. What they ended up with was a sanitized press release and a picture of both A. Norman Sabga and Prime Minister Rowley appearing to be not so pleased with the outcome of the meeting.

This no doubt, may have been the work of Anthony Wilson who is an employee of the McAL group of companies. I would not be surprised if it was also revealed that Mr. Gerry Brooks was invited to the meeting and that the Prime Minister was not informed that he would be present. That is one way in which the Sabgas could demonstrate who is in charge.

If I am reading the signs correctly, then the “Shylock” principle may be at work in this recent development.  No doubt the Sabgas are calling in their favours; something they will not hesitate to do given the power they wield in the economy not only in Trinidad and Tobago, but in the wider Caribbean. So if they want NGC and they want TSTT then they could just make Dr. Keith Christopher Rowley an offer which he cannot refuse. That is the politics inside the politics, which leaves us with a lot of reasons to be cynical.