By Jack Warner
After four years the national community is still waiting for a Merry Christmas from its Prime Minister, Dr Keith Christopher Rowley.
The poor have tightened their belt since 2015. They have watched their expenses rise and their income dwindle and have kept silent believing that they too must play a role in rebuilding our economy. But after four years have passed Mr Prime Minister things have not changed except for the worse!
Small businesses have gone under. Larger businesses have been shaken. Many have even fled to greener pastures. Businessmen are living off their capital. Some have even shut up shop because they could not survive in this austere environment. But now sir four years have passed and your people are looking for some kind of sign especially during this Yuletide Season for the milk of human kindness to flow from you to them as our leader.
The expectations of the national community are not unreasonable because twice in the Parliament your Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, has declared that the days of economic oppression are now over. Twice in our sacred hall, he stood up to announce that we have gone passed the austere stage and that the economic gloom which had hung over Trinidad and Tobago is now no more. And yet, the people are still holding their breath waiting to exhale and to loosen their belts.
Since May 2018, Mr Prime Minister, your Government pounded in acclamation the pronouncement at the mid-year budget review the statement of the Finance Minister who declared “Madam Speaker, after a long and discouraging period of economic decline, we are now witnessing a welcome upturn…and contrary to the negative commentary of uninformed spokespersons, who speak without having any facts, the turnaround is being driven by economic expansion in both the energy and non-energy sectors.”
Mr Prime Minister he concluded by saying “I can see clearly now” and all the people of this country is asking to see is a brighter Christmas for 2019 and they are depending on you to be the Santa who delivers and not the Scrooge who continue to steal our joy year after year.
After four years Mr Prime Minister many are still unemployed a la Keith Rowley and this PNM administration that terminated their contracts when they came into office on September 7, 2015.
After four years, even though the economy has turned around according to your Finance Minister, many are still waiting on their pensions to be processed and on their gratuity to be delivered and were they to receive such, many would experience some light in their Christmas.
This was not the expectation the nation had of the 2015 new look Keith Rowley
After four years Dr Keith Rowley, a number of contractors are still awaiting payment, small money for jobs they did for the Government. And while your Members of Parliament enjoy lifestyles of opulence, your loyal subjects, the poor you have sentenced to live below the poverty line and they are experiencing a bleak and lonely Christmas.
That was the image we harboured
That was the image we harboured when you were on the rant to rid this country of your predecessor Patrick Mervyn Augustus Manning.
That was the image of which we thought when in Parliament you were likened to a Pitbull, that ferocious canine, though loving and loyal at times, demonstrates a lack of ability to differentiate between friend and foe. That is what we would have expected from you then not the makeover that was done to con the people to give you their vote.
But 2019, you should never let pass without at least making a statement of goodwill for your constituents.
The voters living in the Hills of Laventille are depending on gang leaders for a Christmas handout but they voted for you.
Some young women are in the flesh business, selling their bodies in order to obtain a daily meal. Others need the money to buy a toy for their children at Christmas and this seems to them to be their only way out as jobs are not available. But my dear Prime Minister these same young women voted for you in the General Elections of 2015.
Your choice to change the $100 dollar bill has left some elderly bereft as in their haste to ensure their paper bills are converted many have been robbed. Didn’t you think that such a narrow two-week window coupled with the crime situation would have initiated the kind of hardship that many are now experiencing in Yuletide 2019?
You have the power Mr Prime Minister, you have both the network and the influence to do something over the next few days. You have the power to put a smile on the faces of even your constituents before you disappear on Christmas Day to slurp in the privacy of your home on the most exotic wines and consume gourmet meals while your people suffer.
To be honest, the country does not want Dr Keith Rowley to be a Kamla Persad-Bissessar at Christmas time. You just cannot be. The country wants you to be you. But the truth is that if a little of her humanness and her thoughtfulness could have rubbed off on you Mr Prime Minister, your people will never object.
Kamla had looked after the dispossessed
Every Christmas during her during the five years her government was in office, Kamla would mobilise funding from the business community and visit especially UNC communities and distribute toys for the children in various communities especially those in the poor communities. Not one child was overlooked.
Dr Rowley, the kids would come out in their numbers to meet and greet Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the twinkle in their eyes said it all. The gratitude was manifest in their gleeful smiles. It is, therefore, no wonder that there is a migration from PNM supporters to the House of the Rising Sun because as corrupt as it has been said that the UNC is, or as corrupt as we think they are, at the end of the day they took care of the people.
Dr Rowley you may call it bad spending. You may criticise Kamla, even describe her in the most demeaning fashion but you cannot take away from her the fact that she had looked after the dispossessed in our communities and especially looked after the ones who voted for her. Unlike you who today have abandoned the very same ones who voted for you. After all, is said and done, one thing you could never accuse Kamla of, is abandoning her roots.
This is your Christmas to shine my Prime Minister; it’s your last opportunity to make a statement.
It is not too late to ask your friends in the minority for contributions to host a hurriedly planned PNM family day where you could dress up like Santa (as difficult as that may be for you) and distribute toys for children in constituencies along the East-West corridor.
It is not too late to get privileged party stakeholders to come together and at least guarantee your people one good meal during the Christmas Season because that might very well be the only one, they will get if you host a Family Day to remember.
Instead of your lavish spending during the Local Government Elections, if you had saved some of that money to give to your activists on the ground a brighter day this Christmas, the people, yes the PNM people would have reposed some kind of trust in you believing that they have a leader who truly cares.
My advice to you Keith Rowley is to remember how you felt growing up in poverty in Mason Hall. Remember the things you yearned for as a child and hoped that someone will give it to you. Now that you have resettled into the community of Morvant use that experience to put a smile on the faces of our children.
The country needs a Rowley remake, a Rowley that cares about the citizens who trusted him with their vote.
Come on Dr Rowley, the nation awaits.