Any results-oriented politician, operating on management first principles, must know that the final “lame duck” year of government is not one for developing plans, seeking consensus, soliciting ideas from stakeholders or blaming others for non-performance.
Instead, it is the year when policies implemented in the early years of a five-year governing cycle begin to bear fruit. It is a year of vindication, celebration and/or coronation.
Minister Stuart Young should have exuded confidence suggesting that the People National Movement (PNM) government was on top of crime, had overcome its challenges, had solved critical crime issues and was deserving of five more years.
The January 28 crime initiative sounded more like a wake, a requiem mass for the dead, and a public admission of failure. It was essentially a public relations exercise designed in the absence of measurable successes, to give the impression that this government was doing something, anything, on crime. However, like their ten-point crime plan, this was not intended to show results but more so to buy time and hoodwink the population.
Minister Young has belatedly accepted the United National Congress (UNC) idea, articulated in and out of parliament, that we need to shift expenditures from the incarceration of prisoners and jailing them, often without bail, to giving at-risk youth visible and clear pathways for a better future.
What minister Young will not do is tell us after the news conference or at any time, that his ministry will insist that in future budgets the present two percent allocation will be increased to 30 percent or 40 percent or 50 percent for MILAT, MYPART, the Scout movement, or Cadets, or 4H clubs, or for Servol, or for the CCC, or Police Youth Clubs.
At present only $126,000 is allocated for the Scouting movement compared to $198 million for the seemingly ineffective SSA. What he will never say is how excelling as a cadet will provide a career path to the army, police and prison services for at-risk youth entering these programs.
What minister Young will never say is how graduates of MIC and NESC will get jobs reserved for them in specified government contracts just as the US Federal government reserves jobs for minorities.
Minister Young hedged when asked when the country will see results from yesterday’s public relations exercise. He could not say for example that within two years, murders will be reduced by ten percent annually.
The PNM will provide police vehicles but can never demonstrate how these vehicles will reduce police response times for reports.
Minister Young is either unwilling or unable to demonstrate how upgrades in the Forensics Science Centre will improve crime detection rates by any measurable factor.
The PNM is all about talk, nice-sounding statements, public relations initiatives, and more talk. Instead of wasting time and money on a host of public relation initiatives intended solely to hoodwink the population, the PNM should admit failure, apologize for its incompetence and non-performance, do the necessary penance, and call elections now so that Persad Bissessar can bring sanity, common sense, management principles, humanity and good governance to our country crying out for salvation.
Member of Parliament, Naparima