It is common to accuse persons of being armchair politicians who would do no better if given the opportunity to lead a nation. If I was the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, there are some fundamental changes that I would make that would improve the long term quality of life for all our citizens.
I would immediately hold an emergency meeting of cabinet to evaluate the effect of the Russian conflict with Ukraine. Since Ukraine and Russia are major contributors to the world market regarding grain and energy. I would instruct the minister of agriculture to immediately meet with our local farmers to maximize our production of corn.
The Caroni lands produced sugar cane – a grass – for decades and corn is grass, so there should be no problem in planting the Caroni lands with corn. There are already successful examples of large cornfields in Caroni. This initiative will require some state subsidy but that should not be anywhere close to the prices we may have to pay when the lack of grain impacts the world market.
I would further instruct the minister of energy and the minister of finance to save every cent that is gained from the increased oil and gas costs to buffer against the higher prices that our Nation would have to pay for food and fuel.
As prime minister, I would liberate our business sector and citizens from the unnecessary bureaucratic processes that are stifling growth and development. For example, in many of the developed countries they are asking licenced professionals like engineers, architects, electricians and plumbers to sign off on their drawings and installations. In Trinidad and Tobago we have taken a backward step, requiring more approvals, like conduit inspection before walls can be plastered and drawing approvals that are approved at a central location rather than within the communities. The processes for opening a bank account, applying for a loan, accessing goods from the ports, and getting statutory certificates are crippling the economic drive and causing a tremendous loss in time and money.
I would ensure that under my watch simple things like repairing a road after pipe repair, placing adequate storage facilities for water distribution by gravity and repairs to potholes are everyday activities that will have a very positive impact on our communities.
I would offer incentives for communities with the best landscaping, cleanest environment, and safest neighbourhoods. My police officers would be respected, adequately compensated with modern facilities and equipment and zero tolerance for corruption.
It all comes down to leadership. One simply must look at the leadership at our Nation’s colleges and note the significant difference in the attitudes of teachers and students, the environment and overall performance of our schools when the leader has the qualities required for good management.
There is nothing to be gained by saying “I told you so” if months from now we are faced with exceedingly high food prices and no supply.
God bless our Nation