Noble: Quo Vadis, Trinidad? A wide view of exchange between Faria, Hinds and Dr Rowley

As adopters of social media and smart phones, we reveal a lot about ourselves each day. We tell the world about our likes and dislikes, habits and families via Facebook and Twitter.

We even disclose our travel plans to persons we do not know via Waze and Google. We expose who we really are by what we post. This is the foundation on which Cambridge Analytica and modern electoral campaigns thrive. Who we pretend to be is exposed by what we post.

Photo: Minister of Finance Colm Imbert takes his leave from Facebook after an intemperate post.

Dr Keith Rowley, in addressing the Recovery Committee, said inter alia: “… any economic road map developed without the creation of an enabling environment to facilitate the execution of that road map will have challenges…

“The role of […] tripartite cooperation must be fully explored… COVID-19 has unmasked the inequalities that exist in the economy […] all segments of the society are at risk. The Road Map must, therefore, be based on collective action and strong collaboration among […] all segments of the society…”

In the post Covid-19 situation, lessons from elsewhere teach us that great economic danger lies ahead. The huge uncertainty, collapse in gas and oil prices and the structure of our economy put us at peculiar risks. What then do our posts reveal about us?

The TTT interview of 15 June, more than the ‘leak’ from a chat group, demonstrate that Gabriel Faria, as a voice of the business sector, has an opinion that conflicts with Minister of Finance Colm Imbert’s happy mid-year budget review—even though the desire of both men for our country is the same.

The vexing issues of VAT refunds and corporation tax payable in the present circumstances will not recede and do have a bearing on how the private sector may emerge in the future.

Photo: T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce CEO Gabriel Faria.

Interestingly, Mr Faria spoke to the need to nurture new entrepreneurs in the non-traditional technological and creative sectors. This appears to be at odds with the overt alliances between the manufacturing sector and the government. Observe the absolute silence of the energy sector leaders.

Yet, the ‘leak’ tells a compelling story about ‘honour’ among our elites, who apparently discuss and form opinions that are not shared with the rest of the community. It is reported that the group had over a hundred members, I wonder how many of them have spoken publicly on any matter in the last 10 years. Why the public silence?

Bottom line: given the lack of good faith among them demonstrated in this episode, why should the man in the street trust them? If they could ‘sell out’ a participant, wittingly or not, why should one expect them to be honourable in dealing with the wider community, whom they will never see as more than a faceless customer?

Almost as if to answer the question, one of the original ‘All Lives Matter’ advocates returned to the scene with a published letter addressed to his staff advising of pay cuts.

In a newspaper comment, he lays the blame for slow sales on the ‘boycott’. Is he removing the possible claim by his fellow advocate who posted that stores in West Mall were being closed because of low sales? What is the real story?

Photo: Starlite managing director Gerald Aboud apologised for racially insensitive comments in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent spike in black consciousness.

His garbled hollow claims are designed to evoke sympathy. The poor staff, being used as pawns, are told that ‘it is understandable if they choose to leave’ but that their pay cut will help secure the survival of the Group, including a shopping plaza.

Yet by cutting their pay by a reported 20%, he gets back in one month the ‘bonus’ of $800 he paid to them. Message received: Labour is dispensable.

Considering both these situations, the utterances by both Dr Rowley and Mr Fitzgerald Hinds lack discretion. Rather than engage the other business voices, they chose to vilify and slander Mr Faria—an agent, unwittingly exposing their view of the business sector. The language is intemperate.

For the record, somebody should let the relevant ministers know that VAT refunds represent money due and does not constitute a favour. Lack of payment negatively impacts a company’s cash flow.

The innuendoes about Mr Faria’s stint at the Guardian newspaper and at Angostura compared to the published contemporaneous facts would have engaged the attention of lawyers, but for the impending election.

Photo: Minister of Public Utilities Fitzgerald Hinds points.
(Copyright Power 102)

The economic danger ahead will not disappear. Business confidence is going to be shaken. History tells us that in such times, capital flight takes place.

This is not unique to Trinidad and Tobago. There are already reports from the IMF that this has started globally. Is this fray going to help us weather the storm?

Public discontent, as may appear when the effects of the weakened economy kick in, will strengthen the attractiveness of trade unions and of candidates, like David Nakhid. Polyani, the father of esteemed Kari Leavitt, spelt this possibility out in his ‘double movement’ theory.

Our mothers succinctly told us that truth: ‘when you go too far east, you does reach west’.

We carelessly edge to the future that Clyde Weatherhead (Express, 22 June) hints at. We, Government business and labour, all man jack will lose.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (centre) at the BPTT Technology opening in 2019.
(via OPM)

Is this where we want to go? Willingly?

Dr Rowley should re-read his speech and take the appropriate steps to create national collaboration.

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About Noble Philip

Noble Philip
Noble Philip, a retired business executive, is trying to interpret Jesus’ relationships with the poor and rich among us. A Seeker, not a Saint.

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  1. There is a level of frustration on both sides. The government is grappling with declining revenues from the countries biggest cash cow (the energy sector) and the numerous social ills that are affecting the society (crime, corruption poverty, declining productivity to name a view in the laundry list of ills). The business community will cite the difficulty of doing business as chief among them. Then lump those highlighted earlier (crime and a less than productive workforce) and maybe our inability to compete against entities that enjoy more favourable local circumstances resulting in greater business advantages. But problems provide opportunities for greater private and public sector collaboration. In fact that is the only way forward. Both parties need each other.

  2. How can we rid our society of corruption greed selfishness racial discord inequality wealth hoarding political mafiaism in this divided society

  3. Why should a man apologize for his opinion? Lawyers interpret the same law differently but it’s how you present your case

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