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Daly Bread: Straight answers needed on vaccines, Wasa and recovery committees

Last Sunday’s column touched on multiple subjects about which there are a lack of straight answers.  The range of coverage seemed well received, but there was a common observation: ‘you left out Wasa’!

First, however, to return to the growing uncertainty about when will we receive a supply of Covid-19 vaccines; and in what quantities.

Photo: Nurse Keisha Gomes Prevatt (left) was first to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
At her side is Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh.
(via TTT online)

Spokespersons for the government have received a change of script. The mamaguy of ‘vaccine rollout’ has switched to us now being asked to have a ‘proper perspective’ on the problem and to continue believing that Covax and the other international facilities will deliver sufficient for our needs.  

Are we essentially beggars? We need straight answers.

The restarting of economic activity that survived the heavy blow of shutdown or restriction is said to be dependent on vaccinating the vast majority of a country’s population. As far as the entertainment industry is concerned, I am not holding my breath for Carnival 2022 producing a return to its traditional in-person form.

Several remarkable efforts were made to keep the Carnival season alive ‘virtually’.  It became clear that, going forward, entertainment events must combine in-person attendance with streaming in order to reach bigger audiences and truly make a significant reach into the global travel market.

Nevertheless, as I was looking at the Golden Globe awards event on TV last Sunday, the limitations of virtual were apparent.

Photo: Blaxx performs during the 2021 Carnival season.
(via Blaxx and the All Stars)

One reviewer in the United Kingdom acknowledged the ‘reality that the show must be radically re-imagined’ but that, without the crowds and the buzz that they bring, ‘the glamour and momentousness of the night were gone, lost somewhere in the long, dark shadow of Covid’.

This observation supports the economic benefit of positioning our arts and culture to take advantage of the release, when it comes, of the pent-up demand in the global market for travel, seasoned with authenticity and adventures, which also satisfies the need for people to gather and have fun again.

As I remarked at a visual arts function recently: 

‘We are well placed to provide a unique experience which synchronises visual arts, performing arts, culinary arts and party. A coherent investment policy to support our arts and culture as a major engine for the diversification and transformation of our national economy could place Trinidad and Tobago in an attractive state of readiness, to be in the right place at the right time.  

‘What a change this would make from the sad commentaries that frequently employ the phrase wrong place at the wrong time.’

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley shows off his community recovery team of Anthony Watkins, Hans Des Vignes, Jamaal Shabazz, Curtis Toussaint, Akosua Edwards, Nicola Harvey, Chris Leacock and then Community Development Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly.
(via Dr Keith Rowley)

This reminds me, in this land of ‘government by committee’, that we have two committees related to economic recovery—because I made a pitch related to arts and culture to one of them. These are the Road Map to Recovery Committee and the Community Recovery Committee. It is more than time for updates on what they are doing.

Regarding Wasa, all the talk in the world about management, re-organisation and transformation will have little credibility until the bosses tell us by what means they will capture the thousands of gallons of water that leak away every day and do not reach into the distribution network.

The new spin on Wasa has set a three year horizon for results. Seriously? That is plenty more water and money wasting through perpetual leaking and alleged corruption.  

Moreover, can our country’s financial state accommodate a further three year delay in treating transparently with Wasa’s massive debt and receivables?

Our governments lavishly spent our oil and gas money, with the bulk of it poured into transfers and subsidies to inefficient state controlled entities. Wasa had a gargantuan appetite for prop-up money. 

Photo: Wasa headquarters in St Joseph.
(via guardian.co.tt)

Successive governments fed the monster despite alleged corruption. That kind of money is no longer available and the socio-economic fall out from lack of a reliable water supply will cruelly continue.

In 1961, Lord Pretender, affectionately known as Preedie, advised us in his song Never ever worry not to ‘let worries take charge of your brain’. Sixty years later our brains are overcharged with worries and straight answers are needed.

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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