Daly Bread: Auditing conduct in public office; more self-control needed

An indication given in a weekly column to deal with an identified topic “next week” is one that is difficult to implement. Things keep rapidly falling apart and the nasty quarrels between those in public life who are responsible for our governance burst into the news cycle with an intensity and urgency that can sweep aside a prior indication.

We certainly did not need more bitter, unrestrained contention between office holders whose offices are established under the Constitution and are subject to protections contained in the Constitution.

Attorney general Reginald Armour SC.
(Copyright Office of Parliament 2023)

In respect of office holders, like the chief justice (the CJ), the director of public prosecutions, (the DPP) and the auditor general, there are constitutional provisions which—in the immortal words at the Privy Council in the Endell Thomas case, (in which I made my first appearance before the Privy Council)—“insulate them from political influence exercised directly upon them by the government of the day”.

Elaborate court proceedings concerning the interpretation of the constitutional provisions governing the office of auditor general will have little influence on mitigating the likely damage to the credibility of the public accounts of Trinidad and Tobago, if the ongoing public battle between the Auditor General and the Government—involving the accuracy of Government revenue figures—continues unrestrained.

Meanwhile, depending on what is placed before it, the court will no doubt consider whether mediation is appropriate.

Of course, while the battle with the Auditor General raged, the elites maintained their usual supine silence. They have long ago abdicated their civil society role as auditors of conduct in public office.

Auditor general Jaiwantie Ramdass (left) receives her instrument of appointment from President Christine Kangaloo.
(via OTP)

I digress now to 3 March, when I wrote that I would make “an exhortation for the enhancement of the declining presence of steelband on J’ouvert morning next week”. Fortunately, I did qualify my intention by reference to the possibility of being “forced to return to topics arising out of the everyday shattering of our dreams”.

I never did return to the subject of steelband on the road for J’ouvert morning.  The unending deficiencies of the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Health, some of which are connected to fatal consequences, demanded immediate attention.

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh.

However, in light of the recent fulsome announcement of Pan Trinbago that “the historical classical pan competition” will return across Trinidad and Tobago from July, it is necessary immediately to remind the Ministry of Culture and Pan Trinbago of the declining steelband participation in J’ouvert.

I have already made the case for not standing idly by while the juggernaut conglomerate mas’ bands push the authentic elements of Carnival out of the way.

A Bukka Rennie captures the importance of the bond between steelband and J’ouvert in a particularly forceful sentence: “The point is that pan was part of the Carnival and Mas’ scenario from ever since the masses became involved.”

The Invaders Steel Orchestra perform.

See Chapter Two of Bukka’s Mettle and Metal – The Birth of Steel Pan Music and the History of Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra.

This book is to be launched next Tuesday in All Stars yard.  I am pleased to have an opportunity to congratulate the author in advance of the launch.

Despite Trinidad All Stars joyfully keeping pan on the road on both Carnival days, incentives are required to support the presence of steelbands on the road.

Prizes at the Bomb competition on J’ouvert morning comparable to those announced for the revived classical pan competition are urgently required as a first step because of heavy transport costs for bands, additional to those incurred at Panorama.

The Exodus Steel Orchestra performs during the 2023 Panorama competition.
Photo: Pan Trinbago

Their presence on our roads on Carnival days, when visitor numbers peak, is an essential part of restating the origin of steelpan music and maintaining authenticity in Carnival.

Recently, there was also the spectacle of the CJ and the DPP slugging it out over the form in which bundles of court documents are to be forwarded as part of the criminal trial process. That spectacle also had damaging consequences for public trust and confidence.

The decades long peaceful state of relations on the road between competing steelbands is an achievement that mocks the unseemly public clashes of holders of constitutional office holders.

DPP Roger Gaspard.

What is clearly needed in public life is the exercise of self-control over much of the disturbing rhetoric.

More from Wired868
Daly Bread: Ease the tension on crime

I was in Barbados last week. For five days, I was relieved of the need to think about the possibility Read more

Daly Bread: The cracked facades, as we head towards general elections

Last week I closed by referring to our democracy’s dysfunctional concentration on personalities and tribal loyalties. This dysfunction acts as Read more

Daly Bread: Battling in Opposition space; can Paray or Mickela articulate feasible crime plan?

With increasing frequency, our editorial writers and commentators treat with our dismal crime situation, which is now oppressing the entire Read more

Noble: Auditing the Nation’s books; why Ms Ramdass’ actions deserve scrutiny

Last week’s column quoted an INTOSAI (the global body of auditors general) statement: “Independence does not mean an adversary relationship… Read more

Daly Bread: If ministers feel “helpless” about crime, then what now?

With great dismay last Tuesday, I read the lamentation of three government ministers concerning the state of crime in Trinidad Read more

Noble: What auditor general impasse says about the quality of our leaders

The ongoing saga of the auditor general and the understatement of the country’s revenue reveal the quality of our leaders. Read more

Check Also

Daly Bread: Ease the tension on crime

I was in Barbados last week. For five days, I was relieved of the need …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.