The present Administration seems to be suffering from a disconnect between plans and achievements and I believe that this is tied in no small way to the way the Ministries are currently configured, as well as in the Human Resources Department.
In not being able to put the right person in the right position, the Leadership risks effective Governance by pandering to egos and other unnecessary criteria at this level.
Nothing confounds results like a square peg in a round hole, and I thought I would make some suggestions toward alleviating the problem.
Winston Dookeran would benefit from the assistance of Selby Wilson, Steve Bideshi and Robert Mayers in his Ministry.
I would like to recommend that the Ministry be divided into divisions (mini Ministries really) that could be headed by men capable of being Ministers themselves.
This would free the Line Minister to focus on the core financial issues and allow for a more dedicated approach to undoing this journey down the deficit path.
Income stimulation (as in alternate streams of) and Expenses controls would be the order of the day, with the 'sub Ministers' taking responsibility for execution of policy.
It is not news that the whole world is struggling with a recession that threatens the fortunes of smaller states and their political stability.
Trinidad has been shielded for the most part by controls put in place after the last recession and by a more or less stable oil price, but is being undermined from within by a policy of 'spending through it' and the concomitant side effects of such policies.
That, compounded with the unheralded level of misappropriation under the last Administration, is threatening to hobble viability and stymie prosperity and growth at a time when we could least afford it.
Mr. Dookeran is known for being prudent, some would say austere, and this may be the tonic needed for an economy overheated by demands of an inefficient system designed to facilitate dishonesty and misappropriation under the guise of expediency.
The appointment of a sub Minister responsible for tenders, contracts and other Governmental subventions gives Mr. Dookeran all the benefits of a fine tooth comb combined with the luxury of a more open schedule to deal with local business groups and their needs, as well as to enter into sustainable long term joint ventures outside of the petrochemical industry.
That the country is begging for diversification is an understatement, and Diversification might well be another sub Ministry in the Ministry of Finance.
Of course these are just suggestions to make a point, but the validity of the idea is clear to see.
Why is Prakash Ramadar not our Attorney General?
He is beyond ably qualified and is so much the statesman that we need for these divisive times as he is almost tailor made for the post.
In matters where the State needs an iron fist in a velvet glove, there is no one better at that level right now.
Our current Attorney General would have done so much better given a 'Corruption Czar' (Ministry), charged with identifying and uprooting the excesses of the last Administration, and leading the State's prosecution case against all manner of abusers.
The circumstances surrounding the Calder Hart and UDECOTT issue, as well as the Broadgate and Waterfront Project issues need a man with his qualifications and attributes.
I would love it if he had the time to look at the Ministry of Sport as well as UTT to name a few.
Properly prosecuted, the State might end up with some mercedes Benzes and BMW's for the Police Service that appeared in driveways almost overnight.
Look, this deflecting argument we keep getting of 'everybody tief' needs to stop, and should ideally stop here, where there is a Government in place with a Parliamentary majority and a mandate from the people.
If Kamla wanted to be a shoe in for a minimum of two terms, all she had to do was bring that money back and put Calder and others to warm the bench in day glow orange with Ish and Steve.
How about the Racket Rail guys? Let us house them at the State's expense for their attempts to defraud the citizens of this nation.
Agriculture and Food Production
Why is Wendy Lee Yeun not the Minister of Agriculture?
She is so much more qualified than the current Minister Vasant Bharat is for the post, what was the thinking here?
We need an Agri Minister in touch with global trends so as to implement policies that would have an immediate effect on food production and a follow on reduction on our import food bill, and a lower food cost to consumers.
Vasant Bharat would have been a better fit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Works & Transport
This 'Super' Ministry has always been a source of contention and corruption and is badly in need of separation.
This Ministry should be broken into Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Transportation and a Ministry of Roads and Highways.
We would have three successes where one giant failure now obtains.
I would also like to suggest that an internal Board be created within whatever obtains as the 'Home Affairs' division in the Prime Minister's Office to facilitate cross pollination between Ministries, and this Board could oversee the functioning of an overlap committee between Transportation, Roads & Highways and the Ministry of national Security with an aim towards governing the provision of, the functioning of, and the behavior on the nations roads and highways.
This Home Affairs Board would also oversee other 'overlap' committees between other key Ministries to provide for faster uptake of information from the ground, as well as streamline the State's response.
The current Minister of Education is not a good fit.
This is another 'Super' Ministry that could be split into two: Ministry of Education - Assets & Human Resources, and Ministry of Education - Curriculum & Exams.
This is another Ministry that could benefit from being broken into two, and I suggest the Ministry of Health - Assets & Management, and the Ministry of Health - Healthcare & Human Resources.
The current Minister of Health seems overwhelmed by the responsibilities of her Office. She would be better suited handling the Assets & Management side, leaving ably qualified and Medically trained people to oversee the Health Care Ministry
Navi Muradali is a young, vibrant, politically skilled doctor who can bring some clarity to a clouded situation, and I offer him as an example.
Why is Nicole Dyer not in charge of Information?
Placed side by side with Garvin and observed, one would see there are certain attributes that she brings to the table that Garvin just does not possess.
Mr. Nicholas is an Attorney at Law, and should be made the Protocol Officer for the Attorney General.
Ministry of National Security
The reason I left this for last is because this Ministry more than any has the power to make a direct impact on the quality of life the citizens now enjoy.
When comparing Trinidad & Tobago with Countries that seem to 'work' where crime & punishment and law & order is concerned, one realizes that it is not so much a lack of willing perpetrators and criminals, but an effective system of law enforcement that acts as both a deterrent and an instant and overwhelming response to crime.
We need to deal with this problem decisively with a planned and sustained effort using international benchmarks as the acceptable guideline if we are to start saving lives.
A target of two murders per hundred thousand people per year by year's end is both achievable and possible if the Political will and the national support can be brought to bear on the problem.
There are at least four Junior Ministries in this Ministry - Ministry of National Security - Counter Narcotics, Ministry of National Security - Anti Crime Division, Ministry of National Security - Corruption & Fraud and Ministry of National Security - Human Resources & Assets.
All four should have a Minister so that Cabinet Members in supporting Ministries like Ministries of Justice, Roads & Highways, Education and others can weigh in and contribute on this endemic and pervasive issue of crime that needs to be put down once and for all.
It would also provide a means by which the Line Minister can effectively 'prune' non performance through an effective, publicly scrutinized chain of command.
This is by no means conclusive, but a suggestion as to deconstructing what has not worked with a view towards creating something that can.
By bringing Cabinet Oversight and by extension Public Scrutiny into the workings of the 'Super' Ministries, one is encouraged to expect results that can quickly become dramatic and measurable changes to the quality of life of all citizens.
Political Will has to be focused using policies that work, and tied more closely to the needs of the people if effective Governance is ever to be obtained.
We are at a crossroads as a nation, and we really do need all hands on deck if we are to leave something of value to our children.
Something to think about...