Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Election Primer A - Z: 'F' is for Flag

Before we begin, click here: http://guardian.co.tt/news/politics/2009/11/05/it-s-official-2m-flag for a bit of background on this story.

How can any right thinking individual approve $2M for the erection of a 60 x 36 national flag? How does one justify that kind of expenditure? Does logic call on a 'comparitive shopping' approach to this sort of project? Or does one close one's eyes and spend someone else's money?

A symbol of national pride? Or a grave mistake? You decide.

The fact remains that the Ministry of Sport (we assume with the blessing of the PM and Cabinet) approved $2M for this project. That sum has been further explained as follows:

  • The flag cost $18,112.15, VAT inclusive;

  • Foundation and installation works— $940,000;

  • Design and supply of monster flag pole— $932,400

  • Three additional flags— $54, 336.
Ironically, the flag in itself cost less than 1% of the total contract sum.

But here are some of the glaring questions:
  • What has similar flags (including the one erected at FireOne's compound in Macoya) cost elsewhere in the world?

  • Is it fair to place a price-tag on National Pride?

  • How is it that a company with no history of civil engeineering or construction works could have been awarded such a contract?

  • Why is it that on closer examination, the two other companies to tender appear to be nothing more than 'paper companies'?

  • Were proper tendering practices adhered to on this project?
In the end, this is as clear an example of 'spending gone mad' and a government unchecked as you will find anywhere. When one considers that there are so many priorities that could have taken precedent - including within the Ministry of Sports. There is no pride for instance in having hospitals without beds, police stations without vehicles and an education system that is failing its wards. To put it into perspective, two million dollars could have provided the following:

10 Police patrol vehicles
7 low income houses
20 teachers for a year
Food for 100 families for one year

2 life saving surgeries
1 dialysis machine

For an epilogue it should be noted that something has come as a result of the public outcry that this issue created and to date, the CEO of SportTT and his deputy have, in spite of their attempts to defend their decision, stepped down. Similarly, the line minister, Gary Hunt, has decided NOT to offer himself for re-election on May 24. Hopefully, his decision will also mean that he will no longer be the Minister of Sport should his party win the election. In spite of these moral victories however, calls for investigations have been largely ignored. And we will never know with exact certainty just how badly we've been hoodwinked.

1 comment:

  1. Here's a vid that sums it up better than I can: