Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Election Primer A - Z: 'I' is for International Financial Centre

Perhaps you recall all the grand plans that would have made T&T the Gateway to the Americas? Almost a decade on and we still have neither the capacity (airport, hotel rooms, legislative) nor the demand (are people really knocking down our doors to come here let alone layover on their way to the US or South America?) to make this dream a reality.

What about the desires of our sitting PM that Port of Spain become the home of the Secretariat of the Organization of American States? Remember how the PM stood up publicly and explained that regional suport for this venture was a 'lock' - only for our self same neighbours to turn their backs on us to vote in support of Miami instead?

And then of course for the last five years, Mr Manning has been nuturing a new dream - that of an International Financial Centre in Port of Spain. And to facilitate this his, government has invested Billions of dollars on the Waterfront Centre with a view to situating the IFC there.

A Government owned, Hyatt managed hotel, two towers and a fountain later, this dream has confirmed itself to be just that. To date, there have been no international financial companies that have signalled any intent to expand into T&T let alone become tenants of these buildings. The legislation that has been passed to date has been hodge-podge and inadequate at best. And the towers are with the exception of the Ministry of Energy, empty.

If anything, the IFC presents us with one very important as it relates to the PNM led Government: that although the PM and his advisors are filled to the brim with 'visions' of a developed nation, their ability to execute (especially execute in a timely, economical and beneficial manner) has repeatedly been called in to question.

And other questions to. Why wait until after a decision has been made by the executive to solicit the views of a wider population as has been the case with the smelter, the rapid rail and the new constitution? Why can this Government never account for every dollar that is spent in every one of its projects? Why the routine cost-overruns? Why do project time-lines get thrown out the window? Why all the unused office space in the IFC and the Government Campus yet the Government is not only the largest tenant in Trinidad & Tobago - but the actual sqare footage being let has increased exponentially in spite of this building thrust.

In the end, it would appear that we, the taxayers of this country, have been led down a path and we have been introduced to the briar path. All that remains is for those who govern us to throw us in. It is in our power and in our best interest to voice the above questions and more importantly to demand accountability. And failing a satisfactory response - to make a wontonly wasteful government pay the ultimate price for their failure to execute and execute well.

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