THE NEW TODAY would like to first of all commend the people of Trinidad & Tobago for the peaceful manner in which they conducted last Monday’s general elections to help maintain our reputation as a region in which the expressed will of the people can be expressed not only free and fair but free from fear.
Hundreds are gunned down every year in Trinidad due to the illicit drug trade but the elections were relatively peaceful and not marred by any slaying.
Secondly, we would like to congratulate the opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) and the new Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley for their victory at the polls.
It is our suspicion that most Grenadians were “hooting” for the PNM and not the outgoing United National Congress-dominated Peoples Partnership coalition government of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for obvious reason.
It was the PNM under then founder leader and its first Prime Minister, Dr. Eric Williams that opened the doors for large numbers of Grenadians to live and work permanently in the neighbouring twin island republic.
It is generally accepted that most Black Trinidadians can boast of having some family member back in the Spice Isle or their roots deep inside Grenada.
The hills of Laventille and the deep south are noted for large pockets of persons who originated from Grenada but are now full-blown nationals of Trinidad & Tobago.
There is also a sense that a PNM victory might be more sympathetic to resolving issues surrounding millions of dollars owed to Grenadians from the CLICO and British American insurance debacle.
Events in Trinidad and Tobago were largely responsible for the demise of these two major insurance companies that resulted in thousands of policyholders being placed in a very uncomfortable situation with their life savings.
It is our understanding that several locals, especially members of the Seamen & Waterfront Workers Union (SWWU) are now hurting as pension payments due to them are being withheld as a result of the BA and CLICO problem.
From information obtained, it appears that SWWU, which is considered to be pro-NNP of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell had been making overtures to the regime to do something to help them get their millions tied up in the two regional insurance conglomerate.
The authorities in Grenada seemingly sent signals that it did not want to be seen as taking sides in the TNT election and would await the results before making approaches to the powers-that-be in Port-of-Spain.
It is clear to us that the new administration in Trinidad & Tobago will be forced to concentrate on domestic matters before turning its attention to regional and other matters of interest.
PM Rowley has already hinted on the night of his election victory that the road ahead for the country will not be an easy one.
That is for sure. The oil boom of yesteryear is virtually over and recent drop in oil prices on the international market is not good news for Trinidad & Tobago.
The new regime needs to rake in millions and millions in revenue to meet the expectations of those who voted for change last Monday.
Mr. Rowley will also be very mindful that although he controls 23 of the 41 seats in Parliament, he might be in charge of a minority government as the Partnership got the popular vote over the PNM.
The opposition will take comfort from the fact that more persons in Trinidad & Tobago voted for them as opposed to those now in charge of the affairs of their nation.
PM Rowley has his work cut out to try and maintain the popularity of his government as a very formidable opponent is lurking in and around the corridors of power and ready to get back into the driving seat.
His position is not like Grenada’s NNP which won both the popular vote and the expressed will of the electorate that gave the current rulers in St. George’s all fifteen seats in the 2013 general elections.
Mr. Rowley would also understand that if Trinidadians lose faith in PNM that he could also become a one-term Prime Minister as his predecessor, Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
In recent times, a trend has been emerging in the Caribbean in which the electorate is prepared to punish any government that is deemed to be non-performing in terms of meeting their needs and expectations.
The voters seem to be in a no-nonsense mood and will give only one-term in office to those politicians who soon lose face with them by engaging in trickery and mamagism to coerce them to vote in their direction.
As such, new PM Rowley will be conscious of the fact that if he fails to deliver then Trinidadians will quickly come to the conclusion that he lied and deceived them to win the elections – and he will have a serious price to pay at the right time.
Despite all that have been said above, THE NEW TODAY is hopeful that Trinidad and Tobago continues to have a strong government and economy because that will redound to the benefit of the people in the English-speaking Caribbean.