Geographic Discrimination is a prevalent and reprehensible act that manifests itself through the practices of the current PNM regime, creating a major impact on the ability to meet the requirements of a large sector of the country’s population.
This occurrence presents itself in the manner in which funding and resources are allocated, distributed and released- which is done in accordance with the Government’s political agenda.
Due to the PNM’s political bias, entire constituencies are unfairly discriminated against, leaving the relevant Members of Parliament at a complete disadvantage, while being accountable to their constituents.
An area where this is glaringly noticeable is in the Local Government sector. The Ministry of Local Government, through which the Ministry of Finance allocates funding for the operations and projects of all Regional Corporations discriminates against the UNC-led Corporations.
Lack of funding affects every aspect of the regional bodies as without funding, there exists the inability to satisfy salary requirements, administrative work and ultimately there would be no developmental or maintenance projects. Additionally, lack of funding also results in less CEPEP contracts and projects, which affects thousands of citizens directly.
An example of this can be seen in the Penal-Debe Regional Corporation. For months, the Corporation did not receive funds for the basic resources, such as Diesel, which would normally fall under the category of ‘allocated funding’. In this case, diesel would have facilitated the operation of equipment that could have worked to alleviate the extent of the recent floods.
However, the PNM-controlled Port-of-Spain City Corporation had so many extra millions readily available at their disposable, that they wanted to outfit a playground with artificial turf.
To add insult to injury, the decision-makers actually attempted to justify their reasoning for the ‘turf project’ being a matter of importance at this time!
As we move to another example, if we cast an eye towards CEPEP, we see that its core mission is the development and implementation of programmes that promote environmental protection, enhancement and beautification.
This means that the cleanliness of all water courses and roadside drains is critical to CEPEP’s mandate.
Now, Oropouche West is (56) sq. kms, mainly rural, with earthen drains and water courses that require significant maintenance. Yet, according to statistics from the Minister of Local Government, there are only (12) CEPEP contractors in Oropouche West.
By comparison, let us examine San Fernando West, which is less than 1/5th the size of Oropouche West, is urban with well-developed infrastructure, but yet has (46) CEPEP gangs.
|Name of Constituency||Area of Constituency Sq. Kms||Number of CEPEP GANGS||Comparison to Oropouche West|
|Port of Spain South||7.44||30||< 1/7|
|Port of Spain North/St. Ann’s West||18.35||27||< 1/3|
|San Fernando East||12.98||30||< 1/4|
|San Fernando West||10.33||46||< 1/5|
|Diego Martin Central||12.96||24||< 1/4|
|Laventille West||12.01||30||< 1/4|
One glance at the table above shows the severe disparity in the number of CEPEP gangs in relation to the area size of Northern and Southern constituencies. In the PNM’s myopic haste, they fail to realise how far-reaching are the consequences of their actions.
When the number of CEPEP gangs are minimal in rural constituencies, this means the work done is minimal and YES, the ensuing flooding affects the residents directly!
However, it also affects the rest of the country in their pockets, as Fresh Vegetable prices and General Food Prices increase.
With limited availability of foreign exchange, it is not so simple to meet the demands for imported food items and the important role of our rural farmers can be seen.
From another angle, CEPEP gangs usually employ Single Mothers and people who live generally below the Poverty Line. When there is no CEPEP work, this trickles to the children of these families who are then left to fend for their survival, especially in these times of economic challenges.
Sadly, the PNM’s policy of ‘Geographical Discrimination’ is the strategy they always opt to utilize to victimize the constituencies they deem as anti-PNM.
Their sole mindset is focused on making the lives of these constituents unbearable, hoping that they will blame their respective Members of Parliament and Councillors for a poor standard of living, resulting in a PNM vote in the next election. This is the objective of the PNM.
They fail to realize that as the Government of the country, they are mandated to serve all citizens, and not just those who voted for them. The funds they disburse is the property of ALL taxpayers, and ALL should benefit; not just the chosen few.
– Davendranath Tancoo