Saturday Express Editorial

HEADLINING it appropriately as the season of shovels and scissors, we presented a pictorial grab in this newspaper on Thursday featuring the flurry of activity taking place across the country, with the Prime Minister and a cheer-leading team of ministers and State officials.

A cornerstone of election campaigns for every administration seeking another term in office is that they cut ribbons and turn sods for this or that project that has either been completed or is being launched.

The photographs captured such activities in Diego Martin, Port of Spain, San Fernando, Marabella, Maloney and Mt Hope, and represented just several of the type of activities engaging the daily agenda of the Prime Minister and the rest of his supporting cast. They form a well-orchestrated, planned and executed aspect of the election campaign, designed to say to would-be voters, “here, we have delivered”.

Such photo-ops as were highlighted represent a partial rendering of activities already agreed upon. We can be sure there are others to come before election day on August 10. It is the usual pre-election rush.

Something in the science of vote-getting dictates that this needs to be a fundamental part of the campaign of incumbents. There is nothing in the way of accepting that this is a strategy which may have long lost its effectiveness.

Scenes such as these have become tiresomely standard but continue to form part of what is to be expected in any election season. That promising developments are about to get underway, or are already in progress, offer themselves as interpretation of the measure of a government’s performance. But are they really?

Political strategists and campaign management professionals should assess the continuing effectiveness of such activities.

We have commented in this space only in the last few days about the letdown concerning the absence of any forward movement with respect to the greatly anticipated and the long-called-for procurement legislation. Abysmally, there appears no acceptable reason why the Office of the Procurement Regulator should still be in a state of less-than-full operation, five years after the legislation was passed, and the institution itself was launched.

Perhaps, sensing that the Moruga/Tableland seat is a must-win for the party in office, the administration moved to launch an agro-processing plant there last week. It is perhaps the most tangible nod in the direction of any acceptance of the myriad, decades-long calls for the country to launch out on a trajectory towards economic diversification.

This remains an objective to be pursued, moreso in light of the realities which we face as a society in the post-Covid world. It must raise questions in the public mind about how $90 million was found, virtually to coincide with the announcement of the election date, to finance the agro-processing and the light industrial park.

Not enough muscle has been put in the service of anti-corruption efforts, badly needed in Trinidad and Tobago, and about which the Rowley-led administration has promised so much.

In Tobago, there is significant consternation over the fact that the burning issue of autonomy in the sister island has been left idle over these five years.

Overall, the ribbon-cuttings and sod-turnings have long lost their lustre, and perhaps do nothing to influence citizens who may need a reason to go to the polls.

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