IN recent times my social media page has come under a barrage of posts decrying the restoration of some of our national treasures. Many complained about the price tag and juxtaposed this with other deliverables which they deem are much needed. These new-found guardians of the public purse, in their outrage asked whether it was necessary to renovate these jewels in our national historic crown.
These buildings represent the various seats of our democracy and it was with a sense of pride that I was able to witness their restoration and reopening. Yet, it seems like these newly minted protectors of us taxpayers, would be pleased to see the roof caved in at President’s House, or the Red House continuing to bear the scars of 1990 in its decrepit state, or even the Office of the Prime Minister move from building to building seeking temporary accommodation. However, if we stop a moment to analyse the source of their discontent and the credibility of their arguments, the sanctimonious hypocrisy of their criticisms lay bare for all to see.
Using the Red House as a glaring example, my first question to these critics would be, at what point did this publicly disclosed price tag, which represents 0.1per cent of the national budget for 2020, become an issue for you?
Was it when the over $800 million bill was made public under the previous administration?
Or was it when the Prime Minister stated in January 2019 that we were able to save almost half the cost on the estimated contract price?
These so called guardians of my tax dollars completely ignored the savings of almost $400 million on the project or the fact that wastage and worse, was eradicated to restore the three seats of our democracy to its rightful status. They can only see wrong and cry foul.
However, where were these bastions for frugality when their country needed them the most? I didn’t hear their live feeds when $400 million was wasted in a LifeSport Programme which became infested with criminality.
Where were the Facebook warriors when another $400 million in legal fees piled up at the Attorney General’s office by 2015 for God knows what?
These same loud voices stayed silent when the contract of almost $1,000 million ($1 billion) was awarded to SIS for the Beetham Waste Water Treatment Plant under very dubious procurement practices.
No one went to Point Fortin for a video exposition when OAS almost got away with another $1 billion of our taxpayers dollars due to the surreptitious addendum done on the eve of the 2015 general elections. And who can forget the $16,000 million ($16 billion) that was depleted from NGC’s cash reserves. That could have restored the Red House 36 times given the price it was completed at. Where were these loud voices leading public outcry then?
It is quite clear that an extreme level of hypocrisy exists when confronted with the obvious politically motivated criticisms of the restoration of our National Treasures.
These same individuals, some of whom were on the Government’s payroll at the time, stayed silent and never said a word when the worst atrocities were committed against the taxpayers and the public purse. Yes they now present themselves as knights in shining armour to find issue with projects which aim to preserve our national identity and have come in significantly under budget.
I urge my fellow citizens to be more discerning in their digestion of the information that is put out there, especially in the wildfire forum of social media where anyone can say anything. Critical thinking and a discerning eye is important, especially as we are in an election season where most of the discourse is tinged with a political stain.