Same Khaki Pants

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Do you think we would ever learn from our past mistakes? We frequently ask ourselves that question after listening togovernment speak of its initiatives to fix inherent problems. Their never ending cycle of bungling appears infinite as time after time we hear of new companies being set up to fix problems that have been unbreakable since independence. This latest edition though is not the establishment of one company but multiple ones to handle tourism separately in Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinidad Tourism Limited and the Tobago Tourism Limited. The ‘Trini’ company is supposed to be headed by former Miss Universe, Janelle ‘Penny’ Commissiong.

Last year, government dissolved TDC, the Tourism Development Company to make way for these new entities. Prior to that, there was TIDCO and before that probably something other company that couldn’t drive tourism for the same longstanding reasons. But what exactly are the problems with the sector and what skills do these new boards possess to make tourism viable? Are they prepared to fix poor work ethic, substandard service, shoddy infrastructure or high crime rates? We would love to know. And we also wish to be reassured that the new heads, who are undoubtedly highly paid, are guaranteed to fix the issues plaguing tourism

Let’s not forget that the old ‘plaster on the sore’ method of fixing our woes has not worked over the decades. BWIA was replaced with Caribbean Airlines. TTT has reincarnated numerous times as ICN, CNMG and who knows what else and WASA,transformed to Severn Trent some years ago and failed to thrive like all of the others, incurring massive debt instead. One would have thought successive governments might have recognised by now that this method of resuscitating a haemorrhaging entity is worthless.

State run entities are inherently flawed and it’s no surprise that most are doomed to fail before they even start. Jobs for the boys and political supporters, favours for the financial backers and big positions for friends with little or no clue on how business functions. Marry that with annual subventions, and a workforce of unionised, nonchalant workers and the outcome is clear. Tourism, media, utilities and services in this country all suffer common problems that plague private enterprises as well. Nothing is unique to state-run business other than mismanagement and political interference. A new board and a new name for an organisation overrun with political meddling will make no difference. We will always be in the same khaki pants as long as the government want to be a businessman.