When the champagne life rules


Diversification was supposed to mean, in our case, the navigation of the economy from an oil-and-gas-based one to other revenue-earning means of production, to the development of the manufacturing sector, to a dynamic, avant garde thrust in tourism, to an agriculture sector that makes the country self-sufficient in food production.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in exploring the possibilities of creating a diverse economy.

Globally, countries focusing on economic diversification, and that don’t have the expertise in a particular field they wish to embark upon, send their talent to countries where that particular area of endeavour is already a booming success so that they may tap into what they see to bring that knowledge back home.

In cricket, India, for example, sends their emerging young fast bowlers to Australia to train under Jeff Thompson, and they come back as young Thommos. Likewise, when countries are going to play cricket in IndiaAustralia, England etc-they recruit the help of spin bowlers from India and/or with knowledge of conditions there, to enhance their ability to play the spinning ball.

In every aspect of life, we utilise specialist help to improve ourselves-which is why schools are built and teachers are hired, ent?

When we appoint diplomats (ambassadors, etc) to foreign posts, it is not for them to just live the good night-life, it is for them to be entrepreneurs on the sly, looking out for golden opportunities for this country in areas of investment, to make contacts for sourcing vaccines, for example, for us, so that if their bosses back home are lax and lackadaisical due to some brain-dead virus they caught, the ambassador could still have our supply in place.

But we hire these diplomats, like the expression says, as thieves in the night, so long after they are already making the rounds in the red light districts across in the country to which they have been posted, we might get a whiff that so and so is ambassador to Timbuktu.

In America, one has to pass through the grilling of Congress to have such a position ratified; here sycophants are just rewarded.

Five years they go, bring in no new investors to the country, provide no contacts for citizens wishing to conduct business in that country-because their champagne life takes precedence over the nuts-and-bolts demands of diplomacy.

So, while there are all kinds of business opportunities left a-begging that we might have seized upon, Rohan Sinanan seems hell-bent on targeting the pockets of citizens as a means of revenue earning for the Government.

While all what he is doing is ostensibly to improve road safety, the bottom line here is to make up for the emptying out of the Treasury, of the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund (HSF).

His real job of making our roads worthy of driving is totally ignored.

It is cliché now to say we have the Pitch Lake and the worst roads in the world. It is adversarial governance to not first provide roadworthy conditions for citizens to drive on while coming up with all kinds of punitive and nitpicking ways to penalise us.

One remembers when road workers, many illiterate, would fix potholes by first putting some foundation material in the hole, then the pitch or oil sand, followed by some tar to bind it all together, so that for years the pothole was no more.

Now, workers just throw some loose material and drive away, and it is not rain that washes it away, but just windas the pothole is instantly remade, oftentimes worse than before.

Lesson in diversification: Colombia became notorious for its cocaine industry and Pablo Escobar, but since America’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) used that country for target practice in its war against drugs, Colombia diversified by establishing a rose-growing industry that is worth billions and has made it number one in the world for the exportation of this flower of love and romance.

Kenya-which has an agriculture- based economy, and is a popular destination for Bollywood movies and songs-also diversified from its famed cocoa/ coffee industry to growing of roses, and now ranks second only to Colombia and ahead of India in this export crop worth more than a $100 billion a year.

So, when Mr Sinanan thinks he deserves the award for entrepreneur of the century, he should wake up and smell the roses, where real money is being made.

L Siddhartha Orie