Recently I came across a news item in a daily paper of a report prepared by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) highlighting the most corrupt countries in the world.
Trinidad and Tobago was right up there with the leaders of corrupt nations in the world. But the clincher was several government ministers said they did not know of any corruption in their various ministries.
Since joining the reporting fraternity decades ago, I have heard stories of people having to pay bribes for certain free government services—drivers’ permits and licenses; land acquisitions; houses from the housing department; charges by police officers; contracts for building projects and various services and a whole host of other services.
Paying bribes has been an integral part of our daily lives for decades. You tell me how it is possible that people in charge of ministries, corporations, government agencies and companies don’t know about such illegal actions being carried out below their very noses?
Asked about whether he was aware of any corruption in his ministry, the National Security Minister said, “No I am not”. Giving a similar answer was the Public Utilities minister. Of course, the age-old comment of if you have information, they would love to have it, was made by both ministers.
Because of inefficiencies or tardiness to get things done at government offices, members of the public become very frustrated and are forced to pay bribes. Whether it is the system itself or deliberate actions by public servants is a matter still being discussed.
I have experienced the lethargy and lack of effectiveness of the public service. I did not apply for my government pension at the required age because I was still receiving emoluments for work I was doing. This stopped at the same time the Finance Minister made adjustments in the pension in the 2018 Budget Speech. In January 2019, I went into the ministry. I was told I needed some more documents. I got them and submitted them. That was in early 2019. To date I am still waiting. I wonder if there is backpay to be had.
I was hoping against hope the New Year would not begin the way 2019 began: murders, murders, and more murders. But sadly, it has. Making it more worrisome is the number of women killed in domestic abuse situations.
One MP blamed the songs being sung as a cause. He was quickly rebuffed by at least two radio station deejays. But one thing that is not being blamed is my pet peeve …PARENTING.
To end, I would like to share with readers an e-mail I received from my brother-in-law Chet in Washington DC. It reads “Good afternoon and welcome to Flight #2020. We are preparing for takeoff into the New Year so please make sure your attitude and blessings are secure and locked in an upright position. All self-destructive devices should be turned off at this time. All negativity, hurt and discouragement should be put away.
“Should we lose altitude under pressure during the flight, reach up and pull down a prayer. Prayers will automatically be activated by faith. Once your faith is activated you can assist other passengers. There will be no baggage allowed on this flight. The Captain has cleared us for take-off. Our destination is kindness, understanding, caring, respect and love. Please take this flight with me. Happy New Year.”
May I take this opportunity to wish all my readers the same.