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Is there hope for 2018?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The month of January derives its name from “Janua”, the Latin word for door. To the ancient Romans, doorways were a sacred space that represented transition and new beginnings. This reverence has survived through the ages, with the New Year being associated with the opportunity to make a fresh start. Personally, I see little that gives me reason to hope that 2018 will be any better than 2017. So in the spirit of our superstitious Roman forefathers, I wish to make a few predictions of what events may transpire over the course of the coming months.

1. The lost war on crime

This is going to be another record-setting year for the number of recorded murders. Since crime always spikes under a PNM administration (there’s statistical evidence to support this), it may point to a lack of political will to do what is necessary to suppress it. Unfortunately, the Police Service is also complicit in this failure by being corrupt and lackadaisical, resulting in a complete loss of public confidence. Of course, the commissioner will periodically make speeches about new initiatives and tout small gains, but detection and preventative rates will still remain abysmally low.

2. Dr Rowley’s foot-in-mouth disorder

Considering the string of distasteful comments our prime minister made last year, it’s only a matter of time before he finds himself chewing on his own foot once again.

It’s also more than likely that the next verbal faux pas will be crass, slightly obscene, and will probably be aimed at the leader of the opposition if not a reference to all women in general. As usual, the PNM Women’s League will rush to his defence, citing the traditional use of double entendre in political picong, and then unabashedly contradict their position by condemning the same practice when it is turned on their foul-mouthed leader.

3. A scandal sets sail

To date, there’s been little transparency regarding the contract for the inter-island ferry service. And between the PM, the minister of transport, the port authority chairperson, and the representative from Bridgeman Services, no one seems to know anything about who authorised the acquisition of the Ocean Flower II.

It quietly departed our waters last Saturday for an “unknown destination”, while the findings from the highly anticipated “Mouttet Report” have yet to be made public. So, like the problem-plagued vessel, the truth surrounding this scandal will vanish into obscurity and no one will be held accountable.

4. The case against the Chief Justice

It is clear that “something is rotten in the Hall of Justice”. The impasse between the Law Association and the Chief Justice has further weakened the already poor reputation of the judiciary. Several apparent procedural missteps made by Justice Archie have raised questions about his competency, while his alleged personal affairs have brought the office into disrepute.

In the meantime, the prime minister’s reluctance to intervene could be an indication of a willingness to allow the infighting to continue. Either way… unless the CJ is caught “in flagrante delicto” of some wrongdoing, it seems doubtful that Section 37 proceedings will be initiated against him.

5. The economy

Anyone who’s hoping that things will get better—think again. US commodities traders predict that the price of crude oil to be between $48 and $68 dollars a barrel for at least the first half of 2018. Since nothing has been done to increase our country’s earnings, there is no end in sight to the current economic downturn. Which means that government will continue to face problems with the payment of wages, price increases are likely to occur, and US currency will be extremely difficult for average citizens and small businesses to acquire.

The above does paint a rather bleak picture. But here’s the thing—I’m no soothsayer, Roman or otherwise. Nothing would please me more than being wrong about my predictions and our chances for a better 2018. It would be a welcomed change to step through the door and leave our old bad habits behind. So go ahead T&T… prove me wrong.

Ryan Hadeed


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