Commentary: Jindal and Lee

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Caption: The mothballed refinery at Pointe-a-Pierre. AZP News/Prior Beharry

Alicia Chamely
By Alicia Chamely

ALL hail the king of petty, our Prime Minister Dr Keith Christopher Rowley.

This man is on fire when it comes to salty pettiness and terrorising the Opposition. It is almost as if he hawk eyes their missteps and macos all their business just to deliver burn, after stinging burn when they try to question or degrade his government’s decisions.

This week us humble peasants were informed following recent meetings and discussions held in conjunction with the Indian High Commission, Indian steel and energy magnate Naveen Jindal had expressed interest in exploring investments in Trinidad and Tobago, namely the long-shuttered rust-bucket refinery at Point-a-Pierre.

Questioning this came the Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who, and very rightly so, questioned the integrity of Jindal given he is awaiting trial for corruption and bid rigging back in India. Now she also went on to accuse Jindal working as proxy for Venezuela, which would lead T&T down a “dark path,” given Uncle Sam’s position on the up-and-coming King Jong Un of the Western Hemisphere, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. But she lost me (and most right- minded people) with this conspiracy because I live in the real world and have enough problems as it is.

Rowley, being as ruthless as he can be, responded to Persad-Bissessar, “If she is so interested in Mr Jindal’s charges, I would say deal with David Lee’s charges first and then I will talk to her about Jindal’s charges after.”

Ooooffff, he hit her a punch to the gut with that one. Homeboy is fed up with the Opposition, especially Persad-Bissessar, and isn’t afraid to go there… if you know what I mean.

I cannot help but picture Rowley coming home from ruling our land, and like a dramatic teenager, running up to his bedroom, plopping down on his bed and writing in his diary:

“Dear diary,
Today, Kamla, tried to question my decisions regarding the sale of that stinking refinery (crux of my existence) to a super cool guy from India, because everyone is always up in face about bringing foreign investment. So, Ms High and Mighty Kamla thought she was being clever and expressed her ‘concerns’ over my investor being on trail for corruption in India. Giiirrrlll please, like you could talk about dealing with people on corruption charges. So, I was like ‘Hey, if this bothers you, we can meet up and talk about it, but only if you are willing deal with your party’s Chief Whip being out on bail, awaiting trial for corruption. Urrghh, can’t tell you how much times I’ve just wanted to tell her, ‘Bye Felicia’ in parliament. Any way that’s all for today.
Your Friend
T&T’s Most Loved PM Keith.”

I get it though, you can’t be throwing shade and calling for distrust in someone who has yet to be proven guilty in court when your right-hand man is in the same situation… oh political hypocrisy never fails to amuse me.

Truthfully, though, Persad-Bissessar does have a valid point… not about the whole undercover Venezuelan infiltration… but about the need for caution regarding those whom we bring to shores to do business.

A quick Google search will show, while Jindal has built a global empire, he is a lot of trouble back home in India. He appears to be a man, who knows how to cozy up to governments to get what he wants.

Considering we already plagued by corruption, especially in areas of governmental contracts, one must ask, “Are we inviting another sketchy business to exploit our nation in efforts to enrich themselves?”

Our economy desperately needs investment given our dwindling foreign reserves, and heavy
reliance on the up and down energy sector. We need to find ways to diversify and expand. Foreign investment is one part of the solution, but we must be extremely cautious regarding outside entities’ business practices and safeguard ourselves.

If you want to attract the best of international investment, you need to show them that you are
worth their time. Thanks to our neolithic bureaucracy and red tape, ease of business isn’t easy.

Technologically, we are years behind in financial sector. High rates of corruption and crime haven’t exactly made us a hot spot for let’s say an international manufacturer who is looking to set up shop in the Caribbean and Latin American markets.

I commend the Government for taking an active role in seeking out foreign investments, especially from growing global powerhouses such as India, which is the fifth largest economy in the world, and Ghana, which is ranked in the top ten of African nations for GDP and growth.

But I also understand where our Opposition is coming from, we need to be cautious. We have a checkered record when it comes to international investors and steps need to be taken to ensure the investors, we attract are the ones who will help make us stronger not weaker.


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