Serving people like a duke

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A duke is the member of nobility that ranks just below the monarch. A duke is a ruler of a duchy (county, territory, or domain). The title traditionally is bestowed upon marriage, but it carries with it a responsibility to adhere to the traditions of office and requires a disciplined life.

In TT there are no families of nobility but there are traditions and laws that guide those who are elected to serve the people. Consequently, when one is given a territory to look after and a title (not unlike a duke) it is expected that one follows the rules and traditions of office and humbly goes about representing those they represent with honour.

There seems to be an underlying tendency among some politicians to believe that election to office is an invitation to enrich themselves. It is not uncommon for one to see parliamentarians assuming office with a common sedan and quickly upgrading to luxury cars. Trips abroad become commonplace. Conversations with the media, constituents and members of the public, including some family members, become rear.

The people who elected such members to office are suddenly seen as socially lower than their representatives and the vision and mission upon which they were elected become lost to them.

In TT billions of dollars are budgeted every year for the management of the country. For some politicians that money is seen as theirs to surreptitiously guide into the hands of party financiers, friends and to their own accounts.

It is not surprising therefore to read of allegations suggesting that one politician believes he can request state funding without the oversight and structures associated with acquiring such funding. More surprising is the notion from some members of the public that such funding outside the norms of governmental bureaucracy is acceptable because of one’s political position.

TT has had more money pass through its Treasury than most Caribbean countries. In fact, more money that many much larger nations. The result is the creation of an elite class with hundreds of luxury cars, boats and real estate locally and abroad.

One sector manufactures nothing, creates nothing, exports nothing but is allowed to import goods, place high mark-ups and sell to the public for huge profits. Others simply access huge government contracts in construction, in office rentals and in supplying goods and services. Together they conspire to finance individuals to office to continue the cycle of enriching the few at the expense of the many.

Until the people of TT commit to a new group of political personnel, a group dedicated to the interests and development of country before self and financiers, the desire for simple things like a reliable water supply and decent roads would remain dreams held like a carrot on a stick and waved before the public every five years, but never to be achieved.

STEVE ALVAREZ