Commentary by Capil Bissoon
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The PNM and its operatives have been having a field day spreading lies and more lies in the hope that some will stick. It is based on the well-known axiom that if one tells a lie often enough, it becomes a fact – at least for a while.
History is replete with lies that took on the character of fact. From the 1600s up to 1834, the year of emancipation, blacks were incorrectly seen as inferior to whites. Indentureship was based on the alleged superiority of Europeans over Asians.
So devastating are the lingering effects of slavery that years ago Bob Marley called for deliverance from mental slavery which still afflicted many descendants of victims of that evil.
One lie that has been making the rounds on talk shows and PNM platforms is the People’s Partnership Government has spent over $400 billion since taking office. Speakers on PNM platforms would repeat that figure as if it were gospel and based on extensive research.
Truth is that no more than $288.1 billion was spent by the Government since 2010.
In 2010/11, expenditure was $49.1 billion; a year later $54 billion. In 2012/13, it was $58.4 billion, followed by $61.4 billion the following year. In 2014/15, expenditure allocations were $64.7 billion, making for a grand total of $288.1 billion.
PNM spokespersons would question how that fabricated $400 billion was spent, conveniently forgetting that over 75 per cent of the Government’s expenditure went into public sector wages and emoluments and transfers to State enterprises.
They also conveniently forgot that significant sums were expended on settling over 130 wage negotiations, a further $20 billion and more on dealing with both the CLICO and HCU crises and an additional $9 billion to settle outstanding sums owed to contractors by the previous PNM government.
If the PNM can’t do simple arithmetic, how can they be expected to run the country?
Only a blind person would not see the significant infrastructural development which has taken place since 2010. Included in this massive development are roads like the Valencia by-pass and Point Fortin highway, HDC houses, children’s and teaching hospitals including the completion of the long awaited Tobago hospital, an oncology centre, new and modernised police stations, an Olympic size swimming pool and cycling velodrome, 150 schools and Early Childhood Centres, Costaatt campuses in Sangre Grande and Chaguanas and a UWI campus in Debe.
But the greatest lie was Emailgate.
Here we had the Opposition Leader receiving unsigned and uncorroborated e-mails in his mail-box alleging conspiracy to murder a journalist on the part of the Prime Minister. Without any due diligence, he brings this information to the Parliament.
In the months following his disclosure, thousands of column centimetres of newspaper coverage were devoted to the issue. The PM was falsely accused, tried and declared guilty in the court of public opinion.
When the dust settled, the country learned that no such e-mails were sent from the Prime Minister’s e-mail address.
One would have thought in a normal country this would be the end of the matter. Not in this PNM T&T.
Despite this fact of the non-existence of the e-mails, many PNM surrogates continue to hold an unexplainable, strange and frankly very disturbing view that facts notwithstanding, the lies in the false e-mails may be explained by looking “beyond the four square walls of the evidence”.
I am told that there is a saying: common sense beats book sense any day. We need many doses of common sense.
Remember the PNM lie about a “Calcutta ship”? Well, this lie which I am told made the rounds at PNM cottage meetings in the last THA election campaign, stated that Tobagonians would, if they voted for the Partnership, lose their lands and properties to occupants of an imaginary ship coming from Trinidad.
The Opposition Leader has never satisfactorily denounced the Calcutta ship statement and its author.
And what about coded statements that the Prime Minister is doing everything in her power to declare a state of emergency so as to postpone the general elections scheduled for September 7? The recent prison break and leaked Special Branch memo on the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen are seen as proof.
No wonder at the recent televised leader’s discussion, Isha Wells asked the Prime Minister if she smoked “weed”. This no doubt is a result of an unfortunate accusation which has all the tell-tale signs of the Sadiq Baksh hoax but which provides fodder for the PNM spin machine.
This elections should have been about a choice between two leaders with two visions for taking us forward.
In the absence of a plan and a vision; the PNM seems more adept in the art of deception.