Photo : Eric Williams

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The accusation of the former Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration (210-2015) of bankrupting the country’s treasury continued at the PNM 47th Convention on Sunday 12th November, 2017 in Port of Spain, not far from the “traitor to be beheaded” speech in Belmont  speech by Dr Keith Rowley.  He told the almost exclusive black creole crowd of party supporters that “now more than ever there was need for discipline and sacrifice in rebuilding the country’s economy after the reckless spending policies of the UNC after the cabal and associates who today cannot be even trusted by the founder of their party.” (Newsday 13 November, 2017 p.3)

The economic reality is that the last government did not bankrupt the Treasury and its performance during its five years was immense. Yet the UNC leadership has not adequately addressed these repeated and constant PNM accusations which would undoubtedly be their campaign theme in 2019/2020. It is the PNM which stand accused of the very “crimes” which they are accusing the UNC of.

A.N.R. Robinson, in his autobiography, dealt with this issue in some detail. The PNM, mainly under its founding leader Eric Williams, bankrupted the country in 1961, 1973 and 1986. In The Midst of It (2012) Robinson wrote that “ as Minister of Finance, and again as Prime Minister, in 1986, I had to take responsibility. On both occasions the treasury was empty.” Again, “in 1986, when the NAR entered office, I assumed the portfolio of Minister of Finance and the Economy. I found a situation very much similar to the one I met in 1961 when Dr Williams hand me the finance portfolio. It was one of total disarray.” The country has experienced an “oil boom” in 1974 and continued for at least seven years. The treasury in 1986 was bankrupt after this, in 1986.

Few people know that after five years of Dr Eric Williams’ government the country was bankrupt. He revealed that in 1961 when Williams handed him the portfolio of Minister of Finance when he went home and informed his wife “she almost burst into tears…instead of being happy and congratulating me, Pat became sad.” The reality was that “in the single year of 1961, all the remaining balances of Trinidad and Tobago had been exhausted. We were left with a debit balance of some eight million dollars, quite a substantial sum, given the previous surpluses the country experienced.”

Eric Williams was responsible for this economic situation and economic crisis in the country is a legacy of the PNM. The PNM in 1961 had to tax the people of the country to raise revenue. Robinson continued: “The sources from which I sought the revenue were particularly controversial, in a few instances. Because of my lack of experience of Trinidad, I did not recognize the importance the importance of some of the matters which apparently were very sensitive issues, for those of East Indian origin.”

Even in this situation, corruption was widely practised by the PNM. Robinson repeated that “I became very disturbed by these experts of corruption and of Williams turning a blind eye. I was very disappointed to hear that when reports were made to him about corruption, he did nothing. Information came to me that certain party members who had been placed in strategic positions, in a certain company, had been guilty of corrupt practices.”

Robinson wrote that “I brought this (corruption) to the attention of Dr Williams, but he just shrugged his shoulders and did nothing about it.” John O’Halloran, executor of Dr Williams, and Francis Prevatt are two prominent names linked to PNM corruption. Both died in exile. Eric Williams was the “Father of Corruption.”

Photo : Kamal Persad

When one surveys the period from 1956 it is clear the black creole movement was unpatriotic and traitorous to the country. The children of the PNM had been in constant activities designed to destroy the country. In 1970 the black army revolted to seize power from their PNM elders. This converged with the “Black Power” marches, also an attempt to overthrow the PNM government. Then there was the extremist National Union of Freedom Fighters (NUFF), a militant group, using arms and violence also to replace the PNM government. In his book “The Freedom Fighters” former Commissioner of Police Bertrand identified the youths as black sons and daughters of the PNM who came of age in the late 1960s and 1970s. The 1990 attempted coupe d’tat was also by black Muslims; and the looting and burning of Port of Spain was done by urban blacks.

The gang trading bullets with the police and army were primarily black youths. This open warfare takes place in Beetham, Laventille, etc. The gangs are mainly black youths.

The black creole PNM leadership and supporters have no superior claim to patriotism and nationalism. They are a communal minority which threaten the security of the country, and are largely an impediment to a developed and progressive country. Eric Williams was no Lee Wan Que of Singapore and the present PNM can never transform this country to be like Singapore.