By Suzanne Mills

It was a boss question. Did the Prime Minister fly economy toFlorida after he soured our New Year? And as far I can glean from newsreports-one has to be careful not to rile or rattle the thin skinned Ministerof Censorship Maxie Cuffie- he didn´t answer it, but side stepped with amouthful of spin. Oh, Government ministers fly first class when on officialbusiness and other officials go business or economy.  Oh, he wouldn´t be surprised if Rowley did.The PM leads by example. In other words, no answer. The question should havebeen posed the following week. Did the PM fly first class or not? Nosupposition. No tip toeing.

The interrogatory was a gem because whether he went on his owndime or not, the PM should have gone economy- and I´d be surprised if he had.As most-except the sycophants -will soon understand, Dr Rowley is a do as Isay, not as I do, man.

Example: he goes to a wedding in Barbados and then is off to playgolf.

Excuses: he needs down time; he goes every year.

Irrelevant poppycock. Golf is a sport/pastime for the elite. If heneeded a rest Rowley should have driven to Maracas, purchased some bake andshark and played cricket on the beach. Buy local! You can´t call on citizens totighten belts, squeeze the middle and lower classes and then there you areposing on a golf course.   Buy local?Where did he get his golf gear and get up? Charlotte Street?

If you play posh every year, make the sacrifice you are asking thepopulation to make and skip 2016. But the PM doesn’t get it, or doesn´t wantto.

Quixotic quips in Parliament in reply to goading about his weddingfetish, accompanied by mindless table thumping from his MPs. He´ll go to a UNCMP´s nuptials if invited. Hysterical! Except it´s not. No one cares how manyweddings the PM attends, but buy local!

Stay at home to answer questions after you give a New Year´saddress that frightens and confounds. Stay put whether or not your message isdread. This is your first Ole Year´s night with the people. Excuse: he hadaccepted the invitation before he became PM. Again irrelevant. All bets are offonce you put your hand on that Bible. Is he saying that the bride and groomcome first, that they would not have understood that he had to cancel under thecircumstances? He can´t diss them but he can diss us?

Frankly, he should have stayed in Miami-because he only came backwith one New Year´s resolution: punish the poor. A VAT off the basics list thathas everyone depressed and soon oppressed. From the minute I heard theannouncement last year that VAT would be lowered, I knew it was sleight ofhand. We aren´t paying less VAT; we are paying more: VAT is back on theessentials. Pardon my French but consumer choice, my foot.  I went bulk shopping last week and shopperswere blue. What to do?

I dare say that the general dejection is not simply a result ofincreased VAT, or because oil prices may drop as low as US $10 a barrel unlessRussia bombs ISIS wells, or there is some major geopolitical shift. People arecrestfallen because the Prime Minister is too darn negative and won´t stopinvoking the spectre of the IMF. I´ve decided that his speeches cast a pall sohe can play saviour and so he can pummel the previous administration. But hismelancholic announcements can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We must budgetyes, but he is scaring people out of spending, which can lead to more job loss.Simple economics.

It is being argued that not all of TT is down and out becausepeople are feteing for Carnival, but not everyone is partying-and it´s also afact that some business is recession proof. Fete, drugs, alcohol, vice-theynever go bust. And Lent must and will come.

Coincidentally, does the AG really think he´s setting the bestexample by holding a party and using crucial police manpower to boot? Are theproceeds of his fete going to charity? Or to the PNM? Questions for the maximumCuffie.

Which brings me to this five percent of salary to charity of choice.First: these charities should be made public. Second-it´s not enough.Government must forfeit all the allowances and tax breaks. Back in the day, Iused to say you could tell the start of a new parliament by the shiny ridesparked outside the Red House.  As if abrand new vehicle was a mark of quality. We reach!

Well this year they must do as they say and not as they do. Take amaxi now and then. Buy a small car. Fly economy-on or off government business.Eh Maxie? 

He reach too. Maxie won´t answer questions posed by the Oppositionif a reporter repeats them. He is only dealing with Government business and notpolitics. You can´t separate the two-they are not mutually exclusive. Nor canhe decide which questions are to be answered where. He has won himself asteups.

And are Opposition questions not the people´s questions? Is itpossible that Maxie has forgotten that the Opposition represents the citizensof this country as much as the PNM does? Arguably more so: the PNM did not winthe majority vote.

How quickly one forgets one´s roots. As a reporter Maxie wouldhave been outraged at the terms he is now imposing. As a columnist he wouldhave had a conniption had the UNC Communications Minister been as heavy-handed.Do as I say and not as I do, or have done, or will do. My suggestion to theMinister of Censorship: go all the way and hand out a list of acceptablequestions or issue press releases.  Myadvice to colleagues: keep asking “Opposition” questions. Buy local.

January 2016

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