Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Smart Card -- Duncy social policy

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
August 31, 2006

The decision by the Ministry of Social Development to launch the "Smart Card" initiative to assist "the least of these" in our society only brings to the fore the ineptitude, superficiality, and myopia of the public policy decision making process in TnT under the PNM regime.

At the outset, one is at a total loss to ascertain how did the technocrats at the Ministry arrive at those dollar figure allocations for respective families of three, four, five and six. These allocations suggest that in typical Euro-colonial modus operandi, these policy makers automatically assumed that they know what's best for destitute Trinbagonians.

Indeed, the public has never been given the statistical details as to how the Ministry's technocrats arrived at these monthly familial allocations. Again, this is a perfect example of the arrogance of the PNM's public policy decision making process. There was absolutely no public consultation, no transparency, no feedback. The mentality was that Massa knows what's best for the neocolonised.

The fact of the matter is that one wonders, by George, in what Chambers were these technocrats embedded while they engaged in putative deep, serious discussions before coming up with this 'smart' idea.

To say the least, the monthly financial allocations do not compute. None of these families can survive, albeit exist, on these meager allocations. This is ministerial madness at its insane zenith. These allocations do not reflect the stark reality of the ever spiraling cost of living in TnT at this point in time coterminous with the exponential escalation of the price of basic food items.

In reality, the "Smart Card" programme represents the PNM's latest neocolonial social mathematical policy formulation that benefits no one. How anti-people can this PNM government get?

Are the decision makers of the Ministry of Social Development duncy enough to assume that nepotism, skullduggery, curry favour and corruption will not coexist in the "Smart Card" programme as they were rampant and uncontrollable in the Social Help and Rehabilitation Efforts (SHARE) scheme?

Maybe George Chambers' cap has been handed down and is now being perfectly well fitted and worn by policy makers in this PNM government. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

The "Smart Card" scheme is just a congosa, mammaguy and pappyshow ploy to pacify and placate Trinbagonians to vote for the PNM in the upcoming general elections. The Manning administration couldn't care less about the afflicted and affected people; the PNM government just wants their votes to remain in power. Politics is the name of this "Smart Card" game. Trinbagonians are being taken for a political joy ride to never land.

The sad tragedy in all this is that the PNM government is determined to create a solid psychological dependency syndrome among vulnerable groups in TnT; by so doing, their votes would be taken for granted at election time. These vulnerable groups have apparently bitten and swallowed the PNM's bait—hook, line and sinker.

Indeed, by establishing this vicious, self-destructive dependency syndrome, the PNM has surreptitiously created loyal PNMites and wards/clients of the State.

The fact of the matter is that since "money is no problem" in TnT as of this writing, then, it is rather inconceivable and totally incomprehensible to ascertain why the government did not see it fit and humane to offer much more substantial financial monthly allocations to needy Trinbagonians.

This failure speaks volumes as to the anti-people public policy posture of the Manning government.

The only conclusion that can be arrived at is that the ulterior motive behind the "Smart Card" scheme is that the government calculated that it can make some people in society a financial offer which they cannot refuse.

Needy Trinbagonians do not need a meager handout from the government; they need a firm public policy hand to lift them out of the doldrums of poverty, despair, dislocation, dysfunction, self-hate and nothingness.

In the final analysis, the card was a smart idea but unfortunately, it represents duncy social policy researched, packaged and formulated by arrogant policy makers in the Ministry of Social Development.

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.

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