My January 7th 2019 letter to P.M. Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley

Congratulations on your 40th month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. 

Here are 12 suggestions for your government for 2018 and I am simply repeating them for 2019 in the hope that you will give this list the positive action it deserves:

  1. Rationalize our public holidays in order to positively impact productivity.
  2. Publicize the performance appraisal system for the public service so that citizens know how public servants are judged with regard to performance delivery.
  3. Appoint a Minister of Communication to ensure that your government’s performance is positively highlighted and brought to the attention of the citizenry.
  4. Have the Regional Corporations develop and implement a 6 month plan for creating “walkable cities” in their Boroughs starting simultaneously in April 2019.
  5. Appoint a “Social Innovation Think Tank” to report within 9 months on key social innovations projects which can be implemented across the country.
  6. Ensure electronic transactions become the norm at Government and State institutions.
  7. Begin the obesity reduction programme with our protective services especially those in leadership.
  8. Place a moratorium on the approval of new franchises.
  9. Mandate Rituals and Starbucks to use 10% local coffee and increase that usage to 60% within 5 years.
  10. Place a moratorium on the importation of cars. (Effective February 2018, Singapore banned the addition of cars on its roads to reduce the permitted vehicle growth rate to 0%.)
  11. Implement a programme to ban the use of disposable plastic cups and plates.  (In September 2016 France became the first country in the world to ban disposable plastic cups and plates. A new French law will require all disposable tableware to be made from 50% biologically-sourced materials that can be composted at home by January of 2020.)
  12. Mandate that garbage be separated in homes for collection by specially assigned trucks on specific days.

The country and indeed your government is suffering from inertia and you are in an ideal position to fix this.  As your election tag line implored: Let’s do this!”

Yours Respectfully

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Communications
Citizen

My October 7th, 2018 letter to P.M. Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley,

Congratulations on your 37th Month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

You were spot on during your quest for the Prime Ministership when you told our country that transportation is a quality of life issue and encouraged us to dream of a 1-hour commute into the capital city.  37 months later, the commute is worse with its concomitant increase in fuel emissions, time wastage and the enlarging of our carbon footprint.

Here’s a question I suggest you pose to the Board of PTSC:

“How can PTSC double its ridership within 12 months and what non-monetary state support would be required?”  

Such a question would force the policy makers to think differently and design strategies from an end user perspective.

Yours Respectfully

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass 
Concerned Citizen

My August 7th letter to P.M. Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley

Congratulations on your 35th month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Your government must be commended on the the recent announcement that you have approved a ban on polystyrene foam products by 2019.  While this is commendable, this initiative must be expanded to include all “single use” plastics.

 Yours Respectfully

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Communications
Citizen

My June 7th, 2018 letter to P.M. Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley

Congratulations on your 33rd month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

My letters in April and May asked for an update on the establishment of the National Statistical Institute of T&T (NSITT) which I have not yet received.  The National Draft Development Strategy 2016/2020 refers to the Reform of the National Statistical System and promised:

“The national statistical system will be reformed to provide timely, reliable and accurate data for improved decision-making and targeted policy formulation. To this end, the National Statistical Institute of Trinidad and Tobago will be established”.

Other information in the public domain suggests  that the NSITT is on scheduled to be on stream in 2019 and I am asking for an update on the actual status.  Where can a concerned citizen see the work plan and be assured that this matter is on stream?  My interest in a well functioning data gathering institution is because I share the soundness of the following statement from your manifesto:

“Our approach to governance in our next term will be data based, scientific, holistic and evidence driven, paying due attention at all times to the need for compassion, sensitivity and the respect for the rights and freedoms of all citizens in all matters of state”.

I am once again requesting a response to my concerns.

Yours Respectfully

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Communications
Citizen

My May 7th letter to P.M. Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley

Congratulations on your 32nd month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

My  April 7th letter reminded you of your campaign promise to make decisions on the basis of data and your commitment to improve/restructure/re-design the country’s Central Statistical Office.  I note that in February 2016, your good friend Dr. John Prince was appointed Chairman of the Cabinet-appointed task force for the establishment of the National Statistical Institute of T&T (NSITT).

I am requesting an update on the work of that Task Force.

Yours Respectfully

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Communications
Citizen

My March 7th, 2018 letter to Dr. Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley

Congratulations on your 30th month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

My sincere congratulations to you on facilitating the work of the Equality Opportunity Commission and the launch of the “Guidelines to Sexual Harassment in the WorkPlace”.

I take this opportunity to remind you that the next important milestones are the Legislation and the implementation of Sexual Harassment Policy at all State Enterprises and Ministries.  

Let’s do this!”

Yours Respectfully

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Communications
Citizen

‘Flatten the curve’ is example of clearly articulated, data driven gov’t policy—more please …

The statement that Trinidadians are undisciplined has never sat comfortably with me.

The statement insinuates that we are unable to carefully control the way we work, live, or behave, especially to achieve our goals. My intuition is that, as a people, we do what the system allows and whatever we can get away with.

Photo: Massy Trinidad All Stars at the 2017 Panorama competition.

Think of our panyards; they are clear examples of communities being goal-oriented, observing strict division of labour, following the instructions of the leader and accepting the consequences. Bands are unlikely to succeed if they break these rules.

Think of Mas Bands and the traditional Carnival Mas Camps. They know the goal, organise to deliver the products and, in the majority of cases, hit the road on time and within budget.

Parallel these thoughts with our excellent handling of Covid-19 and what you see is that the goal was clear. It was to flatten the curve. The consequences were articulated by WHO and most international media houses.

You knew that you could become seriously ill, die or cause the death of your loved one. The context and remedy were communicated—close the borders and stay home.

It is the first time that I have seen our politicians take the advice of the scientists and follow it to the letter.

I hope this marks a new era in our development, an era in which our politicians and leaders will listen and take action based on science and data and not on their gut feelings.

Photo: Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh (left) and CMO Dr Roshan Parasram.

But it is not as simple as following advice; a clear goal must be articulated and this is where we have failed big time over the past 62 years as an independent nation. Vision 2020 was an excellent effort but it fell by the wayside and Vision 2030 is a ‘gambage’—flashy but short on substance.

The ‘blue economy’ as articulated by the former People’s Partnership coalition government, like many other plans which were driven from the top, never really resonated with the population.

For example, if proper information is publicly provided, any citizen should be able to articulate the long term plans for any government project: like ‘flatten the curve’. But at the moment, those plans are not evident and the political rhetoric continues to be vitriolic and accusatory.

We have very little data to drive decision-making. And in this eleventh Parliament, no clear, strategic directions were articulated to ensure that the systems, structures and processes are put in place to strengthen our data-gathering capacity. We are not even sure which institution has the responsibility, and the Central Statistical Office (CSO) is lagging way behind.

Whoever forms the next government must focus on decision-making based on data. Otherwise our country will continue to lag behind on every indicator of development.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago supporters pose for a photograph during a break in Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Worse than that, the already decades-long brain drain will continue, and those of us left to make sense of the continuing chaos will have an almost impossible task.

For us to change the backward direction of our country, citizens have a responsibility to demand that our systems, processes and structures are designed to work in the digital space of the 21st century.

My August 07, 2017 letter to PM Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Prime Minister

I began writing to you in July of 2016 from the perspective of a concerned citizen.  So far I have made suggestions with regard to the following issues:

  1. The absence of a 5-7 year Strategic Plan
  2. The escalating crime situation
  3. The absence of opportunities for recently graduated returning nationals
  4. The Tourism Sector and our efforts at diversification
  5. The need to provide a secondary school for the children of Carenage
  6. The possibility of introducing a “Systems/Design Thinking” project in our schools
  7. The idea of the walkable cities and the positive benefits to be derived
  8. Road congestion
  9. Communications
  10. Making Chaguaramas into a “Bus only” zone
  11. Transportation as a quality of life issue

May I suggest that in your capacity as Minister of Public Utilities with responsibility for T&TEC that you encourage the company to lead the charge of deriving cost savings from the reduced use of electricity by following these steps:

  1. Do an audit of the cost of electricity utilized by various Ministries.
  2. Invest in timing systems to take the lights off for identified periods especially during the night time.
  3. Measure the cost over a period.
  4. Boast about the cost savings and encourage consumers to do the same.

Implemented successfully you will look smart and connect with people on a real level.

Yours for our country!

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Comm
Citizen

My June 07, 2017 letter to PM Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Prime Minister,

In your 21st month in office I wish to continue along the theme of Transportation.

I found the following bits of information on the IDB website where the “IDBG Country Strategy with the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago 2016-2020” is published and have lifted them verbatim for your consideration:

  1. Estimated cost of time lost and fuel spent due to congestion is US$267- 345 million per year.
  2. IDB Analysis of Mass Transit Alternatives in Trinidad and Tobago prepared in 2016 found that the Western corridor is 8km long and it takes as much as 36 minutes to reach POS; on the Eastern Corridor POS to Sangre Grande is 45 km long and could take up to 2 hours to commute; and, on the Southern Corridor POS to San Fernando is 45 km long and could take as much as 2 hours to commute.
  3. The National Climate Change Policy (2011) indicates that carbon dioxide emissions have doubled from 1990 levels of 1,313 Gg to 2,622 Gg in 2006, and highlights that this rising trend correlates with the increase in the number of registered vehicles from 150,000 to 275,000 over the same period.

These 3 facts rang alarm bells in my head and I wonder why despite your full knowledge of this, your government seems to be adopting the business as usual policy to the issue of transportation.  

I once again suggest that you appoint a multi disciplinary committee including urban planners and young change makers to present modern solutions to our transportation issues.  Taking this action will address 3 issues: congestion on the roads, reduction in commute time and vehicular congestion on the roads. 

It will also add some credibility to your campaign trail commentary about “transportation being a quality of life issue”.

Yours for our country!
Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Comm
Citizen

Jan 7, 2017 – Letter to Prime Minister Rowley

Dear Prime Minister,

Best wishes for 2017!

Congratulations on your 16th month as the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

I am taking the time share my views with you because I am not a single voice.  I represent hundreds of citizens who feel that you have neither re-assured us nor advised us of your plans and strategies.

I am hopeful that 2017 will be a year of action however it is necessary for you to communicate directly with us and communicate regularly.  May I suggest a   Monthly conversation with the Prime Minster.  I am specifically suggesting that the conversation take a slightly informal or casual tone and be casted in different locations with different stakeholders at outdoor venues which are historic.  For example, the February conversation could take place in the Grand Stand of the Queen’s Park Savannah and could talk about your dreams and hopes for culture and link those dreams and aspiration to the current economic circumstances.

May I suggest sir that your country needs an inspirational leader and that you have a short window to frame yourself as such.

Yours for our country

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Comm
Citizen