Contributions to the debate on racial inequality in the
public sector have always been flippantly dismissed as emotional,
speculative and unsubstantiated. This is largely because of
the absence of any proper research and statistical data.
In T&T we seem to prefer debating in the dark without
the assistance of the candlelight of statistics. There has
always been an official political fear or reluctance to confront
the statistical reality.
I have compiled a table showing the most senior and powerful
offices in the Public Service, using information supplied
by the Service Commissions Department (Corrections are welcome).
Head of Dept Number
The information given was arranged under the following headings:
heads of divisions, directors, chief technical officers, heads
of departments and Permanent Secretaries.
What it shows is an alarming, unacceptable and glaring racial
imbalance against Indo-Trinidadians that cries out for remedial
action by the State. Of the 105 names listed, there are only
The Public Service is the engine of the Government. It is
responsible for implementing governments policies and
programmes and wields an awesome amount of power.
In 1993 the UWIs Centre for Ethnic Studies had compiled
a report on the employment practices in the public and private
sector in T&T.
This candid and bold attempt to analyse the ethnic composition
of the workforce broke new intellectual ground and was the
first step towards achieving equal opportunity and racial
equality in employment.
Professor Selwyn Ryan and Dr John La Guerre submitted their
report to Prime Minister Manning in November 1993.
The findings of this pioneering survey investigation confirmed
what many Indo-Trinidadians know for a long time: that there
was a distinct racial imbalance in the Public Service that
The report concluded that Indians were heavily under-represented,
except in areas where merit and technical criteria must prevail,
as in the judicial and professional sectors, where Indians
were more than adequately represented.
This under-representation has always been a source of bitter
resentment. It may very well be that this imbalance was not
inspired by a concerted, systematic plan of racial discrimination
against Indians. Economic, geo-political and cultural factors
certainly influenced the racial composition of the Public
At the time, Manning promised the Indo-Trinidadian community
that his government would take immediate steps
to redress the glaring inequality in the Public Service.
He lost the next general election some two years later without
having done anything much towards implementing the recommendations
of the report.
The situation in State enterprises was no different from the
The report concluded, Of the 17 companies studied, only
five had a reasonable representation of Indo-Trinidadians.
Six had Indo-Trinidadians on their boards, while on the remainder,
they were underrepresented.
The Government has made no secret of its desire to redress
the ethnic imbalance in the entrepreneurial private sector.
Quite rightly, it has publicly bemoaned the absence of African
entrepreneurs in the private sector and has set about aggressively
trying to create African entrepreneurs via programmes such
as Cepep, OJT, Must, Hype, Milat, Mypart, CCC, Ytepp, Gapp,
TDC, Yapa, URP, Cape, Gate, etc.
Millions are being spent on these projects.
If the objective of government spending is to ensure racial
equality in the private sector, why is nothing being done
to redress the plight of Indians in the Public Service?
If the Government can groom African entrepreneurs who can
own (not manage) hardwares, KFC, Pizza Hut, Marios Pizza,
Burger Boys, MovieTowne, quarries, rum shops, groceries, banks,
insurance companies, restaurants and organisations in the
manufacturing sector, etc, I am happy.
Twenty per cent in our society has enjoyed 80 per cent of
the national wealth for far too long.
But to focus the resources and energy of the State on redressing
one form of inequity against Afro-Trinidadians while ignoring
the glaring discrimination practised by State agencies in
the Public Service and State enterprises against Indo-Trinidadians
is to perpetuate the very thing you were trying to fix in
the first place: unjustified racial inequality.