Tuesday 26th July, 2005

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Attacks not the answer, Bisram

Vishnu Bisram, of the New York-based Nacta poll, has defended Nacta against criticism coming from the UNC. Bisram boasts about the accuracy of Nacta’s polls regarding the UNC’s chances in T&T’s elections. But is the Nacta poll always accurate as Bisram says?

Perhaps the most glaring example of flawed and inaccurate Nacta polling is in the last US general election.

Days before the election, Bisram’s Nacta predicted that presidential candidate John Kerry would win. As it turned out, Bush won by a very convincing margin. To date, we have no explanation from Bisram as to why Nacta failed.

Looking back, most of the other, more respected US-based pollsters accurately showed Bush maintaining a consistent lead in the run-up to that election.

It seems that the Nacta poll was wrong, by millions of votes, in its own country. Care to defend that, Bisram? Or is it that you can only respond to Nacta’s critics from “little” T&T?

Another T&T poll stays closer to statistical reporting. It publishes comments from the people who were polled based on political affiliation, ethnicity, etc and adds these quotations to the statistical findings. At no time does this pollster offer a direct, personal opinion on any matter.

On the other hand, Bisram’s Nacta polls are always accompanied by comments and opinions which are unaccounted for, and which seem to come directly from the pollster.

Instead of attacking those who criticise his Nacta poll, Bisram should heed the same advice he offers Nacta’s critics. If Nacta is perceived to be flawed or inaccurate in any way, Bisram and associates should work hard to improve Nacta, and correct those perceptions... if they are wrong.

Corrine Maharaj


Pothole country of the Caribbean

IN ADDITION to the CSME, FTAA, EMA, Nema and all the other entities that use acronyms or initials to identify themselves, I would like to add PCOC—the Pothole Country of the Caribbean.

I don’t know what the Ministry of Works is waiting on to fix the roads because I have been driving in areas North, South, East and West and it was like being on an obstacle course, swerving from side to side to avoid the potholes, even the “legal” ones created by manholes that have not been raised to the surface of the roads.

And after flooding in various parts of the country on July 13, the roads are now in an even worse condition.

Some time ago, it was said a company would be formed to take care of the roads of the entire country. How long will we have to wait?

And what about painting the white lines so that the lanes can be identified, particularly when it rains or at nights? This comparatively simple thing to do would make driving a lot safer.

Finally, has no one in the ministry thought of doing road works over weekends or between, say, 9 pm to 5 am? This would avoid inconvenience to the travelling public.

What happens now is that the works on major roads are done in the middle of the working day, causing huge traffic jams.

Eulalie Charles


What the PM really means

OUR Prime Minister recently said that the Government is working towards making our country the hub of the Caribbean. That does not seem possible, however, when our roads are in such deplorable condition, food prices are so high and the crime rate is rising daily.

What the Prime Minister really means is that we are heading for a 2020 Vision Dog Eat Dog.

Neil Scott Barran


Nacta not reason for UNC defeats

Although the latest Nacta poll in Trinidad for the San Francique by-election was right on the money, the organisation was vilified again as an agent of the PNM.

In addition, pollster Vishnu Bisram was described as a traitor (of the Indian race) for predicting the PNM would win the election.

Just after the release of the Nacta poll findings, critics said the poll would be proven wrong with a UNC victory. Nacta is vindicated again with the accuracy of yet another of its polls in Trinidad.

Nacta wishes to make clear that neither the organisation nor Vishnu Bisram is an agent of any political party.

The Nacta polls did not make the PNM win the elections in 2001, 2002, 2003, January 2005 (Tobago) and last week Monday.

Also, the polls in 1995, 1996, 1999, and 2000 did not help the UNC in the elections. The findings of the Nacta polls merely reflected the feelings among the polity on the ground.

The findings of virtually all of the polls mirrored the outcome of the elections when the UNC or PNM won.

It should be noted that Nacta outlined the reasons why the parties would win or lose an election and also suggested what each should do to improve its electoral standing.

The PNM seemingly heeded the advice while the leadership of the UNC rejected the suggestions and lost big.

The UNC has now lost five elections in a row and has been experiencing declining support since the 2000 election. This can’t be attributed to the Nacta polls which predicted UNC victories during the 1990s.

Instead of attacking Nacta and pollster Vishnu Bisram, the UNC would do well to address voters’ concerns as highlighted in the polls. This would be the only way for the UNC to make an electoral turnaround.

In analysing the results of the outcome of the San Francique by-election, it should be noted that when the UNC was in power, it almost captured the seat (short by only 70 votes). Then the PNM retained it with a margin of 600 votes in 2003 and now with all the crisis in the country the PNM handed the UNC a stunning 54 per cent to 44 per cent defeat.

One can put all the spin on the outcome (that the UNC did not lose). That was a massive UNC defeat and the party needs to look at the reasons for such a huge blow.

The UNC has been operating under a flawed theory that the rising disenchantment with the PNM over crime, etc will propel the UNC to victory. That is a naive, flawed analysis.

Missing in the political equation is the growing dissatisfaction with the UNC by its traditional supporters.

More UNC than PNM supporters parked up for the election. There was also a huge racial cross over that benefited the PNM. Indians don’t see a future with the UNC as currently constituted and as such many are switching over to the PNM.

The UNC leadership does not understand the feeling on the ground. The leadership has ignored the people’s call for unity and is paying the price.

Sadly, the UNC has lost its moorings. So Nacta is not the reason for the recurring UNC defeats. More UNC defeats are on their way.

Vishnu Bisram

[email protected]

Bread rising like everything else

The latest topic that is gaining a great deal of attention is the current price of bread and the argument that since there has been a slight decrease in the price of flour, there should be a corresponding drop in the price of bread.

Of course, bread does not consist of water and flour alone. There are several more ingredients put into the dough, all of which have gone up and keep going up in price. Then one must remember that labour costs have increased, likewise transportation and delivery and the mark-up by the retailer or distributor that has to be considered.

There may not be many people of my age who are still around and remember the old days when a hops bread the size of a large breadfruit sold for one penny and two could be purchased for three cents, and it was even cheaper by the quart.

Of course in those days a large leg of ham was about $8, a new Ford V-8 was $975 and a gallon of gas was about 30 cents.

Salaries, of course, were a mere pittance and a bank or office clerk got about $60 a month or less and a reasonable-sized house in a respectable area was about $25 a month.

Well, here we are many decades later and one little hops bread the size of a large orange is 50 cents, a slice of cooked ham about three inches in diameter is 68 cents a slice, a new Ford V-8 well over $200,000 and a gallon of gas is $11.

What I have some difficulty in trying to understand is how a great many individuals can still go out and pay $140 for a bottle of scotch, $8 for a beer, pay $1,800 a month house rent, pay close to $2,000 a month instalment on a new car, go out and spend close to $200 for a single steak dinner in some restaurant and yet complain so bitterly about the price of a loaf of bread?

Has not the price of everything else gone up by unbelievable quantities?

Martin Kavanagh

La Romaine

Take the rubbish away, Mr Mayor

RESIDENTS of Woodbrook, St James and environs have been experiencing an irregular garbage pick-up over the past couple months.

The last “incident” occurred between the evening of July 16 and the morning of July 20.

Four days and garbage was not picked up, so for four days residents had to suffer.

The Port-of-Spain Corporation, which is responsible for the garbage, picks up six days a week. Garbage was piling up, added to which stray dogs, cats and vagrants were having a field day. Garbage was seen scattered all over the street. What a sad sight.

Even the city corporation’s workers who daily sweep the streets were not doing their jobs.

When garbage is allowed to pile up, it becomes a health hazard. It also puts a strain on the householder, and more work on the garbagemen.

I am calling on the mayor, the city corporation and the relevant authorities to please help the residents in maintaining cleanliness in the city.

We residents will co-operate with you and your corporation, Mr Mayor, as long as the garbage is disposed in a proper manner.

If your city workers, daily paid workers, are dissatisfied with their working conditions, why should we as residents have to suffer the inconvenience?

We are also taxpayers, Mr Mayor. Our taxes pay your corporation and your workers’ salaries.

We hope in the future that this inconvenience will be a thing of the past.

Ken Smith



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