Several business leaders have praised outgoing UNC MP Dr Bhoe Tewarie for his work in the business field and one has bluntly lamented the way Tewarie was “kicked out” of the UNC candidate lineup.
Penal-Debe Chamber President Rampersad Seeraj said that was his personal view.
On Sunday the UNC announced its candidates for the August 10 General Election. Out of the 18 incumbents, eight were retained.
Tewarie was among the 10 UNC incumbents who were replaced.
Yesterday political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath said he had noted many of the UNC’s candidates were UNC National Executive members.
“It’s people the leader knows and has worked with, meaning total loyalty,” he said.
Tewarie’s extensive background includes as former UWI Pro vice-chancellor, UWI Principal, founding director of UWI’s Institute of Critical Thinking and executive director of the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business.
He was the NIHERST chairman facilitating the creation of COSTAATT and the foundation for establishing T&T ‘s Accreditation Agency.
He chaired the National Tertiary Education Policy Committee for Vision 2020. Tewarie served on the Board of the Caribbean Examinations Council, Trust Fund for the Caribbean Court of Justice and has been a feature speaker in CARICOM and other regional fora.
Apart from serving on private sector boards, he was also an MP and People’s Partnership Planning Minister.
His writings include books on VS Naipaul.
Penal/Debe Chamber head Seeraj said his personal view was, “The party and Opposition Leader have done T&T and the Parliament a tremendous disservice by not continuing with the expertise, resource and technical and academic skills of a person of the calibre and national standing of Bhoe Tewarie.”
“Whether the UNC enters Government or remains in Opposition it’s now devoid of his intellectual competence and capacity. He was one of the few people in the present Opposition who would have been able to bring economic sense to the Parliament whether in Government or Opposition. The UNC aims to win Government and for that office you need strong people—especially now, you need people who can articulate the economic consequences facing us, people with the economic intellectual background who can project and prescribe accurately.”
“The party should have been able to properly blend the experienced and new people without losing balance and skill. As one of the few professionals with a national profile who’s advanced the cause of transparency and accountability, he should also have been retained to ensure people feel comfortable with UNC and don’t feel uneasy about lack of assuring faces.”
Seeraj said if the plan was to bring Tewarie in after the UNC won Government—in some ministerial or other capacity, “Why put him out of the picture now ahead of an election when people will view him as being discarded? If he has to be brought in later, why wasn’t something said now? The moves which have been made will make UNC lose votes. People have been calling me since the announcement, saying on election day they’re going on a lime and won’t vote.”
Tobago Chamber president Diane Hadad said Tewarie had always been someone who was engaging and reachable and at the end of the day the consideration “would be what level of that, and talent we are forgoing.”
“I wish him the best and look forward to working with him in whatever sphere he continues to contribute,” she added.
Greater San Fernando Chamber head Kiran Singh said Tewarie seemed to have been a good representative on the business community’s behalf. While there are always changes with politics he said the situation also requires a mix of talents including knowledge.
Since Tewarie was former UWI principal, Singh said he’d have a wealth of knowledge on the economy and commerce and may be missed in Parliament. He said it was expected UNC’s leader would have done due diligence choosing candidates.
“But I wonder if those on the executive who may hold seats and are MPs, if it may not be too much work. Representing seats take time, as does party work.”
San Juan Business Association head Vivek Charran said business heads meet many ministers and “there are some personalities that stand out as people are committed and quite knowledgeable. In the present Government (Trade Minister) Paula Gopee-Scoon’s tried to be accessible, a friend to business and to represent as well as she can given the circumstances.”
“In the previous Government, there was Bhoe Tewarie, Kevin Ramnarine and Vasant Bharath. They were always accessible to discuss issues and we appreciated it. I understand both political parties would seek to present new faces. While we understand that and we welcome new faces we must also remember, concerning business, it’s important to have intellectual capital and to have the people with the experience. I hope both parties keep that in mind given it seems everyone’s interested in fielding new faces.”
“Someone like Dr Tewarie, wouldn’t have reached the end of his tenure— I think — and has still has a lot to offer and so do his two colleagues,” Charran said, adding one had to admire anyone aspiring to government, but still accessible to people and business.
Construction sector stakeholder Mike Joseph said he didn’t remember Tewarie making any major contribution to that sector when he was in the Ministry of Planning and Development. He added that the Joint Consultative Council had matters then which are still before the courts which Joseph felt could have been dealt with.
“So I don’t think the construction sector would have lost significant experience, but Tewarie was a person who tried to looked at things objectively and have things worked out in best interests of all considered.”