I READ with interest a letter to the Editor in The VOICE (June 10, 2017), proposing a separate Trust to manage the Walcott House.
It is true in the large countries we see a number of Trusts managing different historic sites. It is my opinion that we are too small a society to have many different entities involved with our historical sites. The same people, more or less, are members of organizations with some over- lapping.
The Cabinet of Ministers, soon after Derek Walcott received the Nobel Prize for Literature, vested Rat Island into the Rat Island Foundation. It was intended that the island would have developed into a place of learning – writers of international repute would hold seminars, etc. What has become of that foundation?
What is more interesting is the suggestion that we ask the Taiwanese Government to fund the Walcott Trust for two years. The irony of such a proposal is that our Minister for Finance has made it abundantly clear that he will not fund the National Trust’s recurrent expenditure.
The Taiwanese have graciously funded partly or wholly the capital expenditure for the Walcott House Project. That project, to my understanding, is to be in three phases and there is about $5.7 million of the committed Taiwanese $7 million to be drawn down to commence the second phase.
The National Trust, which was established in 1975, has performed reasonably well. It has administered the Walcott House Project which is incomplete but it has found itself in a precarious situation where it no longer receives a $700,000 subvention. As such, it would have to reconfigure its situation vis-a-vis this relatively new undertaking. I find it very difficult to understand how the National Trust is expected to maintain many Government properties, some of which are not income-generating.
Apparently, there is a conflict between the Government or the Prime Minister and the National Trust which must be resolved as soon as possible in the interest of this country and its development.
I hear on radio and television and read in the print media the need for conflict resolution, to the extent that our children are taught at school how to resolve conflict. If the example is not set at the upper levels of society, how can we succeed in impressing upon our youth the need for conflict resolution?
Why can’t the Permanent Secretary to the Minister responsible for the National Trust be assigned the task of meeting with the Director of the National Trust, where it is hoped professionalism rather than emotion will prevail. Sometimes I wonder whether the role of the Permanent Secretary has been usurped. After all, is he/she not the accounting officer of the Ministry, according to our Constitution?
Finally, why not build upon what we already have? If there are weaknesses, why not work towards strengthening the organization instead of trying to form an additional one?
— Victor E. Girard