“Kamla:Santa”

Photograph courtesy the Office of the Prime Minister, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on Flickr

A life shaping moment from my childhood occurred the day I brought home a pencil which I found on Nelson Street.  In response to my mother’s query about the owner of the pencil, I innocently said that I found it on the street.  She unhesitatingly “cut my tail” and walked me back to the spot so that I could replace the pencil.  You might think this an extreme example but growing up “Behind the Bridge” I could not take anything into my humble home without my mother knowing exactly where it came from, who gave it to me and why did I like it?

This story flooded my mind while observing Press reports on the “Kamla/Santa” antics.  First the lady did not know where the toys or media gifts came from; then she didn’t know that there was money and food vouchers in the media gifts.  Eventually sources revealed that some manufacturers provided the gifts and significant discounts.  That’s good, except for the fact that the companies all manufacture foods, beverages and other consumables.  The question remains, who imported the toys and at what cost?  Were State funds utilised?  Should the Government be accepting gifts from unknown donors?  In any “two bit” company you are required to operate within the boundaries of the gifting policy and for good reason.  There would also be a register so that gifts would be recorded and known to all.  Where is the transparency and accountability?

What is the difference between “Kamla/Santa” pleading ignorance to the source of the gifts/toys and the parent also pleading ignorance to how their unemployed son/daughter is able to live a lifestyle of the rich and famous?

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