One laptop per family: State under scrutiny

Lest we be tempted to think that we are alone in our seemingly unending continuum of bothersome revelations arising out of President Bharrat Jagdeo’s One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) project, we may – or perhaps not – be comforted to know that the President’s CARICOM colleague, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had to face her own demons last year arising out of accusations of bribes and kickbacks or what is commonly called ‘influence pedalling” at Hewlett Packard, the same United States company that secured the  TT$83m allocation for the provision of 24,000 laptops for students entering secondary school at the start of the current academic year.

The T&T prime minister was forced to say publicly that the hands of the high officials of her government were clean after the award to HP to supply the country with the computers coincided with a US$55m fine imposed on the company by the United States government to settle charges that it paid kickbacks to companies that recommended its products to the United States government.

While there may never have been any direct suggestion that T&T government officials were ‘on the take’ from HP, it was the widely-held belief that state officials in the Caribbean and other developing regions are uniquely vulnerable to such blandishments that may well have caused the issue to be raised in the first place. In the circumstances Persad-Bissessar felt constrained to “assure” Trinidadians that neither the  …..To continue reading, login or subscribe now.

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