Ramona Budget 2019: THA gets $196.4 million increase for new fiscal year

MP Ramdial in her budget contribution yesterday in the lower house made the following comments:

  • There has been an increase by $196.4 million for recurrent expenditure for the THA for fiscal 2018-2019. This clearly indicates the hypocrisy of the Minister of Finance as he clearly stated that expenditure was cut across the board for all ministries. Most of the increased expenditures were for office space rental/lease, storage space rental/lease, contract employment, vehicles, security services, janitorial services.
  • In addition the MP noted the continuous funding for festivals in the sum of $25 million. This includes the Tobago Jazz Festival and the Tobago Heritage Festival which generate little or no revenue for the Tobago people. The MP suggested again that the hosting of these festivals be put into the hands of the private sector to be run as a business venture to generate revenues and not be used as largesse to PNM supporters and friends.
  • The issue of a failed air and sea bridge was also raised as the MP expressed the concern that the Tobago people wanted a fast ferry and not the Galleons Passage which took 4.5 hours to Tobago in its maiden voyage yesterday.
  • The MP asked about the bailout for the hotel owners of Tobago who were on the verge of losing properties to the banks as the Tourism sector had totally collapsed on the island resulting in loss of business.
  • The MP urged the Minister of Tourism to engage in an aggressive marketing campaign to ensure an increase in tourist arrivals. She however flagged reduced funding to the Ministry will not be able to see this happen.
  • She raised the issue of Petrotrin and the mass unemployment of 5000 workers. She also raised the issue of government sensationalising abuse of overtime by Petrotrin workers resulting in overtime packages up to $45,000.
  • Ramdial noted that UNC constituencies were being discriminated against as resources were being allocated to PNM constituencies but not to UNC areas

UNC PRO: Minister Young trying to mislead and create mischief

The United National Congress notes the official statement of the Minister of Communications on a reported planned protest tomorrow morning. Minister Stuart Young stated rather recklessly that “the Government has observed concerted calls on social media by members of the Opposition” with reference to the protest, without providing any evidence to support his wild claim.

In a statement today the UNC PRO Senator Anita Haynes said, “Perhaps it is time the Minister Young comes off Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and get on with the serious business of running this country.”

“The United National Congress has official channels and we use those to get our message out to the public, so the Minister does not need to troll social media to find out about party events. There has been no release or statement from any of our official Party channels so the Minister is seeking to create mischief and malign the UNC.”

Haynes went on to voice serious concern with the way the Ministry of Communications was being employed under this Minister.

“There is a difference between the use of the Ministry of Communications and Balisier House and Minister ought to familiarize himself with the proper protocol. The use of official Ministry channels, which are meant to service all people of Trinidad and Tobago to launch a reckless and unfounded attack on members of the Opposition is improper and should be condemned by all.”

“It must be noted that this is not the first instance where Minister Young has used the Ministry of Communications to communicate PNM messages,” she said.

“If the Minister is finding it difficult to manage his role as Minister of Communication and separate that from his PNM allegiance then we have some questions and serious concerns regarding how he is functioning in the Ministry of National Security and how he is using those resources.”

Young has yet to find a way to be a Minister for all people and has time and time again resorted to pursuing a vendetta against the UNC and its membership using state resources, and all citizens should be concerned about this manner of governance.

The incompetence of this Keith Rowley Administration has this country in a state of crisis so no one should be surprised that citizens are fed up. If the Government was not so painfully out of touch they would realize they have no one but themselves to blame for persons wanting to demonstrate against their mismanagement. The Minister will do well to remember that in a free and democratic society citizens have right to stand up for their rights and for good governance. Attempts to muzzle and silence an already strained and frustrated public can only lead us down a path of tyranny. The Keith Rowley administration in an act of pure desperation seems willing to take us down a path of a dictatorship.

UNC Women: PNM Women’s League distracting from real issues

The UNC National Women’s Arm notes with displeasure and disappointment the desperate attempt by the PNM Women’s League to distract from the various issues currently plaguing our Country and are of utmost importance to be addressed by creating an outcry over the use of the word “Oreo” as a racist remark towards the Prime Minister .The PNM Women’s League have failed to acknowledge the rampant increase of domestic violence cases, women continue to go missing daily in this country and most importantly the upcoming shutdown of the Petrotrin Refinery which will have a ripple effect over this Nation as employees join the ever increasing breadline and due to this we are expected to see an increase in domestic violence cases, suicides and depression in our society.

The UNC National Women’s Arm will not allow these issues to be swept under the carpet since every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago will be affected and we call on the PNM Women’s League and the Government to redirect their focus on addressing the many questions surrounding the impending shutdown of the Petrotrin Refinery, the ongoing fiasco of the ferry service, the increase of crimes against women, the displacement of families that will be affected by the Curepe Interchange and the many

other real issues that are affecting the citizens!

The UNC continues to focus on the wellbeing of every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago as we await the Budget and we once more call on those in authority to place the people first and do not engage in distractions and deflections to conceal the incompetence of this PNM Government!!!

Marisa Vidya Ramlogan
Public Relations Officer
UNC National Women’s Arm

Message from Leader of the Opposition on the 17th Anniversary of 9/11….

I join the rest of the world in remembering the victims of the horrific terrorist attacks on United States of America which took place on Tuesday September 11, 2001, when a series of suicide attacks were perpetrated against the United States.

On that historic, tragic day, 19 operatives from the international militant terrorist group Al Qaeda hijacked four passenger jets bound for the US and engaged in coordinated strikes the areas of New York City and the country’s capital Washington, D.C., when they intentionally piloted two of the planes into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Centre complex, both of which collapsed within two hours, and also voluntarily crashed two more planes into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

The result of this cowardly, despicable act against a free, independent great nation was the loss of nearly 3000 innocent lives, including the 246 civilians, and 19 hijackers on board the four planes. Fourteen of these victims were born in Trinidad and Tobago who mainly worked in the World Trade Centre at the time.

These Trinidadian-born victims and citizens of our twin island nation were Conrod Cottoy, Reena Sam Dinoo, Winston Grant, Joan Francis, Clara Hinds, Stephen Joseph, Paula Morales, Boyie Mohammed, Jerome Nedd, Oscar Nesbeit, Glenn Neblett, Anthony Portillo, Vishnoo Ramsaroop and Goumatie Thackurdee.

In extending my deepest condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of all the victims of this dastardly attacks, I wish to pay a special honour to the memories of these fellow countrymen and women of Trinidad and Tobago, whose lives were stolen by these despicable acts of violence.

Indeed, their tragic deaths serve as a reminder every year to all of us who live in a Free State that the price of our cherished freedom, of our ideal governing system of democracy, can indeed be a steep one to pay.

These terrorist attacks on the United States were not only an attack on that great nation and its long held traditions of freedom, equality and justice for all, but also an attack on all democracies globally, whose rights to exist are often championed and enabled by the United States and their invaluable assistance to the global world ideal of freedom and equality for every human being.

The fact that these evil terrorist attacks failed to destroy the democratic foundation of the US and that of any other country, and in fact had the effect of strengthening the resolve among the Western World to champion the cherished ideals of democracy remains the unforgettable legacy of all the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

Today, I honour their memories and say that as long as freedom continues to reign supreme in countries across the globe, their tragic deaths could and would never be in vain.

I also take this opportunity to extend my ongoing gratitude to the United States, such an important trade and political ally of Trinidad and Tobago, and our best friend and defender in the world, for being the nation that gives small democracies like Trinidad and Tobago the inspiration and hope to ensure that freedom of every human life and humanity for all must always be the order of the day.

May God bless the families of the victims and indeed, the United States and all nations which experienced or are experiencing any assault on its democratic systems with strength, hope and always, a will to prevail in dignity, decency and justice.

Indarsingh: Govt attempting to intimidate workers and fanning the flames of instability

The Hon. Rudranath Indarsingh
Member of Parliament, Couva South

Member of Parliament for Couva South Rudranath Indarsingh is today condemning the pronouncements of Public Administration Minister Marlene McDonald that workers can be fined $500 and jailed for three months if they stay away from work on Friday.

McDonald’s threat have been echoed within recent weeks by several Ministers of the Keith Rowley Cabinet including Education Minister Anthony Garcia, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and Energy Minister Franklyn Khan as they all continue to attempt to intimidate workers as it relates the upcoming Day of Rest and Reflection and the loss of 3,500 jobs with the closure of  Petrotrin.

Indarsingh contends that  their pronouncements are designed to intimidate workers into submission at a time when the Government policies have resulted in the loss of 40,000 jobs in the last 3 years and a further 3,500 with the closure of Petrotrin and many more in the fenceline communities.

MP Indarsingh contends that McDonald has no moral authority to point workers to theIndustrial Relations Act (I.R.A.) when the Government to which she belongs has undermined the principles of good industrial relations practices and labour laws since it came into office in September 2015.

The Constitution he contends, guarantees freedom of association and assembly and freedom of speech in relation to Government policies which has resulted in a literal collapse of the economy, rampant unemployment, increasing poverty, a spiralling out- of-control crime epidemic and the collapse of the education and health care systems.

Indarsingh reminded the Administration that workers still have the freedom and the right of choice to engage in a day of rest and reflection if they so desire to send a message to a Government which has been very anti-worker since coming into office.

Indarsingh accused the Government of fanning the flames of instability through its pronouncements at a time when it should be committed to social dialogue. He is further challenging McDonald to tell the country if the Government is laying the foundation where it will instruct law enforcement officers to raid the offices of trade unions, the homes of labour leaders and union members.

Indarsingh, former Minister of State in the Ministries of Labour and Finance, said that theRowley-led Administration seems to be heading  in the direction of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro style of Leadership. Prime Minister Rowley has been a frequent flyer to Venezuela where trade unionists, opposition politicians and citizens who engage in peaceful demonstration are subject to the heavy hand of the military and police.

Is it the objective of the Government to arrest and jail trade unionists, their members and citizens who opt to exercise their fundamental right to strike

The Couva South MP is further asking whether the Government will use the canister grenades, projectiles, water cannon, and mobile tracking units acquired from the $2.32B allocated to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service in the 2017-2018 Budget to quell any type of industrial unrest in the country. This acquisition, according to former National Security Minister Edmund Dillon, was needed “to maintain public order.”

Indarsingh, a former President of one of the country’s largest Unions said that theRowley’s PNM appears to be so terrified of the power of the people that they are taking precautions to put down any kind of civil disorder that might be imminent because of the anti-people, oppressive measures that have characterised their three years in office.

The Opposition’s Labour and Enterprise Development Critic accused the Government of undermining the MoU it signed with the Labour Movement prior to the 2015 General Elections as well as the MoU signed in April 2018 between the Wilfred Espinet-led Petrotrin Board and the OWTU in relation to the appointment of union representatives to the Committee to restructure Petrotrin.

Indarsingh chided Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise Development Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, herself a former Trade Union President, for her deafening silence and lack of any leadership whilst the labour movement in the country is in utter disarray and chaos, saying that it would appear this Minister is oblivious to her role and functions.

Indarsingh also reminded the trade union movement and the workers of the country that the former People’s Partnership Government vehemently opposed any type of oppression on the working class of the country during its tenure in office. He lamented that the much negotiated and advancements of gainful employment, productivity and personal development which workers achieved during former Administration’s tenure have all but disappeared as organized labour has lost ground as a result of unsympathetic and hostile Rowley’s Administration policies, contempt and lack of respect for the workers of the country.