The Prime Minister said already some 200 plus potential candidates have filed for screening.
The Prime Minister and Political Leader of the ruling United National Congress announced to party supporters tonight “No one member is bigger or more important than the party”.
Kamla Persad Bissessar assured party supporters in Gasparillo that the UNC will follow the rules of the party and will wait for the House Speaker to declare the seat vacant before she announces the date for the Chaguanas West by-election.
On Sunday Jack Warner, the man who left the seat vacant after resigning from the post as well as the UNC and the Cabinet, officially launched his campaign for the seat.
But the UNC’s Political Leader said tonight she does not intend to announce the date for by-election, Local-Government election or national General Election until they are constitutionally due.
She jokingly added that Chief Whip Dr Roodal Moonilal told her that since she does not have a back pocket to hide the date, she will have to hide the date in her purse.
But one matter she did not quip about was that the ‘party was in good hands.’
Below is the speech delivered by Prime Minister Persad Bissessar at the Gasparillo Secondary School:
It’s good to be among friends, family and partners in the constituency of Tabaquite as we continue to report directly to you.
We are united; we are strong; we are SOLID AS A ROCK.
And with your continued support we would continue to have the strength to remove all obstacles and create a better country for all of us and for future generations.
That’s the UNC way … unity, brotherhood, justice, equality and freedom.
We are the BIG tent party with room for everyone, regardless of race, religion or social standing.
We are family and we cherish that relationship.
Government that serves the people
Tonight however, I am not here for old talk….
The time for talk is over.
This is an age of real time delivery and action!
That is what People’s Partnership Government is here to do.
In 2010 you voted for Constitutional Reform, and today the consultation on the Constitution is visiting every doorstep in Trinidad and Tobago.
In 2010 you voted for Local Government Reform and today the consultation on Local Government is ongoing.
You said to me, when I asked for your vote that these were things that you wanted, and that is what we shall deliver!!
Delivery by action.
That is what I call it! That is what I tell every one of the Ministers in my Government.
Delivery by Action!
I have listened to all the negaitive talk from the Keith Rowley… And I say to him tonight, that his time to talk is over!
It is time for Rowley’s PNM to either stand up or ship out and get out of the way…
This is not about Calcutta ship but about SS TT – the ship of Partnership and of our nation.
We don’t spend billions on white elephants to show off to the world while children go hungry because their parents can’t find work.
We invest your money in building hospitals and schools; we have been repairing the country’s crumbling infrastructure.
We are developing all of Trinidad and Tobago, not just it’s main cities.
You will recall how offended Keith Rowley was when we decided to build a university campus in Debe and the Children’s Hospital in Couva.
We don’t have a narrow vision of development.
We are different.
Sisters and brothers, during some of our previous Monday Night meetings I have dealt with our fight against crime…
Kidnappings for ransom almost every day, an all-time high of 550 murders in one year; criminals roaming the streets doing as they pleased.
You were afraid to go out at night.
Well, as chair of the NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL I led your government’s strategy on security and we have brought down serious crime … we have not won the war yet, but things are getting better.
Today as the Chair of the country’s National Security Council, I can report an important statistic that was shared to me by the experts.
There has been a 36 percent reduction in serious crimes in the first four months of 2013, compared to last year.
In the first four months 2012 there were over 6000 cases of serious crimes in Trinidad and Tobago.
This figure has so far fallen to under 4000 in 2013.
It is important to note that burglaries and break-ins, robberies and general larceny constitute 68 percent of these serious crimes.
Tonight I want to report on a new initiative geared towards fighting crime from a different angle.
You would think when the courts put the criminals behind bars that would end the problem.
But far from it!
It was not the first time I heard such a story but I told myself then, that enough is enough!
So we researched the matter.
Let me remind you of a frightening statistic that came from the former PNM National Security Minister, Martin Joseph.
Martin blamed prison officers for the PNMs inaction.
Well I say that was just PNM talk, as usual.
He was blaming our hard working Prison Officers for the PNMs inaction
My sisters and brothers as head of the National Security Council I can tell you, here tonight, that illegal cell phones in prisons are amongst one of the largest public-safety risks facing us today.
And I, as Prime Minister, will put them out of business.
The cellphone business in prisons will end.
PM: Prison cellphone business out of business
No time for old talk
The NSC has moved to implement mobile phone signals jammers.
This technology can find phones and block calls as well as text messages from unapproved numbers within our prisons.
WE WILL CUT THEM OFF…
As I said before, the time for talk is over… and that includes the criminals behind bars.
My government will pass the laws and provide the tools to make you safer.
That is my promise to you.
And I have to say ‘Thank God’ that I do not have to depend on any support from Keith Rowley or PNM to bring this to an end.
And as chair of the NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL I will continue to monitor what our protective forces are doing and we will take the appropriate measures to deal with the country’s security problem.
AND LET ME MAKE IT CLEAR BEFORE Mr. ROWLEY RUSHES IN WITH SCARE TACTICS;
THIS MEASURE WOULD NOT AFFECT LAW ABIDING CITIZENS.
IF YOU OBEY THE LAW YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR, BUT IF YOU WANT TO BREAK IT, WE COMING AFTER YOU.
The measure I have announced tonight is only one of the many initiatives we are implementing.
And brothers and sisters, I want to assure you we will win the war on crime.
My pledge to YOU is that we will make it safe for you to walk the streets again without fear of being robbed, raped or killed; we will make it safe for you to enjoy your life … to go wherever you want knowing that you are safe.
OUR NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL will take action!
YOUR GOVERNMENT STARTED AS SOON AS WE GOT IN OFFICE … AND WE WON’T BE SATISFIED UNTIL WE HAVE WON THIS BATTLE.
But enough about crime… let me tell you about Education…
This is delivery in action!
Let me talk about three areas of delivery in education.
The first is physical infrastructure:
Secondly, our training component has placed heavy emphasis on information technology:
To this end we distributed 55,000 Laptops across Trinidad and Tobago
Trained more than 4000 teachers in information technology.
We have introduced information technology into the school curriculum
Our budgetary allocation to education has been second to none:
I want to turn now to another issue many of you are talking about.
I know you want to know what’s happening in Chaguanas West.
Well I want to set the records straight.
Every member of our party has a right to seek the nomination for the bye-election in the constituency.
We are a disciplined party that follows the rules.
Our philosophy is that if we cannot do it right in our own party, then we cannot convince the electorate that we are fit to govern.
SO OUR PARTY WILL DO WHAT IS RIGHT.
So we will follow the rules and we’ll let the screening committee of our party determine who the candidate will be.
This is YOUR party … and we work for you.
And every member – including the political leader – must follow the rules.
NO ONE MEMBER IS BIGGER OR MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PARTY.
We love every single member and every single citizen of our great country but, we love our country more than any single individual.
When the Speaker declares the seat vacant our national executive will meet and work out the details … and I’ll announce a date for that election.
Today our party is stronger than EVER; ‘
our partnership remains strong and united.
So let the PNM start their campaign.
Even if they put up Rowley as the candidate, he would lose his deposit.
So, don’t be troubled about Chaguanas West.
Libel and Defamation Act
And I want to tell you what she said with respect to our decision.
Well as soon as I made the announcement, the Leader of the Opposition shouted that we are trying to “mamaguy” the media, so they would do only nice reports on us.
But you see Rowley didn’t read the proposed Amendment or if he did he didn’t understand what he read.
Only a man with Rowley’s intellect could surmise that the proposed amendment to the Libel and Defamation Act seeks to sway media to scrutinize the Government less.
You see Rowley is afraid that a stronger media would be a thorn on his side if (heaven forbid) he were to ever lead this country.
Do you remember how Rowley’s boss went with his full security detail to a radio station to intimidate two announcers?
That is how the PNM treated the media, with bullying and intimidation.
You see, my sisters and brothers, your government sincerely believes that a free and responsible media is critically important in a democracy.
That’s how democracy works.
My friends, my sisters and brothers no government has been under more scrutiny than YOUR People’s Partnership government.
That’s OK because it shows that we can stand up to scrutiny and PASS WITH FLYING COLOURS.
Democracy can only flourish when there is a free and independent media.
But democracy for Rowley and the Opposition seems a different thing.
Trinidad and Tobago’s voice in the International community
I turn now to international and foreign affairs.
I want to tell you why as a responsible leader my foreign engagements have been significant and necessary.
Our world has changed from the 1980s and 90s.
We live in the 21st century and leadership demands an international presence in this age of globalization.
We cannot stay at home and grow our economy.
That is why I have led many successful missions overseas.
And it’s more than just that.
Always remember that with today’s technology, I am never far away from home, no matter where I am.
That’s what I was doing in my two most recent overseas visits – first to the United States and then to Canada.
US Visit and State of Relationship
Let me tell you about my visit to the United States.
I highlighted the value of cooperation and the benefits to be derived from working together.
Such cooperation strengthen our economies, generates employment, and increase productivity.
It provides more opportunities for traditionally under-represented groups like women and youth.
I spoke about market volatility, which Trinidad and Tobago had to face as the 6th largest exporter of Liquefied Natural Gas in the world.
And I spoke with pride when I declared Trinidad and Tobago’s willingness to provide technical assistance to emerging energy producing countries in Africa.
U.S. Deputy Secretary
My meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns discussed several essential matters affecting Trinidad and Tobago and the region, including the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.
That law is part of the US effort to combat tax evasion by US citizens holding overseas investments.
I stressed the need for the U.S. Government to do more to assist T&T and other Caribbean countries, in the fight against the illegal drug trade, and I can only say now, that soon enough you will see, that help is on the way….
We also spoke about criminal deportees from the US to Trinidad and Tobago.
As the incoming Chair of CARICOM, I discussed the progress towards determining the preference of member states in respect of an appropriate Inter-Governmental agreement with the US.
So next time people tell you, “Boy what the PM was doing in the states?”
Tell them your PM was working for YOU the people of TT …
NOW YOU KNOW what I was doing there.
Tell them our relations with the US are strong!!
So now, let’s talk about Canada.
You might be surprised to learn that more than 150 Canadian companies are doing business with us in Trinidad and Tobago … and that Canada’s trade with us is bigger than its trade with Norway, Italy and India.
And Foreign Direct Canadian Investment in our country is more than 6 billion TT dollars… and growing!
The Canada visit was historic in many ways.
You would have been proud to stand in the Canadian capital of Ottawa and see our national flag flying high, on Parliament Hill, alongside Canada’s.
Welcoming us, as equals.
My Canadian visit was about trade and investment, about a focus on a country and a region with vast potential for Canada and Canadians.
We signed IMPORTANT memoranda of understanding in security, in education, in national defence and disaster preparedness.
We demonstrated that we would not shy away from the responsibility to let our voice be heard on critical international issues on behalf of our country, our region and our allies like the United States and Canada.
No leader of Trinidad and Tobago has ever gone this distance to personally create a profile as a fighter for global peace and security, for fair expansion of international trade and for the rights of women and children and those who need the protection of society.
One of the things that we agreed upon, was that Trinidad and Tobago and Canada will co-host a CARICOM Public-Private Partnerships Seminar and business-to-business meetings in Port-of-Spain to share best practices and determine how they can be applied.
In a joint statement Prime Minister Harper and I acknowledged our shared vision for a more integrated Caribbean region and affirmed the importance of bilateral trade and investment.
We acknowledge the importance of free markets to mutual prosperity, and a keen desire to strengthen collaboration in the financial, oil and gas, and energy sectors.
The message from our Canadian visit was that Trinidad and Tobago is not just a tropical destination with music and carnival but a nation-state that occupies its rightful place as one of Canada’s most important trading partners.
Our relationship with Canada and the United States is stronger than it has ever been.
We are equals.
We are respected and treated with dignity.
Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
We have kept promises. We have delivered!
So tell them we have friends in Ottawa and Washington.
Tell them our friends are happy with the way we are doing business … tell them what you already know … tell them WE ARE SOLID AS A ROCK.
With all our work in and out of Trinidad and Tobago Rowley and the wrong-table want to argue that this is PNM country.
Well let me tell you here tonight.
There is nowhere in Trinidad and Tobago that is PNM country.
There is nowhere in our land that is UNC country or COP country.
There is no NJAC or TOP country.
We see just one great country … it is YOUR country … Trinidad and Tobago where each of us are equal, where all of us must continue to live in harmony.
That is what my leadership is about.
There is no other way!
We are a model to the world of how people can live and work together.
We are a living example of how we can be different and still be one.
Some time ago I told you that there is no PNM way to heal a sick child.
There is no UNC way to end hunger and poverty.
It is why I can tell you tonight that your party and your Partnership Government will continue to deliver.
There will never be any second or third class citizen while I am your leader.
WE are all one.
WE will remain one.
We will remain UNITED.
And we will stand strong.
That is why I tell you … don’t worry.
WE ARE SOLID AS A ROCK.