On April 30th, 1989, a movement to build a brighter future for Trinidad and Tobago was formally launched, following the Aranguez Mandate a few months earlier, at which more than 30,000 people gave our leaders the mandate to form our party.
The United National Congress was built on a platform of unity, with the objective of faithful service to the people of this country.
As our political party marks its 28th Anniversary, I am reminded of the struggle of our founding leaders.
The circumstances we faced then were very similar to those we are grappling with today, including increased taxation, rising food prices, economic decline, high unemployment, and inadequate health services. People had lost hope and it was the UNC, under Mr. Basdeo Panday, who restored that hope.
The governments before did not have the expertise or the political will to properly manage the economy, and as a result, citizens suffered at the hands of uncaring, incompetent administrations. Today, the story is very much the same, as the Rowley-led PNM Government makes blunder after blunder, with no strategy or idea to develop our country.
Under the Government that I led, this country saw a return to economic growth, the creation of more than 55,000 jobs, and a significant reduction in serious crime. While there were challenges, our Government had a plan for further growth of our economy through diversification, and the creation of a knowledge-intensive economy that was aimed at maximizing job creation to ensure that citizens enjoyed a higher standard of living.
My UNC brothers and sisters, while our circumstances appear bleak today, I urge you to not despair. Instead, commit yourselves to working even harder to build our party and our country. We are family of over 100,000 registered members and many more not registered, representing the hopes and aspirations and voices of all our citizens, but in particular the more than 300,000 citizens who voted for our People’s Partnership in the 2015 general election.
As we celebrate our 28th birthday, I invite all citizens who share our vision of putting people and country first, to join us, to work with us to build a better future for all.
As we mark this significant milestone, we must also recognize and honour the founding members of the UNC, including the former Political Leader and Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, whose determination and vision laid the foundation for the strong, united party we have today.
We have come a long way in this journey of nation building but there is much work to do today and in the years ahead leading to 2020. The people who govern this country have failed. We are in a worse position now than we were when the Rowley PNM took office a year and a half ago. Now is the time to move forward with a renewed determination to continue to build a strong party and to develop strategies to pull our country out of the abyss into which the Rowley PNM has pushed us. Let me assure you that all is not lost; we can restore good and responsible governance for all the people.
Join us on our continuing journey.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
30th April 2017