As we welcome the New Year, we look back on the lessons of the past year, reflect on the possibilities and opportunities that may come, and we renew our commitment to working together to make our communities and our country better for all.
The start of a New Year is an appropriate time for reflection, and there is no question at this time that 2017 has been a difficult year, and our country is facing a number of challenges which require concerted and decisive action.
Trinidad and Tobago has now endured just over two years of a PNM Government, and in that time, and especially in the past year, we have seen deterioration in the quality of life of our people. This administration continues to disappoint, with its lack of vision, strategies or ideas to improve the lives of citizens.
Today, I am saddened by what I see taking place in our beloved nation. Crime continues to unabated, and the negative impact the crime scourge is widespread, affecting all levels of society. The Government has shown that it is incapable of formulating effective anti-crime initiatives which would lead to a reduction in criminal activity and foster a safe and secure environment for citizens.
On several occasions, the Opposition has proffered recommendations on addressing the issue of crime, however, the Government has ignored these proposals, and continues to try to blame others for their inability to govern effectively. This blame game must stop. The Government must take responsibility for its actions, or step aside and let the people choose a team that is capable of getting the job done.
Our country is also facing an economic crisis, as limited efforts have been made to generate revenue, diversify the economy, encourage foreign investment or create sustainable jobs. As we head into a New Year, several thousand of our citizens remain unemployed, and have no income.
Our nation’s greatest asset – its people – are suffering as a result of this Government’s ineffectiveness. We continue to press the current Government to come up with a defined plan and get to work in getting the economy moving in a positive direction.
The Rowley-led Government has failed in every aspect of governance, and in recent months we have seen a disturbing trend involving questionable practices, deals and award of contracts, and a lack of Government accountability. It cannot be business as usual as we move into the third year of this administration.
The Opposition takes its role and responsibility of holding the Government to account very seriously, and as we move forward, we will continue to work carefully and diligently to ensure that good Law, which will benefit the people of this country, is examined and passed in our Parliament. This is my pledge and the promise of all members of the Opposition to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.
I know it may be difficult to remain positive in the trying times we currently face, but as we move forward into this New Year, I urge each of you to take heart, to keep faith and hope alive, and to unite in our effort to make out country a better place, one of which we can truly be proud.
The United National Congress, which I lead, will continue to work to do its part to realize our vision and mission of improving the lives of all the people of our beloved nation. Together, I know we can meet the challenges that lie ahead and work towards solutions to them. Let us all draw on our resilience and imagination as we seek to succeed in this challenging environment.
What our country needs now is a vision that will help us return to a path of growth. We need effective leadership to ensure that the basic mandate of a Government – to provide, protect and invest in people – is fulfilled.
I wish to assure citizens that the United National Congress is fully prepared and able to provide this leadership, vision and plan to move Trinidad and Tobago forward. The team which I lead has developed a plan that will involve and benefit all citizens; but we will need all hands, minds and hearts to come together and to work towards building a brighter, more prosperous future for Trinidad and Tobago. I invite all citizens to join us as we prepare to return good governance to our country.
I promise to continue to take the time to consult with you, to listen to your concerns and suggestions for our nation. I urge all citizens – let us move into 2018 with a positive outlook, and renewed commitment to our country.
On behalf of my family, myself and the members of the Opposition, I wish all citizens a safe, happy and productive New Year.