Good evening my sisters and brothers.
Today was the deadline date for filing nominations to be candidates of the UNC.
Thank you to all those who filed nominations to serve.
In their nomination forms, each person had to answer many questions.
And so we will seek to verify their responses and then screening will begin shortly.
I also filed my nomination today.
I want to ask you one question right now.
And I want you answer it out loud.
ARE YOU READY FOR VICTORY ON SEPTEMBER 7?
ARE YOU READY?
BECAUSE I AM READY.
Are you ready for victory?
Because I am ready.
I am ready to take your hands and walk this pathway into Government once more and I say to you, will you take my hand in yours?
Will you give me your strength, your courage, your inspiration and your support in this important last leg of this part of our journey to make our country a better place?
Then let us raise our hands and promise ourselves in this moment that in the next three months, when we will face the Mother of all Election Battles, we will never falter by the wayside and we will be victorious!
Let us keep foremost in our minds that we will always win when we are united!
You know the gruesome twosome preaching gloom and doom everywhere.
They want you to believe that winter is coming, a la Game of Thrones, that the white walkers will destroy our nation of free men and women.
But I promise you, as long as we unite against them, we will defeat them and together we will continue to build the new T& T where every man, woman and child can stand tall as citizens with equal opportunities in a free democratic nation.
And you know, we can be very proud of what we have achieved.
In 2010 under a PNM Government Trinidad and Tobago was in decline with thousands unemployed and families struggling to make ends meet.
People were actually fleeing our country with murder, kidnapping and violent crimes at record levels.
And corruption was a stain on our public life.
For too long politicians had ignored voters’ wishes and acted out of self-interest.
We came in to change that sad state of affairs and we did.
Through hard work and through difficult times my government turned this around and delivered stability and progress.
Look at the country we live in today.
90 per cent of our manifesto promises of deliveries of infrastructure, education, health and social services have been delivered and serious crimes have decreased.
In 2010 and 2011 we worked hard to revitalise our country after the steep economic decline under the PNM government.
We then succeeded in achieving growth in 2012, 2013, 2014 2015.
Even with a fall in the price of oil we ensured we kept our economy on track by ensuring a continuing flow of investment from global companies like Shell, BP and Mitsubishi.
Not only investment in our country but more jobs too.
We have created thousands of jobs and brought the unemployment rate down to 3%. This means that 97%? of the labour force is gainfully employed.
Trinidad and Tobago now rides high in international happiness tables because our government delivered over 100 new schools; refurbished or built over 100 new health centres; created 56,000 new jobs and over 11,000 business in the last two years; brought clean water supplies to 70% of the population; and constructed hundreds of new roads and thousands of new homes.
I am so proud that we introduced the Children’s Life Fund and the Baby Grant which has made such a difference.
We have constructed roads, drains, sidewalks, bridges, fixed landslips, community centres – Connecting communities and providing the vital infrastructure they need.
In the last five years, we have provided stability and security for our citizens through social support, healthcare and pension provision.
The second of a fleet of 12 ships has arrived here which will lock down our maritime borders in the fight against crime.
We have given the police more assets to fight crime, cctv, gps more police cars, more training.
We have invested in internet access, skills building and education and training programmes.
A Progressive Path
I thank you, because you have motivated me even more to stand strong in the fight to keep our nation on a stable, progressive path.
I have a mission.
My government is working to build a new and better Trinidad and Tobago.
We have a clear plan is to deliver security, prosperity and a better future for everyone.
Our polices will deliver more jobs; safer streets; improved childcare; new schools for your children; new roads creating jobs and linking communities; and new hospitals to care for your family.
You have supported me in that mission, and I will fulfil that mission because the people and my country mean everything to me.
You have placed your faith in me and my team to fight the battle of righteousness for your sake and for your children’s sake.
You charged me with the responsibility to make our country a great place of peace, prosperity and justice.
And I will do it.
I will stand strong against our opponents and I will fight fearlessly on your behalf.
And that is why it is so important we win this election.
We have a proud record on which to stand but we need more time to finish the job we have started and to keep Trinidad and Tobago on a progressive path.
AND DO NOT worry about the gruesome twosome –
One of twosome talking about China and France.
Well you know who was with me in China?
You know when I was growing up, my mother used to tell me sometimes, why you just don’t go to France.
Well I want to tell him, why you don’t just go to France: but I cannot tell him that because he cannot go anywhere.
The other one of the gruesome twosome say that he pardner put me as PM.
But I tell you tonight the only people who put me as PM is the people of T & T.
And the only people who will put me as PM again is the people of T & T.
My plan for the future
90% of our manifesto pledges of 2010 were kept because I believe that when you promise the people, you make a contract with them.
Whatever the promise, whatever your job, your word must be your bond and this is why I ensured that all of my Ministers worked hard and delivered to you, the people.
When we speak about delivery, and the fact that this Government has out-performed and out-delivered every previous administration in our history, it is because I came to office with a plan.
And I intend to continue, with that clear plan for the people of Trinidad & Tobago.
Coming to office in 2010, based on what you told me were your concerns, my vision was for our people to be healthier, happier, more productive and enjoying an even better quality of life.
We must not waste those last five years.
It is so important we gain a second term so that we keep the economy on track and deliver prosperity for all the people of Trinidad and Tobago and so continue to work to build the new T & T.
Going forward we will make a dedicated effort to intensify the diversification of our economy to create jobs and promote growth.
We will focus more on Private Sector investments and public/private partnerships to stimulate diversification in areas like Finance, Information and Communications Technology, Tourism, Maritime Industries, Food Sustainability, Creative Industries and Energy Services.
We will target work with the Manufacturing Sector to achieve higher levels of exports.
We will continue to invest significantly in education and training to improve skills and help our people get better jobs.
Industries cannot compete in the world and grow exports without enhanced productivity and no country can make significant progress in the world unless the people are productive. So we will focus on this too.
People must feel safe and protected in their country and this is why we will continue our aggressive efforts to fight crime.
I will take a zero tolerance approach towards crime.
Let me repeat a zero tolerance approach towards crime.
We will do our utmost to deliver quality healthcare and education and will invest in buildings, facilities and training.
We will deliver the crucial roads to improve our citizen’s lives and to link our communities.
We will deliver major projects such as the Highway from San Fernando to Mayaro, the Access on the Ocean Front to Chaguaramas, the Establishment of Dry-docking facilities in La Brea, A Medical Tourism hospital in the East West Corridor and The San Fernando Waterfront Development Project.
So having promised and delivered a turnaround, stability, growth and progress in our first term, our work must continue into the second term if we are to truly achieve a nation we can celebrate.
We must strive to be a just nation, driven by good and transparent governance, where the people have power over the politicians, and where we are working together with a common objective of prosperity for all! So make sure that you secure the education and the training to be ready
GREEN, BLUE AND SILVER ECONOMY
Our plans for the economy
The Green Economy – environment protection
A green economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.
In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one which is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. (UNEP)
Moving to a green economy has the benefit of developing nascent industries, lowering carbon emissions and reliance on hydrocarbons and improving efficiencies at several levels from constructing homes to high-rise buildings, transportation and government services.
Jobs can be created in the green economy:
- Through conversion of fossil fuel energy sources to renewable ones, for example the conversion of vehicles to use CNG will lead to technician jobs to do the actual conversions, also jobs in the retail and distribution of CNG and conversions kits.
- The development of wind and solar farms will lead to jobs during construction and permanent jobs in the operations and maintenance of such systems. These jobs will be highly technical.
- Building retrofitting to make existing buildings green will lead to retaining of and increased specialisation for electricians, roofers and all those that are involved in construction. These skills will transfer to the construction of new buildings.
- There will also be increased demand for electrical engineers, chemical engineers, energy auditors, project managers and civil engineers among others
- These jobs will have the advantage of being highly marketable internationally as other countries will also adopt greening strategies, meaning that Trinidad and Tobago workers, once properly skilled, may be in high demand
- There will also be opportunities for local schools such as UTT and NESC to become globally known as training centres for green economy jobs.
- Through ecotourism – hotel workers, tour operators and guides, taxi drivers, concessions stands and handicrafts for example
The Blue Economy – island waters / marine resources
Oceans and rivers being a source of economic activity throughout human history, as a small island nation, the blue economy is vital to Trinidad and Tobago.
As such, ensuring the protection and long-term sustainability of the resources that facilitate it is a priority.
We already have an idea of the importance of the blue economy to us, our ports, our fishermen, beaches, turtle watching and the businesses that spring up to service them.
The blue economy has and will continue to create jobs in:
- Fishing and fish processing
- Tourism and ancillary services, beach resorts, restaurants
- Port construction and operations
- Ship repair, including dry-docking
Important considerations have to be taken into account when developing the blue economy such as:
- Coastal erosion
- Oil spills
- Ecosystem health
Already we have several policies and programmes in place such as:
The National Programme of Action for the Protection of the Coastal and Marine Environment from Land-based Sources and Activities (2008-2013)
- The 2013 National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP), developed to mitigate the effect of oil spills on land and in marine areas across Trinidad and Tobago.
- The Critical Coastal Protection Works under the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure.
The Programme would target approximately twenty-six Coastal Protection Projects experiencing coastal instability and incessant erosion.
The Silver Economy – senior citizens
The population of Trinidad and Tobago is getting older and living longer.
The economic activity to be generated by this will provide opportunities for not just persons in those industries that cater for the elderly but for those over 60 who wish to continue their working lives as long they wish for.
Jobs to be created in the silver economy include:
- Geriatrics specialists, gerontologists and other medical specialists
- Senior citizen care
- Pension administration and actuarial services
- Manufacturing, retail and distribution of goods and services that cater to the silver population
In addition, it must be recognised that getting older does not mean becoming less productive, in fact as people and the silver population becomes a higher proportion of the populace and live longer, it is unwise to not take advantage of their collective wisdom.
Therefore opportunities will exist for those who wish to contribute in their later years, either by continuing in their present occupation or through some other way of contributing to society like teaching or mentoring.
The intention is to double the exports of locally manufactured goods by 2020, increase employment by 50% and double the contribution of manufacturing to GDP by 2020.
This will be done by partnering with the manufacturing sector to create the environment that is conducive to growth in the manufacturing base. This includes:
- Increased export financing mechanisms through EximBank
- Make more industrial estate space available
- Improvement of the ability of the Vat office to process VAT refunds so manufacturers do not tie up cash
- Establish a Centre for Export Competitiveness to engage in market research
- Enhancing the linkages between the education system and the manufacturing so that there exists educational programmes that are aligned with the needs of the manufacturing sector
- Work with the private sector to train those workers in Government employment programmes to migrate to better jobs in manufacturing
- Encouraging local content in public procurement
- Assisting manufacturers in achieving international quality standards and in greening their operations
The services sector is large in Trinidad and Tobago but not export oriented.
The intention is to double the contribution of services exports to GDP and the number of jobs as well.
This will be done by leveraging the existing foundation of advantages that we have to boost the services export sector, especially in the form of ICT enabled services.
These advantages include:
- Low energy costs
- Reliable and still expanding bandwidth
- A technology savvy population, especially the younger generation
ICT enabled services include:
- Business process outsourcing
- Creative industries – content creation in video and animation
- Call Centers
- Electronic Publishing
- Medical Transcription
- Data Centers
- Online education
- Legal records processing
Jobs will be created in these services and for those involved in the ICT sector, including computer technicians, programmers, network administrators and computer sales and service.
When you add to the blue green and sliver economies and the manufacturing and Services the ten Flag ship projects with hobs from construction to professional to services you begin to see clearly the explosive era of development that we are entering of jobs of growth of prosperity of entrepreneurship
So when you see our policies putting you, the people at the centre, and when you see tremendous resources being put behind the health, growth, education and protection of our children, this is why…
… because we are building a new Trinidad and Tobago for our children.
The PNM’s Record
And the alternative the nation faces is one that we simply cannot risk.
My sisters and brothers I say tonight … do not be fooled by the false promises from the other side.
Never forget their record of non-performance, theft, corruption and wanton wastage and incompetence.
Every incarnation of the PNM Government has always ended up in Trinidad and Tobago becoming unstable in decline.
By the end of it, all they had to show was corruption from their friends and financiers who… “look left and right and left again and buss it to Panama,” as that great calypsonian David Rudder sang.
The PNM you see and hear today is no different from the PNM of the past that has consistently failed the people.
Rowley has no plan, no vision and no leadership.
If they are elected they will take Trinidad and Tobago backwards.
We have worked to help and empower the poor people, the disabled, the children, the elderly, the dispossessed, single mothers — and the opposition’s single plan for Trinidad & Tobago is to cut these policies in their cold, heartless manner.
Rowley has nothing to say on how he will improve the lives of citizens, reduce crime, strengthen our economy, provide jobs and make Trinidad and Tobago a better place.
Nothing on health, education, housing or water.
Instead he insults our schools and our children, denigrates our women and obstructs political power for the people.
A raging bull with no plan, no policies and no idea.
We must fight for our country’s future.
We must never become complacent and I therefore ask you tonight to get your walking shoes out, and start the campaign with us, my foot soldiers.
We need you to help us spread our message of performance and good governance and we need your to help to spread the message to all our citizens who need to hear of the great work we’ve done in these past five years and our plan and the work to come.
Every single vote counts and we need you, your strength, your resilience and your committed effort.
Your party, your leader, your MPs and Ministers need you, to win the elections on September 7th.
So let us move forward united, together.
In this election there is a crucial choice for voters as there are only two contenders for the job of Prime Minister.
The people of Trinidad and Tobago expect this election to be about jobs, housing, water, health, their children’s education, their safety and security and care for their elderly relatives.
They want a campaign fought on the issues by leaders offering them a clear choice.
Well they have that clear choice.
Rowley’s poison or my plan for a better tomorrow and a new T & T.
And do not despair for Kamla is here with you.
And do not fear the obeah they want to visit on me and you, because you see as Gypsy told me, PM, you are a Bapdu.
I ask Gypsy what do you mean?
He said PM you are a Baptist and a Hindu so no obeah can harm you.
So I have no fear of any of them for the words of psalm continues to uplift and inspire me –
1 Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”[b]
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high
I am a strong woman and a leader working through a plan.
My government needs more time to finish the job to change Trinidad and Tobago and secure a better future.
I say to the people of Trinidad and Tobago:
I am a strong woman – I do not apologise for that
I am devoted to public service – I do not apologise for that
I care about the poor and needy, the children the elderly , the families who work hard to make ends meet – I do not apologise for that.
I formed a government in 2010 and I ensured that we delivered and when ministers failed they were sacked – I do not apologise for that.
I decide my Government’s priorities – I do not apologise for that.
I am a woman who fights like a lioness for what I believe is right and for my country.
Now is the time to come out fighting.
My mission is to deliver a better future for all the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
In stark contrast Keith Rowley is an angry man without a plan, who will act out of self-interest and put this progress at risk. He will waste the last five years and take the country backwards.
The New Trinidad and Tobago
The new Trinidad and Tobago we are building is ambitious, idealistic, and united.
A place where people succeed on the basis of what they did for their country, rather than what they take from their country.
Having promised and delivered a turnaround, growth and progress in our first term, our work must continue into the second term if we are to truly achieve a nation we can celebrate.
I make this promise.
Till the day my life is through I will give every breath that I breathe and every sinew of my body to ensure that our children do get to live in the new Trinidad and Tobago.
Our nation’s future is too important.
So your vote will be for strong and stable government and to secure yours and your family’s future.
THE HONOURABLE KAMLA PERSAD-BISSESSAR, SC
PRIME MINISTER OF TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
POLITICAL LEADER OF THE UNITED NATIONAL CONGRESS
LEADER OF THE PEOPLE’S PARTNERSHIP
GENERAL ELECTION 2015
26TH JUNE 2015