Government Ministers are expected to provide details on how the adjustments to the policies outlined by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will be pursued as a result of falling global oil prices.
Persad-Bissessar said yesterday her address to the nation on Thursday night gave a broad overview on how the Peoples’ Partnership Government will be adjusting policies to ensure that necessary spending was maintained and scale back spending in other areas.
Speaking at Vision One Million Rally, hosted by the South Caribbean Conference of Seventh Day Adventists at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, Persad-Bissessar said, “In the coming days, ministers will give details on how those adjustments will be pursued. And as I did then, I do now that is to assure you that the people will not be made to feel the pinch of adjustments, as has happened in the past.”
Following her announcement that the Government’s 2015 budget would now pegged on a revised oil price of US$45 a barrel, Persad-Bissessar was criticised for not providing details on the policies being adjusted.
Persad-Bissessar also defended the $55 million grant distributed to Christian churches in celebration of Christmas 2014.
“It is important to make this point because it is something on which a great deal of public discussion was recently focused. I believe that Government funding for religious organisations must never be a political decision. It simply must not. Whatever religion, whatever event, whatever the size of the community, using funding as part of a support mechanism is a responsibility we all share to keep our country progressing,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said funding to churches was a responsibility since the organisations were important to social stability and progress, in ways that money cannot buy.
“For the Seventh Day Adventist community, the contributions you have made are quite remarkable,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said whether through funding, conversations, resources and collaborative partnerships, her Government was a partner and defender of religious institutions.
“While there is a line that keeps both church and State independent of each other, we must recognise the ties that make us responsible to each other. Faith- based organisations are more important to maintaining peace and harmony than ever before. And Government support for these objectives is something we must always courageously stand tall for,” she said.
The event, “The Shaking”, was the launch of some 100 community projects to impact the enhancement and development of communities.
The programmes include the feeding of 50,000 families during the month of February and an award ceremony to honour servicemen during the month of March.
“So when some asked why we provide funding for churches, this is the answer – this is the kind of work our religious organisations do, quietly and with dignity. This is why Government is committed to working with all faith-based organisations in the interest of all people of Trinidad and Tobago, and that commitment extends to each section and arm of Government,” Persad-Bissessar said.