Good night UNC family! I can feel your strength in Diego Martin, and I hear your cries.
I pledge and recommit my party to get Trinidad and Tobago working again. It’s not about a handout, it’s a step up.
People are crying out for decent work, while the Government is focused only on blaming Kamla, blaming the UNC.
To those of you who’ve been with us from the start of our journey, thank you for your dedication and your loyalty to the best party in Trinidad and Tobago!
We welcome the new members – those who have come to know what the United National Congress stands for and feel like this is the right place to be. You are all welcome in the house of the Rising Sun!
Over the last year we have had on our platform many new faces speaking to you and tonight we have had a few more. I want you to give them a round of applause.
Everyone is welcome in the UNC. You have a space here. All I ask is that you come and join and work hard with the rest of the membership if you want to move upwards in the party. We have had people working for years and it is my intention to recognize them.
I have said merit, hard work and commitment is what will be promoted. Everyone will be given fair opportunities and no one is entitled to anything without effort.
We have MPs, councillors, activists, members who sacrifice and work hard every day, all day and in good conscience they must be recognized for that and shown gratitude for their commitment. I salute you all.
So, come and join and show your ability through work and you will be recognized. The only way is through work and effort. If you are lazy and entitled and want things on a platter don’t bother.
Some may say why do I have to work? I will tell you why! The UNC does not own any votes. We are not entitled to any person’s vote; we must earn that vote.
So, when you hear talk about split vote that is nonsense. There are no such thing as split votes.
We must go and work, earn people’s respect and put cogent arguments and ideas forward to win their votes.
If you don’t want to work hard and get recognized through merit and believe that gimmicks, PR stunts, and insults to UNC members is going to help you, you are very mistaken.
I would also warn some people who purport to be supporters on social media that they need to tone down some of their rhetoric also.
It does more harm than good when you get carried away with some of the things that I see is being said. Have respect for people and they will have for you.
Under Rowley we’re moving in the wrong direction.
Right here in Diego Martin – the Prime Minister’s constituency – are you being served?
Rowley has all but abandoned his constituency, like he has all of Trinidad and Tobago.
Tell me – do you feel safer under this Rowley Government? No
Earlier this month, there was a major incident in Big Yard, Carenage, where three people were killed, among them a young girl shot and killed in the crossfire. You remember that?
Do you feel reassured by your MP’s response that the matter will be investigated?
The rest of the country looked on, and we felt the pain of the parents of that child. It was yet another example of the runaway crime problem plaguing our country.
Failure on Crime
This Government has failed in its first responsibility to the people – to protect them. It is clear, that after almost four years of this Rowley-led Government – that crime has skyrocketed – it is the only enterprise that is flourishing in Trinidad and Tobago!
And the people of this country, our beloved nation are scared. They are worried about their loved ones’ safety.
They are worried that emboldened criminals will take away everything they’ve worked so hard for.
And most of all, they are worried about whether they will live to see another day!
But the Prime Minister keeps giving Stuart Young more portfolios that he cannot handle.
Stuart Young is the only person in Trinidad and Tobago who has job security despite not working! Well perhaps also his brother!
Take National Security for example. What has he actually accomplished? Other than putting out press releases and holding press conferences?
He should really be called the Minister of National failure -because that is what he is.
April 2019—three-and-a-half years into the PNM’s term in office—was declared the bloodiest month ever in the history of T&T when 49 people were killed in just 30 days. “Bloodbath” is one term used to describe it.
The Prime Minister himself admitted that nowhere is safe in Trinidad and Tobago. Perhaps he should tell that to this Minister of National Security.
Under his watch, the murder rate continues to climb. There have been an estimated 204 murders for 2019 so far.
01st Jan – 26th May
2015: Jan – Aug 2015 – 279 (PP) / Sept. – Dec. 2015 – 141 (PNM)
(and see older rpts) see also http://www.ttcrime.com/stats.php
The UNC’s Plans to Fight Crime
There was a steady decline in serious crime under my watch because of the initiatives we implemented, including:
The Rapid response unit
Community comfort patrols
The National Operations Centre which served as a backbone for intelligence gathering and intelligence sharing for collaboration within law enforcement agencies.
We re-launched the E999 so that the population of Trinidad and Tobago had a powerful tool when reporting crimes.
Implemented Inter-Agency Joint Patrols between the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force to have a greater presence on the ground to act as a deterrent.
We established a Counter Human Trafficking Unit.
Gave each law enforcement officer a one-thousand-dollar special allowance.
Completed construction of modern Police Stations:
- La Brea
Opened the Duncan Street Police post
Established the National Security Training Academy which encompassed all Law Enforcement agencies and provides the type of training common to these agencies.
Trained several batches of Crime Scene Investigators to supplement the Homicide Investigations Bureau of the TTPS.
Equipped Trinidad and Tobago Police Service vehicles with GPS Technology, in an effort to improve police response to calls for service.
- Acquired 12 vessels – Coastal Patrol Vessels and Utility vessels for the Trinidad & Tobago Coast Guard.
These, along with many other measures, were working.
Under the UNC-T&T was safer -that’s a fact!
When we return to office, we will do this again because the country saw real results from our crime-fighting plans.
The safety and security of all citizens is of paramount importance to the UNC, and we will ensure that mechanisms are put in place to restore a safe and secure environment for our people.
Government by announcements
My friends, this Government is a Government of announcements.
They did nothing for close to four years, and repeat the same things every year. Maybe they’re hoping that by repeating it over and over it will somehow manifest into existence?
No, no, you have to put in the work Prime Minister!
All they can do is talk – announce projects and then do nothing.
After almost four years – four years of excuse after excuse, accusation after accusation – the Government is now saying that the Couva Children’s Hospital would begin offering diagnostic imaging services in July of this year.
The Government I led left everything in place – a state-of-the-art, fully equipped facility – which they refused to open out of sheer spite!
Do you remember when I led a march calling on the Government to open that hospital for the people of Trinidad and Tobago? Because I wanted our citizens to be able to benefit from the facility.
They spent millions getting the Tarouba Stadium ready – that was their priority. Not the health of our children. And that facility is not even being used for sporting events! Just parties!
And now, with fanfare, they announced that construction is to start on the new billion-dollar Central Block in Port of Spain General Hospital and completed in 24 months.
Again, we do not believe you. You have done nothing in four years, we do not expect you to complete anything in the time you have left.
My friends this government would rather pay Faris’ and family millions of taxpayer money in rent than pay for the healthcare of our children!
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS
I want to alert you to plans by the Government for Local Government.
The Government has laid The Miscellaneous Provisions (Local Government Reform) Bill, 2019, which is a very important piece of legislation.
But I am very concerned.
Postponement of LGE
Clause 3 (c) of the Bill seeks to vary the term of office of Councillors from three years to four years.
This is now a back-door way to postpone the Local Government Elections.
They have not delivered one house, built one school, 50,000 plus people have lost their jobs, so what do they want to do? Postpone the election.
I am calling on the Government to clear the air on this!
If they change this – Local Government elections would not be due until 2021.
Are you going to use this to extend the term of Local Govt?
Are you planning to call both the local and GE election on the same day to create chaos?
Equality of the Vote
Every citizen who has the right to vote, there is a principle in law and practice of equality of the vote.
But in seeking to bring local government reform, they have not brought anything to deal with equality of the vote.
The EBC report dated 2017 was only laid in 2019. To have a local election, this must be debated in Parliament – which hasn’t been done yet.
There is no equity in the number of persons that fall within the regional corporations.
When the Government brought this Local Government Reform bill, they could have dealt with this important issue of equity.
EQUALITY OF ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES
FISCAL 2019 Est
|Port-of-Spain City Corporation||37,999||223,972,000|
|San Fernando City Corporation||50,429||130,950,900|
|Arima Borough Corporation||29,073||78,262,800|
|Point Fortin Borough Corporation||16,874||63,430,600|
|Chaguanas Borough Corporation||67,055||79,442,800|
|Diego Martin Regional Corporation||88,151||100, 879,200|
|San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation||135,840||169,175,500|
|Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation||174,647||179,060,800|
|Sangre Grande Regional Corporation||57,105||80,715,800|
|Couva/Tabaquite/Talporo Regional Corporation||147,438||111,892,000|
|Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation||29,511||82,041,100|
|Siparia Regional Corporation||71,802||75,668,800|
|Penal/Debe Regional Corporation||76,427||64,700,700|
|Princes Town Regional Corporation||81,420||83,261,900|
|SOURCE||Draft Estimates of Recurrent Expenditure 2019|
Allocation per person
Diego Martin $1,144.39
Diego Martin has more than twice the electorate of POS but gets less than half the money.
Five times the amount per person in POS than Diego Martin.
If a person in POS gets $1.00 you in Diego Martin get 20 cents.
Penal/Debe has almost twice the electorate of POS but POS received 3.5 times more money.
Allocation per person: POS – $5,894.15
Penal/Debe – $ 846.57
Seven times the amount per person in POS than Penal/Debe.
If a person in POS gets $1.00 a person in Penal/Debe gets 14 cents.
Do you think that is fair?
The Local Government Reform put forward by the PNM will continue this inequity.
We will be looking to file a Constitutional motion, as Under Section 4(d) of the Constitution, all citizens have the right to equality of treatment from any public authority in the exercise of any functions.
For several months we in the UNC have been warning the government that their policy towards Venezuela was misguided.
But they buried their heads in the sand, refusing to acknowledge the influx of Venezuelan citizens seeking refuge in Trinidad and Tobago as a result of the growing humanitarian crisis in that country.
We repeatedly warned the Rowley government about their lack of action on this matter, in fact in January of this year, I condemned Rowley’s ostrich-like approach to the gathering storm in neighbouring Venezuela.
Now that the situation has reached critical levels, they are scrambling to find a solution.
Just last week the country saw close to 100 Venezuelan nationals, including young children, being detained by police in Palo Seco, but later released because there were no facilities to house them.
I warned all of you to pay attention… this will affect every one of us one way or another.
Think about it, they found over 100 persons in Palo Seco and they could not even deal with that.
The authorities had no means of processing them and were limited in their ability to provide assistance. So, what happened? It was left to good-hearted T&T citizens to open their doors and to the UNC led Siparia Regional Corporation, to step in and assist.
So now the country is asking: how many more people are crossing our borders en masse?
What about drugs, guns, ammunition and other illicit substances getting into our country as a result of lax border control?
What about the lack of health services in Venezuela persons may be arriving with a host of health problems including tuberculosis, malaria and hepatitis B – yet refugee and asylum seekers are being permitted to walk around our communities with no health screening.
How are they going to verify who has a criminal record?
Are they going to be medically screened, and if they fail that screening, what is to become of them?
I am not trying to speak ill of our Venezuelan brothers and sisters, but I am trying to ensure that while we show compassion for those in need, we are also smart enough to ensure that we protect ourselves as well.
For several months, we have been urging the Government to prepare a comprehensive refugee policy, but all the country was given was an announcement of an amnesty.
Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have reached our shores and yet the Government has only seen fit to open two registration centres in Trinidad and one in Tobago.
If you are registering 50,000 Venezuelan nationals for 14 days, from 8 am to 4 pm, as announced by Minister Young, how much time can they spend on each person?
50,000 people in 14 days
I want to know:
How are they going to verify who has a criminal record especially with the ones that entered illegally?
Are they going to be medically screened before they are granted the one-year stay?
For those that fail the medical screening if any where are you sending them
And I ask tonight, what is the plan after the registration?
The PNM says they will be given work permits for one year.
And again, I say, I understand that we need to be our brother’s and our sister’s keeper, but who is taking care of our young unemployed citizens?
Dr Rowley admitted that in the last four years thousands of citizens have lost their jobs. These persons have turned to low-paying jobs in the service sectors, but now they have to compete with thousands of Venezuelans for the same jobs.
Let us be real… What is the plan to deal with that?
We have to be real.
Policy by vaps, that is what you call that.
If we do not address this matter in a serious and definite way, Trinidad and Tobago will experience a number of social and economic repercussions, in addition to the damage our international image has already sustained.
Yesterday, Rowley jetted off to the Netherlands, and is going on a meet and greet with some of the major energy companies with which we do business. The last time he did this, the NGC ended up paying more for gas. So, heaven help us – what will happen to us after this?
But this is nothing more than an attempt for him to save face, having failed this nation as its “chief international salesman”.
Rowley’s energy policy has been nothing but hot air!
These meetings are not geared towards expanding our relationship and operations with these companies but are rather geared towards reclaiming lost ground and trying to regain favour with these firms, as a result of this government’s incompetence and brazen behaviour.
It is unacceptable as an energy dominant economy, that at a critical time when we should be focusing on increasing exploration and production with our global partners, the government is compelled to run off “cap in hand”, almost on their knees, hoping to restore the relationships we once had.
This total breakdown of the partnership with these companies must be placed squarely at the feet of Prime Minister Rowley.
Instead of engaging these Foreign Multinational Companies which have been with us for many years through proper diplomacy, economic incentives as well as statesmanship, his administration has resulted in bullying tactics and even personally attacking the qualifications of the top management of one company.
The Minister of finance actually implied that the President of the largest foreign investor in T&T wasn’t qualified for her job-while he himself not qualified to be Minister of Finance.
Time and time again this PNM administration have shown that statesmanship is not within their purview.
It is clear that under Keith Rowley, Trinidad and Tobago has lost its status and respect on the world stage. While the former PP administration led by my Government was able to attract significant levels of Foreign Direct Investment, strengthen foreign partnerships and the gain the respect of foreign leaders due to vision and leadership, the Rowley administration is incapable of even keeping the investments that we currently hold.
Given the arrogant and irresponsible treatment by the Rowley led administration to these energy companies in the past four years, Prime Minister Rowley would have little if any negotiating power.
Outmaneuvered, out-negotiated and humiliated, Rowley is likely to agree to deals which may not be in the best interest of our country in order for him to save face.
It is clear that Keith Rowley, already burdened with the pressure of hiding that he has crashed the energy sector, would look to pull a public relations gimmick as he did with the Dragon Gas Deal and Houston Energy agreements.
The citizens, however, remember that the dragon deal is dead, and the Houston agreement has resulted in a less than favourable outcome for NGC’s profitability.
This Rowley led Government has clearly been avoiding the truth that they are incapable of leading Trinidad and Tobago into any semblance of prosperity.
Rowley said he was T&T’s “salesman”. But the only thing he has sold is one false promise after another!
The De-industrialization of T&T
Under the PNM we have had de-industrialization and the consequent loss of many jobs.
2016 – closure of the Mittal steel complex
2017 – closure of two MHTL methanol plants
2018 – closure of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery
2019 – we get the news that Train 1 will be mothballed in 2020
From 2010 to 2015 there was no plant closure in this country even though we had a natural gas shortage – we (the PP) worked with all the energy companies to keep them going and save jobs.
Prime Minister’s Energy Jaunt
Why is Minister Stuart Young accompanying the Prime Minister on this trip to the UK and the Netherlands? The Minister of Energy is already part of the delegation so why is there the need for the Minister of National Security to be on this trip?
The Minister of National Security is out of the country at a time when we are in the midst of an unprecedented and unparalleled refugee crisis.
At a time when the registration exercise for Venezuelans is about to begin, the Minister of National Security is absent from the country? Stuart Young is the Minister of Everything except National Security.
Insulting BPTT’s Claire Fitzpatrick
The relationship between the oil and gas companies and the Government recently hit a new low when Colm Imbert insulted the President of BPTT, Claire Fitzpatrick by pointing out that she wasn’t an engineer but an account.
Why has he never pointed out the fact that her two predecessors were also not engineers? Mr. Norman Christie is a financial expert and Mr. Robert Riley is a lawyer but Imbert never had an issue with them.
What does he have against women?
Refinancing Petrotrin Bonds in trouble?
Last Friday in Parliament, the Minister of Finance was asked about the re-financing of the Petrotrin Bonds. He dismissed concerns and proceeded to abuse Opposition members. He said, “the people at Heritage and Trinidad Petroleum have met their target” and he didn’t want to steal their thunder.
What really happened that day is that for the THIRD TIME, Trinidad Petroleum Holdings (the successor to Petrotrin) had to extend the deadline for bondholders to accept the refinancing of these bonds.
Why are the bondholders not interested?
We are talking here about just over $TT 7 billion dollars, a very serious matter that can have huge consequences for national debt.
The latest deadline is now June 14th and the clock is ticking to the August deadline for payment.
Toco Port based on BHP deepwater discoveries
Sunday Express May 26, 2019
“The north-east region of Trinidad has the potential to become a gas and oil industry similar to Point Galeota and Guayaguayare, which can provide a better quality of life for citizens who live below the economic pyramid,’ said Rowley on March 28
He went on to talk about ‘the oil and gas exploration that is taking place east of Sangre Grande and all the way east of Tobago…. We have drilling taking place offshore. Toco could easily become a jumping-off point to our eastern reserves as we explore and as we are successful going forward. The best part of the ocean is east of us.”
What is this exploration all the way east of Tobago? He is talking about the deepwater exploration programme of BHP.
That deepwater exploration programme has its genesis in work done by our Government. Between 2012 and 2014, nine deepwater exploration contracts were signed and it is that work that Dr. Rowley is talking about.
It is our information that BHP has found significant reserves of natural gas to the east of Tobago in wells called Bele and Bongos 2 and to the east of Mayaro in wells called Le Clerc and Victoria.
This is the result of work done by the PP Administration.
This is something they met when they came in office in 2015 that was already in place and was the result of the incentives, we provided the oil companies to get them to invest.
Hope for T&T Under the Rising Sun
My friends, I know that the past four years have been difficult. But I want to tell you tonight that there is still hope for our nation.
Unlike this PNM government, the UNC will never give up on T&T.
We believe that everyone should have a decent job. We believe that all children should have the best education possible.
We believe that the economy of our country should work for all; and not for friends and financiers of the government.
We believe that people shouldn’t have to rely on a Minister owning land in their community before that area could get an overpass, or a proper road.
And we also believe that in the 21st century, where mankind is planning to go to Mars, the people of Trinidad and Tobago shouldn’t have to be begging for a regular water supply!
At the mid-year Budget Review, I unveiled the UNC’s National Economic Transformation Plan.
This plan takes a holistic approach to our economy, and centres around diversification of our economy.
Using 12 key prosperity engines as the backbone, such as our planned West Port of Spain creative arts area, and East Port of Spain Steel Pan Manufacturing Facility, we will harness the creative capacity of our people. Our economic plan will also focus on investments in agriculture, empowering our farmers enabling them to export more produce, cutting obstacles and red tape for small businesses so they can grow into big ones.
We will focus on the jobs of the future promoting IT and S.T.E.M (science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) training. This will enable the next generation to join the fourth industrial revolution taking place.
We in the UNC also believe that the problem of crime doesn’t just require tough law enforcement. I do not believe any one of our beautiful children of Trinidad and Tobago are born criminals; but some of our young people get caught up in a cycle of violence.
We must break that cycle!
Our UNC crime policies will treat with the causes of crime; namely poverty and disenfranchisement.
We help give our young people proper avenues for mentorship and skills training so they can be the best version of themselves.
The UNC will also take our country into the economy of the future by investing in renewable energy with our planned Tamana Solartech renewable energy park.
The successful economies of the future will those that at work in harmony with the natural environment, and the amazing diversity of beauty of our environment here in T&T has the potential to create new sustainable economic activity.
These are just some of our plans brothers and sisters, soon we’ll make our complete plan available.
But I want you to know the UNC is fully prepared to lead our nation once again. And I promise you we will fix the mess created by this incompetent and visionless Rowley Government.
Have no fear, the end of this wicked government is soon as upon is! And the dark days we are witnessing will be over soon. Soon once again the Sun will dawn on a new day for T&T, the light of the United National Congress will shine over T&T again!
Good night and God bless you!