Speaking notes of the Opposition Leader and Political Leader of the United National Congress, Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the UNC’s Monday Night Forum which took place on 26th August, 2019 at the Debe High School.
Good evening UNC family! Good evening Trinidad and Tobago!
We are one family, one community, one nation.
And we are united in purpose. And that purpose is to bring back good governance and a better quality of life for all citizens.
That is my vision; that is my mission, to bring back prosperity for all in our land.
Your great party, the United National Congress is preparing for the months ahead – we have two elections on the horizon.
We must be ready.
We are preparing, because our country needs the UNC back in Government.
We have recently concluded a National Congress, and our screening process continues.
I am excited to see so many bright, young people stepping forward, ready to serve the people.
I thank all those who have put themselves forward, and I especially thank those who were not selected – there were many excellent candidates, but for each case only one can be chosen.
I ask that you continue to work with us, we have a space for you, and we have a role for each of you.
The question you must ask yourself is: are you better off today than in 2015?
Do you feel safer today??
No one is safe in Trinidad and Tobago.
The many advancements made under the Government I lead have been reversed.
Our quality of life has worsened, but they do not care.
So long as their bank accounts and pockets are filled – everyone else can suffer – that’s their mentality.
Whenever this Prime Minister speaks he has nothing good to say.
In his usual arrogant manner, he labelled public servants as lazy. I know he came back and said he never used the word “lazy” but from his description, there is no other conclusion that could be reached.
This is how highly he thinks of the people of this country.
Remember this Government also said there was no indigenous capacity to run the refinery.
They don’t have faith in you. And more so – they don’t want to see you progress.
Is it that they intend to fire public servants? Or is he setting the stage to say the public servants will not be getting their backpay?
Keith Rowley should be reminded that he is the Prime Minister – the country’s Chief Public Servant!
You need to lead by example, but you have failed in your duty.
The Petrotrin Debacle
Last week came the surprise announcement of sweeping changes to the Petrotrin Legacy companies.
Interestingly – the Energy Minister said one thing, and then the Finance Minister jumped in and corrected him.
Franklin Khan said they would be seeking a temporary replacement for Mike Wylie which would be reviewed after six months. Imbert, who was sitting next to him while he was making that statement, made it clear that the Government was looking for a permanent replacement.
More on that in a moment.
Now during the 2015 general election, Rowley made no mention of plans to shut down the Petrotrin refinery.
Rowley insisted that there would be no shutting down of Petrotrin.
Later that same year the tune would change.
He brought in Wilfred Espinet, and then it was “All, All, All” had to go and the company had to be shut down.
They split the company into four, sent home thousands of workers, and hired a CEO with a lucrative contract.
But now, almost a year later – they are scrambling.
Espinet announced a team to run the company, but Rowley was having none of that.
Rowley sacked Espinet – the man who was brought in to restructure Petrotrin- and replaced him with his personal lawyer.
How can this be right? The man who is representing him in the matter involving alleged transactions related to the fake oil issue?
No experience or expertise in energy – but you put him in charge, at this critical time.
This is alarming and shows the priorities of this Keith Rowley Administration.
The decision by the PNM to continually put Party hacks at the helm of our flagship energy companies is what led us here in the first place and fully responsible for the demise of our energy sector.
While Rowley and Khan were busy vilifying and blaming regular workers for the state of Petrotrin, when all the rest of the country knew it was as a result of poor management, and they are setting the scene for that yet again.
So, we are again seeing persons with no energy expertise being hand-picked to lead these companies, and just as we have no confidence in the Government, we have no confidence in their ability to effectively do their jobs.
It is already too late, and this move will do nothing to help the situation.
The Keith Rowley-led Government continues to bungle every decision, and this is the latest example of their cluelessness and inability to manage our country’s affairs.
We said from the beginning that the decision to shut down Petrotrin was based on the whims and fancy of a feckless administration, to this day they have produced no expert advice which said to shut down the company.
And as they continue to tinker with our energy sector our citizens continue to suffer.
They will continue to try to criticize what we did in 2010-2015, but we invested in our people.
We were able to build more than 100 schools, the San Fernando Teaching hospital, the Couva Children’s Hospital, and started the Point Fortin Hospital.
We surpassed our targets for participation in tertiary education.
We opened a Nursing Academy in El Dorado to prepare young people with the skills needed to work in the health sector.
I promise to open the Couva Children’s Hospital when we return to office. That hospital is supposed to provide 2,000 jobs. Right now we have doctors who cannot get employment.
I repeat again – when we return to office, the UNC will create 50,000 jobs. We did it before and we can do it again.
No trying, just failing on crime
On the eve of the 2015 General Election, Keith Rowley says he has a plan for crime. He went up and down, all over Trinidad and Tobago talking about a ten-point plan.
Cut to four years later. Where is the plan? What have they done? What have they accomplished?
Four years later, the Attorney General is only now set to reveal the Government’s anti-crime plan.
In the meantime, close to 2000 people have been murdered.
We had not too far from here the gruesome case in Penal – where two innocent, young children not only likely witnessed the gruesome murders of their relatives, but were left to fend for their survival in the days after the killings took place.
Just this morning we learned that a 50-year-old man was killed in a home invasion at Branch Trace, Debe.
Yesterday, the country woke to the news of a 71-year-old nurse who was reported missing – her body was reportedly found stuffed in a barrel.
People are living in fear.
Now they plan to bring in an international expert. Four years later, that’s their remedy.
The UNC has a plan to ensure the safety and security of citizens.
Under our watch, serious crime was brought to the lowest levels in more than three decades.
We maintained a zero-tolerance approach to crime, and we made good progress.
Our approach was holistic – legislative measures, non-legislative measures, infrastructural works and social and educational programmes.
A detailed report in one newspaper on Sunday spoke about the “Cycle of Violence.” It is a harrowing account of what is happening in some communities.
The UNC understands that improving education and providing better economic opportunities for families and our young people are key to ending violence in our communities.
The Government I led made advancements in building an integrated national security coordinating apparatus, as well as strengthening the legislative framework, the judicial system and the law enforcement agencies.
We had a plan to build on these achievements, and continue our thrust to safeguard our children, families and communities.
Our focus was on improving the efficiency of law enforcement, policing and border control.
When the UNC returns to Government, we will work to create a safe and secure environment for our citizens. This is our priority.
We will move to address the root causes of crime – poverty, inequality and lack of opportunity for young people.
The UNC’s Plans to deal with crime:
- We will work with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) to roll out our plan for improving crime detection and ensuring crime prevention.
- We will re-introduce community policing, ensure ubiquitous police presence and implement other strategic actions for a systematic, drastic reduction in crime within defined time frames.
- We will provide resources to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the community.
- We propose the introduction of Community and Village Co-ordination Officers programme whereby officers return to walk and talk with members of their communities, to build trust.
- We believe that a fundamental principle of modern policing is that policing is a two-way street and citizens are more likely to listen if they are heard.
- We will focus on more boots on the ground, ensuring the TTPS is equipped to be present, effective and responsive in all communities.
- We will look at utilizing part of the UWI Debe Campus for the training of our protective services.
Long term – A community-based approach
We will implement a deeper policy and programme that targets crime prevention and community engagement.
We will operationalize the naval assets of our country throughout the borders of our country.
The protective services of our country, police, army and regiment will be deployed throughout the entire country to have a 24-hour presence of law enforcement throughout the country.
This Rowley-led Government has clearly failed to fulfil its basic mandate – to protect the people of this country.
The UNC is ready and has a proven track record. We will work to ensure that our citizens are safe in their homes, communities, schools, and as they go about their daily activities.
No economic plan – catastrophic results
This Government has mismanaged every aspect of our economy to the brink of collapse.
The people of T&T are suffering as a result of the poor decisions and incompetence of the Rowley-led regime.
Businesses are shutting down and more people are being sent home.
Where is the plan for diversification, new revenue streams, new business development, job creation?
Under this Government, no funding is being provided to local government – yet they talk about reform.
We saw the disaster in Central and South Trinidad from flooding, yet uncaring Government refuses to take steps to prevent a recurrence.
They did not want to come down to the flood-ravaged areas, but now they are begging for a chance.
The electorate will tell them no!
The UNC has prepared a National Economic Transformation Masterplan 2020-2025, which provides solutions and a roadmap towards economic growth.
We maintain that the best course of action the Government can take now is to call the election so that the people can elect a leader and team with a vision and plan to get T&T working again.
UNC on the rise
The PNM has shown repeatedly that they are incapable of governing.
The UNC remains the best option to move our nation forward.
But we need all hands on deck, to ensure that the PNM is removed from office.
Rowley and his cronies have shown that they’re not up to the job. He is simply unfit to lead.
On previous occasions, I shared some of the UNC’s plans for the future with you and will continue to do so in the coming months.
We will continue to meet with you in your communities and listen to your concerns. We know that you want better for your families.
This is why I promise to continue the work started during 2010 to 2015 when we were making real progress on the issues that matter to you.
When we return to office, a UNC Government will:
- Ensure that our citizens are safe in their homes, communities, schools, and as they go about their daily activities;
- Ensure that our citizens are healthy, by providing first-class healthcare;
- Ensure that citizens can secure employment in well-paying jobs so that they can care for their families;
- Ensure that people get to and from their jobs, schools and other activities quickly and efficiently;
- Ensure that our children are afforded greater access to educational opportunities from preschool to tertiary level;
- Equip people with the skills needed to take advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution;
I ask you tonight, are you ready to move with us? Are you ready to take back our country and return to stability and growth?
Let us work together to build the future we want for the next generation.
Let’s get T&T working again!