Political Leader Speech at UNC National Congress 2020
Sunday 2nd February 2020
Thank you, and I join in welcoming all delegates and observers to this, our National Congress.
I thank you for your continued support and hard work. I know you are ready, energized and rearing to go as we head towards the 2020 general election. I can feel the energy from up here from all of you! Reminds me of the song by bob Marley
“There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air. If you listen carefully now you will hear
This could be the first trumpet might as well be the last”
The work starts now.
We have done a great amount of preparation over the last four years, and your hard-working NATEX members today spoke about some of what we’ve been doing – but the work to ensure a victory at the next General Election has only just begun.
To date, over 350,000 man hours of fieldwork and analysis of gathered data has been carried out by a special team I have had working quietly since the end of 2015.
Today I want to tell them thanks and keep going. You may never know these young people who have been doing this grunt work but it is on the basis of their data and reports that we have been going from strength to strength.
This is not including work done by our economic planning teams and our constituency teams who take the reports and go out into the field and take action. I thank them also.
Ignore the noise from people who have no clue what is going on within the party. They attend nothing, they contribute nothing, they call you derogatory names and have no idea of our operations. Ignore them and focus on working.
We have a critical task at hand – to return good governance to Trinidad and Tobago. And we can only do this with hard work, commitment and proper planning.
My friends with hard work and commitment, 2020 will be the year the rays of the rising sun will shine on our beloved country – dispelling the gloom of the present government – and restoring our beautiful nation back to glory!
I want to thank each and every one of the thousands of volunteers who came out to help us campaign during the December 2nd local government elections.
Those who prepared meals, who walked with us door to door, who gave up their time to ensure that our operations worked smoothly.
You are the UNC – and it is because of your hard work the UNC turned nearly the whole country yellow. Including, of course, Sangre Grande!
It is you the hardworking members whose efforts often go unseen and unappreciated by many of the talkers and naysayers, you are the ones responsible for our success in the local elections.
But I see you, I thank you and I love you.
So disregard the wannabes who can’t be when they call you names and hurl insults at you because you are UNC and you are PROUD.
For four years, people have had to deal with out of control crime…job losses…they cannot buy books for their children…they cannot get medication or a bed in the health facilities…their quality of life has worsened under this Rowley government.
It is because this Rowley regime is – incompetent, clueless, uncaring.
While the people are suffering, they are looking on as their Prime Minister is telling them to feel proud about buildings being refurbished.
They are looking on as their Prime Minister holds parties and fetes his financiers, friends and family.
They are looking on as their Prime Minister says he can’t do anything about crime, and it is unfair to judge him on his performance.
When they come to ask you for your vote I want you to ask them questions.
What have you done in five years to improve my life and my family’s lives?
What have you done for the children of Trinidad and Tobago?
They will have no answer because they have no achievements after almost 5 years in office.
Today I want to tell the Rowley Government – the UNC campaigned across our nation – from Mayaro to Toco…from San Fernando to Arima to Diego Martin …we walked the communities.
We have been meeting the people and listening to them…so you better believe me when I tell you, Rowley – you better brace!
Because what happened in December was just a tremor. This year you will feel an earthquake!
Keith Rowley is a man living in fear. You see he and his ministers for 5 years danced on the heads of the poor telling them to eat fig and suck salt while the wives club of the PNM raking in hundreds of millions.
But 5 years for Rowley and 1 day for the people, Election Day the people will have their say.
Rowley is in fear because he knows the minute he calls the General Election the country will repay him for his wickedness against the people.
The country has had enough. It is time that the people of our nation stop living in fear, that they get a Government that cares about them, and can get our country working again.
The State of Trinidad and Tobago
My friends, our nation is experiencing one of the darkest periods in our history under this uncaring, incompetent Rowley Government.
Today, thousands of families across our twin-island nation are worrying about how they will make ends meet. Over 63000 people have lost their jobs. Many more have had their disposable income reduced. You see the effects of this everyday as you drive along the roads and see people who were retrenched hustling sales on the roadside. Many of these people had better paying jobs but now struggle to make ends meet.
They worry about where their next paycheck will come from. Or what they must do without so that their children may eat.
There is currently a generation of young people who have no idea where to apply for a job once they leave school. A generation of UWI graduates are wondering how they will start their careers.
These young children grew up believing once they went to school and made the sacrifice of getting an education they would be better off than their parents. Look at today. Only those with certain connections getting all the jobs while the rest must hustle low paying jobs.
Through over taxation, increased bureaucracy to start a business, high crime and a stagnant economy many young graduates can’t start a business and those that did are having to shut down.
The only business making money is building rentals.
The big boys in the Rowley government want to continue their stranglehold of the economy so they push policies that suppress small entrepreneurs to the detriment of their own members.
Their philosophy is to create one of economic dependency and suffering in order to maintain control, They operate on the belief that if you GIVE A MAN A FISH YOU FEED HIM FOR A DAY, TEACH A MAN TO FISH AND HE WILL PREFER TO VOTE FOR THE MAN WHO GIVES HIM THE FREE FISH.
They are a big people party where incompetent amateurs become ministers with tremendous power because their fathers and fathers in law have money. No matter how pathetic and incompetent some of these young men are, no matter how many people are murdered, no matter how many cases they lose, no matter how many tasks they fail, they remain ministers because of their parents’ name and wealth.
This is why I believe in giving fair opportunities to anyone in our party no matter who you are and whatever your circumstance. If you work hard I will honour your effort.
Thanks to all who have put their names forward as nominees to represent our great party.
Today I declare that nominations are open for all general election seats … all, all, all!
Deadline for filing of nominations is Friday 28th February 2020.
I told you at the beginning of 2019 that the decisions of today will have the greatest effect on the younger generations the 20, 30, 40-year old. I believe that it is imperative that the UNC gives them the opportunity to be in government and make decisions to chart their own future.
They have the competence, intelligence and ability and we must give them the support. We must present new faces, new names, diverse backgrounds, new ideas and move our party and country forwards, never backwards.
I also said reconstituting the UNC as it was pre-2015 will not be the way forward, neither will shortcuts and coalitions.
For the past years we have been quietly rebuilding the party with a focus on diversity, youth, meritocracy and competent experience. We will continue to rebuild rather than seek out unsustainable short-term shortcuts and quick fixes.
Hard work, proper planning, efficient execution, promotion of new talent and merit-based recognition is the new order. Days of sleeping with the devil to win are over; we will put God in front and walk behind. God helps those who helps themselves.
We will go forward with competence, merit, good attitudes and not on big names and who you know politics.
That big name who you know policy is what causes our country to be in a mess. That is what currently has the Rowley regime in a mess.
Today because of that big name, who you know policy in local politics, T&T is a place where brutal murders and crime in broad daylight are a daily occurrence, and citizens are living in fear.
Citizens have become prisoners in their own homes.
Instead of offering solutions or hope to the people, the incompetent Minister of National Security has been going around blaming the victims and fabricating wild conspiracies in a pathetic attempt to cover up his failure at protecting our law-abiding citizens from the crime scourge.
Minister Young is immature and amateur. He behaves like a spoilt brat. He is so far behind in the race he thinks he’s in front.
Imagine, after holding a national discussion with various stakeholders to discuss strategies to fight crime – and this is in their fifth and final year, remember that – the Minister of National Security, Stuart Young, had no new insights on fighting crime.
To be fair, he didn’t have a clue before, it is not surprising that he still has no idea what to do. Except to call names apparently. When all else fails, throw out baseless accusations, rile up the population and watch the ensuing chaos.
- He has a history of failure
- Houston gas price deal – Fail
- Dragon gas deal
- Sandals scandal
- La Brea drydock
- Min of communications
- Ministry of nat sec
- 46 murders in 31 days
How many more must be murdered while Stuart Young remains?
Almost 1300 people murdered under his watch, others have been fired for far less.
The Commissioner of Police asked for funding for high-tech apparatus to aid the fight against crime, Stuart Young give the man 10 horse, we now have 10 horses to bring down the murder rate. Lord put ah hand! We are in 2020 not 1820! Trinidad is not a real place sometimes.
The lowest murder rate in this country in the last 15 years was in the year 2011. It was 354 almost 200 lower than last year. Think about that for a minute, my government after 1 year in office was able to reduce murders to pre-2005 levels.
We were attacked by the political opponents, fly by night civil society groups who only seem to function when the UNC is in office and business elite who accused us of every negative ism under the sun.
Now we have almost 550 murders two years running and the same persons are crying for something to be done because it affecting them now. Had they let us continue our job instead of stirring up division through their hateful propaganda we would have been better off today.
Crime is not a racial issue. All races and religions are represented in crime statistics. We must look at the fact. We must focus on preventative methods and on rehabilitative methods and not punitive treatment of this issue.
Every day, an average of nine people are released from the nation’s prisons. That’s almost 300 ex-prisoners a month. In the context of Trinidad and Tobago approximately 98 per cent of the prison population is released back into society over time.
Most of these people aren’t violent offenders, however, the majority of convicted inmates in jail are there for drug offences–about 37 per cent.
Jailing and shooting our young men will not solve this, calling one race thief and the other race murderers will not solve this.
The vilification of our young men will not solve our problems. We have about 670 thousand men in T&T with about 3000 in jail, but what about the good the other 667 thousand men do every day to make our lives better.
We have a drug problem, we have a mental illness problem, we have an economic problem, we have an education problem, we have a racial discrimination and trust problem between all the races, we have a crime problem and we have a parenting problem which leads to our crime problem.
When we start fixing those we will see crime go down. Those are the issues my government was trying to fix. Those are the issues we will continue to fix.
Today our country is a place where Keith Rowley’s best friend can stand accused of selling fake oil to Petrotrin and nothing has been done about it. More than 100 million dollars gone – and no one has been held to account.
Today, T&T is a place where they can then shut down Petrotrin putting over ten thousand people on the breadline – while one family, the Attorney General Faris Al Rental and his family, receives without tendering over 20 million of taxpayers’ dollars in rental per year.
They fought down the 500 dollar baby grant for poor single mothers but defending this greedy Faris. I had budgeted 20 million dollars for those poor children. 3400 babies from poor families who couldn’t afford proper nutrition would be able to get it for a year.
The first year of their lives needs healthy nutrition to ensure proper brain and body development.
They fought down these poor mothers and their newborns and say Kamla buying vote. I want you all to remember that! All of them now sitting on their mouth when greedy Faris collecting 20 million.
Think about it 3400 poor newborns would each have food for 12 months with the same money Faris and family grabbing.
So when a hardworking honest man, loses his job, can’t find another job, savings run out, nowhere to turn, no money to buy milk for the baby.
You think he’s going to watch his baby starve and die. When your belly full it easy to wash your mouth on people but I tell you those in this country who grinding the poor into the ground will pay a price and I will make you pay it after this general election.
Everything my government gave to uplift the people you took it away or tried to destroy it
- Baby milk gone
- Free Pre-school gone
- Disability Grants- thousands gone
- Gate cut
- School feeding cut
- Textbooks cut
- Laptops gone
- Food cards cut out 18000 people
- 63000 jobs gone
- Land for the landless gone
Anything for the working people and poor gone. Only for the friends, financiers, family and wives club.
Do not rob a poor man because he is poor, and don’t crush the oppressed at the gate.
Rowley, Imbert, Faris, Young, Deyalsingh enjoy your time now. Soon the time for celebrating yourselves will come to an end.
Today, while thousands of our small and medium-sized businesses are closing down under the burden of excessive taxation and lack of availability of foreign exchange, billions are being spent to renovate castles, to pay for sexual harassment settlements, to pay for cases lost by the AG, to build bridges on land owned by government ministers, and to fete.
Hope on the Horizon
My friends, I want to reassure you that all is not lost. Yes, we are facing serious challenges, but our nation has been through difficult times before, and each time we have always risen to the challenge.
The lights may have gone out at the Petrotrin refinery. By the way where is Roget and Abdullah with that refinery?
These two who mislead their own members into supporting Rowley came out last year to campaign for him and now disappeared.
They have no plan to restart that refinery and are only lying in order to help buy time for Rowley until after the General elections.
I ask today Roget and the government, when are you restarting the refinery?
Darkness may have descended to cloak an attack on our Constitutional rights and freedoms, but as our national anthem so boldly states – we are forged from the love of liberty, in the FIRES OF HOPE AND PRAYER!
And the fire of hope burns in all of us!
We in the United National Congress believe in the people of Trinidad and Tobago to weather any storm. We have always believed in you, and this is why we will always work to make your lives better!
The road ahead is not an easy one. It will take a lot of hard work to undo the damage wrought on our country by the Rowley regime.
But hope springs eternal… and I am confident that by pooling our efforts, by putting our shoulders to the wheel…we can solve any challenge we face. Whether it’s getting our economy working again, or reducing crime, or giving our young people the future they rightfully deserve.
I believe in the potential of our people to transform our beloved country!
My friends, every time the PNM has taken our nation to the brink of economic disaster, it has been the UNC which the people turned to and trusted to pull us back from the edge of catastrophe.
And we will do it again! Because the United National Congress has a vision and a plan.
Our National Economic Transformation Plan is printed and bound right here!
OUR PLAN TO TRANSFORM T&T
Our National Economic Transformation Plan is based on three core themes.
1. Less Taxation
The UNC believes that taxation, though necessary, should not be a burden or act as a punishment for success.
We will alleviate the tax burden for citizens as well as small and medium-sized businesses.
We will abolish the dreadful Property Tax.
We will also lower corporation tax and reform the tax regime in our oil and gas industry once again making it attractive to foreign investment
By letting hard-working people and businesses keep more of the money they earn, it will mean more money that is saved as well as reinvested.
We will not proceed with the PNM’s poorly thought out Revenue Authority.
It is more sensible and feasible to increase the efficiency of the Board of Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise Division, rather than creating a new entity.
We will also reduce the red tape and bureaucracy involved in starting a business – thereby unleashing the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of our citizens.
The United National Congress understands that while the energy sector is critical to our economy, we need to diversify.
To drive our diversification effort, we will create 12 prosperity engines throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
These prosperity engines are:
- Brechin Castle Agro-Processing Complex
- St. Madeleine Sugar Manufacturing Facility
- East West Biotechnology Manufacturing Corridor
- Sevilla Digital Innovation Park
- Tamana ‘SolarTech’ Renewable Energy Park
- West Port of Spain ‘Trinidad Creative Arts Street/Area’
- East Port of Spain Steelpan Manufacturing Facility
- Piarco Aircraft Maintenance, Repair & Operations Hub
- Cedros Special Economic Zone
- Point Galeota Energy Logistics Hub
- Plymouth International Cruise Ship/Marina Complex
Tobago’s First Locally Branded Hotel
My friends the UNC will help boost the next generation of entrepreneurs and enable our economy to thrive.
UNC family, our nation is at the dawn of a new century of technological advancement. This is the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
We must ensure that all our citizens benefit from the new opportunities being created in the technology sector. That’s why innovation is a critical component of our national economic transformation plan.
Recently, when I was in the Sangre Grande community during the local government elections (which I don’t have to remind you we won) a young woman came up to me said: “Aunty Kamla I want to say thank you.” When I asked her what she was thankful for she said, “I am a student at the UWI – and I am still using the laptop I received when you were Prime Minister”.
My heart swelled with joy. My friends that is what the UNC is about. That is what we have always been about – serving the people of our country.
Everything we do is aimed at ensuring prosperity for our children and the next generation of Trinbagonians.
That’s why, when the UNC forms the next government, we will move forward with new initiatives in recycling, getting our young ones learning to code, implementing digital services, biotechnology, renewable energy and much more.
We will ensure our young people will have the skills they need for the jobs of the future.
We will hand our children the tools they need to succeed, not just hand them a lightbulb and say “hold that”.
LAUNCH OF UNC ECONOMIC PLAN WEBSITE, www.UNCplan2020.com
My UNC family, in keeping with our theme of innovation we have created a website for our national economic transformation master plan as a communication medium for the public to interact with and better understand our economic plan.
The public can visit the website at www.UNCplan2020.com and get first-hand knowledge of:
- The macroeconomic context on which our plan is based;
- Our 5 guiding principles;
- Our 12 prosperity engines to diversify our economy;
- What we intend to do in our first 90 days;
- Our funding strategy – how we intend to finance and fund these projects;
- How we intend to implement our plan through an Economic Strategy Council;
- and Download the economic masterplan for review.
We are encouraging everyone to visit the website, learn of our plans to transform our economy, see how we plan to diversify and create more than 50,000 new jobs and generate US$5 billion in non-energy exports.
You can also subscribe to receive updates of our plans now and of our progress when we are in Government, implementing these plans to benefit our blessed nation.
Our economic masterplan is a transformational plan for our economy to take us into a new era of growth and prosperity. I encourage you to visit us today, www.uncplan2020.com.
You will see our economic plan website is easy to use, engaging and effective. It’s a modern design. We have used modern techniques to optimise loading and rendering. Our economic plan website is also mobile-friendly.
I would like to tell you about the significance of yellow, which is the main colour used in our economic plan website. The colour yellow relates to acquiring knowledge.
Yellow is uplifting, illuminating and cheerful. Yellow inspires original thought and is the colour of new ideas, helping to find new ways of doing things. Yellow is the practical thinker; not the dreamer. Yellow is the best colour to create enthusiasm for life and can awaken greater confidence and optimism.
Like the UNC, yellow offers hope!
The Screening Committee met on Wednesday and screened nominees for the seats of San Fernando West and St. Ann’s East.
We had some excellent nominees. As I mentioned, it is imperative that the UNC gives young people the opportunity to be in government and make decisions to chart their own future.
They have the competence, intelligence and ability and we must give them the support. We must present new faces, new names, diverse backgrounds, new ideas and move our party and country forwards, never backwards.
A daughter of Maracas Valley St. Joseph, Kenya attended St. Xavier’s Private school and after sitting the Secondary Entrance Examination she went on to El Dorado Secondary school. While there she represented the school in football, cricket and Junior panorama.
Subsequently, she went on to St. Augustine Comprehensive and won the first Intercol girls title.
Kenya, an avid sportswoman, with a passion to represent Trinidad and Tobago played football with the national Under 20 and senior level women’s football team and through her dedication and skill, she was able to obtain a scholarship to Mars Hill University, North Carolina.
Not stopping there she transferred to Bethel University, Tennessee, where she became captain of the school’s varsity soccer team. After two years at Bethel, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice.
On her return to Trinidad she started working at the Ministry of Justice. While there she did a research paper on Restorative and Youth Justice, which focused on the needs of the youths in the country. Also, in her community she was a part of St. Michael’s RC Youth group, took part in the annual Easter sports and was an assistant / mentor for the Real Maracas boys Under 18 team.
Kenya is a dedicated servant of the people and remains committed to developing her nation as a young person.
Mr Sean Sobers, an original San Fernandian was born and bred in the city of San Fernando. He attended the Presentation College and went on to study law at the University of London.
Coming from humble beginnings, Sean always had a passion and a drive to work hard for himself and his community. He realised this by answering the call to serve the people of Trinidad and Tobago when he was appointed a temporary Opposition Senator in 2017.
He has since made several contributions in the Parliament holding the Government accountable whenever they attempt to bring rushed, and poorly constructed pieces of legislation.
Mr Sobers, has also been tremendously active within the UNC working at our many legal clinics across the country.
Mr Sobers also showed his competencies after serving as one of the party’s coordinators for the San Fernando City Coperation which resulted in a resounding victory for the UNC with three new seats.
Sean, a young, hardworking and resourceful individual has always been a humble servant of the people in many different capacities throughout his life. Having deep love for his hometown of San Fernando, Sean continues to work with the people in his city as he believes in uplifting each other.
As the new UNC candidate for San Fernando West, Sean will no doubt bring the constituency home for the UNC as he is fierce representative of the people.
My friends, we have survived the last four years. But we cannot afford another five years of the PNM.
Look at what they’ve done to our beloved nation!
Everywhere you turn – the PNM have failed in every aspect of governance. And they have the gall to turn around and tell you – with a grin on their faces – that everything is going great!
In a few months, you, the people of T&T will make a choice for your future, and for future generations.
While we all keep that fire of hope in our hearts that better days are ahead, we can only achieve our shared goal of a brighter, more prosperous future for our country if we work together.
Now, more than ever, we must draw on our courage, our resilience, our innovative spirit and meet these challenges head-on.
This Rowley regime has been measured and found wanting. Rowley’s lack of vision, his incompetence and lack of care for people have caused widespread hardship, pain and despair for YOU and your families.
The UNC’s vision has always been to create a better future for all. We are ready to build on the work done during the Government I led and move Trinidad and Tobago forward.
We will do so by investing in education and health, focusing on creating the environment for business growth and job creation and most importantly, by restoring a safe and secure environment in our communities.
The UNC has been and will continue to meet with people to hear their concerns and develop workable solutions to address some of the problems facing our nation.
We are the only political party that puts people at the centre of our policies, plans and proposals.
My friends, we know you are crying out for change. You want to ensure a brighter, more prosperous future for your children.
You want to be able to leave your home, go to work or school, and return safely – and be able to put food on the table.
You want to be assured that if you fall sick, or a member of your family requires life-saving treatment, that you can go to the hospital and not have to wait hours or days for a bed.
I am not here to try to convince you that the UNC will magically make all these problems go away overnight when we return to office.
But what I can say with confidence is that we have a sound, comprehensive plan to get T&T working again.
Today, I have presented some of those plans to jumpstart the economy and create jobs for citizens.
I am confident in our citizens. The people of Trinidad and Tobago are resilient, they are diligent, and they are committed to creating the future we want for our beloved nation.
Let’s work together to make that happen.
As I said at the start – the work starts now. Join us as we prepare to return good governance to our nation.