Speaking Notes of Hon Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP. Leader of the Opposition of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and Political Leader of the United National Congress, Monday Night Forum, Monday August 29, 2016. at the Rio Claro West Secondary School.
It’s such a wonderful feeling to be here. Thank you for your warm welcome.
These are extraordinary times … and I am happy that so many of you have joined us tonight to meet some of the candidates who will represent us in the Local Government Election.
We must win this election and you are the ones who will make it happen. We can have the best campaign with speeches and slogans … and bells and whistles.
But in the end you will make the difference.
You alone. Because you carry with you the most powerful weapon in a democracy… your right to vote and make a choice.
And the choice has never been clearer.
It is a choice between the fresh hope for a better tomorrow, and the social and economic decadence we have experienced in the past 12 months under the Rowley PNM.
They have abused their privilege and you have a responsibility to rebuke them and tell them you will no longer accept that.
So whenever they set the date be prepared to tell them in one unified voice that you are not prepared to tolerate them anymore.
Now is the time to look to the UNC for:
· the return of economic prosperity for all through superior management of diminished revenues
· the preservation of social justice and equal opportunity for all
· the avoidance of any new taxation measures in the Budget
· the stimulation of the economy and the creation of jobs
· the completion of all projects started by the PP and stalled by the PNM
ARE YOU READY?
ARE YOU READY TO GET T&T WORKING AGAIN?
ARE YOU READY TO BRING BACK JOBS?
ARE YOU READY TO BRING BACK PROSPERITY?
We have never stopped working for you.
WHAT WE LEFT
And tonight I promise you that so long as I lead our party the UNC would continue to stand with you, to defend your rights, provide good governance and bring back the good days of prosperity for all.
Never forget what you had just one year ago and what has happened since.
· We left a booming economy and a population full of hope and looking forward to a better life. The PNM managed to change that to hopelessness. There is never going to be a better tomorrow with the PNM and Keith Rowley.
· We cut unemployment to its lowest level ever; they have caused thousands to lose their jobs.
· The PNM managed to more than double unemployment by sending home thousands of workers … and the private sector has been following the PNM lead, firing workers and closing businesses.
· We left more than 65-billion dollars in our foreign reserves and more than 30-billion dollars in our Heritage and Stabilsation Fund.
· They have raided two and a half billion from that savings fund and up to today cannot tell us what they have done with the money.
They have borrowed and borrowed and we don’t know where all the money has done.
We are ready to get back to work for you … and we ask you to make it happen at the Local Government level.
NOTHING TO CELEBRATE
In two days our country would celebrate 54 years of independence from Great Britain …
The government will celebrate with speeches and fireworks … and they will use their propaganda to tell you things have never been better.
That’s a lie because things have never been worse.
Today, just one year after taking office, the Rowley PNM has taken our country backwards and many people are asking WHAT IS THERE TO CELEBRATE?
· What is there to celebrate when people have to take a loan to buy books for their children?
· What is there to celebrate when children are being murdered?
· What is there to celebrate when families have no food and the state has taken away all the social programs we had for the less privileged?
· What is there to celebrate when there is a general sense of hopelessness everywhere we turn?
The state has a responsibility to serve those in greatest need, not just the elite. And the Rowley government had failed in that responsibility.
When we were in government we delivered in every sector. The people were happy and the country was on the move. People were looking forward to a better future because we had pledged to do better and we were doing it.
But the PNM took office in September last year, halted our progress and turned things upside down.
In one year they have managed to:
· bring the economy to a halt
· cause thousands of people to lose their jobs
· stop all development works
· refuse to open our children’s hospital
· destroy our social safety net
· take away food cards from the poor
· penalize the poor with soaring food prices
· close the GATE on students
· discriminate against seniors
· failed to deal with runaway crime
· borrow more money than any previous government
· and go on vacation.
Even their own supporters and loyal members are fed up.
And so this year, 54 years after we declared ourselves “Independent”, we are facing the worst times under the yoke of an administration that is governing for itself and its elite friends and financiers.
PNM QUESTIONABLE SPENDING
They can spend 90 million on a stadium that is structurally defective and unusable … but they won’t open a hospital that is built and equipped with state of the art facilities and equipment.
They could spend millions on art but cannot provide basic medicine for those who need it most.
What’s even worse is they don’t even know you exist. You are at the lowest point in their list of priorities.
How can we celebrate when gunmen are murdering our children on the streets?
What can we tell the mother of CYON PAUL? Her nine-year-old son was shot and killed and no one is taking responsibility.
Every day we hear of heinous crimes … women getting raped and murdered, children being abused and attacked.
And criminals seem be getting bolder every day as we record multiple homicides with no solutions.
Criminals are getting away with murder because they know they are not going to get caught because the crime detection rate in the country is just at 8.6 per cent.
The criminals know it … they know that when they kill and rob and rape there is a 92 per cent chance that they will get away with it.
OFFER TO MEET ON CRIME
I have offered to meet with Keith Rowley to help the government fight crime.
We can show them how to do it if they really want to solve the crime problem.
No one has all the solutions but under our watch we were doing much better.
We had criminals on the run.
The prime minister and his national security minister say they are doing their best. If their best is multiple murders every day, that is not good enough.
That is an admission of failure.
More than 430 people have been murdered since they took office and we have not had one conviction yet.
And Minister Edmund Dillion’s solution is to blame divisional commanders who do not even report to him.
This minister is a total failure and we have to ask the question of whether he has admitted his own failure.
What policies have they put in place in one year to fight crime?
The PNM has to respond to the demands of their big business financiers who are growing impatient with the colossal failure of Minister Dillon’s activities, so instead of doing his job Dillon has decided to divert attention from his shortcomings to blame someone else.
That is called government by excuse.
That is what this PNM government has been doing from the day it took office … making excuses for everything.
Take education for instance … they have cut off our laptop program, depriving thousands of children and their families of the most vital tool in today’s world of technology.
This decision by the government is evidence of their backward thinking about technology and its impact on the young minds of today.
And they are justifying it through some anecdotal evidence that suggests the program was not working.
So today instead of putting 21st century technology in the hands of tomorrow’s generation they are giving the children limited access to a few computers during school hours.
They are taking us backwards.
That is the kind of government we have today … one that is blind to progress and one that has all its priorities wrong.
That is why this local government election is an opportunity to send a clear message that you reject this Rowley PNM administration.
LET US TELL THE ROWLEY PNM THE UNC CAN DO BETTER.
Our vision for Local Government is Government that works WITH the people and FOR the people.
WE WILL enhance neighborhoods, develop communities and make every region significant in the national development process.
We can do better than the PNM and we will do better.
The men and women who will come to you and ask for your support are committed to our party’s vision of service.
They will put you first or they won’t be on the ballot.
And we will make sure than once elected they work for you every day.
The UNC is a people’s party. We were born from among the people… and we remain the only party in this country that serves the people regardless of colour or creed… or where they live.
We believe strongly that politics is about immersing oneself in the service of others.
We have a record of performance and you can expect more of than when you put your UNC candidates to work for you in the 14 corporations.
1. Continue to put people first in all our plans for development
2. Ensure that our communities are at the centre of development
3. Give local government effective power and autonomy to deal with the communities
4. Guarantee that the delivery of services would be timely, meaningful, responsive and of the highest quality
5. Design and develop Green communities to achieve Sustainable Development
6. Advocate a reconfigured Local Government system with financial strength and independence, and adequate human resource and technical capability for meaningful impact on service delivery and community development
7. Encourage citizen feedback that would be used in a continuous Performance Evaluation system to monitor quality of service, delivery and responsiveness, and to ensure improved performance on a continuous basis
Our objective is to win all and I know we can do it. But it takes commitment from every member to carry our message to every home, to every voter.
This is not just a local government election
MESSAGE TO MEMBERS
I have a message for every member and supporter of our party.
I want you to make sure you not only vote but also make sure your neighbours and friends also vote for the UNC.
We are the only party in this country that puts people first… we are a party that serves the people faithfully.
Every UNC candidate in this election has pledged to do that.
That pledge is one all of them will have to keep.
We cannot let the PNM continue to destroy the country that we worked so hard to build.
PP GOVT ACHIEVEMENTS
We took a declining economy and built a robust, booming economy in just five years.
We created thousands of jobs, built new infrastructure – hospitals, health centres, schools, police stations, sporting facilities and much, much more.
All they have done is blame us for their failure to perform.
One year later they have nothing to show. The question we ask is this: where have the billions of dollars gone?
SEND A MESSAGE TO THE PNM
The PNM has shown over and over again it is not fit to hold office.
We cannot continue like this.
· NOW IS THE TIME FOR YOU TO TELL THE PNM THEIR PROBATION IS OVER
· NOW IS THE TIME TO TELL THE PNM THEY FAILED
· NOW IS THE TIME TO SHOW THE PNM THAT YOU HOLD THE POWER
· NOW IS THE TIME TO FIRE THE PNM
If you are unhappy with the way things are going,
if you are disturbed by the way Rowley and Imbert are governing and the way his other Ministers are behaving,
if you are worried about how they are dwindling the country’s foreign reserves,
if you are worried about the debt that they are racking up which your children will have to pay—
if you are worried about high food prices, loss of your job, your education and your children’s education,
if you feel that The Rowley government is taking us into deeper recession and can’t get us out,
if you feel disappointed and let down, if you are losing hope—
THEN SEND A MESSAGE TO THE ROWLEY GOVERNMENT IN THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTION.
LET THEM KNOW HOW YOU FEEL.
LET THEM KNOW THAT YOU ARE DISSATISFIED, LET THEM KNOW YOU DON’T LIKE HOW THEY ARE MANAGING THE COUNTRY,
LET THEM KNOW YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT THE FUTURE. SEND A MESSAGE TO THE ROWLEY GOVERNMENT.
COME OUT AND VOTE FOR THE UNC AND OUR VISION FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT TRANSFORMATION THAT PUTS YOU AND YOUR NEIGHBOURHOODS AND YOUR COMMUNITIES AT THE CENTER.
IMPORTANCE OF THIS LGE
Don’t let anyone tell you this is just Local Government and we can’t make a difference.
Local government is the closet government will ever get to the people.
And it is through local government that you understand the needs of the people and formulate people centred policies.
When you give us control of local government our country and our families would regain HOPE for a better life and see economic prosperity again.
WE CAN DO BETTER
You know we can do a better job.
You have seen the evidence and I tell you without a doubt… we can turn things around.
All is ask is for you to JOIN US.
We will solve problems with real solutions and we will move Trinidad and Tobago forward again.
There comes a time when we have to pause and ask ourselves whether we want to keep things as they are or whether we want change.
Now is that time.
We want you to work to win every corporation to send one message to the PNM … this is that the PNM has failed the people and it is time for them to go.
So my message tonight to every voter – and that includes members of the PNM who have been betrayed by the Rowley PNM – you have a patriotic duty to vote for the UNC.
Never in the history of our country has there been a greater need for fresh and creative thinking.
In one year the PNM has reduced our country from great hope and optimism to hopelessness; from prosperity to despondency; from economic stability to a race to become a failed state.
On the eve of our independence anniversary I tell you that voting for the UNC has now become a patriotic duty to save our country.
This is your opportunity to take the first steps to correcting the wrongs by sending the PNM a message that you will not tolerate incompetence, a lack of accountability and failure.
We are in the darkest night.
We are fast approaching the darkest hour …
But there is no reason to despair.
The RISING SUN ends the darkest night and brings the dawn of a new day and fresh hopes.
The local government election is your opportunity to rise again.
But I want to caution you that we cannot expect to win just because we have an incompetent, lazy and useless PNM government.
We have to work hard and work smart.
We must send a clear message that we are better at governance than the PNM.
And we have to show people in real terms that we can do better.
Let us make this local government election a part of a new beginning for our party and show that the United National Congress remains committed to serving the people – all of the people, all of the time.
Vote for your UNC Candidates for the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation:
The candidates for the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation are:
Biche/Charuma – Glen Ram
Cocal/Mafeking – Carmen Panchoo
Ecclesville – Shaffik Mohammed
Mayaro/Guyaguayare – Raymond Cozier
Rio Claro North – Hazarie Ramdeen
Rio Claro South/Cat’s Hill – Bhusham Rampersad
God bless you. God bless our party and God bless Trinidad and Tobago.
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