Based on the public statements made by the President of the Inter Religious Organization (IRO) Brother Harrypersad Maharaj in the media that Government has failed to deliver on a promise of increasing their subvention and actually are yet to provide any subvention or funding to the IRO since taking office, the question must be asked “Why did Government lie to the IRO and moved to stifle funding for such a key institution within Trinidad and Tobago?”
The Inter-Religious Organization which was founded in 1970 and incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1973 has grown to be a well-respected organization voluntarily serving the landscape of Trinidad and Tobago. The services which the IRO offers such as prayer sessions, counselling, mediation and mentor-ship have proven not only beneficial to the social and spiritual development of our citizens but are also keenly required to assist in the national crisis of crime and societal decay that our nation currently faces. As a society we must now question why any proactive, people centered government would move to restrict the operations of any institution which can assist in the rebuilding and restoration of peace within Trinidad and Tobago.
Is it that the Government is aimed at stripping the various arms of our national framework which can lead to a better standard of living similar to the manner in which they have consistently ignored the security of our population?
This act like many of the acts and policies undertaken by this administration within the past 18 months cements the “narrow- minded vision”, haphazard approach and absence of national concern that this Government possess. If Government was sincerely serious about addressing crime and the other ills affecting our citizenry this is one of the avenues they would have looked to promote and facilitate given the fact that the IRO has assisted with many national crime projects such as; trying to bring peace in the Enterprise area in 2015.
However yet again they have displayed the lack of political will to support any aspect or project that is aimed at making Trinidad and Tobago safer and more secure.
Government’s failing commitment to the religious community has gone beyond the umbrella body but has also featured against the Individual Religious Bodies with members from the Spiritual Baptist faith complaining of the lack of funding for their recently concluded activities, while members of the Christian and Hindu Communities have had similar experiences.
Government must not hide behind their national excuse ” energy prices have fallen, country has no money” for this instance because as a nation we have seen this Government allocate public funds towards projects which have presented no tangible benefits to the citizens of this nation such as the millions spent on the “famous paintings” .
It is time Government get their priorities correct, and those priorities must be solely based on the activities, policies, projects and organizations which can make a positive difference in the lives of our citizens. The Government continues to boast that they know the meaning of patriotism, which ironically has not been demonstrated by any of their actions while in the seat of power.
As Chairman of the United National Congress I am calling on Government to show true patriotism by paying all outstanding subventions to the IRO and resume government assistance for all Religious bodies as this is one of the pertinent ways by which we can address the national crisis of crime, poverty and societal break-down affecting Trinidad and Tobago.
Dr. David Lee,
Chairman, United National Congress & Member of Parliament for Pointe-a-Pierre.