In what appeared to be more of a general election campaign rather than a local government rally, United National Congress political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar dished out a list of promises if her party returns to power.
The Opposition Leader unveiled the UNC’s plans for the country before a large crowd of yellow-jersey wearing supporters who flooded the Couva South Multi-Purpose Car Park on Sunday for the launch of the party’s 139 candidates for the December 2 local government elections. Some of the plans included repealing the Property Tax Act, decriminalisation of marijuana, restart the laptop program and restarting the Petrotrin refinery.
Accusing the Government of spending $250 billion in four years on nothing that has stimulated the economy or improved the quality of life for the citizenry, she unveiled the party’s National Economic Transformation Master Plan for T&T via a video presentation.
UNC supporters wave paraphernalia during Sunday's Local Government Elections rally. (Copyright RISHI RAGOONATH)
Persad-Bissessar said the plan is on the party’s website and open for discussions and consultations. In the first 90 days of assuming office, she promised that a UNC government will hit the ground running as she listed plans in every sector, including crime, health, education, and energy. Persad-Bissessar promised that the police service will get the proper resources to bring down the crime and keep the citizenry safe.
While the PNM Government failed to proclaim procurement legislation, she said her government will proclaim the long-awaited legislation and resource the office of the procurement regulator. “For four years they play lip service with the procurement legislation, they will not proclaim it. So things like the sale of the Petrotrin refinery would have been brought under the procurement regulator and not under Rowley and his cabinet. When they went to buy boats in Australia that would have been done under a procurement regulator and not by Minister Young and Rowley. When they went to buy aircraft for Caribbean Airlines all of that would have been done with transparency under a procurement regulator but they have failed to proclaim it.”
Persad-Bissessar also said she had information that the walls of the incomplete Point Fortin hospital are covered with mould. She continued, “We will ban all single-use plastic straws and mandate Solid Waste Management Company to develop a new national recycling education programme. Some of you with the rasta locks may like this one, we will table legislation for the decriminalisation for marijuana,” she told supporters.
Promising the farmers and fisherfolk protection, she said her government will be incorporating the Praedial Larceny Squad into the T&T Police Service and all outstanding issues by ex-Caroni workers, cane farms and Petrotrin employees will be settled. Additionally, she promised to scrap the proposed Revenue Authority and bring back the Ministries of the Peoples and Justice. Among other things, Persad-Bissessar also promised a reduction in personal and corporate taxes and to widen the list of diseases covered under the Children’s Life Find to include Beta thalassemias (a group of inherited blood disorders) as she reminded the audience that they had gone to court and was unsuccessful for a child with this condition to get help under the fund.
Charging that her government was about delivering, she said the Rowley-led administrations about “old talk.” She warned the gathering not to be fooled by propaganda and division coming from the PNM platform.
The other speakers included Deputy political leaders David Lee and Jealean John, Couva South MP Rudranth Indarsingh, Princes Town MP Barry Padarath and Senators Sean Sobers and Saddam Hosein.
Story by SASCHA WILSON
Images by RISHI RAGOONATH