PM explains reason for cutback in funding for Divali Nagar

Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley jus­ti­fied cut­backs in fund­ing for Di­vali Na­gar cel­e­bra­tions at the event's clos­ing cer­e­mo­ny in Ch­agua­nas last night.

How­ev­er, the PM point­ed out that the Di­vali Na­gar is a bea­con of hope and a bea­con of the ex­pres­sion of the best in T&T.

In de­liv­er­ing the fea­ture ad­dress, Row­ley said cuts were made in all ar­eas of na­tion­al spend­ing, in­clud­ing op­er­a­tions at the Min­istry of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty.

“In re­cent times we have had to re­duce that con­tri­bu­tion be­cause of af­ford­abil­i­ty is­sues and I know there are those who felt that the re­duc­tion rep­re­sents a lack of ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the im­por­tance. It is not so at all," Row­ley told the gath­er­ing.

"Across the board in Gov­ern­ment ex­pen­di­ture in Trinidad and To­ba­go we have had to make re­duc­tions in ex­pen­di­ture, but we have main­tained a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion be­cause we un­der­stand that this event is a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to na­tion-build­ing."

He added, "As I speak to you now, among the cut­backs that we have made, or had to make even in the face of ram­pant crim­i­nal con­duct and the re­quire­ment to do more in the area of na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty ... but when we look at the cost and ex­pens­es we have had to ground four he­li­copters in Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty be­cause we could not af­ford to keep them in the air. It is not a ques­tion of re­duc­ing our con­tri­bu­tion to TU­CO, or to Pan Trin­ba­go, or to the Eman­ci­pa­tion Sup­port Com­mit­tee, or to Di­vali Na­gar, it is a re­duc­tion across the board in every sin­gle area of ex­pen­di­ture so as to main­tain our in­volve­ment in every area un­til bet­ter can be done.”

Row­ley al­so praised na­tion­als for com­ing to­geth­er to as­sist re­cent flood vic­tims out of their own vo­li­tion.

“That, ladies and gen­tle­men, was our na­tion at its best and it demon­strates that in our so­ci­ety the fi­bres to make that fab­ric ex­ists.”

He called on all to en­sure that the dif­fer­ences that ex­ist amongst na­tion­als can be used as a uni­fy­ing force rather than an el­e­ment of di­vi­sion.

He said coun­tries else­where in the world are be­ing pulled apart be­cause of dif­fer­ences, but said T&T na­tion­als must be grate­ful souls in many ways.

“We have just ex­pe­ri­enced a mag­ni­tude 6.9 earth­quake that shook us from Char­lot­teville to Ce­dros and when it was all over we could not point to one in­jured cit­i­zen. Ladies and gen­tle­men, we must be a grate­ful peo­ple re­gard­less of whom we look to as our God, we must be grate­ful. We saw a peo­ple who would tell that with­in min­utes they went from the warmth and com­fort of their house­hold, some in their beds and with­in min­utes they had wa­ter up to their shoul­der. For­tu­nate­ly, once again we could not point to a sin­gle loss of life.

"Whilst some may say that God is a Tri­ni and some might be­lieve that he is not, the one thing that we can say is that we don’t have rea­son to be­lieve that we are not a blessed peo­ple and we must con­tin­ue to be a grate­ful peo­ple.”

He said there is no place in T&T for racism, dis­crim­i­na­tion and op­pres­sion and no place for think­ing that on­ly some can suc­ceed. He said the suc­cess of one must be the suc­cess of all.

- by Shashtri Boodan. Photo by Shashtri Boodan.

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