As the Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar launched her local government election campaign, she promised to create 50,000 jobs if she is re-elected Prime Minister. Reiterating her warning that the Rowley-led Peoples National Movement (PNM) government wants to steal the elections, Persad-Bissessar said the United National Congress (UNC) will not allow it.
She was speaking at the UNC's 30th anniversary celebrations at the car park of the UNC's Couva South constituency office in Couva. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has not yet announced the date of the election.
In her address, Persad-Bissessar took the opportunity to reveal some of the plans she has for the country if her party wins the elections.
Noting that many young people are either unemployed or underpaid, she said, "So, you are now on the verge of giving up. You feel you are a burden on your parents. And your time spent in school was wasted. Do not give up. I promise you today that we will make, as our first priority, the creation of 50,000 well-paying jobs. We did it before. We will do it again."
The former prime minister also announced plans to immediately restructure the health sector to make it a hub for medical tourism that will employ doctors, nurses and health care providers.
“We will mandate our foreign missions to identify the jobs of the digital future and prepare you to take them up. We will leverage the expertise in our energy sector and carefully match that with manpower needs in nearby Guyana to the mutual benefit of both countries."
Realising that the world has become technology driven, she said her government had distributed 95,000 laptops to school children.
However, she said that programme was abandon by the government. She revealed that she has set up a digital innovation and implementation team, comprising young people, to prepare for their return to government.
“I have given them a priority listing of issues I would like them to address and challenged them to develop
implementable policies to address the growing gulf between our current education system and that of digital
She said the team’s recommendations on a wide range of issues, including education, crime fighting, job creation and diversification and health care will be revealed in the coming months. She also called on the Gvernment to call the election now and stop the sale of the now-defunct Petrotrin.
Accusing the Government of lying, she said Petrotrin in its final year made over TT $1.7 billion in profits contrary to the Government’s claim that Petrotrin was an albatross losing money.
“Petrotrin belongs to the people of our country. I promise that in any decision which my government takes regarding our energy sector; the interests
of our country, our citizens and our oil workers will take precedence,” she said.
The Opposition leader also informed her supporters that their lawyers have filed an application to set aside the Court of Appeal judgment
in the 2015 election petition in which they had challenged the results in the constituencies in six constituencies. But, it was dismissed. She said the hearing is on June 5. She said 400 people have filed local government nomination papers and screening will begin next month.
“I want to give Mr Rowley a warning we know what is going on we know what he and his party are planning for the upcoming elections. I want to give him the assurance that we have no intention of allowing him and his cronies to rig the election now and use the campaign period as a theatrical show and then relegate election day as a sham activity to legitimise electoral democracy in T&T. We have no intention of allowing it," she added.
Warning that the UNC is not making a joke with this matter, she said, “We will not allow our electoral system to be subverted by political interference. We will not allow democracy in our beloved country to be hijacked by political pirates posing as a dictatorship government.”
PNM's PRO Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing described Persad-Bissessar's allegation as absurd. Lee Sing said, "It is clear the Opposition Leader knows she is leading her party to yet another election defeat and she has therefore decided to attack the independent institution that is the EBC in advance of the election and her imminent loss. It is an absurd allegation, and one that is consistent with what the UNC is known for."
- by Rishi Ragoonath