Alexander: Give crime talks precedence over budget debate

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: PEP political leader Phillip Edward Alexander.

PEP leader Phillip Edward Alexander says the Government and Opposition should prioritise cross-party crime talks over the budget debate, due after Monday’s budget day presentation by Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

He told Newsday on Thursday there was no mandatory time to hold the budget debate, but in contrast, crime was now urgent.

Alexander elaborated in a statement to media houses.

“The crime talks are either important or they are not.

“Talks between the government and opposition are either of an urgent nature in pursuance of general solutions or they are not.”

He recalled saying from the moment the talks were announced that they would bear no fruit and be used by both sides as a stunt.

“The announcement by both sides to defer the talks confirms that.”

Alexander then called for “a high-level, no-holds-barred commission of enquiry into crime, criminality, corruption and the administration of justice in Trinidad and Tobago.”

He suggested such an enquiry should be chaired by a panel of esteemed former jurists from the Commonwealth, exploring the drivers of crime and issues letting it flourish.

Alexander wants an examination of poverty, white-collar criminality in all its forms, and the illegal multi-billion-dollar contraband trade in drugs, arms and humans.

He also wants answers on the performance of the Coast Guard, Customs and Excise division, judicial system, law enforcement and “all versions of government.”

Alexander said, “Outlined above as the objective, we should be able to walk away with a clearer idea of what is wrong and proper actionable suggestions on how to fix it.

“If we as a people are interested in the reality of our situation, that would be the best way forward.

“Anything other than that can only be a political distraction and more unnecessary noise.”