Kamla: UNC government will tackle health, crime, bureaucracy

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar – Angelo Marcelle

UNITED National Congress (UNC) leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the government will have to answer for large sums of money spent and the thousands who died during covid19 if and when the UNC takes office.

Persad-Bissessar also promised to open the Couva Children’s Hospital within a year of a UNC government assuming office. The government has used the hospital strictly as a covid19 treatment facility and it is not currently in use.

“Since 2020, we have been calling for a commission of enquiry into the Rowley government’s mismanagement of the covid19 pandemic,” she said at a UNC public meeting in the Moruga/Tableland constituency on Monday.

“Over 5,000 persons died in that pandemic,” she said. “We also (want) to probe the unaccounted billions (of taxpayers’ dollars).

“We must do it. When we return to government, we will appoint a commission of inquiry to look into all covid deaths, as well as the management of the health sector.”

Covering a range of issues she said needed reform, Persad-Bissessar also promised to combat widespread bureaucracy, partly preventing people from buying land and building homes.

She said a UNC government would work towards establishing a single entity to process approvals for land and building development, where agents of ministries, utilities, regional corporations, and other necessary parties would work under one roof.

“(We aim to) have provisional approvals ready within 45-50 days of the first application and final approval with completion certificate within another 50 days … everything within 100 days.

“Projects have been stalled for years. By streamlining these approvals, we can get more land and housing stock available to increase supply (relative to) demand,” said Persad-Bissessar, adding that the cost of housing would decrease.She said her new government would “reinvigorate the Land For Landless initiative,” a programme launched by the People’s Partnership government in 2015 and aborted two years later by then-Housing Minister Randall Mitchell.Persad-Bissessar also addressed the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) and its recently published boundaries report.

She questioned the change of constituency names and their relation to the movement of polling districts.

While she accused the EBC of operating “in an ad-hoc manner,” she said the UNC would further scour the report before making specific pronouncements.

Persad-Bissessar criticised the government for the country’s “blood-letting,” after the murder toll recently crossed 170 for the year, and referenced the recent killing of four-year-old Amarah Lallitte in Arouca on April 8.

“That is demonic,” the UNC leader said. “It is beyond belief, all these murders.

“People are desperate, hopeless, asking when this horrific, unprecedented crime wave and violence, when will it end? When will (the government) do anything about it?

“They are clueless, witless. They’re incapable of coming up with any plans.”

Persad-Bissessar reminded Moruga/Tableland constituents of several recent murders in the community.

Reading headlines about the community, she even suggested some voters might be to blame.

“This is what your once peaceful village has come to. And you know why?” she asked. “In the last election, some of you took God out your thoughts and you put your ‘x’ in the wrong place.”

In addition to addressing crime, Persad-Bissessar promised that a UNC government would fix Moruga’s poor roads and reduce unemployment.

She did not explicitly address discord inside the party over internal elections and her own leadership. However, she said there was no room in the UNC for “extremism” – a word she also used in a press conference last week to condemn Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally.

Rambally has called on the UNC leader to call elections.

Later at Monday’s meeting, Persad-Bissessar said, “There is no room for intolerance…extremism of any kind in our UNC. I cannot and will not be controlled by any individual or group to promote any singular agenda at the expense of other sectors of our country.

“As a leader of this great UNC party and as a national leader, I (assure) that I will show tolerance, love and compassion, without fear or favour.”

However, she added, “Do not ever take my kindness for weakness, I warn you, because I am woman and I am strong.”