Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. FILE PHOTO –
THE Opposition Leader used her New Year’s Day message to lay out the UNC’s vision and mission for Trinidad and Tobago if it returns to government when the next general election is called. She said this mission begins in 2024.
She began her message by making clear that while she wished all a happy new year, there was nothing to be happy about in reality when one considered “the record” number of murders, home invasions, robberies and other crimes, coupled with a declining economy, new taxes, looming increases in utility rates and an increase in the cost of living.
Pointing to the US Embassy’s recent warning to American citizens about travel to TT, and that several communities have been highlighted as danger zones internationally, Persad-Bissessar accused government of giving no assurances to ending illegal drug and gun imports by sealing off “TT’s porous borders, improving surveillance, and boosting detection rates.”
There are no efforts at improving the inefficient criminal justice system through radical and urgent reform, she claimed.
She accused Dr Rowley of hiding from the Opposition, which has been calling for stakeholder-involved crime talks, with him choosing instead to play public relations games with the citizenry.
“At the dawn of 2024, there is no government assurance about a fresh resolve to stamp out criminality and secure our besieged nation. Citizens have been told to fend for themselves.
“I genuinely wish every citizen a happy new year, but I know there can be no happy one unless strategic interventions are urgently implemented to stem the criminality in our land and to fix the broken sectors,” Persad-Bissesar said.
What UNC will do
The former prime minister said all of TT must work today to improve safety, security, and prosperity for all, if there is to be happiness in the new year and to prevent tomorrow’s generation from inheriting a “criminal-run, failed state where the killing of men, women, and children becomes normalised to the point of no return.”
She then set out a UNC government’s mission.
“I declare today that it is the mission of the UNC to do what this current government is either unwilling or unable to do – restore law, order and prosperity to our great nation.”
A safe and prosperous Trinidad and Tobago must be the State’s foundation for its citizens, she said.
“The UNC has been presenting concrete plans and policy alternatives to address our nation’s pressing challenges. We are committed to crafting solutions that prioritise the well-being of all citizens, irrespective of background or circumstance.”
She then set out the party’s objectives:
* Passing Stand Your Ground legislation to give right to use lethal force in homes against criminals.
* Ensure law-abiding citizens easy access to legal firearms.
* Implement judicial and prison reforms, as well as retool the TTPS with modern training, equipment and a competent leadership team.
* Bring back Community Comfort Patrols.
* Widen funding for educational and training programs including the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) Programme, to ensure youths have access to an education for a better life away from crime.
* Eliminate the property tax and other nuisance taxes along with extensive deregulation of the bureaucracy hindering the business sector.
* Eliminate unfair and excessively high fines “this Government has implemented to terrorise the population.”
* Work with the business community and use the full power of the state apparatus to end the scourge of extortion and robberies.
* Have an all-of-government approach that accepts addressing crime extends beyond policing and legislative actions.
She said a comprehensive governance component in addressing crime must also encompass social welfare, healthcare, business development, employment opportunities and education.
To further develop effective crime-fighting strategies, she said the UNC intends to host public anti-crime consultations in the new year, to which all stakeholders will be invited.
“Given that this government’s negligence has plunged our nation into the abyss, we must now unite to fight the wave of terror sweeping our nation regardless of what side of the political divide we as citizens may have stood (on) in the past,” Persad-Bissessar said.