Rowley: We cannot accept crime rate

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Rowley – SUREASH CHOLAI

THE Prime Minister said the notion of multiple shootings must not be deemed as the norm in the minds of the citizenry.

Speaking on Monday ceremonial opening of the new parliamentary term, after being asked about the recent spate of gun violence, Dr Rowley said:

“It’s a period of violent crime that none of us can accept as normal, but we have to respond to it on a daily basis. But we also have to continue to manage our personal and national affairs while this appendage is dealt with.

“So we can’t pretend it is normal and we can’t accept it as normal and we will not accept it as normal.”

Asked if he was confident of a turnaround in crime, he replied, “I expect we’ll be able to do so going forward.”

Rowley said he had “very high hopes” for the new session of Parliament.

“Very high hopes. We’ve got a lot of work to do and the Government will get a lot of work done.”

Newsday asked his hopes for the September 26 national budget.

He said, “Well you know what a budget is. A budget is a series of estimates and we hope we have the revenue to go with that. We’ll make the most of what’s available to us.” Newsday asked if he was confident the budget and parliamentary session could tackle crime and poverty.

“Well, we have abandoned no area of responsibility and the budget covers a wide spectrum. Health, national security, health, education are all high up on the priority list.

“There is an unacceptably high level of crime. We’re going to focus on that. We’ll make the resources available, reasonable resources. We expect that those that are involved in crime-fighting will give of their best and we are also anticipating that our courts will be more effective and justice will be dispensed in a speedier way and we expect our detection levels will improve. These are the goals we set ourselves.”

Asked President Paula-Mae Weekes’ earlier upbraid to MPs on their conduct in Parliament, Rowley was unfazed.

He said, “There’s nothing new to it. We usually get things like that in Parliament.” Asked if MPs are generally getting the balance right between decorum and expressing the cut-and-thrust of political debate, the PM said, “All I’ll say to that is that people who are familiar with Commonwealth parliaments, see Trinidad and Tobago as one of the milder ones.”