UNC calls for one-time uniform grant for students

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FILE PHOTO: UWI’s campus in Debe, built during the People’s Partnership administration.

ONE week before the full reopening of schools after a two-year pandemic closure, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is calling on Government to give a one-time uniform grant for students.

“Give the children a one-time grant in time for school opening, so a parent does not have to decide if to put a plate of food on the table or if to buy a uniform.”

She said the millions being spent on British investigators for a “political witch-hunt” against opponents of the Government, or a portion of the rental paid to Cabinet member Faris Al-Rawi, could be better spent on the children.

“How hard is that? How difficult? You never ever helped the children of this country.”

She said every parent, especially those without an income or a job, would be thankful for that help now.

Speaking on a United National Congress (UNC) political platform on Monday night, Persad-Bissessar said it was both dreadful and horrible that Government had chosen to increase fuel prices on the day school is set to reopen – April 19.

“It is shameful. It is beyond thinkable, outrageous, every word you can think about. How can you suffer the children?”

Continuing where she left off last Monday about TT being a “gestapo state” and a police state, she said actions of the past days had reinforced that position.

“The only way we can stop that is we must unite and fight them.

“Everything I have been saying is coming to pass. I predicted that they would collapse the economy, I predicted that there would be suffering and starvation throughout the land. Not because they are wicked, that might be part of it, but because they are totally incompetent.”

She said policies put in place by her People’s Partnership (PP) administration which could have created a revenue stream for TT had been ignored by Government which, in turn, has been failing every single step of the way.

She identified the state-of-the-art Couva Hospital which she said was built not just for health care but for medical tourism to earn revenue for the country by creating some 2,000 jobs people are now crying out for.

Similarly, she said, the Debe Campus of the University of the West, which was partially opened to treat covid19 cases, would have led to education tourism.

Under the PP she said more students – from Point Fortin all the way to Mayaro – would have been given a chance to a get tertiary education had the campus been opened.

In addition to an ease up at the St Augustine campus, she said people from within and outside of Caricom would have come here to be educated and pay to do so.

She said it would have also created jobs and economic opportunities in the community as external students spent on rental, food, etc.

“Those are just two of the projects we had in mind. We had the vision for the Port of Trinidad and Tobago. Their plan is to sell, privatise the port.”

She said there was a plan to turn the Port of Spain General Hospital (POSGH) into a modern facility, but even though her administration was criticised, “Up ‘till now they cannot put up one brick for that POSGH block.

“These days we into Ukraine and Russia. They talk about NATO. This Government is like NATO – No action, talk only.”

Referring to claims raised on the platform by Senator Wade Mark about importing more fuel than TT needs and exporting the rest, Persad-Bissessar asked why TT was being used as a ‘middle man.’

“You have no foreign exchange, but you are importing more than we need to export where, and to whom? To whom are you exporting?” she asked, pointing out that other countries can import their own.

“Why are we being middle men to import fuel, spending forex that you don’t have, and then going and sell it to someone else and for how much? Discount prices? To sanctioned countries? Why are you doing that?”

She said Government’s policies were similar to the running of a home without an income.

“You are bankrupt!”