Speaking Notes of the Honourable Political Leader of the UNC, Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar Manifesto Launch May 14, 2010 We come together this morning at time when our nation is in crisis.
We are at a most critical juncture in our social and economic development.
The PNM has governed this nation for nearly 40 years since 1956. And their model of governance is now outmoded and outdated.
It is ill-suited to confront the myriad challenges that now threaten the very foundation of our economy and way of life.
The oil and gas based economic model of development is now on shaky ground. The recent volatility in the markets and consequential strong fluctuations has revealed the vulnerability of our economy. This lopsided approach to economic development is fundamentally flawed and is in urgent need of revision.
A new template for development is needed and I am therefore proud to present the manifesto of the People’s Partnership.
It represents the collective vision, hopes and policy intention of a unique coalition of forces that seek to build a new economy based on not one, but SEVEN pillars.
THE SEVEN PILLARS OF INTERCONNECTED DEVELOPMENT
The philosophical underpinning of our manifesto expressed in our first pillar is the desire to provide “PEOPLE CENTRED DEVELOPMENT”. Under the PNM, we have seen an inverse relationship between economic prosperity and the development of our people.
They presided over an oil and gas boom but have failed to create a society that has prospered and developed alongside the government and private sector.
The investment in our human and intellectual capital did not bring the anticipated returns because some of the skills that were being developed did not match our needs. We intend to create a knowledge-driven, technologically proficient society that will be the core and engine for a competitive and sustainable economy.
Our manifesto will build a new society from the bottom up because we have seen the damage inflicted by the PNM’s top-to-bottom approach to economic development.
The billions spent on empty skyscrapers and mega-projects while the quality of life on the ground degenerated bears testimony to the colossal failure of the PNM’s trickle down model of development.
This is why our second pillar for sustainable development focuses on “POVERTY ERADICATION AND SOCIAL JUSTICE”
Our manifesto seeks to correct this by going back to basics and focusing on the needs of the people first.
It is a fallacy to measure society’s standard of living by reference to grandiose buildings while citizens live under a self-imposed curfew due to high crime.
The standard of living is judged by the ability of the government to provide for its citizen’s basic needs such as:
§ a quality education that is relevant to the needs of the 21st century
§ a safe society based on law and order where people do not have to live in fear of criminals but can enjoy the fruits of their hard work and sacrifice
§ good healthcare , with a dedicated focus on the elderly and children
§ a proper network of roads that minimizes the amount of time needlessly spent in traffic
§ and basic amenities such as electricity and water
There is no point in creating economic wealth if citizens cannot enjoy it (at least that’s what the People’s Partnership believes).
Under the PNM, wealth did not trickle down because too much money was being wasted on mega-projects and summits that brought no relief to the plight of the people.
Our plans and policies therefore aim to better the quality of life and raise the standard of living for all.
They aim to reduce poverty and crime and deliver services to the people in an efficient and professional manner.
When a government cannot deliver needed service to the people, it has failed and that is what we have witnessed over the past eight years. And to ensure the People’s Partnership corrects this situation and can provide more efficient , more user-friendly service, we will create a Ministry of the People that will be dedicated to ensuring a free flow of government services to the people. Most services should, for example, be accessible on-line, from the comfort of your own home.
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
There is also no point in creating economic wealth if people are afraid and unable to enjoy it.
The terrifying crime crisis that has engulfed our nation has virtually prevented citizens from enjoying the fruits of their labour.
This is why our third pillar for sustainable development is “NATIONAL AND PERSONAL SECURITY”.
We shall overhaul the criminal justice system to make it efficient and effective. This will be a major deterrent and weapon in the fight against crime. Criminals must respect the law. I would like to see a trial finish within 3-6 months of a person being charged so that criminals cannot make a mockery of our justice system and law-abiding citizens can feel the system is working.
Given the state of lawlessness and the extent of the backlog in our criminal courts, I think the criminal justice system is need of special and separate attention.
To this end, I propose to create a Ministry of Justice that will be responsible for criminal justice, with the Ministry of the Attorney General being responsible for civil matters.
The Minister of Justice shall be responsible for inter alia: · Criminal Litigation and Legislation · Reform and Transformation of Criminal Justice System · Quicker Justice Initiative Programme (Specialised Courts) · Prison Service Reform · Forensic Sciences Services · Community Service Department · Legal Aid Reform ( Legal Aid and Advisory Authority) · Youth Re-Offender Programme · Sentencing Commission · Compensation for Victims of Crime · Victims Charter and counselling · Technology in the Criminal Courts · DNA Lab · Witness Protection Programme
Trinidad and Tobago should be the information technology capital of the Caribbean and South America.
Our fourth pillar is the construction of a new area of economic development based on “INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES”.
Affordable internet access for every citizen will be a priority as we seek to create an educated society that is poised to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st century.
IT will be infused into every sector of our economy. We will thus encourage and develop strong linkages among our creative sectors, technological sectors, design sectors and our education and academic sectors.
And continuing the focus on our critical need for economic planning and development, our dependence on oil and gas and the unhealthy imbalance this has created makes our economy very fragile. These finite resources shall remain an integral part of our economy but we cannot put all our eggs in one basket and we must plan now to diversify our economy.
And that is why our fifth pillar is to create a “MORE DIVERSIFIED, KNOWLEDGE INTENSIVE ECONOMY.” We have immense untapped potential in agriculture and we intend to place the accent on food production and food security.
We should be aiming to export food, instead of importing it! And our Industrial Policy will identify the areas into which we will diversify the Economy including : knowledge based Industries, Cultural and Entertainment Industries, Ethnic Products, Food Processing, the Maritime Industry, Services Industries, biotechnology, information technology, high-tech manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, food production, processing and alternative energy and third and fourth generation renewable energy industries. The diversification of our economy for sustainable development will be a top priority of the People’s Partnership government. Tobago’s economy will be given special treatment because the fundamentals are different. A major initiative will however, be the regularization of land titles for Tobagonians so that they can own their land and gain individual economic independence. CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM It has been widely recognised that our present constitution needs to be re-visited.
We have, as our sixth pillar of our manifesto, “PEOPLE PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNANCE’.
We aim to be a user-friendly, responsible and responsive government.
We believe the government must not be aloof and removed from the people, but rather, part of the people, reflecting the will and consciousness of the people. To this end, we will promote a climate of national dialogue within a framework of civility and consensus building.
We will initiate a process of consultation to rewrite the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago. The objective of Constitution Reform will be to establish a framework for good, responsive governance and to nurture and build a participatory culture and to strengthen democracy.
This will move us away from the culture of maximum leadership and develop a politics of inclusion rather than the present system of winner takes all. Some of the revolutionary ideas we propose to introduce are: · A right of recall for non-performing parliamentary representatives · Fixed election dates for national and local elections · Mechanisms for a referendum process · Limiting the Prime Minister to two successive terms as head of Government · Rules governing the conduct of the Government and political parties during an election period. · A stronger Integrity Commission · Local government reform
Our seventh pillar is that of “A STRONG FOREIGN POLICY” that is rooted in a realisation that our voice must be heard as part of a wider Peoples Partnership that is based on mutual interests and objectives to advance common cause.
We see the international arena and the world system as an opportunity to build diplomatic partnerships that can lead to trade and cultural exchanges. We are part of the global village that has been made smaller by the development of technology.
We are mindful of our size and resource constraints and would structure our foreign policy to advance our goals and aspirations as part of a geo-political block.
Our approach will be realistic and pragmatic and based on partnership with our CARICOM neighbours.
CONCLUSION These seven interconnected pillars for sustainable development will hold the cradle of the new Trinidad and Tobago that we intend to create together with the people of our great nation.
They represent strong, uncompromising pillars that will deliver a better, safer, more prosperous and equitable society for all of us.
I know that my brief overview has inspired you to delve into the details of our programmes but I welcome questions that would allow me to elaborate on any matter.
TEAM UNC-COP facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/TEAM-UNC-COP/100758749967487
Join the TEAM UNC-COP online campaign. TEXT THIS MESSAGE TO YOUR CELL PHONE CONTACTS:
500 MURDERS! $350 billion squandered MANNING MUST GO!