PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – The ruling Peoples National Movement (PNM) saying it has brought financial stability to Trinidad and Tobago over the last four years as it launched its campaign ahead of the December 2nd Local Government Elections (LGE) that political observers say could serve as a barometer for the upcoming 2020 general election.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, speaking at the launch of the party’s candidates for the elections that also coincided with the party’s convention in the heart of the capital on Sunday, said that the PNM had chosen to determine its own fate since coming to power in 2015 and finding the country in a financial crisis.
“We chose to administer our own medicine, and our energy sector and economy have both returned to growth. We never promised you an escape from our realities. We never promised you an existence free from any pain,” Rowley told party supporters.
“We promised to help you to try and cope with a very challenging environment of many bills and few dollars. We promised you that we will do more with less,” he said, noting that “the worst is almost over.”
The Prime Minister continued, “Our best days are ahead, as a new society is being built on a sustainable prosperity for all.”
Rowley said that the PNM is the ‘best choice” for the December 2 LGE, adding that his government “is building a sustainable and healthy prosperity, not the UNC Main opposition United National Congress) who will spend every dollar we earn and borrow three times more to waste and embezzle, then stick you and family with the bill.”
Rowley said that the policies of the UNC, which was the major partner of the People’s Partnership government headed by Kamla Persad Bissessar during 2010-15, had resulted in the country recording an economic slowdown and the population having to adjust accordingly.
Rowley said that the sacrifices were the direct consequences of the “UNC’s short period of profligacy and outright thievery and recklessness.
“The previous government spent us into bankruptcy, squandering our children’s money trying to buy themselves a second term, they took expectations to then point beyond reality and sustainability and if we do the same we would been seen as heartless, uncaring and incompetent,” the Prime Minister stated.
Rowley told supporters that it takes more care and discipline to be responsible adding “when a government care more about their own political future than they do about the people they serve, then they can promise any and everything, but then the chaos comes”.
Rowley said that the choice between the two parties ahead of the December poll is one of “progressive order versus corruption, chaos and collapse.”
“The consequences of not selecting the best government for the society will impact all and have far reaching, long lasting consequences. It is you that will spend the rest of your life struggling to pay back the debts of a kleptocratic and selfish government,” he warned.
In his wide ranging address, Rowley outlined the achievements of his administration since coming to power in September 2015, saying it was focusing on building a new society in Trinidad and Tobago.
“We have seen the possibilities of this new society unfolding with the recent prosecution of those who held high office and those who were previously thought of as unreachable face the full brunt of the new laws with a re-energised police service and a powerful and independent investigative branch.
“What we are seeing is the beginning of a new reality, one where we can have confidence citizens will be protected, one where the laws will apply to all, regardless of social or economic standing or political affiliation,” Rowley said, adding, “No one is above the law.”
Among those going before the courts in recent months are former government ministers from both political parties including former attorney general Anand Ramlogan and former housing minister Marlene McDonald. Their cases are still before the courts.
“We are now equal in this new society and those laws have bene passed and we aee already reshaping our expectations of what is possible,” Rowley told the launch, adding that during his term in office the government had been able to pass various pieces of legislation, including the Anti-Gang Act, the Anti-Terrorism Act, the bail Act and the Unexplained Wealth Act.
Rowley said these laws were essential even as the UNC legislators had opposed them because this was a society that had in the past watched hopelessly at a “ravenous kleptocracy which funnelled off billions of dollars of our children’s future into the pockets of contractors, businessmen and sundry shysters who facilitated kickbacks and money-laundering activities that ranged between duffel bags and buried plastic barrels full of cash to complicated offshore accounts which they bounced your money around.”
Rowley also defended the decision of his administration to sell of the refinery of the state-owned oil company, PETROTRIN to the Patriotic Energies and Technologies company owned by the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU).
He said that if the union-backed company was able to make a success of the project, it would serve as a beacon of what is possible for every citizen here and criticised the UNC for its opposition to the sale.
“All they are good for is to spread hate, racism, slander, fake news and perpetual obstruction,” Rowley said. – CMC