Tuesday, January 1, 2013

PM Kamla's New Year message to T&T; Fighting crime is top priority for 2013

PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her spouse, Dr Gregory Bissessar
Greg and I and our family extend to all our fellow citizens our wishes for prosperity, peace and happiness in the New Year.

A New Year always brings with it hope and opportunities. However, success will depend on how we mobilize and commit ourselves as a nation of one people to embrace these opportunities. 

More and more small nations are being called upon to take greater responsibility for their future, as developed nations are showing a more determined focus upon their internal challenges and the economic and social security of their citizens.


The past year has been a good one for us. Despite the continuing global economic and financial challenges we have maintained low unemployment rates, low inflation, a stable economy and financial system and have seen a return in confidence of investors in the energy sector with a minimum of 19 billion to be invested. 

There are also visible signs of an increase in local economic activities especially in the service and construction sectors, these in themselves are statements of local investor confidence.


In 2012, we excelled in the field of sports including gold by Keshon Walcott in the Olympics and, George Bovell III with a silver medal in the world Swimming Championships. Sunil Narine our young cricketer continued to gain international attention.



As we move forward into 2013, the security of the nation and the security of our citizens will remain my top priority. Crime reduction must be relentlessly pursued with a renewed emphasis and vigour on the removal of arms and ammunition from the streets and the criminals. We must do better in this area. We must improve our intelligence about how guns arrive here and how they are made available to criminals.


In 2013, the population will witness a number of construction activities apart from public housing. A number of Police and Fire Stations will be constructed as hospitals and primary and secondary school buildings. The Early Childhood Education Centres will also continue apace in line with our objective of achieving universal early childhood education.

As you will discern, what differentiates my Administration from any previous one is the manner in which we are applying the resources of the country to meet the human needs of our people as well as to develop our human potential. This is important to our strategy of becoming a competitive nation.


We continue in 2013 to attend to the infrastructural needs of communities particularly rural communities. Specifically the provision of water, the development of local roads and drainage and the enhancement of recreation facilities and public transport will be emphasized.


Within recent times the issue of governance has taken centre stage and everything appears to be about the quality of governance. There is no doubt that citizens have become more alert to what makes for a better society. 

As I have discerned, citizens’ definition of good governance means integrity, fair treatment, due process, honesty in government pronouncements, participation in decision making and law making, equal treatment and equality of opportunity amongst other values.

My government has been striving to ensure that in the governance of this nation, that there is openness, transparency and that laws are formulated in order to close gaps which may preclude good governance practices. 

In my view, it is because of the openness and transparency with which the government has approached the matter of governance that there are such significant debates and discussions in the public arena. 

I welcome this, for it marks an important step in the ladder of this nation’s maturity. My government has also been drafting procurement legislation which will contribute to the good governance formula.

In my view the main issue for citizens is the quality of consultation. This issue is very understandable. The election of a Government is no longer seen as simply electing a group of persons to govern the affairs of the nation. 

Governance is now seen as elected Officials acting on behalf of the people who through the ballot gave authority to the government to govern in their interest, but who want a continuing input into the management of the affairs of the nation.


I recognize this and for this reason I am declaring 2013 as the Year for Collaboration.

I have noted that in many cases of dissonance which plays out as an issue of governance, the problem is about bureaucracy and the slow pace of the public service. I make an appeal to public servants that we must improve on our service delivery. The tax dollars and revenue of the country pays us all. 

Citizens are our employers, all of us, politicians included. It takes too long to process applications for pensions, gratuities, National Insurance Benefits, applications for work permits, Certificates of Character, cleaning of drains, repairs to public buildings, upkeep of parks, cemeteries and recreational facilities. The public service must be reformed as quickly as possible.

As I close there are two areas that are of great concern to me.


The first, which requires our collective attention, is the abuse of children. Abuse is not only physical. It is psychological and verbal also. Too many children are being scarred and some for life by abuse. Abuse also takes other forms which include poor nourishment, lack of opportunities for full development of the potential of the child, deficient environments where the child lives and goes to school and, simple neglect. 

In all of these areas we need to make amends. My aim of creating child friendly communities is still much alive. This means that any impediments to a child’s growth, development and happiness must be addressed.


Secondly, you would have noticed also that there were horrible domestic violence cases this last year. Obviously, coping with emotional problems is a real challenge for a portion of our male population in particular. 

It is obvious that we have to, as communities, become more aware about these cases and have at the level of the villages and towns persons who can intervene at a very early stage. This brings to mind the need for us to strengthen our mediation centres across the country.


As we speak of change and in keeping with our manifesto pledges of 2010, this year will witness the start of the consultations on the Constitution as well as consultations on the Local Government Transformation and Modernization Policy document of the Ministry of Local Government dealing with Local Government Reform.

Later this month the THA elections will be held. My government has been sending a very clear message to the voting public in Tobago that the government is serious about treating Tobago with dignity and as an equal partner.
In this regard no other Administration has held as many Cabinet meetings in Tobago as the current Administration. Further, the laying and debating of appropriate legislation in Parliament before the THA elections will demonstrate without a doubt our commitment to Tobago as an equal partner.

Let us work together to ensure that the prosperity of our nation and all of its citizens will be assured. 

We are the authors of our destiny, not others. We have the talent and human potential to achieve the quality of economic growth that will affect our ability to secure our citizens, to reduce poverty, to create sustainable employment and to ensure the happiness of our children and make the future secure.

May God Bless you and your families and may God continue to bless the great Nation of Trinidad and Tobago.

Happy New Year!

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai