|PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar|
She gave the assurance that the People's Partnership government would continue to take all necessary measures to address the issue of crime and security in Trinidad and Tobago "while undertaking projects and designing and implementing policies which would redound to the benefit of all citizens".
She made the comments on her arrival home from a Caricom security meeting in Haiti. She said although she was not at home she kept abreast of developments. "I have watched with keen interest the developments in Trinidad and Tobago. I would like to take this opportunity address just a few of these issues," she said.
Top of the agenda was the Flying Squad issue that has been in the news headlines suggesting that some persons may have erroneously perceived a sanctioning "of the infamous Flying Squad of the past".
She said she has directed the National Security Minister "to prepare a full report on this matter for the attention of the National Security Council and myself as Chairman of the Council."
She added, "What I can categorically state at this time is:
- This matter of any ‘New” Flying Squad was never discussed with me or brought to the National Security Council
- Any such initiative as a revival or creation of any such police unit must be reviewed by the NSC and must be fully considered and endorsed by the Commissioner of Police who is himself a member of the Council
- Any endeavor by my Government to address the crime problem will be fully within the Law.
- We will not support the establishment of any ‘rouge’ police or para police unit or security entity, which is not within the jurisdiction, and control of the Laws of Trinidad and Tobago and of the Police Service and the Commissioner of Police"
With respect to the highway matter she stated that the line minister, Emmanuel George, "has been asked to act on the Highway Review Committee and study the recommendations so that we may engage in appropriate discussions as soon as the report has been made available to the public." She said George will "advise the cabinet accordingly" after the discussions.
On the census she commended the Central Statistical Office and the Ministry of Planning for producing the report in record time.
"I have been advised that this is one of the fastest instances that data was ever processed and published and for that they must be recognized," she said.
She also commented on some of the data, noting that one significant issue is that 70.4 per cent of the country’s population falls between the ages of 15 and 64, which is deemed to be the working age.
"This means that only 29.6% of the population is less than 15 years old or more than 65. It is information such as this that will help to inform the future policies of the Government.
"Heartening though, is that the census revealed that just under 194,000 persons have some level of tertiary education. Those achieving up to primary school education amounted to 29.8% of the population, 43.5% achieving secondary level education, 6.2% achieving tertiary (though not university) and 8.4% achieving university level education.
"As you know, one of our visions is to have an increase into the population accessing tertiary level education. At present it stands at 40.5% at present and our vision is to effect an increase to 60% of the population.
"However, more has to be done. Even though the census has revealed that Trinidad and Tobago now stands at 1.3 million people, with more men than women, statistics also show that more women than men have had tertiary education.
"It is invaluable information such as this that will help my government to form the necessary policies so that young men may be encouraged to pursue higher education."