Kamla Persad-Bissessar rallied her troops Wednesday to get prepared for the 2015 general election but made it clear that unlike other parties, the United National Congress (UNC) is driven by “service, delivery and keeping our promises to make our country an even greater one.”
She said, “They cannot beat us on performance and delivery. They cannot beat us on commitment to our country. They cannot beat us in economic management. And they certainly cannot beat us in running our country!”
She was speaking in her dual capacity of Prime Minister and Leader of the UNC, at a meeting of the party’s Parliamentary Caucus at the Rienzi Complex in Couva.
“As we see the elections off in the distance, 15 months away, let the others know that as we have won before, based on commitment and performance, so shall we win again!” the Prime Minister said.
She spoke about her party’s performance under her leadership and noted that when people are united they can achieve great things because they are driven by a common purpose, a set of common objectives and a common vision. She added that by listening first and then leading, progress can be accelerated.
“A Government that takes its responsibility seriously, and conducts the affairs of State wisely and with the guidance of the people, can indeed compensate for a weak and incapable Opposition,” she declared.
Persad-Bissessar stated that when her government took office it was prepared “to take our nation back from the hands of criminal control; to save and restore our plummeting economy; to end discrimination and ensure that all citizens felt there was an equal place for them, and to build a system that empowered each and every person to reach out and achieve their dreams.
“We came to office on the strength of a robust coalition, united in our common goal to turn Trinidad & Tobago around back to a positive direction…today, the Government of which your party stands as a loyal partner remains strong and has defied every prediction of demise,” she said.
“We stand as a Government that has demonstrated unprecedented performance…the signals of growth and development are evident throughout the length and breadth of the country. There is work ongoing in every community.”
“Businesses are expanding and new businesses are being formed. Our economy is steadily achieving diversification, even as we have restored the health of the very important oil and gas sectors. Tertiary, technical and vocational training is now more available, in more areas of study, than at any other time in the history of our nation.
"More sustainable jobs are being created in more sectors, providing opportunities for our trained young men and women. And for the first time in almost 25 years, we were able to realign our revenue generation so as to ease the burden on families by removing VAT from over 7000 food items.”
She was highly critical of the Parliamentary Opposition, which she said has been the biggest impediment to delivering services and opportunity to the people of Trinidad & Tobago. “Never before has there been such an uncoordinated, non-performing, unimaginative and bungling Opposition in our history of Parliamentary democracy,” she said.
She said the unprecedented anger of the opposition is what guides them to reject and oppose everything that the government has tried to do, noting that they are angry “because whatever progress we make, means less of a chance for them in a general election”, not because they are fighting for the national interest.
“The Opposition has neither leadership, nor political compass, and are completely unaware of what is required to lead a Government…They have no alternatives! They have no ideas!” she declared.
The UNC leader said the people’s business is her business but in trying to achieve her goals she has had to deal with obstructionism, which “failed to stop us…The dedication and commitment that underlines the politics of the UNC may have caused us a lot of scars, but taking the high road has always delivered us.
“It is that dedication and commitment that have kept us standing tall over the dirty politics and incoherent ramblings of an aimless Opposition.
“And it is that dedication and commitment that gives us the confidence in our march towards re-election in 2015.”
Persad-Bissessar promised that her government would take on the challenges that come “as we always have – guided by loyalty to our country and people, and driven by a vision for progress for all.” She called on her colleagues to take on the challenge of reaffirming “our commitment, through action, to serving the people.” She said the excuse of being busy is not a valid one.
The UNC leader asked them as well to reconnect “wherever we have lost touch” and correct the “untruths and outright misrepresentations from some who are opposed to us.” Mrs Persad-Bissessar added, “We must be ready, willing and fully capable to fight against misinformation and ensure that the people have a reliable source of the correct information.”
She invited members of her caucus to ground themselves “with steadfast resilience and remain committed to achieving for our country” and told them to remain focused. “Respond only to ensure that they are corrected, but do not descend into the pits of political dirt with them. Our responsibility is bigger than theirs so our focus must be stronger than theirs.”
She said there is no better time than now “to reaffirm our commitment and re-dedicate ourselves to fighting the honourable fight, than at the 25-year anniversary mark. “Use this anniversary for introspection, not celebration. Use this anniversary for re-dedication, not squabbling. And use this anniversary as a show of force – a force for protection, progress and people, not as the others who intimidate, dominate and discriminate.
“We are the United National Congress! They cannot beat us on performance and delivery. They cannot beat us on commitment to our country. They cannot beat us in economic management. And they certainly cannot beat us in running our country!”