Kamla promises to create 50,000 jobs

As the Op­po­si­tion Leader Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar launched her lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tion cam­paign, she promised to cre­ate 50,000 jobs if she is re-elect­ed Prime Min­is­ter. Re­it­er­at­ing her warn­ing that the Row­ley-led Peo­ples Na­tion­al Move­ment (PNM) gov­ern­ment wants to steal the elec­tions, Per­sad-Bisses­sar said the Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress (UNC) will not al­low it.

She was speak­ing at the UNC's 30th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions at the car park of the UNC's Cou­va South con­stituen­cy of­fice in Cou­va. Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley has not yet an­nounced the date of the elec­tion.

In her ad­dress, Per­sad-Bisses­sar took the op­por­tu­ni­ty to re­veal some of the plans she has for the coun­try if her par­ty wins the elec­tions.

Not­ing that many young peo­ple are ei­ther un­em­ployed or un­der­paid, she said, "So, you are now on the verge of giv­ing up. You feel you are a bur­den on your par­ents. And your time spent in school was wast­ed. Do not give up. I promise you to­day that we will make, as our first pri­or­i­ty, the cre­ation of 50,000 well-pay­ing jobs. We did it be­fore. We will do it again."

The for­mer prime min­is­ter al­so an­nounced plans to im­me­di­ate­ly re­struc­ture the health sec­tor to make it a hub for med­ical tourism that will em­ploy doc­tors, nurs­es and health care providers.

“We will man­date our for­eign mis­sions to iden­ti­fy the jobs of the dig­i­tal fu­ture and pre­pare you to take them up. We will lever­age the ex­per­tise in our en­er­gy sec­tor and care­ful­ly match that with man­pow­er needs in near­by Guyana to the mu­tu­al ben­e­fit of both coun­tries."

Re­al­is­ing that the world has be­come tech­nol­o­gy dri­ven, she said her gov­ern­ment had dis­trib­uted 95,000 lap­tops to school chil­dren.

How­ev­er, she said that pro­gramme was aban­don by the gov­ern­ment. She re­vealed that she has set up a dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion and im­ple­men­ta­tion team, com­pris­ing young peo­ple, to pre­pare for their re­turn to gov­ern­ment.

“I have giv­en them a pri­or­i­ty list­ing of is­sues I would like them to ad­dress and chal­lenged them to de­vel­op

im­ple­mentable poli­cies to ad­dress the grow­ing gulf be­tween our cur­rent ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and that of dig­i­tal

age tech­nolo­gies.”

She said the team’s rec­om­men­da­tions on a wide range of is­sues, in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion, crime fight­ing, job cre­ation and di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and health care will be re­vealed in the com­ing months. She al­so called on the Gvern­ment to call the elec­tion now and stop the sale of the now-de­funct Petrotrin.

Ac­cus­ing the Gov­ern­ment of ly­ing, she said Petrotrin in its fi­nal year made over TT $1.7 bil­lion in prof­its con­trary to the Gov­ern­ment’s claim that Petrotrin was an al­ba­tross los­ing mon­ey.

“Petrotrin be­longs to the peo­ple of our coun­try. I promise that in any de­ci­sion which my gov­ern­ment takes re­gard­ing our en­er­gy sec­tor; the in­ter­ests

of our coun­try, our cit­i­zens and our oil work­ers will take prece­dence,” she said.

The Op­po­si­tion leader al­so in­formed her sup­port­ers that their lawyers have filed an ap­pli­ca­tion to set aside the Court of Ap­peal judg­ment

in the 2015 elec­tion pe­ti­tion in which they had chal­lenged the re­sults in the con­stituen­cies in six con­stituen­cies. But, it was dis­missed. She said the hear­ing is on June 5. She said 400 peo­ple have filed lo­cal gov­ern­ment nom­i­na­tion pa­pers and screen­ing will be­gin next month.

“I want to give Mr Row­ley a warn­ing we know what is go­ing on we know what he and his par­ty are plan­ning for the up­com­ing elec­tions. I want to give him the as­sur­ance that we have no in­ten­tion of al­low­ing him and his cronies to rig the elec­tion now and use the cam­paign pe­ri­od as a the­atri­cal show and then rel­e­gate elec­tion day as a sham ac­tiv­i­ty to le­git­imise elec­toral democ­ra­cy in T&T. We have no in­ten­tion of al­low­ing it," she added.

Warn­ing that the UNC is not mak­ing a joke with this mat­ter, she said, “We will not al­low our elec­toral sys­tem to be sub­vert­ed by po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence. We will not al­low democ­ra­cy in our beloved coun­try to be hi­jacked by po­lit­i­cal pi­rates pos­ing as a dic­ta­tor­ship gov­ern­ment.” 

PNM re­sponds

PNM's PRO Lau­rel Leza­ma-Lee Sing de­scribed Per­sad-Bisses­sar's al­le­ga­tion as ab­surd. Lee Sing said, "It is clear the Op­po­si­tion Leader knows she is lead­ing her par­ty to yet an­oth­er elec­tion de­feat and she has there­fore de­cid­ed to at­tack the in­de­pen­dent in­sti­tu­tion that is the EBC in ad­vance of the elec­tion and her im­mi­nent loss. It is an ab­surd al­le­ga­tion, and one that is con­sis­tent with what the UNC is known for."

- by Rishi Ragoonath