As the Grand Stand of the Queen’s Park Savannah filled with red t-shirt clad Peoples’ National Movement (PNM) delegates there was an air of anticipation of what will come out of the party’s 47th Convention yesterday.
It took Wayne Griffith of Laventille West to totally engage delegates which resulted in vociferous applause at the end of his report.
Griffith struck a chord that immediately found favour with fellow delegates. He said there is a disconnect between cabinet, members of Parliament, senators and the base of the party. While acknowledging that the government needs to address the country’s issues, he said not everybody is benefitting.
He then spoke of issues such as unemployment, constituency leadership and opportunities for development of his community. He said: “It is said we have discrimination in the labour market because of our geographic location and indeed, because of the strict criteria of government contracts, especially in the construction field, it is very difficult for small contractors to satisfy the conditionalities laid down by the procurement entities in this country.
What normally occurs is that contracts are given to larger contractors who in most instances, sub contract to smaller ones and the bulk of the contract cash is kept by them and the amounts paid to smaller contractors are sometimes not even sufficient to entail their current expenses.”
Griffith also spoke of the need to immediately address the infrastructure in East Port of Spain, by the Ministry of Works and Transport.
Telling of the neglect of the community by the former administration that left most of their roads deteoriated, Griffith said: “The party needs to pay more attention to our foot soldiers, who at times feel alienated.
They feel that they are needed at election time and after, they get little or no attention or service.”
At this point delegates erupted with wild applause.
Griffith then proposed that the party bridge the gap and get ministers to make themselves more available to party members.
However he also knocked unpatriotic, selfish and self-centred citizens, reminding delegates that it was the PNM that established TT as the number one economy and the envy of the Caribbean many years ago and that the country needs to get back there.
He even told of a talk he had with former Central Bank Governor Winston Dookeran who he said praised PNM’s fiscal policy over the decades, as for the most part it worked.
Earlier, chairman Franklyn Khan spoke on the event theme: “Embracing the future...Stronger together.” He said: “Despite what our detractors say, we are always red and ready.
In these challenging times the government needs the unwavering support of the party. You have to support and stand behind our Prime Minister because the current alternative to the PNM is chaos and confusion.”
Warren Toussaint of the Youth League asked the hierarchy of the party for the opportunity to make their contributions and he too urged all present to give their support and commitment to the party.
Another delegate spoke of the dire need for an effective public relations strategy.
Reminding delegates of the dynamic work of the party’s Women’s League of yesteryear.