Prime Minister and PNM political leader Dr Rowley yesterday slammed the elites in society who have repeatedly described this country as a “failed state” yet who suck the most from what little the nation has. He was delivering the feature address at the party’s 49th General Convention at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah.
He said there were a “selfish few” in society who benefit the most by fracturing citizens along fault lines of race and politics for their own narrow interests. “They will not offer you a scintilla of hope. All they are good for is to spread hate, racism, slander, fake news and perpetual obstruction. They are the people that want to convince you our country is a failed state, that Trinidad is not a real place.”
Dr Rowley said he wanted to deal with this “pernicious issue” on two levels. “The first is to tell you unequivocally, that notwithstanding our many very serious challenges, which demand care and attention, we are anything but a failed state. The facts and figures depicting the reality of the collective experience that surrounds us, will tell us and others who we are. We are a proud little nation, striving manfully to make our way in a very hostile world.” He continued: “Incidentally, the grating irony of this unkind label is coming from those elites who suck the most from what little we have whilst underperforming in their social contributions.” Rowley said as citizens we are part of a nation that has been struggling with an economy, in search of growth since 2009. “However, we continue to provide free, universal health care for every man, woman and child. We continue to have a free education system from early childhood through university. We continue to have one of the widest social safety nets in the Caribbean. We have an active national housing program.
“We own and successfully operate an international airline. We provide an efficient air and sea bridge between our two majestic islands where three vessels go back and forth every day. Our democratic systems continue to function seamlessly through free and fair elections.” Rowley also spoke about the sense of disappointment shared by citizens with the manner in which public services are delivered. “I understand only too well the broadly held sentiment that some state agencies are not working for you and that what they do best is frustrate rather than facilitate.”
He said poor service is “not okay” and the state should not unreasonably stand in the way of people who want to progress. “It seems like the easiest thing in some of these agencies is to tell people ‘no.’ The fact is that if the people of this country are tired of poor service, all they need to do is go to work tomorrow and demand as well as deliver the service that they would want to receive. This could change in a day if we all just decide to serve people as we would like to be served. That is how doable this is.”
He again defended Government’s stance of non-interference with Venezuela. He said there were those in the national space who claimed he was protecting a dictator (Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro) for the sake of the Venezuela/TT Dragon Gas deal. Rowley said his only wish for Venezuela is for peace, stability and prosperity for its people.
“We wish for the people, especially the children of Venezuela what we wish for ourselves: A life with dignity, fulfilment and self-determination.” He said the hard times the country was experiencing are temporary.
“We are moving in the right direction. We are getting it done. The recession is receding, growth is returning, the worst is almost over. Our best days are ahead of us. A new society is being built on a sustainable prosperity for all.” The party yesterday paraded its 139 candidates who will be seeking to be elected in the December 02 local government election.
Rowley also announced a number of bills to be completed in the next few months including the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which would provide stronger protection for victims of domestic abuse victims and intimate partner violence, including the children and the elderly in care that may be victims of abuse. Also during the meeting Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi announced legislation on the decriminalisation of marijuana was scheduled for Cabinet this week.
Speaking during the meeting’s broadcast Al-Rawi said he spent much of the morning finalising the final positions on that law and will include the expunging of records of people who have records for very small quantities of marijuana. “They need to be out of the system.”