PNM senator Jason Williams said the Opposition has acted as "stumbling blocks" in government's efforts to tackle crime and criminal activities over the past five years.
He was speaking on Tuesday in the Senate during his maiden presentation after he was sworn in as a senator on May 19.
Williams contributed to the debate of an Opposition motion to condemn the government for its failure to deal with crime.
He said the Opposition compromised the country’s borders by cancelling new vessels for the coast guard and put a stumbling block in government's way by refusing to support the recent Bail (Amendment) Bill. The bill recommended that anyone charged with possession of a gun and or ammunition will have to convince a court why they ought to be granted bail as opposed to an automatic denial of bail.
He said the police has made some headway in removing guns and ammunition from off the streets.
“Let the record show that when the Bail Amendment Bill was first debated in the Senate on June 11, 2019, it was passed the next day even though six Opposition members voted against. When the bill went to the other place (House of Representatives) on June 14, 2019 it was eventually passed. However, in November 2019 when the government continued, via the Bail Amendment Bill to address assault weapons – stumbling block. Opposition senators abstained in the Senate, and Opposition MPs abstained in the other place.
“(That is) real failure, as far as I am concerned, from my colleagues on the other side. Games are being played and this is not a time for games especially when assault weapons want to run on the pitch.”
Williams said the United National Congress, while in government between 2010 and 2015, had a constitutional majority and flip-flopped on the appointment of a commissioner of police. He said the incumbent government immediately set out to have the vacancy filled with a substantive commissioner in Gary Griffith, but even that appointment was faced with pulling and tugging from the Opposition.
“I must be honest and say, not all is perfect with the (police service) as mentioned by the Opposition, however we look at the improvements and the strides being made. I have seen, within recent times, that confidence continues to be restored. And even though they stand as an independent entity within the nation’s framework, the image of the (police service) is in a much better place during this government’s tenure.”
Williams was selected as the PNM’s candidate for the San Juan/ Barataria electoral district held by the incumbent MP Dr Fuad Khan. He said he will work to develop programmes in Barataria as a way to reduce crime and criminal activity among young people in that area.