THE Prime Minister promised jobs to tech-savvy youngsters to transform TT into a digital nation, as he claimed the UNC’s Work Nation plan had ignored the pandemic.
At a PNM virtual meeting on Wednesday, Dr Rowley related the Government’s success in curbing covid19 and urged voters to “stay the course” with the PNM on election day, August 10.
“It is not about who could promise you more, who could give you more, but who will take this country in the right direction and make the best of a bad situation.”
The PM spoke for one hour and 45 minutes. Saying so many people dying in a town in Italy that the army had to help an overwhelmed health sector transport the bodies, he said, “Talk to your family now in the US and let them tell you about the fear.”
In TT by contrast the pandemic had brought to the fore high-trained medical personnel, the beneficiaries of free education begun by the PNM.
While TT had been shaken by covid19, hospitals had not been overwhelmed by any outbreak, he said, to justify TT’s border control policy that admits limited numbers at a time.
The PM chided those who had publicly cried to enter TT but then refused to quarantine once here.
Noting the economic hit from covid19, Rowley hailed a small businessman who was running a debt but still refused to fire his workers and see them starve.
He said TT had been hit by a fiscal crisis and covid19 crisis.
“No matter how big your orange is you can only squeeze so much out of it. We are very close to the rind. But we can do more with less.
“On that basis alone we are the right choice. In this period you want discipline and responsibility. I’ve been a responsible PM and lead a disciplined Government.”
Rowley said unlike a decline this year due to covid19, small emerging markets like TT are projected to grow next year by six per cent.
“We expect to be able to turn around the direction of the economy in 2021. It has been difficult but focus on a positive future.
“There are opportunities coming your way.”
Just as the devastation of Hurricane Flora in 1963 had led Tobagonians to rebuilt their homes to be best in the Caribbean, so too TT can rebuild its economy after covid19 with the right leadership, leaving no-one behind.
He said a digital transformation of TT will boost efficiency in the country such as facilitating the retrieval of people’s documents in government offices and eliminating the need to stand in line to pay bills.
“By 2022 TT will be clearly a digital nation.”
He said TT can follow Estonia as a model to go fully digital.
“New jobs are available, good jobs, jobs that support production. A digital country forces you to produce. It calls for political will and political leadership.”
Hoping to also emulate digitisation he had seen at the Brooklyn Hospital, he said such a transformation will require many operators whom he said would, ideally, be young people for whom jobs will be created.
“I believe in young people because people believed in me.
“Young people, come forward and take responsibility for your country.”
He hailed TT’s young politicians such as Mickela Panday, Ancil Dennis, Shamfa Cudjoe and Ayanna Webster-Roy.
“I’ve always seen my role in providing a good example for the young people of TT.”
The PM said TT had succeeded in keeping TT safe in the pandemic and in keeping TT safe from Venezuelan migration even while showing the milk of human kindness to 10,000 Venezuelans now here.