THE People’s National Movement (PNM) in its 2020 general election manifesto is seeking re-election based on having done a good job in keeping the economy afloat and combating covid19.
The Prime Minister in his message said the past five years were “very challenging,” but the Government had tried to rebuild our economy and restore good values and faith in public institutions.
Noting the burden of covid19, he said, “But as we demonstrated in 2016 when the price of oil crashed, we in the PNM have the expertise,the experience, the institutional memory and knowledge, resilience and capability to weather and survive an economic storm.” He said TT rallied against the collapse of world oil and gas prices and a global recession due to covid19.
“Crises truly bring out the best in us, as is the case at the present time, as we show the world how a little country with just 1.3 million people can perform beyond expectations in dealing with a global pandemic and be ranked first in the world in terms of the systems we have put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and to protect and support our population and to provide the required fiscal stimulus to keep our people in jobs and the economy moving.”
He urged economic diversification away from oil and gas, especially in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, tourism, non-oil industry, arts and culture, the digital age, financial services, medical services and ICT.
The manifesto addressed the financial crisis the Government had met in 2015; its response to covid19; its achievements for 2015-2020; and its projects for 2020-2025.
It boasted of the Government’s speed in acting to curb covid19, ahead of developed countries, including border closures and lockdowns.
“And so, while the virus raged outside our shores with over 16 million cases and 685,000 deaths of loved ones from the virus worldwide, as of July 27, with hospitals overseas filled to capacity and mass funerals and burials taking place in other countries, we in TT have managed to contain the number of deaths due covid19 to just eight since April 2020.
“Even in face of constant threats of legal action from the other side, we have not flinched or hesitated in our duty to keep our people safe.”
In the USA over 4.6 million people (one person in every 70 people) have been infected and 150,000 people have died from covid19, with no sign of abatement. Brazil has 2.6 million (one in 80 of its population) people infected and 87,000 deaths.
“In TT we have just 164 cases, or one person in 8,000 infected, 100 times less than the number of cases in Brazil on a per capita basis.”
The manifesto said most cases were imported, and until people were let in on humanitarian grounds, TT had no increase in cases for weeks.
The PNM hits its rivals as reckless towards covid19.
“As the virus swept across Europe and North America, leaving a trail of sickness and death in its path, they rashly recommended the use of puncheon rum, pepper, chlorine, and various unsuitable and dangerous drugs, such as insulin, to treat the virus.
“It is unimaginable what would have happened to us if they were in charge in February when covid19 arrived in TT. Our citizens would have had no chance of survival."
The manifesto proposed a digital society, including a Ministry of Technology and Digital Records and the removal of taxes from computer purchases.
“To achieve the desired outcome, the PNM Government will engage community influencers, especially our tech-savvy youth, appoint digital community liaisons, and create digital community portals.” The manifesto said the creative sector was a new engine for growth. It saw new initiatives in agriculture in African hill rice, marine aquaculture plus local produce catering for vegan and pescatarian lifestyles.