St Augustine MP Khadijah Ameen on Friday in the House of Representatives expressed a distrust in the Government's ability to properly select students to benefit from bursaries which are now largely set to replace hundreds of now-defunct national scholarships for tertiary level education studies.
She spoke in the continued debate on Naparima MP Rodney Charles' private motion criticising the Government's handling of violent crime.
Ameen began by saying that having just heard Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, all that was heard was "talk, talk, talk. No action."
Without the Government specifying targets and time lines for results, said Ameen, they could not be held properly accountable.
She complained that under this Government, the number of students in tertiary education had declined.
Ameen expected far less scrutiny over the bursaries than obtains for government scholarships, even as she said the Government had a "scandalous record" on distributing such assistance to the children of friends, family and financiers of the PNM, apparently referring to scholarships awarded by the then Ministry of Community Development under the former Patrick Manning administration.
She said the country could not trust the Government to now distribute bursaries on the basis of whom they thought needed them most. She viewed the new proposal as "a new form of PNM patrimony", rather than a fair and merit-based system for choosing recipients.
Ameen said nothing the Government said has made people feel safer against crime.
She said the placing of police officers outside schools was not a sign of achievement, but failure.
The MP said that while the Government continued to under-resource the funding of guidance counsellors, they spoke of mediation and restorative justice, which she dismissed as "just talk."
Ameen said statistics on crime supported the position of the Opposition, not the Government. Data showed TT having one of the region's highest homicide rates, indicating a failure of this Government, she said. Ameen lamented the murders of 41 women in domestic violence incidents in 2020. She also said that out of 745 people reported missing that year, some 416 were women.
She complained the Government had disbanded the Ministry of Gender Affairs and reduced it to a department in the Office of the Prime Minister
Ameen did not want to hear the Government allegedly victim-blaming women by advising them of naive suggestions such as what clothing to not wear. "There must be a fundamental change in approach to women." She lamented a report that had revealed that out of 1,796 public closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras placed nationwide, some 733 we were not fully functional.
Recalling the plight of a typical low-earning woman who had no choice but to face the risks of taking an unlicensed PH car (private car acting as a route taxi), she said the Government must get real regarding people's safety. "You have to get real."