OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said on Tuesday that the UNC has proposals to curb crime, a good parliamentary track record, and a willingness to help.
On Monday, President Christine Kangaloo called for cross-party talks on crime, in addressing the ceremonial opening of Parliament.
Persad-Bissessar replied in a statement titled, The Rowley Government cannot continue complaining about needing support in the fight against crime while simultaneously refusing the help of the UNC, civil society and other stakeholders.
"The UNC has always placed the interests of Trinidad and Tobago first by seeking collaboration, consultation and bipartisan efforts with the government in the national interest."
Persad-Bissessar said the UNC had made multiple proposals but the Government had refused to consider them.
"To be clear, the Opposition stands ready and willing to not only support the government in the fight against crime but to also outline our clear and actionable crime solutions."
She named these as: stand-your-ground legislation, making firearm users' licences (FUL) more accessible to law-abiding citizens, and creating a criminal offence of home invasion.
Persad-Bissessar said the UNC had brought the PNM to the discussion table in 2016, and requested similar last April but to no avail.
She said the UNC had supported 17 anti-crime bills.
These bills dealt with bail access, mutual assistance in criminal matters, proceeds of crime, Financial Intelligence Unit, customs and exchange control, Supreme Court of Judicature and children, payments into court, indictable proceedings, firearms, civil asset recovery and unexplained wealth, evidence, special reserve police and the Police Complaints Authority, administration of justice, summary courts, sexual offences, electronic payments into and out of court, and criminal gangs.
She said the UNC had also supported six special majority bills. These were the Tax Information Exchange Agreements (USA) Act 2016 (FATCA), Insurance Act 2016, Anti-Gang Act 2018, Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act 2018, Licensing Committee (Validation) Act 2018, and the Bail (Amendment) Bill 2019.
"The UNC has also presented a comprehensive plan to address the root causes of crime and implement short-, medium- and long-term solutions that are free and accessible to any member of the public including the Government."
These plans including boosting education, job creation and social programmes; prisoner rehabilitation; bail reform; law enforcement training; adjustments to ministerial portfolios; scientific techniques and data analysis for crime prevention; and support for children who lost parents to crime.
"The people of Trinidad and Tobago deserve to live in a safe and secure environment, and not in a state of constant fear and uncertainty.
"The tired narrative that the Government needs support to fight crime is only designed to take away the responsibility from (Dr) Keith Rowley."
She said the Government could not claim to need the UNC’s support but refuse the help when offered.
"I end with words from current PM Rowley when he said, 'If the Government cannot deal with it (crime) then the Government itself is part of the problem.”