KAREN NUNEZ-TESHEIRA, deputy leader of the HOPE party and former PNM finance minister, said the country needs true leadership to bring back disaffected members of the public alienated by a lack of action in the public sphere, such as non-functional port scanners against TT's thriving drug trade.
Her message came days ahead of Monday's budget day in one of several video shorts on the YouTube channel Hope for TT, which was referenced in a party statement on Thursday.
In line with its watchwords – Honesty, Opportunity, Performance, and Empowerment (HOPE) – the party spelt out its plans to contribute to the national discussion pre- and post-budget and to develop its party institutions.
Nunez-Tesheira, in her video on leadership, said, "There are many people who are jaded and cynical, but they still love the country, and they still want that hope that things can get better, because there are so many positive things about this country.
"What we do need is a leadership that people can believe in and have confidence in. If you can capture that, then you will find a lot of people who are sitting on the sidelines, who have a sense of cynicism and jaded or jaundiced."
She said a person was needed to inspire confidence within TT, such as addressing corruption and street crime.
"You cannot separate white-collar crime from the crime you see on the street. It makes you wonder why the scanners were not working."
She complained about TT's having too few patrol helicopters for use against crime and the DPP's Office having only 57 attorneys when it needed 134.
Nunez-Tesheira called for a new unit combating white-collar crime and money laundering plus action towards faster DNA and ballistics testing.
"There are so many things that can be done – and why aren't you doing those things? That's why people are so disenchanted. That's why they turn a blind eye now."
Nunez-Tesheira said there was a glaring lack of conversation in the public sphere about TT's illicit drug trade.
"That's why people stay quiet and that's why people are disenchanted."
She said Government lacked the commitment to deal with real issues of TT's criminal underbelly and income inequality.
Otherwise, the party statement said HOPE was the only party with a former finance minister in its leadership, announcing its Breaking Down the Budget series.
"Who better to explain to the nation about the nuances of a budget than someone who actually sat in the 'hot seat'?
"The pre-budget content is aimed at demystifying the budget for the average citizen and pointing persons in the direction where they should focus or ask pertinent questions once the minister reads the budget presentation on Monday."
Once the budget speech is read, HOPE will issue its response and continue its stakeholder engagement sessions, community outreach initiatives and cottage meetings.
"The past 13 years have been a series of repeated but broken promises and lacklustre delivery. Therefore, the expectation is more of the same – politicking rather than performance," the statement said. "The nation is not where it should be and deserves better, but more will be said on that."
The statement said HOPE had created a draft constitution, established itself on the main social media sites, and drafted 15 national policies aided by subject-matter experts. The party will hold five regional launches, starting in November in Sangre Grande, and an inaugural national convention in early 2024.
The statement listed the interim executive:
Political leader: Timothy Hamel-Smith
Deputy leader (governance): Louis Lee Sing
Deputy leader (finance): Karen Nunez-Tesheira
Chairperson: Steve Alvarez
General secretary: Melisa Raghunanan-Niamath
PRO and chair of strategy committee: Rudolph Hanamji
Party organiser: Deosaran Jagroo
Chair, youth, sports & community development committee: Anarion Mason
Chair, diversity, equity & inclusion committee: Dennise Demming