PORT OF SPAIN –– The battle lines have been drawn and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has declared there will be no surrender as she leads the People’s Partnership into the 2015 general election.
The theme for the Partnership’s fifth anniversary rally yesterday, at Constantine Park, Macoya, was The Renewal, and the Prime Minister, who fell ill last Thursday with high blood sugar, thundered that victory at the polls was certain.
May 24 marked exactly five years since the Persad-Bissessar-led People’s Partnership government swept into office with a landslide win, and yesterday the prime minister boasted that no other government had delivered as hers.
The election date will be announced next month when the Parliament is dissolved.
Boasting that her government had kept 90 per cent of its promises in its 2010 manifesto, the prime minister assured all promises made under her leadership would be delivered as she outlined some future plans for the development of the country.
She warned, however, that the detractors would be busy at work, but the people should not fall privy to the lies, attacks and propaganda.
“More than any other government, my government has delivered, in these past five years, and so today I assure you, we are ready for victory. The time has come, the time is here, we are ready to do battle to keep our great country on the path of success and progress and equality,” said Persad-Bissessar.
“Take heed, take note, take warning, do not be deterred by all the false, malicious and negative reports coming from the other side. They are desperate because they cannot contest our achievements and so you will see in the coming months even more than what has happened in the past five years. Believe it or not, many more scurrilous lies and attacks they will hurl at Partnership members and myself as your prime minister. I say to you today, do not fear them, do not let them break your spirit and your drive.” Persad-Bissessar said she had been the “most attacked” prime minister in this country’s history and that she continued to smile because she always put God in front and walked behind.
The prime minister said although her government had made significant progress in the fight against crime, more would be done. She said the first of 12 long-range patrol vessels to “lock down” and monitor the country’s borders was already here and would aid in the fight against drugs and ammunition trafficking, and human trafficking.
She noted one of the vessels cost US$35 million, compared to the US$135 million the former People’s National Movement administration wanted to spend for one.
Dealing with the issue of corruption, Persad-Bissessar said this would be addressed through the procurement legislation and a committee had been established by former Senate president Timothy Hamel-Smith to lead this charge and ensure implementation.
The prime minister challenged the people to examine her government’s track record compared to that of the PNM.
She said that all policies had been people-centred and despite the drop in oil prices this country continued to prosper.
Persad-Bissessar said there had been improvements across the board, from health to energy and industry, while the economy experienced growth.
She said in the past five years there had been billions in investments from international companies such as Shell, Mitsubishi, BP and BHP.
Inflation, she said, was brought to a low from 13.6 per cent in 2010 to less than seven per cent today. Unemployment was also reduced with the generation of thousands of jobs bringing the unemployment rate down to 3.1 per cent.
Persad-Bissessar said this meant 96.9 per cent of the labour force was gainfully employed.
The prime minister said it was clear from the figures that the people of the country were prospering, as more businesses were bring registered and cars being sold.
She noted that 5,600 new businesses had been registered in 2013 and 5,800 in 2014.
She added that under the new Business Names Act, more than 9,000 names were registered in 2013 and this was repeated in 2014. Persad-Bissessar further noted that, to date, some 786,297 vehicles were registered and a total of 33,683 vehicles were sold in 2014 compared to 2013 when only 26,066 vehicles were registered. In 2012, 27,488 vehicles were registered and in 2011, 18,837.
“Now, does this not reflect a buoyant economy?” she asked.
“If we tell you we will do it, we will do it! Put your faith in us as we have put our faith in you, and together we will build a better Trinidad and Tobago.”
She said the PNM represented Promises Never Materialize and the new faces on their team did not signal change as the party could not change.
She listed some of the projects the PNM promised but never delivered such as the Tobago international airport; a four-lane highway to Chaguaramas and causeway; the oncology centre; hospitals; and even the highway to Point Fortin.
The prime minister also paid tribute to United National Congress (UNC) founding father Basdeo Panday, who celebrated his birthday today.
Even though Panday has been very critical of Persad-Bissessar, she said yesterday that she was thankful to him for having faith in her.
Persad-Bissessar ended her 75-minute speech renewing a pledge to serving the country.
She also announced that her campaign website kamla2015.tt had been launched.
The celebrations concluded with Jamaican reggae star Romain Virgo taking the stage to entertain the huge crowd.