PORT OF SPAIN – Prime minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday urged T&T nationals in the United Kingdom to return home and help fight crime by sharing their experiences and expertise.
He made the appeal while addressing members of the T&T diaspora in London yesterday, as he expressed disappointment that none of them had applied for the post of commissioner of police (CoP) when it was advertised internationally.
Lamenting that T&T has not had a confirmed CoP for almost five years although crime was a major setback facing the country, the PM said: “T&T is at the gateway to the world where drugs, guns and ammunition comes in. International cooperation is needed. We cannot change our location.”
He added, “We were hoping that when the advertisement came out, we were sure that there were nationals somewhere who served in the British police service that at least one of you would have applied for commissioner or if not as a deputy.”
He lamented, “We are still in a situation where we are not able to get distinguished leadership that could rise through the ranks (of the TTPS) and take charge of the men to respond to the criminal element. It is a problem that we hope will not last for much longer.”
Rowley also said that T&T nationals are heavily dependent on subsidies and while the gas subsidy was removed, nationals are still enjoying subsidies on water and electricity.
“Even though we have taken away the subsidy of gasoline and diesel, we are still managing to travel around the country without it being a burden. There is an increase in products but from an individual level it has reduced waste.
“At home we grew up on subsidies. Water and electricity are heavily subsidized and the welfare programme is fourth largest in the budget. Yet in face of that, people will still tell you ‘I don’t get nothing from government,’” he said as the audience laughed.
Rowley also told the audience about the launch of two new entities to market Trinidad and Tobago tourism separately.
“Under the control of the Tobago House of Assembly, which has executive authority for Tobago, we have created a tourism entity which can market Tobago tourism under the THA. In Trinidad, we have Carnival and Divali and there is the Trinidad tourism entity which we are a little slow in getting going. We are marketing T&T tourism separately,” Rowley said.
He also said government had taken the decision not to devalue the T&T dollar.
“If you devalue the currency you get more T&T dollars and we can pay for debts, but after consultation we took the decision not to devalue the dollar on a sudden basis but to defend the currency up to $6.85,” he said.
Despite the economic turmoil, Rowley boasted that his Government had not cut public service jobs and has been working on cutting back the budget deficit. He said when he returns to T&T today, government will prepare to engage in a mid-year budget review.
But in an immediate response to Rowley’s address, Oropouche MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said, “The comic irony of Dr Rowley’s statements is that the reasons Trinidad citizens will not come back to T&T to help fight crime is because of crime and the economic downturn. Who will come here when they could be robbed or killed, when there is no apparent prospects in the business community, when the economy is on a decline? Residents will not return unless they see signs of hope in the economy and in the area of security.” (T&T Gleaner)