The Partnership Government has not been operating without a vision. The Prime Minister (PM) has been saying that she wants a T&T where people can fulfil their potential through a sound education, where T&T citizens can compete with the brightest in the world, where there will be prosperity for all and where the resources of the nation will be equitably distributed for the benefit of all. The PM recognises that the ability of T&T to succeed and create a sustainable economy and future will be dependent on knowledge as a competitive tool. Hence the emphasis on education including universal early childhood education. Part of her vision for T&T is to ensure that no one and no community feels less important or less respected than any other.
The Partnership has been “Governing For Every Citizen”. Too often governance is mistaken for what happens in Parliament. Too often governance is only associated with laws passed and crimes solved. Governance is also about how efficiently leaders respond to the needs of people, how their daily survival needs are assured, that they eat, they have shelter, that their children are in schools, that they have recreation facilities in their communities, that the price of food remains affordable, that they have running water 24/7, that their health care needs are met, that the elderly and the differently able are supported and that there are jobs and HOPE for young people.
These are the real issues of governance, what people can feel, taste and smell. It is also about decision quality. This administration has made mistakes but has always admitted these mistakes and taken corrective action. The humility of the PM in accepting her mistakes and apologizing stands out as the mark of a leader who is humble before the people.
The critics of the Government do not seem to favour the approach of the Government to ensure equitable distribution of resources. Consider how many times the members of the Opposition have objected to the UWI Campus in Debe as well as their cryptic comments they make about persons and development works “South of the Caroni.” Consider the not too veiled “racial” connotations they have been introducing in the national political discourse starting with the Calcutta ship in Tobago. Some of the people of Tobago may have fallen for the Calcutta ship propaganda. Be that as it may and even in the face of the loss in Tobago, the PP Government continues to meet its legal and financial obligations to Tobago.
In terms of governing for all, did the PP Government govern for a section of the population or for all of the citizens when it settled to date 75 outstanding labour agreements? Does the PP Government govern for a few when it continues to subsidize the price of diesel and gas? The subsidy on a litre of diesel as I am advised is about $4.75 per litre. If your tank of diesel holds 50 litres then every time you fill up the Government subsidy is $237.50. In keeping the subsidy is the Govt governing for a few or for all the citizens?
In building 74 schools geographically spread across the country is the gGvt governing for a few the citizens?
The Government converted the Chancery Lane Administrative Complex in San Fernando added 216 beds and created the Teaching Hospital for all citizens Minister Fazal Karim converted the El Dorado Girls Camp into a Nursing Academy and registered 1200 students for all citizens when the Oncology Centre is completed will it be for some or for all?
When all churches, mosques and temples receive $5,000 for their Christmas, Eid and Divali celebrations does the PM give to a few or to all who apply? No PM has sought to support the religious institutions as she has done. Last Christmas the parent Christian bodies were also given substantial grants to carry out their work. The Government recognises that if a values-based society is to be developed the religious institutions have to be supported.
The Government is making T&T a more business-friendly country thereby attracting higher foreign and local investments. It does so not for a few businesses and entrepreneurs but for all. Through such initiatives jobs are created and taxes are earned for the benefit of all citizens.
When the children’s hospital in Couva is completed will it not be for all our children? When a fire station is built in a community as is being done or when a police station is being constructed in a community are these for PP people or for everyone?
It is highly erroneous and political nastiness to conclude that the PP Government is not governing for all of our citizens. The evidence is there to see for those who do not wish to be blinded. Given the way the Opposition has governed during its times in office, if they return, this country will see a dramatic shift in governance from the point of view of equity, fairness and open and transparent management of the resources of the nation. The history of favouritism and nepotism by the Opposition is there for all to see. The time to coalesce around the Partnership that has demonstrated what it means to govern for all is NOW!
—Suruj Rambachan is Minister of Works and
Infrastructure and United National Congress (UNC) Deputy Political Leader