we must do better: Kamla Persad-Bissessar

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'Crime remains our top priority'

By Anna Ramdass

The fight against crime will remain the Government's top priority in 2013, says Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

In her new year's message to the nation, Persad-Bissessar said that crime reduction must be relentlessly pursued with a renewed emphasis and vigour on the removal of arms and ammunition from the streets and the criminals.

"As we move forward into 2013, the security of the nation and the security of our citizens will remain my top priority," she said.

"We must do better in this area. We must improve our intelligence about how guns arrive here and how they are made available to criminals," she added.

Persad-Bissessar said further that the abuse of children will also demand closer attention.

"Abuse is not only physical. It is psychological and verbal also. Too many children are being scarred and some for life by abuse," she said.

Abuse, she said, also takes other forms which include poor nourishment, lack of opportunities for full development of the potential of the child, deficient environments where the child lives and goes to school and, simple neglect.

"In all of these areas we need to make amends. My aim of creating child friendly communities is still much alive. This means that any impediments to a child's growth, development and happiness must be addressed," said Persad-Bissessar.

The Prime Minister noted that the issue of domestic violence also need intervention as she noted instances of horrible domestic cases the past year.

She said there is need for communities to become more aware about these cases and have at the level of the villages and towns persons who can intervene at a very early stage.

"This brings to mind the need for us to strengthen our mediation centres across the country," she said.

In 2013, she said, the construction drive will continue.

Public housing, police and fire stations and schools are all earmarked for construction.

In addition, she said the infrastructure need of the people will be met, in particular in the rural areas in the provision of water and the development of local roads and drainage as well as the enhancement of recreation facilities and public transport will be emphasised.

Persad-Bissessar assured that her Government will continue to deliver good governance adding that procurement legislation is in the works to ensure this.

She added that consultation is key to the people of this country and as such she declared that 2013 will be a year for collaboration.

"I have noted that in many cases of dissonance which plays out as an issue of governance, the problem is about bureaucracy and the slow pace of the public service. I make an appeal to public servants that we must improve on our service delivery," said Persad-Bissessar.

"The tax dollars and revenue of the country pays us all. Citizens are our employers, all of us, politicians included. It takes too long to process applications for pensions, gratuities, National Insurance Benefits, applications for work permits, certificates of character, cleaning of drains, repairs to public buildings, upkeep of parks, cemeteries and recreational facilities. The public service must be reformed as quickly as possible," she added.

The Prime Minister also said that 2013 will see her Government fulfilling its manifesto promises and will witness a start of the consultations on the Constitution as well as consultations on the Local Government Transformation and Modernisation Policy document of the Ministry of Local Government dealing with Local Government Reform.

She reiterated her Government's commitment to treating Tobago with dignity and equality as the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election nears.

"In this regard no other Administration has held as many Cabinet meetings in Tobago as the current Administration. Further, the laying and debating of appropriate legislation in Parliament before the THA elections will demonstrate without a doubt our commitment to Tobago as an equal partner," she said.

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