By Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC
Unlike our opponents, the United National Congress (UNC) spent several months developing our National Economic Transformation Master Plan. We have a plan to transform and move our country forward. We have built our plan on five interconnected guiding principles that put you the people first in everything that we set out to do.
Peopled centred development – Getting people back to work
The core philosophy of the UNC is that our nation’s greatest resource is our people. Build up our people, and we will build our nation. A new UNC government remains dedicated to creating jobs and getting people back to work, safeguarding social equity and justice and protecting people’s rights.
We commit to supporting lifelong learning, skills building and giving full rein to the enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity of all our citizens. Putting you back into jobs is our priority so you can care for yourself and your family. We have done it before, and I assure you we will do it again.
We are looking at a proposal for government to give a percentage of wages of workers so that businesses can put people back to work. This is for those businesses that were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in workers being laid off. I will reveal more about this after discussions with the business community.
Pro-business – Allow the private sector to drive growth and development
We will follow a pro-business strategy, which allows the private sector to be the main driver of economic growth, transformation, and sustainable development. A new UNC government will focus on improving the ease of doing business, tackling crime, removing obstacles to business growth and expansion, and attracting local and foreign investments by providing an enabling environment and necessary incentives.
Had it not been for the business incentives that my government put in place in 2010 to 2015, the economy today would have been much worse off. These incentives that we would provide to stimulate economic activity will become the engine of the vehicle to get us where we need to be.
Resilience – Deepen economic reforms but with a human face
Deepening economic reforms with a human face is a powerful force for sustainable development. A new UNC government will focus on:
- Improving the economy’s resilience to future shocks;
- Bringing the budget into balance;
- Stabilizing high public debt;
- Protecting our external position;
- Safeguarding financial stability;
- Reducing poverty;
- Closing the income inequality gap between rich and poor, and;
- Providing a safety net for the poor and vulnerable.
One hand does not clap; we must collaborate to get it done because people’s issues and needs must be balanced with policy and direction.
Local content – Give people a sense of ownership and independence
Local content has the potential to stimulate broad-based economic development, which will give a sense of ownership and independence to everyone in our society. All projects will include opportunities to maximize local content and local value-added through jobs, skills training, procurement of goods and services and technology transfer.
Reducing our high propensity to import will be addressed through a meaningful national, local content policy which focuses on our existing agriculture and manufacturing sectors as well as the entertainment industry. Side by side we stand must engender greater meeting we must not only talk the talk but walk the walk.
Sustainability – Promoting environment stewardship
Trinidad and Tobago are blessed with abundant natural resources, from forests and wildlife to rivers and wetlands to coastal and marine ecosystems. This natural environment is the foundation of our well-being and, by extension, our economy. We must promote greater environmental stewardship, making more responsible use of renewable resources and ensuring water, food, and energy security.
Our children and their children must inherit a better Trinidad and Tobago than us. This is not a time to choose between red and yellow. It is not about the party card you hold but about what you hold in your heart for Trinidad and Tobago, your family, and the generations to come. This is a time for us to join hands, heal and help create a better tomorrow. We just cannot go on like this staring blankly at the future under a hapless Dr Keith Rowley administration.
A new UNC government pledges to create 50,000 new jobs by 2025. At the heart of this job-creation plan is the diversification of our economy. For far too long, our country’s economic fortunes have been too closely linked to the energy sector. We will encourage strategic investments in niche non-energy sectors where we have a strong competitive advantage, market opportunity and growth potential. Our plan embodies a “business unusual” spirit. This spirit will see the private sector take the lead in strategic projects while the government will play a facilitative role.
Of the many interventions, we have identified and singled out 12 prosperity engines spread across communities in Trinidad and Tobago. These prosperity engines will mobilise and engage the private sector, both local and international, and their implementation will have large positive multiplier effects in kickstarting the economic recovery, fostering growth and supporting diversification.
This is the kind of innovation and performance that ‘Mr Blank’ is incapable of creating.
The twelve prosperity engines:
- Brechin Castle agro-processing complex
- Organic sugar and sucrose derivative manufacturing facility
- East-West biotechnology manufacturing corridor
- Sevilla digital innovation park
- Tamama ‘Solartech’ renewable energy park
- West Port of Spain Trini creative arts street/area
- East Port of Spain steelpan manufacturing facility
- Piarco airport maintenance, repair, and operations hub
- Cedros/Moruga Southwest peninsula economic zone
- Point Galeota energy logistics hub
- Plymouth international cruise ship/marina complex
- Tobago’s first locally branded hotel
Do you see how a UNC government will fill in the blanks?
The UNC is the best option to move Trinidad and Tobago forward. My friends, we can safely say today that the UNC is not only the best hope for Trinidad and Tobago, but we are the last hope for our overburdened nation. The UNC’s plan and vision are based on people-centred development and getting our country working again.
This election do not complain about the things you’re not prepared to change. On August 10 fill in the blanks: put your X next to the rising sun. The time is now – together we will rescue, restore and renew our great nation. There has never been a time more important than now as there has never been such a crying need to remove the most incompetent, uncaring and uncouth prime minister ever seen in the history of Trinidad and Tobago.
But we are united in our struggle and strong. Together we will get Trinidad and Tobago working again.