By Caribbean News Global contributor
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Political leader of the United National Congress (UNC) Kamla Persad Bissessar, SC, has pledged to rebuild the national economy to ensure that the true potential of citizens is realised. Delivering the feature address at the Greater San Fernando Business Chamber Dinner on Sunday August 2, 2020, the UNC leader outlined her party’s plans to transform Trinidad and Tobago.
Commenting on the People National Movement (PNM) manifesto which was released 24 hours before her speech, [she] noted that not only did it lack a plan but 80 percent was based on achievements of the last government while 20 percent was based on “Blaming Kamla.”
The UNC leader highlighted the PNM manifesto was so bankrupt of ideas that they were even taking credit for the Couva Children’s Hospital, adding, “I don’t know what this government has against children in this country. They changed the name, but today I take full credit for that hospital in Couva that we constructed.”
With less than a week to go before the polls, the UNC leader continued to highlight the UNC’s National Economic Transformation Plan which she launched in October 2019.
She supported the sentiments of Economist Vaalmiki Arjoon, who also spoke at the event, of the need for lower taxes, noted, “The lower taxes and the benefits that will come, I have it in my manifesto that we will lower taxes, both personal and corporate taxes in order to get the business sector to grow so we totally agree that is a way to bring our economy back on a better track.”
The former prime minister further defined her plan for lower taxes, reiterated: “I said before and I repeat, we will reduce the tax burden. We will remove all these nuisance taxes – the online tax, will remove the online tax and we will remove that nuisance tax on lotto winnings – why is it you have to put a tax on lotto winnings?”
Building on her plans, the UNC leader reminded the population that a UNC government will repeal the property tax as part of a plan to return to fiscal sanity and fiscal responsibility.
While thousands of workers and businesses suffer from the fallout from COVID-19, the UNC leader sought to assure them that a UNC government would protect them through her proposed wage subsidy.
“A UNC government will provide a wage subsidy, that wage subsidy will be 75 percent of the minimum wage. That way you can keep your workers and you can keep your business going and that way, together with the private sector, we can get Trinidad and Tobago working again. So how we’ve envisaged it is 75 percent of the minimum wage,” the UNC leader said.
Persad-Bissessar also raised the troubling issue of the national security minister Stuart Young’s recusals from Cabinet meetings. She noted that it was surprising that Young called a media conference earlier on Sunday to defend his reputation on a ministry of national security platform.
The UNC leader stated: “The allegations of his frequent recusals from Cabinet meetings are completely fact as the document was an official cabinet document obtained through a Freedom of Information Request.
“The recurring lies from Young have hit an all-time low as he attempted to paint an official Cabinet document, signed by the secretary to the Cabinet – the Cabinet he is a part of – as a ‘UNC made’ document.
Is it that the secretary to the Cabinet is telling untruths on minister Young?” she asked. “This is the same Young who previously said that he chose to enter politics and joined the PNM because of Email Gate, a now proven lie.”
“Mere days away from general elections, this press conference by minister Young highlights the desperation of the sitting government,” the UNC leader said. “They continue to use the threat of legal action and the platform of State positions to mount personal attacks on members of the media as they try to silence any questions into their shady deals.”
“Time has run out and they will be held accountable by the taxpayers of Trinidad and Tobago for the over $2 billion in contracts awarded to family members,” Persad-Bissessar said.
The UNC leader concluded by saying that the party’s National Economic Transformation Master Plan is based on people-centred development and getting the country working again.
“The UNC is the best option to move our country forward,” she said. “We have the team, the vision, the plan, and we can get the job done.”