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Kamla at launch of ‘Colour Me Orange’: It can be extended
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has said she will consider if the Housing Development Corporation’s (HDC) three-month “Colour Me Orange” job programme can be extended beyond its three-month timeframe. “You’re not going to pressure me today,” Persad- Bissessar told the large audience of job-seekers at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference, St Ann’s, yesterday, after calls for extension of the HDC programme were shouted from the floor. The calls came as Persad-Bissessar was delivering the feature address at the launch, which is part of Government’s social intervention efforts within its anti-crime plan to follow the state of emergency. The initiative is geared at hot-spot and low-income areas.
Persad Bissessar entered the Hilton ballroom accompanied by former PNM stalwart, Christine “Twiggy” Livia, who wore an orange HDC T-shirt. The majority of the audience at the Hilton yesterday comprised people wearing orange jerseys who had applied for and received jobs in the programme. It involves refurbishing HDC rental units in Port-of-Spain, Morvant, Maloney, San Fernando and Couva. Persad-Bissessar said the “grassroots” programme was “targeted to breathe new life into the heart of our most troubled communities,” using community members to regenerate and restore their neighbourhoods. HDC chairman, Henckle Lall, who also spoke yesterday, said there had been 11,154 requests for repairs by HDC tenants.
Early in Persad-Bissessar’s address, calls from the audience urged the PM to extend the programme “to six months.” Similar calls were interjected at another point in her address when some persons called out: “We need an extension!” Persad-Bissessar said: “We are listening and we will give it consideration, so don’t despair. We’ll give it consideration, “We will look at it again, I’m sure the Minister of National Security and others will come up with some good things for you.” Housing Minister, Roodal Moonilal, during his address prior to the PM’s speech, had said if needed, when the programme was assessed, the HDC would approach the Prime Minister and Finance Ministry for further funding and further jobs.
On criticism of the programme, Persad-Bissessar said: “All those who say we are insulting you by giving you an opportunity to earn money to get a food, I say, they should take your mouths and put it where you don’t want to show it to anyone and let’s take the youth forward.” Persad-Bissessar asked the audience: “Are we insulting you by providing you with a job?” “No!” was the reply. She continued: “Is your Government using you by offering an opportunity to earn some money?” “No!” the audience responded. Persad-Bissessar said a PNMite in Parliament had said they did not like the colour orange. “I love it,” shouted one person from the audience.
Persad-Bissessar added: “Gone are the days of quick fix, hand-outs that take you nowhere. I want to give you a hand-up instead, into a future of self-determination,” She said Government’s next programme would be “CEPEP Santa” where CEPEP contractors would identify the disabled, elderly or very poor in their communities and engage in clean-up activities for them, including providing a Christmas meal for such persons. HDC’s Jearlene John said HDC had processed 7,000 “Colour Me Orange” applicants.
She warned participants that work was daily from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4 pm and that punctuality was necessary: “One strike and you’re out. You can’t do two jobs with this job, When you are found out, you’ll have to leave,” John warned. HDC’s Sangeeta Singh warned participants against wearing jewelry and various types of stylish shoes during work, among other rules. Moonilal said he would be touring some job sites from 7 am on Friday to start the programme.
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