Last update: 08-Dec-2013 4:55 am
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Kamla wants national forum
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has announced plans for what she called The National Conversation, a forum that will allow Trinidadians and Tobagonians to communicate their opinions directly to the Government via a Web site and a telephone hotline. In her speech ahead of Independence Day celebrations today, the Prime Minister said she will encourage community leaders from religious groups, NGOs, opposition groups and other stakeholders to join in the National Conversation.
She said the initiative was a response to the many people in society who were waiting to see further evidence that their faith in the Government they elected three years ago was not misplaced. It will be, she said, a specific and measurable expansion of the Government’s stewardship of the people. The PP’s “commitment to govern through consultation,” had brought about “sweeping changes in the governance of this country,” Persad-Bissessar said.
“I will ensure every opinion is garnered, each voice heard, and that the Government you elected acts in accordance with the will of the people.” Her speech pushed a message of unity, collectivism and dialogue. “When we speak to each other across the length and breadth of Trinidad and Tobago a better understanding will emerge among all groups.”
She acknowledged that although she had been listening to the voices of the people throughout her tenure, her Government’s plans and vision were not adequately reaching the population. She cited recent meetings with opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley as evidence of her commitment to unite the country politically and draw upon all of the country’s political resources and minds to solve problems such as crime.
“It is encouraging,” she said, “to see our Parliamentary colleagues joining with us, putting aside partisan politics in the interests of Trinidad and Tobago, as we too had done when we were in opposition.” On the issue of crime, she said there would be no excuses from her Government but rather “immediate positive results.”
After consulting security forces and affected communities for their opinions on tackling disorder and violent crime, she gave this guarantee: “I will wage a war unlike any seen before and at the end of the day, all of us, you and me, Trinidad and Tobago, will win.”
The PM described T&T’s economic position as robust and stable, and gave particular commendation to the Ministers of Finance who have served under her, Winston Dookeran and Larry Howai, whose “prudent economic planning and sagacity” had helped the country withstand much of the effects of the global economic recession. After having pushed the message of unity and collaborative effort, there was a brief, direct nod to the citizen as individual.
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi: “We must be the change we wish to see,” she said, “I am certain that each of us has a vision and a dream for our country...Citizenship is more than a legal designation. It is also a cultural ideal infused with a moral obligation. This is our shared responsibility.”
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