A qualified apology by Minister of State in the Ministry of the People, Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, over comments she made about People’s National Movement (PNM) leader Dr Keith Rowley has failed to q
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PM woos Caribbean nurses to T&T
ST VINCENT: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has invited nurses from the Caricom region to work in T&T in a bid to ease T&T’s nursing shortage. Persad-Bissessar made the offer on Tuesday at the same time the Government rendered further assistance to St Vincent to help that island’s ongoing efforts to rebuild after last December’s devastating flood damage. Persad-Bissessar handed over TT$150,000 worth of water pipelines and materials to repair St Vincent’s demolished water systems.
She was showered with praise for almost 20 minutes by St Vincent Prime Minister, Caricom chairman Dr Ralph Gonsalves who noted T&T has already rendered aid in materials and other facilities estimated at around US$2.4 million. “She’s shown herself to be a true friend of the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines. I want to express the deepest thanks on behalf of everyone to my sister Kamla...T&T responded immediately after the hurricane due to the generosity of the spirit of Kamla,” Gonsalves added.
“She has a deep sensitivity to things —it touches her, it’s a noise in the blood, an echo in her bones,” Gonsalves added. Persad-Bissessar and Gonsalves undertook the handing-over at St Vincent’s Water Service Authority during a break in the second day of Caricom’s 25th Intersessional conference. The PM left St Vincent after the leaders had caucused on over six issues most of the day.
Persad-Bissessar’s offer to Caricom to accommodate regional nurses willing to work in T&T was the latest in a string of invitations to regional states during the Intersessional meeting, heightening T&T’s profile in the regional grouping. And it was sealed at Monday night’s Caricom cocktail dinner when Persad-Bissessar and Gonsalves duetted on the pop song, That’s What Friends Are For.
Persad-Bissessar said T&T also piloted a proposal for all Caricom missions to share diplomatic facilities wherever in the world some states have missions and others do not. That arose after she suggested that Caricom states share T&T’s diplomatic mission in China. The PM also said leaders are examining ways to allow Guyanese students to study at the Hugh Wooding Law School and change a system which mitigated against this.
On joint efforts which T&T proposed, she added if all states steered the same boat “we’ll all float together.” Dispelling perceptions about T&T’s assistance for the region, Persad-Bissessar said the Government is willing to help, but couldn’t give what it didn’t produce.
Gonsalves, who said he was “very, very happy” Persad-Bissessar was at the meeting, said he and Persad-Bissessar had developed a close friendship. “Even when we disagree on matters they’re not fundamental, we’re cut from the same social cloth of looking after the people,” he said. Saying some Vincentians lost everything and some are still suffering in St Vincent from the hurricane “hit,” he said Persad-Bissessar responded immediately to their plight, sending teams and other help.
“I’ll never forget her solidarity and contributions in, as the song says, ‘good times and bad,’” Gonsalves said. Gonsalves said 150 people are still in shelters. However, an EC$21 million housing programme is expected to be completed in six months. Tuesday’s Caricom talks focused on running Caricom’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security agency and sealing an outstanding Caricom/Canada agreement. Talks continued after Persad-Bissessar left on Tuesday.