UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar unveiled a seven-pillar manifesto yesterday, promising free computers for secondary school students and an improved prison system. She was introduced to the podium to Helen Reddy's hit tune I am Woman, which sent supporters into a frenzy.
Thousands waved flags, and one person even fainted in the heat. But as the sun set, Persad-Bissessar told supporters that they would rise from the abyss of darkness which the Patrick Manning regime had imposed on citizens over the past nine years. She said the Manning legacy had failed the people of T&T and it was time for a new beginning. "The hard work of building this economy stands before us...We are now faced with a troubled economy globally," she said. "It is not going to be easy because deterioration has set in almost every area of our society."
She also said there was a crisis of trust among the population, and the People's Partnership would have to stabilise the economy, rebuild society and to restore trust in Government. She said the immediate task was to introduce greater accountability in Government. She also called on Prime Minister Patrick Manning to stop attacking the media, as it was a pillar of true democracy. Acknowledging that there would be challenges, Persad-Bissessar vowed to build unity.�She said pillar one of her manifesto would ensure that there would be an education-driven strategy which would support diversification of the economy, creating less energy dependence and business growth in the knowledge sectors.
"Pillar two of our development strategy will deal with poverty eradication and social justice," Persad-Bissessar said. "The number of people who continue to live under the poverty line is about 20 per cent. For an energy-rich society, this is unacceptable. "We will set a target of�two per cent reduction of poverty per year, beginning 2011 and we will lift the people out of poverty on a household basis by a range of strategies outlined in the manifesto," Persad-Bissessar said. She also vowed to expand information communication technologies, saying: "We will provide a computer to every student who enter secondary school, as well as provide community-based Internet cafes so that every home will have a basis for e-learning."
She said the People's Partnership would create a more diversified, knowledge-intensive economy. The UNC leader also promised to improve national and personal security. "We will rethink the prison system, reorganise the justice system and make interventions in a preventative nature," she said.
Persad-Bissessar said her Government would also create good governance and people participation. "We will strengthen existing institutions, enhance democracy and strengthen execution and delivery capacity," she said.