For the second night in a row, Prime Minister Patrick Manning last night hugged the television spotlight to boast of his Government's achievements.
Manning spoke for an hour to the nation and a live audience at Crowne Plaza, Port-of-Spain, detailing what he said were accomplishments in virtually every sector of activity. Communications specialist at the Office of the Prime Minister, Paige de Leon, put out members of the media from the Crowne Plaza. Manning and his wife, Hazel, along with other members of his Cabinet, People's National Movement (PNM) members and specially invited members of the business community were invited to a cocktail reception outside the Crowne Plaza ballroom after his address. To occasional rounds of lusty applause from a well-heeled audience, the Prime Minister spoke on matters ranging from inflation and unemployment rates, from crime to Clico, from savings to sports. "Look at Trinidad and Tobago now," Manning trumpeted, stating that people were returning to T&T for "a far better quality of life than many countries in the world."
He said: "There are few countries in the world that offer as many benefits and offer such a quality of life..." Manning said nationals were enjoying "a higher level of sustainable development." He said the Government's expenditure in new buildings was meant to create a "developed city centre" of Port-of-Spain "resembling several metropolis around the world." He said: "The time is now for you and your family to live in your own home. "The time is now for your children to aspire to higher education without worrying how mommy and daddy would pay for it." The Prime Minister said the local economy was strong and had been well managed, citing as proof the US$3.1 billion in the Heritage and Stablisation Fund, the country's stellar credit rating and its management of the global financial meltdown with limited dislocation.
About the sister isle, he proclaimed: "What Tobago wants, Tobago gets." In an address that was met by a standing ovation at its conclusion, Manning told of advances in healthcare, in the provision of State housing, in sports and arts and of plans to diversify the economy. While the address took the tone of a mixture of an election manifesto and a budget speech, there was no official rationale for the presentation with less than a week to go before Monday's polls. A press advertisement touted the speech as a "state of the nation" address. Manning itemised a string of Government initiatives but made only one direct reference to the election. He said that in his "new administration," he would call the local government election "on time." That election has been put off on three occasions.