Tuesday 23 April, 2019

Venezuelan registration policy ill-conceived, Charles says

The Opposition has criticised Government's recently announced policy allowing Venezuelans to register to work for a period of one year in Trinidad and Tobago. 

In a statement, Naparima MP Rodney Charles said the policy, announced at Thursday's Post Cabinet media briefing, is "yet another example of the lack of thought and proper planning that characterises everything this PNM administration does".

Charles said the policy was crafted without reliable data, input from stakeholders, advice from international agencies or consideration of its consequences.

The Opposition MP predicted that the policy is likely to do more harm and make an already difficult and tense situation worse.

He accused Government of putting out conflicting messages noting that the Prime Minister first indicated that there would be no refugee camps set up in Trinidad and Tobago, then "pretending to be concerned". 

Below is the full statement from Charles:

The Government’s Venezuelan registration policy is yet another example of the lack of thought and proper planning that characterises everything this PNM administration does. National Security Minister Stuart Young has shown once again that he is woefully out of his depth.
This registration policy has been crafted without reliable data, input from stakeholders, advice from international agencies or consideration of its consequences. It is likely that this policy will do far more harm and make an already difficult and tense situation worse.
This Keith Rowley-led Government has gone from defending the Maduro regime and demonizing those fleeing Venezuela by saying he doesn't want “any refugee camp here”, to now telling the public that he will allow refugees to work here temporarily and access public services. The Government has gone from stirring up animosity to now pretending to be concerned.
This ad-hoc approach and conflicting messages will only further confuse the public on what exactly is the Government’s position and further add fuel to an already volatile issue.
Has the Government properly analysed the potential ramifications of its policy?
The UNC has three key questions we need the Government to answer:
What measures have been put in place to ensure our public services can cope with a dramatic increase in demand? Hospitals and health centres are already overstretched and buckling under the strain of poor management under this government.
Given that the government has implemented a short time window to apply for amnesty have they considered that this may incentivize a sudden rush over our border? If so how do they intend to deal with this?
What happens when the time period expires? The Government has said that they expect the crisis in Venezuela to be resolved within a year. On what basis have they made that determination, especially as nearly every major international organization has stated that they can see no clear end to this crisis? The government has been consistently wrong about everything concerning Venezuela. What makes them think they can rightly predict when this crisis will end?
Germany with over 80 million citizens virtually collapsed under the strain of 1 million Syrian refugees, or 1.2 % of its population, leading to an unprecedented growth of the far right. TT with a population of 1.3 million, considerably less resources and an incompetent administration is being asked to accommodate, according to UN estimates, at least 40,000 or 3% of our population. Three times the amount that wealthy Germany struggled to absorb.
Furthermore, this amnesty appears to be very discriminatory. What about refugees from CARICOM and African Commonwealth countries? Guyanese can be arrested if they overstay their visas. Will Guyanese willingly accept our country’s embrace in developing their energy sector?
The UNC has called from day one for a well thought out refugee policy that is humane, based on best international practices, recognizes the absorptive capacity of our country, is data driven and applicable to all refugees in a non-discriminatory manner.
This incompetent Rowley led administration is clearly not up to this task. A UNC administration led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar in 2020 will develop the kind of policies that make sense and which will lead us to first world status.

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