Thursday 26 November, 2020

PM hits back at critics, defends Port of Spain revitalisation project

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speaking at opening of Diego Martin South Community Centre

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speaking at opening of Diego Martin South Community Centre

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has defended his government's recently announced plan to revitalise Port-of-Spain.

Speaking at the opening of the Diego Martin South Community Centre on Thursday, he said this initiative has been long in the making and was not a display of ignorance towards the challenges created by the pandemic.

"Nobody said we're gonna go out there and find 10 billion dollars and the Government will start to build this and build that. The work that we have been doing on the city of Port-of-Spain, the planning and execution, pre-dated COVID."

The plan was criticised by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, United National Congress (UNC) member Vasant Bharath and some social media users who deemed it out-of-touch.

Furthermore, Dr Rowley stated that all pandemics come to an end and so would COVID-19. 

"What is wrong with planning for life in the future? Isn't that what we all do? Who plans for life after death?"

The Prime Minister also responded to condemnation from the UNC over his alleged neglect of certain constituencies and had a message for Persad-Bissessar.

"Time to stop that dog whistle foolishness of race and division in Trinidad and Tobago. If we as a nation are talking about developing our capital city, how, when where and how that becomes developing one set of people?"

Meanwhile, Dr Rowley sought to shut down rumours of an unfair apportionment of constituency seats in favour of the People's National Movement (PNM).

This, as he expressed the belief that the rumour came from the Opposition. He added that it was a lie.

"Nothing is further from the truth. The reason why there are three seats in the Diego Martin area and one in Siparia is because Diego Martin has three times as many people as Siparia."

Dr Rowley reminded that the Elections and Boundaries Commission, an independent body, does the apportionment of seats based on how the population migrates. He said the Opposition was well aware of this since it is in the constitution.

"The reason why that could be done is because, in the constitution, there's a formula that tells you how seats are to be apportioned.

Turning his attention to the COVID-19 epidemic, Dr Rowley noted the latest reports of two successful vaccines against the novel coronavirus. He said the Government has paid substantial amounts of money for the official treatment and once acquired, will be shared among the population.

"When we get it in the country there'll be an orderly distribution to the most vulnerable first and then we'll spread it down to the population until eventually, we have enough coverage where the virus, hopefully, the vaccine will be successful in rolling back the virus, and its effects on us."

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