Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday added three new members to the Community Recovery team which will be looking into issues affecting residents of East Port-of-Spain and other underprivileged communities.
The new members are Olympic gold medallist Hasely Crawford, economist Keron Victor and music producer Christopher “Jillionaire” Leacock.
Rowley met with the group, which is headed by psychologist Anthony Watkins, yesterday and released the information via a video and press release.
“I am looking forward to you coming up with the basket of solutions for the basket of problems in an ongoing action-oriented problem,” Rowley told the group.
The PM assured that the group, which was formed following last week’s protests in Port-of-Spain by members of East Port-of-Spain communities over the killings of three Morvant residents, was not an election ploy.
“I have flatly refused to do anything with this group about any election. Because I think it would be an insult to me personally to take any credit or advantage of you coming here for election purposes. Because what I have asked you to do and what I am going to keep asking you to do is not about an event. This is about staying the course and creating vehicles for people who want to be transported out of a situation that is getting the better out of them on a daily basis,” he said.
Noting the history of Laventille, he noted there was a limit to what any government could achieve with such programmes and said this one would be no different.
“Anytime I hear people say, well Laventille is failing because the government hasn’t done this and the government hasn’t done that … I’ll just tell you all, I don’t subscribe to that approach. There is a limit to what the government can do. There are serious responsibilities for the government to discharge, which it must discharge. But there are some more serious responsibilities elsewhere that must be discharged by the participants,” he said.
He urged Watkins’ team to call for the resources to ensure they get the job done in the communities.
“It is not going to be simple. But if the community is not willing to be helped by your presence then you cannot help the community. Money is not going to buy you love and success in there,” he noted.
“One thing you can look forward to, as we prepare the national budget in the next few weeks, there will be a line item of some significant financial support to support your effort in action planning these problems where they exist.”
He added, “If affirmative action is required, then that is what it has to be. Otherwise the sore will fester. Equity and equality are not the same thing. These are the nuances with what you have to deal with.
“There is a sensitivity that goes with this. A lot of the problem that you will be facing, to put it boldly and straight, is a problem of the Afro-Trinidadian.
“These areas where the problem exists and the people who are in these situations are people of Afro- Trinbago. There is no burying your head in the sand over that. If you are prepared to bury your head in the sand and not confront the issue then you are fighting with one hand behind your back. You need to confront that issue.”