Porous borders, a failed COVID-19 education campaign and no vaccines are the main reasons for the rising positive cases in T&T.
Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday hit on those three points during her contribution to the debate on matters pertaining to the State of Public Emergency.
The Opposition leader was interrupted twice yesterday by both Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
House Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George upheld only one of the AG’s Standing Order citations but dismissed the other.
“Perhaps the next time, the Honourable Attorney General will pick up the Standing Order book and pelt it at us. But we will not stop speaking,” Persad-Bissessar said to desk thumping from the United National Congress (UNC).
Persad-Bissessar said the Government’s public information exercise is one that “does not engender trust”.
“One that people are not receiving, not taking the message,” she said.
With regards to the porous borders, Persad-Bissessar described them as “wide-open”.
“Persons are coming in unchecked,” she said, questioning whether the more deadly Indian variant of the Covid-19 virus would enter the country through those porous borders.
Last month, it was confirmed that the P1 Brazilian variant was already in the country, brought in by an infected Venezuelan migrant. Persad-Bissessar questioned whether the Indian variant would enter the country in the same way.
“So it would not be too long unless we close those borders down when that Indian variant will also be found in T&T,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar recalled the Government saying that it “beat Covid last year” when the numbers were very low.
“How did we go from we beat Covid last year State of Emergency?” Again I say that one of the major reasons has to do with the lack of vaccines for the population,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar questioned whey other Caribbean islands were able to vaccinate more of their population than T&T.
“How come Barbados got? How come they have vaccinated more of their population than we have? How come all these small islands around us, they don’t have our per capita income, they don’t have our GDP (Gross Domestic Product), you know what they also don’t have? They don’t have the PNM as a Government so they manage better with the testing, they’re managed better with the vaccinations,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar asked the Government for its plan to deal with the economy and COVID-19.
“Apart from locking down the country, what?” she asked.
Persad-Bissessar said that the Prime Minister missed the opportunity to have the private sector get involve and help with procuring vaccinates.
Two months ago, business conglomerate ANSA McAL said it had access to one million AstraZeneca vaccines and met with the Ministry of Health on the matter but reports circulated that the company wanted a tax break in the coming year.
Persad-Bissessar said that the tax break report was inaccurate.
“Erroneously it was reported that they wanted a tax break. That is not what they asked for,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said that the private sector said they had to pay a certain amount in taxes and wanted to keep that tax payment to purchase vaccines.
“They asked for a tax credit in the amount that they would use to pay for it (vaccines),” she said.
She told Rowley that history would condemn him for his role in the handling of this pandemic.