Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Gail Alexander

T&T is now a collapsed economy with 120,000 jobless and over 6,000 businesses closed yet people who barely have money must now travel out of their areas to get their children vaccinated, says UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

”I call on the Prime Minister to intervene and ask his Education and Health Ministers to get together and get more equitable arrangements in terms of the selection of distribution sites for children,” Persad-Bissessar said at Monday night’s UNC Monday Night forum.

“This is another example of the PNM’s victimisation and incompetence where a large segment of pupils are being discriminated against.”

She said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was a “would-be Messiah” who was revelling in vaccines while recent public opinion polls had shown dissatisfaction with his Government’s management of the pandemic.

She took issue with the 14 sites for distribution of Pfizer vaccines adding that people from Penal and Kuchewan Trace had to go all the way to Pleasantville for their children to be vaccinated and when many don’t have money to pay for transport.

“People from Barrackpore and other areas have to go to La Brea also. Why not open the MIC centre in Penal and use that for the vaccination drive, why discriminate against them and send them all the way to Pleasantville, why not use other public facilities or schools in the areas. People are unemployed!”

Persad-Bissessar slammed Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s statements on the economy which he delivered Monday, including on assistance for small and medium businesses.

“He’s coming to talk about grants but he’s a false Messiah. He’s attempting to show he cares for the small and medium business sector while he’d totally ignored their cries for help,” she declared.

She said Government had spent over $300 billion to date with “little to show for it” and there were many “side effects” from so many jobless and businesses closing.

“He said only 4,000 people out of 24,000 applicants got the salary grant so far – disgraceful! They have not processed any VAT refunds for the small/medium businesses which would have given them some relief – pay the people their VAT! It’s not your money!”

“Imbert hasn’t intervened with banks for small businesses, nor has he processed salary grants for employees of these businesses – so who do they think they’re fooling with this (plan for SMEs)? It’s too little too late – like everything PNM does. And they haven’t paid garbage or other service contractors either – adding to the collapse of the economy.”

Persad-Bissessar said there has been no word from Government on how it will handle Carnival and if it would be made part of a cultural renaissance which she said can aid T&T’s economy.

Persad-Bissessar called for Government to make Public Health regulations clearer so people would know where they can go. She also called on members of the Board of Petrotrin’s company legacy company to account on the court award regarding the AV Drilling issue.

Saying the board must do what is right and She alleged fees for four of the company’s attorneys ranged from $1.9m, $1.4m, $1.6m and $450,000.

UNC MP Rudy Indarsingh called on the Prime Minister to respond on claims of land grabbing in Central Trinidad. He said he was advised by constituents this was occurring in Balmain with people being advised to occupy and “were promised they’d be regularized ahead”. He said the PNM Government’s low approval rating in a recent poll showed the public’s dissatisfaction with its performance. Former UNC senator Taharqa Obika urged citizens to take pictures of places that have been closed or are up for sale or rent now due to economic issues.