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LAUNCH OF UNC MANIFESTO; SEPTEMBER 29, 2002. I_icon_minitimeThu Jun 06, 2019 9:20 pm by Honeylu

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PostSubject: LAUNCH OF UNC MANIFESTO; SEPTEMBER 29, 2002.   LAUNCH OF UNC MANIFESTO; SEPTEMBER 29, 2002. I_icon_minitimeFri Nov 08, 2013 1:00 pm

Restoring Trust in a New Nation


Imagine… it is the morning of October 8, 2002. The UNC has won the elections and President Robinson has called on the Political Leader, Mr. Basdeo Panday to form a government for the third time since 1995.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the work has now begun. We were on the verge of a major tragedy that has been averted, and a new opportunity has come our way to restore trust in our new nation. We must now begin to look beyond the immediate strategic aim of winning this election. We cannot expect that electoral victory alone can satisfy the aspirations of our supporters and the citizens of our nation.


What is this tragedy that has been averted? ‘Nation states exist to deliver political goods- security, education, health services, economic opportunity, social mobility for the poor and disadvantaged, a healthy environment, a legal framework of order and a judicial system to administer it----nation states fail because they can no longer deliver positive political goods to their people, - Somalia, Yugoslavia, Rwanda are but extreme examples. Haiti, Columbia and Guyana are near cases, nearer at home and in almost all cases the root causes lie in ethnic, religious or other inter-communal conflicts and in the growth of criminal violence.

Thanks to the people of Trinidad and Tobago we have escaped that pitfall -- we must now take steps to protect our future.

We are thus moving into a new era of politics… a different kind of politics from that which existed at the time of our political independence. We must now reject the politics of monolithic parties which equate their interest with the national interest. Instead, we must embrace the new politics of coalitions, alliances and consensus building with the widest possible representation in the governing process.

But that is not all. To recreate the welfare state is to shirk our responsibility for shaping a modern society -- a society built on empowerment as opposed to perpetual dependency. What is sometimes missed in popular politics is that those who may appear to benefit from the welfare measures are in the long run the real losers, for the foundations are not based on empowerment and choice, but on handouts and loss of confidence.

NewsWeek magazine of Sept 16-23, 2002 quoted Bernd Marin, an expert on social welfare policy as follows, ‘complete collapse of the welfare system will occur between 2012 and 2015- if nothing is done.’

Thanks to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, we have averted that collapse, and let us deal head-on with the issue of poverty in this land of ours. The state has a crucial role in this regard. We need to address the issue of poverty, whether it is urban poverty or rural poverty. The human suffering in this land is becoming unbearable.

How do we reduce this suffering? Perhaps through education, the creation of jobs and land reform. But these are long-term solutions. In the short-term, we need to provide training, income support and motivations through pro-poor private sector programs.

We cannot sit by and see the lives of our young people destroyed by the ravages of crime, violence, drugs, and HIV/AIDS. Government, private sector and community leaders must work together to implement programs that will break the chains of poverty.

We must give these forgotten communities a sense of pride.

And on the question of accountability, there can be no compromise. Our systems of accountability must be strong, and resources must be made available for the effective functioning of these institutions so that our people can have total confidence in the system.

It is for these reasons, we have boldly asserted that we must get our politics right.

Societies that do not get their politics right cannot really get democratic development going, and this leads to lost opportunities and lost generations.

On our platform, we have carefully set out our vision statement for the nation.

Our vision is to transform Trinidad and Tobago by mobilizing the diverse talents of our population and the natural resources of our country. We must move towards a knowledge-based society with a globally competitive, technologically driven and diversified economy that will sustain full employment, equal opportunity, growing prosperity, a secure life, and the highest standard of living for all our citizens.

In the 1960s Trinidad and Tobago had a higher per capita income than Singapore, Hong Kong and Barbados. Now, these countries have moved ahead of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados, Hong Kong and Singapore are rated above Trinidad and Tobago in terms of itshuman development. Today, Singapore’s per capita income is five times that of Trinidad and Tobago, and while Trinidad and Tobago’s gross foreign reserves amount to around US $2billion, Singapore (a country with barely 5 million people) has reserves amounting to over US $75 billion.

In the 1990s, countries like China, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia and Singapore grew by over 5% per year. What do these fast growing countries have in common? They save and invest over 30% of their national income. They are also export oriented. Foreign investment has a role to play in complementing local savings, but ultimately a country must depend on its resources and efforts if it is to develop self reliance. Development cannot be imported.

More specifically, we have set ourselves the tasks:

* to increase our per capita income from US$ 8,450 to
US$ 15,000 by the year 2010;

* to manage the economy to target an average growth rate of 6.5 % per year;

* to reduce unemployment from the existing 12% to 5% by the year 2010;

* to create 15000-20000 new jobs per year;

* to reduce our poverty rate from an estimated 20% to the World Bank target of 10% by 2010.

These targets are our goals, and our policy prescriptions in investment, trade, monetary and fiscal policy, and economic programming will be directed to meet these goals, as we give priority to building an economic platform for our next generation.

A key imperative facing Trinidad and Tobago today is how to manage the expected windfall emerging from wealth creation in the energy sector. To do so for the benefit of our people, a clear plan of action is necessary and must include the following two factors:

The development of sustainable wealth creation sectors in addition to the energy sector.

Linking the economic fortunes of the energy sector to address the poverty problems in the country.

We need to bring the energy sector into the mainstream economy in the shortest possible time. Today most of the large firms in the energy sector are outsourcing services such as maintenance, accounting, purchasing, plant turnarounds and other services. We must foster the continued development of goods and services for the energy sector.

We will offer incentives and support that will build a local investor class that will be directly involved in the ownership and exploitation of our natural resources, with special reference to our oil, gas and petrochemical industries.

Today, in Trinidad and Tobago, we are witnessing the alarming situation of social fragmentation. Instead of working towards national consensus and community building, we see the widening and deepening of the gap between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless and this is transmitted across generations.

As a nation and as a party, we have made mistakes – now is the time to steer a new course. The key issue in this election is not about mechanics of government, important as it is, but rather on the philosophy of government.

Now more than ever we must ensure equal opportunities for all.


We need to foster social cohesion through our program of National Unification.

The UNC vision is for one, single, indivisible people drawn from the diverse groups that make up Trinidad and Tobago. For, informed by the Politics of Unification, we shall build a Party of All the People so as to create a Government and State of the Whole People, as we embark upon the task of building our model nation.

The National Unification Strategy has as its goal, the creation of a whole new state system. To do so, we must first put in place the systems and structures that would allow for the re-socializing of the citizenry at large, as well as the evolution of a new regime of political and social values, and a new code of ethics in the management of public affairs.

These are pre-requisites for the evolution of a higher social and emotional intelligence, necessary for developing an advanced community of human beings, the real basis for a new and higher civilization.

To this end a Bureau for National Unity, comprising all the critical interests groups in our society, including and especially the major political forces of the day, will be established to engineer the Unification processes.

This Bureau will be functional at the various levels of the national community.

In keeping with the unification approach to development, a “Youth Parliament” will be established, bringing together young people from “all contending political parties, religious groups, trade unions, business and community organizations.”

The Youth Parliament will develop and implement a national agenda for Trinidad & Tobago and will be responsible for developing a “Youth Business Council.” The main aim of the proposed council will be to nurture the business talents and aspirations of young people in the country and to channel them into productive wealth- producing enterprises.

And importantly, we must provide strong leadership that will utilize the resources of the state to protect our citizens. If we are to develop a strong society, we must encourage our citizens to take responsibility for themselves. We will provide support for individuals and families when they need it.

We need to create a strong society built on respect for all people whatever their race, colour, class, religion, gender and age. We must never allow lawlessness to be the norm in Trinidad and Tobago. And we cannot allow Trinidad and Tobago to fail.

The stakes are high and the choice is crucial.

Therefore, in moving to electoral victory as a party, let us forever keep in mind that higher ultimate national interest that we must forge.

We in the United National Congress must now reject the politics of senseless confrontation and embrace the politics of peace, putting shoulder to the wheel to build a society that would endure the test of time -- one which would be a model to the world.

In so doing, we would restore trust in our nation.

Let me end with some words of inspiration from that great philiosopher, Rabindranath Tagore:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into narrow domestic walls;

Where words come out from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action;

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let our country awake.
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