I am truly pleased and honoured on behalf of the People’s National Movement to present to you our innovative and forward-looking Manifesto for the upcoming August 10, 2020 General Election.
As you will appreciate, the last five years have been very challenging. Under very difficult economic circumstances, my Government has led a strong transformative effort to rebuild our economy and to restore a system of good values and faith in our public institutions. Although our current resources are inadequate to meet all of the needs and demands of our citizens, we are confident that collectively and with appropriate sacrifice we are achieving the desired results and are putting our country on a path of economic growth and human development.
The current situation with the Covid-19 Pandemic has made our circumstances even more difficult, but as we demonstrated in 2016 when the price of oil crashed, we in the PNM have the expertise, the experience, the institutional memory and knowledge, resilience and capability to weather and survive an economic storm.
Now, we are faced with the double shock of an oil and gas price collapse caused by a price war among the world’s largest producers and a global recession caused by the worldwide public health restrictions arising from Covid-19.
However, this country has demonstrated time and time again that when it is under pressure, it rallies and overcomes its problems, however insurmountable they may appear. Crises truly bring out the best in us, as is the case at the present time, as we show the world how a little country with just 1.3 million people can perform beyond expectations in dealing with a global pandemic and be ranked first in the world in terms of the systems we have put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and to protect and support our population and to provide the required fiscal stimulus to keep our people in jobs and the economy moving.
We met a crisis when we took office in September 2015 – a crisis spawned by a combination of external and domestic factors. The collapse of global oil and gas prices in the period 2014-2015 was a major shock which triggered a sudden and drastic decline in Government revenue, which had a domino effect throughout the economy. The management of the economy also had to consider the negative consequences of the irresponsible and reckless economic policies pursued by the previous administration over the period 2010 to 2015.
However, our mandate was clear. We were required to provide the country with an honest, clean and transparent Administration; revitalize an economy after several years of economic stagnation; and repair the fiscal accounts, which were seriously damaged by wasteful expenditure even as revenues deteriorated as a result of adverse commodity price shocks. We were also mandated by the people of Trinidad and Tobago to re-establish confidence and trust in the management of the country’s business.
Over the last five years, we have strengthened and adjusted the economy’s capacity to react to adverse shocks and circumstances. We have stabilized and restored self-sustaining growth in the economy and very importantly, we have created significant employment opportunities.
Where specific details of individual policy are not covered in this Manifesto, we will rely on the policy prescriptions in our comprehensive Roadmap to Recovery Report and in our Vision 2030 Document.
In summary, we in the PNM envision a society where integrity and morality in public life are of the highest priority and the Government serves the public good above all else, and where decisions are made and actions taken by the Government in the best interest of all concerned.
Our approach to governance in our next term will pay due attention at all times to the need for compassion and the respect for the rights and freedoms of all citizens in all matters. Most importantly, we recognise that we must diversify our economy away from overdependence on oil and gas. To achieve this our Roadmap to Recovery Report provides us with key areas of stimulus and growth in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, tourism, non-oil industry, arts and culture, the digital age, and services of all kinds, including financial services, medical services and Information and Communication Technology.
May I also present to you our 41 outstanding candidates who are drawn from all sectors of our society and represent the highest ideals and qualities of our people, and possess the integrity, competence and commitment required of elected representatives.
May God bless you all and may God bless our Nation.