Deportes

Opposition Leader wants meeting with PM to discuss COVID-19 impacts

The full text of the let­ter sent to PM Row­ley by the Op­po­si­tion Leader, fol­lows…

Dear Dr Row­ley,

I hope that this cor­re­spon­dence finds you in good health and good spir­its, de­spite the very se­ri­ous chal­lenges we cur­rent­ly face as a na­tion in the wake of the cur­rent COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. In­deed, it is for this very rea­son that I write to you seek­ing an ur­gent bi­par­ti­san meet­ing of our re­spec­tive Par­lia­men­tary teams (each se­lect­ed at their leader’s dis­cre­tion) to dis­cuss the se­vere eco­nom­ic, so­cial and med­ical threat that our cit­i­zen­ry faces at present from this dead­ly pan­dem­ic, with a view to en­sur­ing that at the end of the day, when the worst of the dis­ease has passed, we re­tain a democ­ra­cy that re­mains ready and able to func­tion in eco­nom­ic and so­cial sta­bil­i­ty and progress.

As a key na­tion­al stake­hold­er, the Op­po­si­tion UNC is re­spon­si­ble for 18 Par­lia­men­tary con­stituen­cies through­out the coun­try, as well as sev­en Re­gion­al Cor­po­ra­tions at the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment lev­el, which places more than half the pop­u­la­tion un­der our di­rect ad­min­is­tra­tive and leg­isla­tive purview. As you are well aware, how­ev­er, the very sys­tem of Par­lia­men­tary democ­ra­cy that gov­erns our na­tion in fact places the of­fi­cial man­date of gov­er­nance, and its at­ten­dant State re­sources and le­gal pow­er, at pri­mar­i­ly the Gov­ern­ment’s dis­pos­al.

In our na­tion’s his­to­ry, with good sense and faith­ful ad­her­ence to our de­mo­c­ra­t­ic prin­ci­ples, we have per­sis­tent­ly man­aged to make this ad­ver­sar­i­al Con­sti­tu­tion­al sys­tem work, es­pe­cial­ly since we have a long­stand­ing and high­ly ben­e­fi­cial tra­di­tion of bi­par­ti­san co­op­er­a­tion in ad­mit­ted­ly in­fre­quent times of nat­ur­al dis­as­ters and na­tion­al emer­gen­cies, which af­fect all our cit­i­zens in a man­ner that very of­ten threat­ens to de­stroy their lives and liveli­hoods. I am sure, Mr. Prime Min­is­ter, that as a long­stand­ing and very ex­pe­ri­enced ca­reer politi­cian and pub­lic ser­vant as I am, you would agree that the cur­rent COVID-19 is in­deed one such time of na­tion­al emer­gency. It thus­ly re­quires, in­deed, man­dates of us, that we set aside our par­ti­san in­stincts and seek to work to­geth­er in bat­tling this very dan­ger­ous threat to our na­tion’s on­go­ing eco­nom­ic and so­cial vi­a­bil­i­ty.

Giv­en the wide berth of cit­i­zens and stake­hold­ers that the Op­po­si­tion UNC rep­re­sents, in the past few days that the dread­ed COVID-19 en­tered our shores, our MPs, Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Coun­cilors and oth­er par­ty rep­re­sen­ta­tives have been in­un­dat­ed with ur­gent, anx­ious and of­ten pan­icked re­quests and pleas from a great num­ber of cit­i­zens across the coun­try, plead­ing with us to ad­dress key fears and emer­gency med­ical needs that they now face, but have no idea how to ac­cess them. On Fri­day I there­fore held an emer­gency meet­ing with my Par­lia­men­tary and par­ty of­fi­cials to de­ter­mine the most ap­pro­pri­ate way for­ward in ex­e­cut­ing our na­tion­al and leg­isla­tive du­ty to the na­tion­al pub­lic whom we were elect­ed to serve, and which we do with ho­n­our, ded­i­ca­tion and con­sid­er­able priv­i­lege.

It was wide­ly rec­og­nized that in times of such un­pre­dictable, dan­ger­ous and desta­bi­liz­ing na­tion­al emer­gen­cies, the Con­sti­tu­tion vests all re­sources and leg­isla­tive pow­er in­to the Gov­ern­ment of the day, and there­fore, if we are to best serve our con­stituents and cit­i­zens, we must at­tempt to en­gage said Gov­ern­ment to en­sure that they best ben­e­fit from the vast ar­ray of State re­sources avail­able to them as their ba­sic hu­man and Con­sti­tu­tion­al right. The de­ci­sion was there­fore tak­en by my par­ty and Par­lia­men­tary mem­bers, and of course sanc­tioned by my good self, to seek an ur­gent meet­ing with your Gov­ern­ment with a view to:

• Share the cit­i­zens’ health, labour and med­ical con­cerns and is­sues with the Gov­ern­ment to get a prop­er un­der­stand­ing of the State re­sources avail­able to them, and how best they can be ac­cessed, and al­so share our own sug­ges­tions there­in

• Share our own vast ex­per­tise and rec­om­men­da­tions in the ar­eas of Health and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, which are the two main sec­tors that would be called up­on to deal with a cri­sis of such a par­tic­u­lar mag­ni­tude and scale com­pa­ra­ble to that of a na­tion­al dis­as­ter, and of which, as a par­ty which twice formed Gov­ern­ment our­selves, we have con­sid­er­able knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence to of­fer

• Share the con­cerns of the var­i­ous small and medi­um sized busi­ness en­ti­ties whose eco­nom­ic vi­a­bil­i­ty are threat­ened by the cur­rent COVID-19 cri­sis and our own rec­om­men­da­tions there­in

• Dis­cuss any oth­er sug­ges­tions from both the Gov­ern­ment and Op­po­si­tion deemed rel­e­vant and nec­es­sary that will en­sure that any adopt­ed bi­par­ti­san ap­proach is in fact legal­ly plau­si­ble to ef­fec­tive­ly and ef­fi­cient­ly com­bat the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic in our coun­try.

I tru­ly be­lieve that this is in­deed the best way for­ward in the im­me­di­ate short term to most ef­fec­tive­ly serve our Con­sti­tu­tion­al and moral man­date as ca­reer politi­cians and high-lev­el pub­lic ser­vants.

I there­fore trust that you will se­ri­ous­ly con­sid­er my re­quest, Mr. Prime Min­is­ter, for I know that de­spite our Con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly pre­de­ter­mined op­pos­ing roles and dif­fer­ences, our long shared sim­i­lar­i­ties as two of the longest serv­ing na­tion­al ca­reer politi­cians who have both sat, at vary­ing times, in the es­teemed of­fices of Leader of Gov­ern­ment and Leader of the Op­po­si­tion, binds us in an eter­nal com­mon goal of de­liv­er­ing to our beloved na­tion and its equal­ly beloved cit­i­zen­ry, the best and most faith­ful ser­vice that we can ren­der in the no­ble pur­suit of our sa­cred man­date as na­tion­al lead­ers.

In this re­gard, I look for­ward to a re­sponse at your ear­li­est con­ve­nience, con­fi­dent in the knowl­edge that you will take in­to your ac­tive de­lib­er­a­tion, the very se­ri­ous na­ture of the na­tion­al cri­sis be­fore us, and, the cru­cial need to act with ex­treme ur­gency to re­solve it in my out­lined spir­it of bi­par­ti­san co­op­er­a­tion, even as I thank you in ad­vance for your con­sid­er­a­tion of this re­quest.

Leader of the Op­po­si­tion, Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar, has writ­ten to Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley, call­ing for an ur­gent meet­ing be­tween Gov­ern­ment and Op­po­si­tion mem­bers, on COVID-19.

The cor­re­spon­dence says the Op­po­si­tion wants to dis­cuss the on­go­ing se­vere neg­a­tive and desta­bi­liz­ing eco­nom­ic, so­cial and med­ical im­pact and reper­cus­sions of the cur­rent Coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic on Trinidad and To­ba­go and its cit­i­zen­ry.

The full text of the let­ter sent to PM Row­ley by the Op­po­si­tion Leader, fol­lows…

Dear Dr Row­ley,

I hope that this cor­re­spon­dence finds you in good health and good spir­its, de­spite the very se­ri­ous chal­lenges we cur­rent­ly face as a na­tion in the wake of the cur­rent COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. In­deed, it is for this very rea­son that I write to you seek­ing an ur­gent bi­par­ti­san meet­ing of our re­spec­tive Par­lia­men­tary teams (each se­lect­ed at their leader’s dis­cre­tion) to dis­cuss the se­vere eco­nom­ic, so­cial and med­ical threat that our cit­i­zen­ry faces at present from this dead­ly pan­dem­ic, with a view to en­sur­ing that at the end of the day, when the worst of the dis­ease has passed, we re­tain a democ­ra­cy that re­mains ready and able to func­tion in eco­nom­ic and so­cial sta­bil­i­ty and progress.

As a key na­tion­al stake­hold­er, the Op­po­si­tion UNC is re­spon­si­ble for 18 Par­lia­men­tary con­stituen­cies through­out the coun­try, as well as sev­en Re­gion­al Cor­po­ra­tions at the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment lev­el, which places more than half the pop­u­la­tion un­der our di­rect ad­min­is­tra­tive and leg­isla­tive purview. As you are well aware, how­ev­er, the very sys­tem of Par­lia­men­tary democ­ra­cy that gov­erns our na­tion in fact places the of­fi­cial man­date of gov­er­nance, and its at­ten­dant State re­sources and le­gal pow­er, at pri­mar­i­ly the Gov­ern­ment’s dis­pos­al.

In our na­tion’s his­to­ry, with good sense and faith­ful ad­her­ence to our de­mo­c­ra­t­ic prin­ci­ples, we have per­sis­tent­ly man­aged to make this ad­ver­sar­i­al Con­sti­tu­tion­al sys­tem work, es­pe­cial­ly since we have a long­stand­ing and high­ly ben­e­fi­cial tra­di­tion of bi­par­ti­san co­op­er­a­tion in ad­mit­ted­ly in­fre­quent times of nat­ur­al dis­as­ters and na­tion­al emer­gen­cies, which af­fect all our cit­i­zens in a man­ner that very of­ten threat­ens to de­stroy their lives and liveli­hoods. I am sure, Mr. Prime Min­is­ter, that as a long­stand­ing and very ex­pe­ri­enced ca­reer politi­cian and pub­lic ser­vant as I am, you would agree that the cur­rent COVID-19 is in­deed one such time of na­tion­al emer­gency. It thus­ly re­quires, in­deed, man­dates of us, that we set aside our par­ti­san in­stincts and seek to work to­geth­er in bat­tling this very dan­ger­ous threat to our na­tion’s on­go­ing eco­nom­ic and so­cial vi­a­bil­i­ty.

Giv­en the wide berth of cit­i­zens and stake­hold­ers that the Op­po­si­tion UNC rep­re­sents, in the past few days that the dread­ed COVID-19 en­tered our shores, our MPs, Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Coun­cilors and oth­er par­ty rep­re­sen­ta­tives have been in­un­dat­ed with ur­gent, anx­ious and of­ten pan­icked re­quests and pleas from a great num­ber of cit­i­zens across the coun­try, plead­ing with us to ad­dress key fears and emer­gency med­ical needs that they now face, but have no idea how to ac­cess them. On Fri­day I there­fore held an emer­gency meet­ing with my Par­lia­men­tary and par­ty of­fi­cials to de­ter­mine the most ap­pro­pri­ate way for­ward in ex­e­cut­ing our na­tion­al and leg­isla­tive du­ty to the na­tion­al pub­lic whom we were elect­ed to serve, and which we do with ho­n­our, ded­i­ca­tion and con­sid­er­able priv­i­lege.

It was wide­ly rec­og­nized that in times of such un­pre­dictable, dan­ger­ous and desta­bi­liz­ing na­tion­al emer­gen­cies, the Con­sti­tu­tion vests all re­sources and leg­isla­tive pow­er in­to the Gov­ern­ment of the day, and there­fore, if we are to best serve our con­stituents and cit­i­zens, we must at­tempt to en­gage said Gov­ern­ment to en­sure that they best ben­e­fit from the vast ar­ray of State re­sources avail­able to them as their ba­sic hu­man and Con­sti­tu­tion­al right. The de­ci­sion was there­fore tak­en by my par­ty and Par­lia­men­tary mem­bers, and of course sanc­tioned by my good self, to seek an ur­gent meet­ing with your Gov­ern­ment with a view to:

• Share the cit­i­zens’ health, labour and med­ical con­cerns and is­sues with the Gov­ern­ment to get a prop­er un­der­stand­ing of the State re­sources avail­able to them, and how best they can be ac­cessed, and al­so share our own sug­ges­tions there­in

• Share our own vast ex­per­tise and rec­om­men­da­tions in the ar­eas of Health and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, which are the two main sec­tors that would be called up­on to deal with a cri­sis of such a par­tic­u­lar mag­ni­tude and scale com­pa­ra­ble to that of a na­tion­al dis­as­ter, and of which, as a par­ty which twice formed Gov­ern­ment our­selves, we have con­sid­er­able knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence to of­fer

• Share the con­cerns of the var­i­ous small and medi­um sized busi­ness en­ti­ties whose eco­nom­ic vi­a­bil­i­ty are threat­ened by the cur­rent COVID-19 cri­sis and our own rec­om­men­da­tions there­in

• Dis­cuss any oth­er sug­ges­tions from both the Gov­ern­ment and Op­po­si­tion deemed rel­e­vant and nec­es­sary that will en­sure that any adopt­ed bi­par­ti­san ap­proach is in fact legal­ly plau­si­ble to ef­fec­tive­ly and ef­fi­cient­ly com­bat the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic in our coun­try.

I tru­ly be­lieve that this is in­deed the best way for­ward in the im­me­di­ate short term to most ef­fec­tive­ly serve our Con­sti­tu­tion­al and moral man­date as ca­reer politi­cians and high-lev­el pub­lic ser­vants.

I there­fore trust that you will se­ri­ous­ly con­sid­er my re­quest, Mr. Prime Min­is­ter, for I know that de­spite our Con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly pre­de­ter­mined op­pos­ing roles and dif­fer­ences, our long shared sim­i­lar­i­ties as two of the longest serv­ing na­tion­al ca­reer politi­cians who have both sat, at vary­ing times, in the es­teemed of­fices of Leader of Gov­ern­ment and Leader of the Op­po­si­tion, binds us in an eter­nal com­mon goal of de­liv­er­ing to our beloved na­tion and its equal­ly beloved cit­i­zen­ry, the best and most faith­ful ser­vice that we can ren­der in the no­ble pur­suit of our sa­cred man­date as na­tion­al lead­ers.

In this re­gard, I look for­ward to a re­sponse at your ear­li­est con­ve­nience, con­fi­dent in the knowl­edge that you will take in­to your ac­tive de­lib­er­a­tion, the very se­ri­ous na­ture of the na­tion­al cri­sis be­fore us, and, the cru­cial need to act with ex­treme ur­gency to re­solve it in my out­lined spir­it of bi­par­ti­san co­op­er­a­tion, even as I thank you in ad­vance for your con­sid­er­a­tion of this re­quest.

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