Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 21st 2015 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Friday, August 21, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
for 20TH AUGUST, 2015
The first year of a People s National Move-
ment (PNM) government under Dr Keith Row-
ley will offer special initiatives, including a
2.5 per cent reduction in Value Added Tax
(VAT), increase in the personal allowance to
$72,000 for taxpayers, a review of National
Insurance Scheme (NIS) and old age pensions
with a view to increasing payments, a proposed
retiree benefits programme and incentives for
the private sector, landowners and agricul-
The first-year initiatives, totalling 14, are
listed in the PNM s 2015 general election man-
ifesto which was presented by the party yesterday
at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, under the
theme "2015 - Let s Do This Together".
The document is the product of review and
revision of the PNM s Vision 2020 plan.
PNM vice-chairman Colm Imbert, the man-
ifesto s architect, and Rowley gave details of
manifesto topics in a summary presentation.
Rowley said the summary involved major
areas of things the PNM wanted to focus on
and the plan represented the party s expectations
for T&T "if things go well in terms of our ability
to execute what we think the community should
He added: "So finally the manifesto is here.
I know some of our friends on the other side
have been waiting for it and talking about it
and I hope to hear no more about no policy,
as the document is all about policy."
Imbert said the first part of the manifesto
examined the PNM s track record on crime, the
economy, flooding, traffic congestion and other
He added that its policies were grounded in
focus on restoring integrity, ethical behaviour
and other sections focus on restoring/rebuilding
T&T with policies for 21 areas, including Tobago,
plus the special initiative offering for the first
year of government.
The first leg of PNM s plan to restore T&T
hinges on enforcing a code of conduct for MPs
and a general accounting office independent of
the Parliament to analyse performance of an
It also involves instituting and implementing
the procurement legislation after removing
loopholes and limitations. Also in that segment
is start of work on campaign finance reform
legislation, to be done over the term and com-
pleted by the next general election
Imbert said the first-year Initiatives include:
• Increasing annual personal allowances to
$72,000 for all taxpayers, allowing more dis-
• Review NIS/old age pensions "with a view
to increasing the cap on pension payments,
allowing more money in pensioners hands.
• Reduce VAT to 12.5 per cent, allowing relief
to consumers, and lower the cost of living,
"while aggressively improving tax collection."
• Design and introduce a retiree benefits pro-
gramme similar to Panama s Pensionady Pro-
gramme involving free or subsidised public
services for retirees, such as free drivers permits
and free passports, a wide range of discounts
and exemption from certain taxes.
• Exempt agricultural inputs, such as approved
chemicals, pest control, approved vehicles,
fishing vessels and equipment from all
• Comprehensive local government reform
aspects, rural development plan.
• Provide incentives to landowners to revive
abandoned agricultural estates.
• Provide incentives to the private sector to
provide for training of workers in the building
trade and initiate construction of the facilities
necessary for national development, such as
affordable housing, recreational, sporting and
community facilities and multi-storey car parks.
• Initiate the process for a free islandwide
public broadband wireless network, starting
with free public hot spots in popular areas.
• Increase stipends for OJTs to meaningful
• Provide easier access for the poor and indi-
gent for targeted home repair and home
improvements grants and conditional cash sup-
• Subsidise and promote use of the renewable
energy sources in residential/commercial sectors
for heating, cooling and lighting (solar power,
• Introduce local constabularies in each local
• Provide incentives to homeowners to install
personal CCTV and alarm systems.
• Issue ten-year passports and remove the
requirement for immigration forms at ports of
entry for citizens.
A new People s National Move-
ment (PNM) government will not
cancel any Coast Guard vessels
ordered by the People s Partner-
ship administration, party leader
Dr Keith Rowley said yesterday.
He and PNM vice-chairman
Colm Imbert were responding to
questions at the Hyatt Regency,
Port-of-Spain, following yesterday s
general election manifesto launch.
Asked if the PNM would cancel
the vessels, Rowley said the party
was not in the "cancelling business"
and had a proud record of hon-
ouring contracts. He said "political
spite and dotishness" would not
form part of PNM s credo.
On if the PNM would halt the
PP s laptop plan, Rowley said it was
necessary to integrate the laptop
plan with the current teaching pro-
gramme, since reports showed a
large proportion of the equipment
wasn t used in the teaching pro-
On his view on gay rights, same
sex marriage and the decrimini-
nalisation of marijuana, Imbert said
that had not been addressed in the
Rowley said all such matters, as
"fashionable as they are, require
discussion and we need to talk
about these things before jumping
to conclusions." (GA)
No plan to cancel PP initiatives, says Rowley
PNM unveils first-year sweeteners...
Members of PNM's hierarchy huddle following the launch of the party's manifesto at Hyatt
Regency, Port-of-Spain. From left are party chairman Franklin Khan, PRO Faris Al-Rawi,
businessman Andrew Gabriel, political leader Dr Keith Rowley and deputy political leader
Rohan Sinanan. PHOTO: JEFF MAYERS
The PNM's manifesto also proposes security of tenure
for squatters in approved areas with lot identification
documents which can be used to get bank loans.
Also planned is a new container port for south of
Beetham in Port-of-Spain, moving the current port, and
development of the entire area west to Invader's Bay and a
new world class airport for Tobago among highlights
Imbert said the free broadband plan would be done over
the five-year term. He could not give the figure for proposed
increasing of the NIS/OAP cap.
A PNM government's immediate priorities would include
dealing with legislation regarding appointment of a police
commissioner, as Imbert noted the current office holder has
been acting since 2012 in a state of "insecure leadership."
He said the PNM would take to Parliament legislation to
strengthen the system and for appointment of a CoP within
months. It needs a simple majority vote for passage, he
Imbert said any rail transport system would have to be
certified by international agencies and feasibilities would
have to be done. He said before implementation, any plan
would be discussed with transport providers and
The party projects a new railway system would allow
transit times from Port-of-Spain to Arima of less than 30
minutes and Port-of-Spain to San Fernando in 45 minutes
and would transport in excess of 200,000 people a day and
allow for the removal of over 100,000 cars from the
country's congested roads,
He also said priorities also included discussions with
stakeholders to deal with the foreign exchange allocation
Plans for formalising a minimum wage would involve
tripartite talks and work on other sectors, such as labour,
and in trade with business and other groups, would also
involve continuous dialogue, feedback and consensus, he
Consultation with all energy sector stakeholders would
also be a priority early in the term. Another special thrust
would be youth policies focusing on issues, including gangs,
drugs, outreach to at-risk communities and related matters.
Rowley said governance was not a substitute for
individual responsibility and a lot of the manifesto allowed
for the environment for a person to prosper.
He said the PNM had examined the needs, wants and
requirements of the people and identified things impeding
He said some plans could be done with current revenue
and others might require loans or serious investment.
He noted the oil price was now very different from 2008
when the Vision 2020 plan was started and the situation
would challenge the PNM to find a way to do the plan even
if the "economic horizon looks blurry."
• Strengthen investigative powers of the Integrity
Commission and broaden its reach.
• Review of social services and consultation with
• Institute employment exchanges for people to source
public services work in their region.
• Reach out to the West Indian diaspora in US and UK to
establish a market for TT goods and services and also draw
from their resources.
• Statistics legislation and independent CSO with a
• Rebuild the Coast Guard, Joint Border Protection
Agency, a Police Management Agency to strengthen the
service, establishment of Community Safety Partnerships.
intelligence-led national security policies.
• Disaster management policy.
• Prison management policy (focusing on the overall
system, physical issues, health issues and security).
• Completion of the San Fernando to Point Fortin
Highway, construct the San Fernando to Mayaro Freeway,
Wallerfield to Manzanilla Highway, a ring road around
Sangre Grande and around Chaguanas, the Port-of-Spain to
Chaguaramas causeway/highway and remove all traffic
lights and construct overpasses/interchanges from Port-of-
Spain to Arima. Road to Toco and ferry service from Toco to
• Restructuring of the Tobago air/sea bridge, accelerated
housing thrust among a comprehensive plan for Tobago.
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