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Business wants emergency to expire

TTCIC chief executive officer (Eds correct)  Catherine Kumar speaking on the Chamber’s radio programme, said that the SOE, which is accompanied by a daily five hour curfew, has not resulted in a sustained dampening of criminal activity on the island.

She said that there is a return to business as usual by the criminal elements and that the public is losing faith in the SOE.

“One thing is certain, it would be imprudent to seek any extension of the state of emergency beyond December 6,” she said, noting that with the Christmas and Carnival Seasons fast approaching, the business community is looking forward to improve on its annual sales as well as for workers “to earn extra income.

“A further extension of the state of emergency must have a negative effect. Consequently it is clear that public opinion is slowly turning against the state of emergency and more specifically the continuance of the curfew.”

Kumar said that “it is undeniable that businesses have been paying a heavy price” since the People’s Partnership coalition imposed the SOE to prevent what National Security Minister Brigadier John Sandy said was to avoid a bloodbath that would have made July 1990 when radical Muslims attempted to overthrow the then government, “look like a Christmas party”.

Kumar said that some members of the private sector had to curtail operations “severely” while others have had to lay off workers “and still others cut wages based on reduced working hours all in an effort to keep the business going.

“The inevitable result has been that those least able to afford it have been the hardest hit,” she said, adding that the time has come for the 17-month-old five party coalition to devise a crime plan for the country.

“While the Chamber has supported the state of emergency and curfew as necessary evils, we have consistently expressed that such support is hinged on the ability of the government in collaboration with our security agencies to develop and implement a sustainable national crime plan.

“Further, what must come out of this is that our law enforcement officers must be familiar with the application of the laws when they seek to enforce them,” she added.

Earlier this week, Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley said that SOE is demoralising the police and urged the government to bring it to an end.

“Our police service is being demoralised. This state of emergency is demoralising the police service,” he said asking the government to explain why the country remains under an SOE when the so-called crisis has been averted.

“Tonight I have to beg permission to come and talk to you in San Fernando because the fundamental rights that I have and that you have to come here when you want and to leave when you want, stay as long as you want, that gone.

“We have to come here like school children begging permission from Mr. (Dwayne) Gibbs (Police Commissioner) to come and talk to you, to explain to you that the government is lying to you (about the budget),” he told a meeting of the party held indoors.

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