As People’s Partnership troops geared up for the debate, Persad-Bissessar thanked Rowley for presenting it with an opportunity to boast of its successes. She said Government would turn the sod for the first-ever children’s hospital hours before the debate begins. Expressing regret her Government was perhaps too modest to boast of its achievements, Persad-Bissessar said: “Perhaps we have stayed silent for too long. Now Rowley has given us the best opportunity to speak of our achievements.”
She said Government had:
• Raised the old age pension to $3,000;
• established the Children’s Life Fund;
• increased pharmaceutical, domestic and household grants;
• increased the minimum wage;
• increased national insurance benefits;
• built 350 water-retention ponds;
• provided free travel on the buses and ferries for pensioners;
• built schools;
• distributed certificates of comfort;
• provided leases to 4,000 acres of agricultural lands;
• refurbished fishing ports;
• distributed 39,000 laptops to secondary school pupils;
• built the Couva Interchange;
• constructed 4,500 houses; and
• revolutionalised tertiary education with new campuses at Sangre Grande and Tobago.
Promising more achievements will be outlined in the coming days, Persad-Bissessar told supporters to stand strong and to continue to defend their party. “The detractors feel they can drown us out but I am not afraid. None of us is afraid because the members of this Government has been performing, are performing and will continue to perform for the best welfare of the people of T&T,” she said.
She also sent a message to Rowley, saying: “I want to say to Rowley, don’t be surprised that on Friday in addition to the 29 Partnership votes, you will get some surprise votes coming in favour and showing confidence in the Government.” Persad-Bissessar added: “For those who seek to spread propaganda, it will backfire.” She also ridiculed Rowley for moving the motion, taunting him with the words of his former political leader, Patrick Manning, who once referred to Rowley as a “raging bull”.
She asked: “Can we ever forgive him (Rowley) for ridiculing a section of population for touching the feet of an elder? “Can we forgive him for his unwarranted attack on a high court judge and the independence of the judiciary?” She added: “His former leader described him as a raging bull. This is a man bent on power. He sought to destroy his own party to advance his own political cause. Let us not fear him.”
Persad-Bissessar said the PNM squandered more than $200 billion while ignoring the cries of the International Monetary Fund, the Central Bank governor and the business chambers to be cautious with spending. She added: “Let us not forget the state the economy was in when we came into office. For three years, we had negative growth in the economy. We rescued the battered economy.
“The reports show we are on stable growth path and the economy is projected to grow. We protected the financial system to the extent that the IMF predicted, after careful review, a 1.7 per cent growth for 2012. This prediction has been reinforced by the Central Bank.” She vowed to stand strong with her party and to continue to put God in front as she strived to serve all the people of T&T.