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PM at opening of Diego highway: Opposition gaining from State projects

Diego Martin Highway Opening (70)1Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has dismissed allegations of her Government’s neglect and discrimination towards Opposition constituencies. Persad-Bissessar made the statement at the launch of the $82 million Diego Martin Highway expansion project at playpark, Victoria Gardens, Diego Martin, yesterday.

“I refer to claims by some who say development works only take place in South and Central. I consider statements like those not only untrue but they also have the intention of creating false impressions of discrimination and resource management,” she said. As she sought to prove her claim, Persad-Bissessar itemised several ongoing infrastructural development projects in PNM consistencies along the East/West Corridor, including the Valencia Bypass Road and the widening of the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway, Trincity.

She also noted her government had already commenced major development works in Chaguaramas and had recently signed a contract for a $20 million modern fishing facility in Carenage, the constituency of Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley. “So not only we have ensured development programmes are more fairly distributed, which is a big departure, but these programmes are carried out with greater precision, discipline and recognition of the value of your tax dollars.”

She also paid special attention to the project being launched yesterday which she said was completed on time and within budget. The project adds two north-bound lanes to the Diego Martin Highway and allows two-way traffic on the Diego Martin Main Road, between Victoria Gardens and Acton Court. Besides easing gridlock traffic experienced by residents of Diego Martin during peak hours, Persad-Bissessar said the project would also provide relief to businesses, whose operations were also hampered.

Benefits of election law
As she sought to promote controversial Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2014, which was passed in the Lower House following a marathon sitting of Parliament on Monday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar claimed the changes to the electoral process would give citizens the power to decide on major development projects in their communities.

“Through the power that the Constitution now gives you, you can dictate the pace, the level and the quality of development in our own communities. You have the power to demand even more accountability, transparency and open governance,” Persad-Bissessar said.
The Prime Minister again rejected criticism of the much maligned runoff provision in the legislation as she claimed the proposal was misunderstood.

She noted that the further debate of the bill, which would be laid in the Senate next Tuesday, would be delayed to August 26 to allow for additional consultation and analysis. She said the bills were just one aspect of the Government’s plans for constitutional reform, which included the further debate of procurement legislation and the referal of the issue of election campaign financing to a Joint Select Committee of Parliament.


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