- 01 JAN 2024
Prime Minister’s New Year Message 2024
Message to the nation from Dr the Honourable Keith Rowley Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on the occasion of New Years Day 2024
It is with great anticipation that I share with you the welcoming of the new year 2024 and extend greetings from the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, my family and myself, as Prime Minister.
In welcoming 2024, I am pleased that your Government can state that it greets the new year with a renewed sense of optimism, as we strengthen our energy base, enhance the nation’s infrastructure, improve the conditions for investment, and continue our attempts to improve, and make the daily lives of citizens safer.
On reflection, 2023, the first full year of normalcy after the Covid-19 pandemic, was one of challenges, in almost every area of our socio-economic lives, but we can say to ourselves that collectively we have been able to get back on our feet.
We can anticipate that the new year will be one full of risks, even as it holds considerable promise.
Globally, forecasters predict that 2024 will be a year of “volatility”, “uncertainty”, “complexity” and “ambiguity”.
In short, they say that wherever one is placed in the world one may not be untouched by world events. The immediate dangers for us are the ongoing wars between Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas, both with no endgame in sight, and hold the potential for wider regional conflicts.
Citizens must understand that those arenas, whilst they may be distant, they do hold some serious implications for our daily lives.
In addition, the world is shifting from a once unipolar power structure to multi-polar, with hardening rhetoric among the superpowers, predictions of a new world order, and the possibility of a return to a period of cold war. Nonetheless, we here in the Caribbean must still hold fast to keeping our region as a Zone of Peace.
There are hopeful signs here at home, however. During the pandemic, our resilience was demonstrated in most economic measures. The CSO noted a return to growth of three percent in the first quarter of 2023, followed by signs of further growth in the second quarter. This was led by good performance in the non-energy sector, which also showed an uptick in employment, as businesses resumed operations fully after the deep destruction of the pandemic.
After a period of heightened inflation, the CSO indicated that in October the rate stood at 1.3 per cent. To our credit, food price inflation fell from roughly 10 per cent in May to 1.9 per cent in October.
We can anticipate that the increases in the minimum wage, and other government policies will further ease the cost-of-living burden on the most vulnerable.
Additionally, the unemployment rate recorded a decline of 3.7 per cent, in the second quarter, indicating that thousands of persons gained employment, compared to previous years.
In the energy sector, despite years of production challenges, we have seen the fruits of years of careful negotiations realised. This success will significantly impact the lives and fortunes of every citizen of this country.
We continue to benefit from the successful recovery efforts that stemmed from the satisfactory conclusion of the CLICO bailout.
In the face of all these achievements, the security of citizens continues to be of very serious concern to my Government. The Ministry of National Security faces this challenge every day, confronting it with a broad strategy which relies on the presence, quick response, dedication, agility, and resilience of our protective forces.
We recognise that this country is a stopover point along the drug and human-trafficking route, which also involves the supply of small and light weapons. Like all Caribbean states, we are geographically vulnerable, but we continue to provide training and professional development to the security services. Also, we have increased and improved the recruitment intake of officers and continue to draw on the services of retired senior personnel.
We, then must turn our appeal to citizens, as parents, to guide our children’s development and behaviour, to accept some personal responsibility and to ensure that we provide no nursery or safe harbours for the criminal element amongst us.
The living standards of citizens is also a priority. In 2024, the Ministry of Social Development will roll out a national register in which it will track the lives of the most vulnerable among us.
Alongside there will be initiatives from the Ministry of Health, such as the opening of the 106-bed Sangre Grande General and Secondary Care hospital; the conversion of the Augustus Long hospital at Pointe-a-Pierre into an Oncology Centre, with a palliative care ward; the completion of the 540-bed Central Block in Port of Spain, and new programmes for diabetes and hypertension and a programme to maintain this country’s gains in meeting the UN 2030 standards for pre-natal and maternal rates.
For our public servants, the Ministry of Public Administration plans to roll out modules for a country-based e-Human Resource Management system to improve the staffing and performance of public servants. It will also partner with UWI to introduce a further range of training programmes; refurbish and commission the Point Fortin Administrative Complex, and turn the sod for a new Arima Administration Complex.
In the Ministry of Public Utilities, the Government will be utilising the facilities of an IDB loan for improved water delivery with targets that deliver a reliable water supply to 90 percent of the population in the new year.
Its Community Water Improvement Programme has already improved supplies to Tobago, Point Fortin, Manzanilla, Toco, Valencia, Five Rivers and Freeport. This year it will expand the water supply to Moruga, Cedros, Penal and San Fernando.
Fellow citizens, these are just a few of the initiatives and projects that your Government will be undertaking in the coming year. As we go forward, other initiatives will be communicated to you.
The Government will continue to stand in the gap for you in order to ensure that you get the best that is available to you in opportunity and equity.
Best wishes for safety, good health, and prosperity for all citizens for 2024.