Lending a Helping Hand

By Kamla Persad-Bissessar
November 06, 2010

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-BissessarA statement made by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Thursday at a press conference in Macoya.

Trinidad and Tobago, as a responsible friend and partner, stands solidly behind the humanitarian and reconstruction efforts of our Caricom neighbours who were devastated by Hurricane Tomas.

In this regard, we have created a model of support that will involve contributions from government, local business and NGOs.

This initiative will be integrated with a new policy of emergency assistance that sees the Trinidad and Tobago government sourcing and providing much needed relief supplies to affected islands from local partners where available.

This new initiative removes the burden for huge cash donations from the government in these challenging economic times while allowing us to provide much needed assistance to our neighbouring brothers and sisters swiftly and effectively.

The government of Trinidad and Tobago is not unaware of the economic difficulties being experienced by our Caricom neighbours.

We undertake to lend whatever assistance is practical in the circumstances.

We continue to hold fast to the belief that we must all rise together in the region.

And the government is ever mindful that sometimes it may be necessary to lift others in the process.

As a result of slowdowns and contractions in the economy there now exists a slump in construction activity in Trinidad and Tobago.

As a result, there is a surplus of building material locally.

The government will therefore seek to purchase some of these materials, and offer them to the affected Caricom territories to assist in their reconstruction effort.

The government expects that this approach will be a boost to the local construction industry whilst simultaneously assisting those persons who are in urgent need of these supplies.

The accruing benefit to local business will place Trinidad and Tobago in a healthier economic circumstance.

This would in turn allow us to provide further assistance if and when required, to our brothers and sisters in Caricom.

To do otherwise would be to put additional pressure on our economy which we can ill afford to do at this time.

I am in regular communication with my colleague Prime Ministers of the badly affected States.

As a result of what they have requested, I, together with members of my Cabinet, have engaged the support of local partners to put together a joint relief effort.

As a result of this partnering exercise, some 27,000 pounds of water as well as mattresses, food stuff, medication, snacks and children books, clothing, construction material and other urgent relief supplies have been sourced and have been prepared for immediate shipping.

Tomorrow, I, together with a team of Ministers, military, technical, engineering and partnering organisations, will be visiting the island of St Lucia to gain a first-hand look at the devastation caused by Hurricane Tomas.

We will stop at nothing in ensuring that our brothers and sisters in the region receive the level of support required in this their time of urgent need.

Helping Hands

Cognisant of the fact that there will be an on-going need for crisis relief efforts, the government of Trinidad and Tobago is now seeking to establish a sustainable partnership with the local private sector comprising a working committee of government officials, NGOs and members of the business community.

This group, to be known as Helping Hands, will identify innovative means and ways of providing emergency assistance whenever required and stockpile anticipated supplies for such purposes.

Helping Hands will recruit volunteers for their on-going efforts which will include fund-raising activities and the donation of regional public educational campaigns on safety during times of natural disasters.

This strategy will see a better prepared response to any crisis which may develop rather than the one which currently applies that sees donors scrambling to put together resources and various forms of assistance.

I wish to acknowledge and congratulate all our partners who have come forward to offer their assistance and to lend support to the Helping Hands initiative of Trinidad and Tobago.

Helping Hands will be seeking the support of external agencies involved in relief efforts to best guide us on some of the initiatives used elsewhere which can be of benefit regionally.

A logo has already been designed and the name registered for use.

I am pleased to announce that the government of Trinidad and Tobago in partnership with the local NGO and business community is supplying, and will continue to supply in immediate response to requests that have come from our Caricom brothers and sisters affected by Hurricane Tomas and any future disasters.

The government of Trinidad and Tobago will continue to act responsibly in securing the future of its citizens whilst extending a helping hand to its friends and neighbours.

Reprinted from trinidadexpress.com

19 Responses to “Lending a Helping Hand”


  • PM: Aid with no strings
    PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was yesterday praised by St Lucian Prime Minister Dr Stephenson King for her quick response to rally to his countrymen’s assistance in the wake of the passage of Hurricane Tomas.

    St Lucia PM: We need US$500 million to rebuild

    …$3b to bring back St Lucia
    More T&T help might be ahead for St Lucia. St Lucia is facing a (TT) $3 billion—(US) $500 million—reconstruction bill to rise from the devastation which Tropical storm Tomas inflicted on the little island last weekend.

    Negotiating stormy political straits
    She would not have been at home yesterday for any traditional pre-lighting-up activities.However, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, a Hindu, was hopeful that she would have made it back to T&T last evening in time to see Divali deyas lit, following her trip to St Lucia, recently hit by Hurricane Tomas.

    More support for PM’s stand on aid after Tomas
    The International Relations Department of the United National Congress is supporting comments made by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar regarding assistance to neighbouring Caribbean nations following the passage of Tropical Storm Tomas.

    $25m damage in T’go
    AUTHORITIES assessing infrastructural damage cause by Tropical Storm Tomas on the eastern end of Tobago have so far estimated that the cost of repairs could amount to some $25 million, Tobago House of Assembly Infrastructure Secretary Godwin Adams says.

  • More UNCOP spin after the truth bolted from the horse’s mouth, Bollywood Queen Kamla looking like a Pan Indanist no restrictions for Guyana or Surinam Pakistan but special restrictions for Creoles? I say bring on the Boycott of firms from central and other fly by night companies in league with the current gov’t.

  • Mike Samuel said “Bollywood Queen Kamla looking like a Pan Indanist no restrictions for Guyana or Surinam Pakistan but special restrictions for Creoles?”

    Mike people like you need to get a life. Trinidad will do more for these banana republics than any other nation would. However, people like you Mr. Samuel filled with ingratitude and stereotyping of our Prime Minister will continue to foam at the mouth like a mangee dog.

    • Mr. Samuel filled with ingratitude and stereotyping of our Prime Minister will continue to foam at the mouth like a “mangee dog”.

      “Mangee Dog”……really? funny I recall ONLY Indo Guyanese using this slang in Toronto & in Guyanese websites!(mostly directed at afro guyanese)

      so when you meant “our Prime Minister” what you REALLY was saying is “our Indian hindu goddess Prime Minister”. (regardless of the afro/mixed votes she got in droves) tell me as a Guyanese Indian do you still swag around NYC telling unsuspecting whites how “we Indians built T&T & Guyana” etc like the lies alyuh are well known for? enjoy the bollywood movie even if they are the longest movies around they still come to an end sooner or later.

  • Why are you choosing to beat up on cousin Mike Samuels , ‘brother Khem,’when all he was doing is stating what to him, and an ever increasing ,disgusted ,half of the population -that supported her politically-as well as the rest of the amazed global community ,is the truth?
    What a people ,huh? De Queen don’t even have the decency to offer a real apology, for her obvious ,learn on the job faux pas. Good spin / PR job ,Andy J!
    Now if our Caribbean Ambassador at large ,Uncle Makandal Dagger, had any Cohones , he would have done the right thing, and immediately resign in public outrage, but one can guess that 30 pieces of tenuous silver, is too much to disregard, for someone like him self ,that has been languishing in the political wilderness, even if he knows fully well, that the majority of the PP and ardent tribal supporters , feels the same way,about his Lavantille ,and similar neglected constituencies ,that holds families from many of the said islands under disaster.
    Long live the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, as the progressive phony, and apologist in chief Khem was not prepared to use his highly taxed, Canadian pension, to help buy Manufactured goods ,that EC and other affronted Caribbean island -states ,were prepared to reject , since they were manufactured from a country of selfish people , led by politically clueless, and insensitive leaders.
    Hey khem , repeat after me the following mantra , and pretend it was emanating from one of Madame K’s most admired leaders:- ‘There is no Afro Trinis, Indo Trinis, Euro Trinis, Arab Trinis, or whatever other concoctions one can imagine is existing in our country , as there is only one Trinidad and Tobago.’
    Likewise, for the Caribbean ‘there is no ….’ Well, you get the message. Now on to the final Trinidad and Tobago acceptance, of the much delayed and maligned , Caribbean Court of Appeal, as the skewed racially tinged reasons put forward by certain elements in the country,for the lifetime acceptance of Massa Britannia Privy Council ,is getting laughable, ehh Khem?
    Once more one must ask , with citizens like these , who needs enemies?

    • Neal said “Why are you choosing to beat up on cousin Mike Samuels , ‘brother Khem,”
      Nealos my friend sometimes put like Samuel need a lil kick on the behind. You must understand that Trinidad is facing it’s own crisis
      (1) Clico… the never ending story.
      (2) PSA…gimme more money..
      (3) Central Bank..high unemployment figures.
      (4) Contractual obligations.. My understanding close to $3 trillion in contracts by the former administration.

      Those are some of the current realities facing T&T. You tell me if a few strings should not be attached to aid being given to the islanders. But sadly people like you Nealos have the tribalistic cords running deep into your stereotypical psyche. You like categorising people who are looking after the national patrimony. I am sure you are very sad that Pathos is not in power to send loads of loads of T&T currency into those islands. My understanding is two coast guard boats are on the way along with a battalion of soldiers to do the clearing of streets. What else do you tribalist want??? I suppose like Samuels you would prefer T&T take care ah their business first.

      On the positive side what have you done???

  • Spin, spin, spin Kamla…like you is a ballerina now. I know you liked to dance, but I never knew you were classically trained!

    • “Spin, spin, spin Kamla…like you is a ballerina now. I know you liked to dance, but I never knew you were classically trained”–Keeping it realer.

      No my friend, this what you call leadership, looking after the national interest first.

  • I hear you cousin khem. Funny as usual, HUH? At least you have not lost that wonderful Trini sense of humor quality ,dem 5000 murders per year crazy Yardees neighbors would die to have. Missing pathos ? You must be crazy my friend.I am behind the Queen in every respect on this one. I am on record as saying that these Caribbean brothers and sisters are a bunch of selfish , leeching bums , that will continue to use and discard Trinis , the day our oil and gas show any signs of drying up. Remember dem upstart Bajans ,and our Arawax cement factory?
    Who can forget how they treated our White elephant steel mill, that self opinionated Deffy Eric pushed through? Bajans taking us to international courts , to steal our resources. Thousands of skillful construction savvy Vincys, and Grenadians running back to homeland , once our economy got a bit rough, and laughing at us as we languish in crisis and run to China for help. 20 out of 20 of them running to repay the IMF , then flipping the bird at Trinis ,from Guyana all the way up of Dominica ,while telling us to take substandard products in barter payments , when we request that they service their loans. Finally falling for Chavez and his oil and gas schemes , simply because he would charge them a penny less than T& T.
    I agree with the Queen on every policy, my friend , especially on this , but just cannot be so obvious , as I am busy trying to form our local Tea Bag Party. Down with the PP, and PNM . Time for a new progressive movement.
    Don’t need the accolades my friend , so I won’t publicly bore you with details as to what I did , or plan so to do in the future.Keep the faith , and continue to love country. Warm regards.

  • Gopee-Scoon: Why not St Vincent?
    Point Fortin MP Paula Gopee-Scoon queries whether St Vincent and the Grenadines island is not worthy of assistance from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar after hurricane Tomas struck.

    Haitians cope with new disaster
    Reports were just beginning to emerge from mountain towns cut off by flooding yesterday but as officials took stock and aid workers rushed to contain flood damage and a widening cholera epidemic, Tomas left harsh reminders of poverty’s toll on the Caribbean nation.

    Clarify regional disaster response strategy
    There was no question that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar quickly and accurately read the tea leaves of public opinion after her surprising decision to attach conditions to this country’s response to islands ravaged by the passing of Hurricane Tomas.

    Taming Tempest Tomas
    Over the course of this week, the debate has been raging about how Trinidad and Tobago should structure its aid to the region in light of the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Tomas.

  • “helping Hand” is the name of a program that I have submitted to the government. I am glad to see nothing have changed with this new government..and the plagiarism goes on!

  • St Vincent gets a helping hand

    You all did not back Kamla
    WORKS and Transport Minister Jack Warner on Saturday chastised local contractors for not endorsing Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s recent statement that Trinidad and Tobago must benefit from the support given to its distressed Caribbean neighbours.

    Cool heads and no crowns: The Caribbean in a storm
    NOT for the first time in the history of Caricom, our leaders are conveying mixed signals to the people of the region about how they feel about the Caricom relationship and, indeed, about themselves.

    Time takes up PM’s aid comment

    …She Said What? Trinidad PM Takes Heat Over Relief Aid Comments

    ‘Jamaican response spineless’
    National honoree Doreen Frankson has ripped into the Jamaican government, as well as the Opposition, for its “spineless and cowardly” response to controversial emergency-aid comments made by the flamboyant and outspoken Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago.

    …Spineless cowards!

    ‘Kamla’s comments have hurt T&T’s reputation’
    Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has a responsibility to do damage control following her controversial statements about how this country would provide aid to islands affected by Tropical Storm Tomas, Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Orville London has said.

  • I said during the campaign and the election that Change would be good for TNT depending on the type of change that would be implemented. It is clear that there is an alternative agenda that could socially ruin Caricom and TNT. Kamla should only have one term and the people have to go back to the drawing board to find a leader that can truly represent the best interest of Trinbagonians.

  • Word to the “wise” the UNCOP opposition chased out ALCOA now we are faced with “harsh economic ” reality says he(khem) should be asking like myself why did the UNCOP chase away ALCOA’s plan to spend 1.5 BILLION US $ to build a smelter which would’ve been a massive stimulous with the other Chinese Smelter, now we are hearing talk that this plant maybe built in Guyana instead? Don’t we need construction jobs here too? Did’nt the papers says we have now lost thousands jobs which now seem to be on its way to Guyana the ONLY political allies of the current Indian regime coincidence? I think NOT.

    Enjoy it while it lasts, the good days are over YOU and your chorts are on the way out the lies cannot last if that Smelter is built with T&T state $$ there will be hell to pay and NO amount of illegal guyanese crooks will help alyuh get back into office no amount of fake “letters” written by the PPP party hacks will cut it.

  • The Gleaner’s article “Spineless cowards!” published on November 07, 2010:

    “National honouree Doreen Frankson has ripped into the Jamaican Government, as well as the Opposition, for its “spineless and cowardly” response to controversial emergency-aid comments made by the flamboyant and outspoken Kamla Persad-Bissessar, prime minister of oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago (T&T).”

    The article continues:

    “I am disgusted [and] appalled by the recent comments made by Trinidad Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar regarding regional aid, as well as the spineless [and] cowardly response by the Jamaican Government and the Opposition,” said Frankson, who was conferred in 2006 with the Order of Distinction, Commander Class.

    She added: “We have allowed Trinidad’s rude, arrogant, and condescending attitude and actions to go unchecked, and I have come to the conclusion that the Government of Jamaica is more committed to the region than to the citizens of Jamaica.”

    Frankson, who lamented Jamaica’s US$526.2 million trade imbalance with T&T in 2009, believes it is high time the Jamaican Government utilise the clout it possesses to teach the twin-island republic a lesson.

    It seems like Doreen Frankson have serious issues with Trinidad and Tobago and not just Kamla’s statement. What does she expect the Jamaican government and opposition to do about Kamla’s statement? They can fault Kamla for insensitivity but given what passes for aid from the U.S. and other European powers, what else is their grouse with her comments?

    How Kamla proposed to assist Caribbean countries was not novel or in anyway significantly different to what existed before. If people do not have a problem with many aspects of how aid is dealt with internationally, starting with how the U.S. uses aid to pressure countries to kowtow to them and their corporate interests, then their criticism of Kamla’s statement is shallow at best.

    Kamla used the example of the U.S.-based companies benefiting via contracts from funds donated to Iraq, and I am not seeing serious criticism of this misguided example. People can look at Haiti to which various countries donated funds that Bill Clinton was placed in charge of to see who is profiting the most.

    No points for the PNM over Kamla’s gaffe either.

    Rowley promptly came out and condemned the Prime Minister’s statement but soon after Emile Elias spoke in defense of Kamla, he went quiet. Like Emile got Rowley’s tongue.

    Emile is just seeing business opportunities for himself and another opportunity to play himself. If the government decides to pay some local contractors to help rebuild countries affected by Tomas then Emile could stand to benefit. Of course, they would like us to believe that more profits for big contractors, like Emile, is automatically beneficial to Trinidad and Tobago.

    I guess this week we will see if Emile ‘allows’ Rowley to continue his condemnation of Kamla while he defends her to play for a construction aid windfall or if Rowley would continue holding his tongue.

  • PM to seek US aid for islands
    Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who is on a three-day official visit to the United States, said yesterday she intends to discuss aid for islands affected by Hurricane Tomas with United States (US) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when they meet tomorrow.

    Showing skin and twisted underpants
    Ultimately, in a week of 180-degree turns, it’s the Prime Minister’s airside pooja which will fuel the next debate. In all of it, opinions will be heavily influenced by political support, a stubborn resistance to objectivity.

    Cadiz blames ‘persons with other agendas’
    Trade Minister Stephen Cadiz yesterday blamed “persons with other agendas” in Jamaica for leading the effort to boycott products from Trinidad and Tobago following recent comments by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar suggesting that Port of Spain must benefit from any humanitarian efforts to Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Tomas.

    The other Tomas storm
    Possibly it is the advent of instant comment via the internet and social networks that is responsible for the second “Tropical Storm Tomas”.

    Fired
    On the heels of argument about Kamla, CNMG cuts journalist Fazeer Mohammed

    …Mohammed pulled from Channel Six talk show
    “Contacted yesterday, Mohammed said he hadn’t been fired but was ‘taken off the programme.’ Mohammed, who is a long–standing journalist, said he was disappointed by the decision.” “Mohammed said his replacement had nothing to do with what occurred on the show. He said: ‘I have not been dismissed. I was also offered other options which were not acceptable to me. It is disappointing to be off the show.'”

    …MATT wants answers from CNMG
    In an immediate response yesterday, the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) questioned CNMG’s decision and is calling on an explanation as to its timing.

    …MATT wants answers on dismissal

  • Kamla gets aid from Hilary
    PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday won a pledge of aid for Caribbean nations hit by Hurricane Tomas, from United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton whom she met at the State Department in Washington DC.

    Kamla asks OAS to help islands
    Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday made an impassioned appeal to members of the Organisation of American States (OAS) to assist Caricom islands that were affected by hurricane Tomas.

    Kamla and Caricom
    The recent view expressed by the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago that any aid given to Caricom states affected by Hurricane Tomas “must in some measure” benefit her country provides yet another instance of the death of the integration idea at the hands of a newly elected leader eager to play to the local gallery.

  • PM apologises for reaction to aid comment
    PRIME MINISTER Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday apologised if recent statements she made regarding emergency aid offended anyone within Caricom.

    …’I Apologise’
    Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has apologised to the region for her statement that any aid given to Caribbean countries affected by Tropical Storm Tomas must in some measure benefit Trinidad and Tobago.

    ANSA McAL quenches St Lucia’s thirst
    The ANSA McAL Group of Companies and the ANSA McAL Foundation, in partnership with the Customs & Excise Division, are donating 700 cases of water to hurricane-ravaged St Lucia.

  • Where does charity begin?
    By Selwyn Ryan
    The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago received a thorough verbal beating in the regional media for the remarks which she made in respect of the damage which the islands of St Lucia and St Vincent sustained during Hurricane Tomas.

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