Trinidad and Tobago - Domestic policy



Manning's government was unable to make much progress in the aftermath of the tie election, but some issues were being debated publicly and Manning, as prime minister, responded in kind. In May 2002, some Trinidadians of non-Indian descent were pressuring the government to drop the Indian designation from the name of a national holiday, Indian Arrival Day (30 May), suggesting the holiday could commemorate the arrivals of Trinidadian ancestors of all nationalities and ethnicities. However, former prime minister Baseo Panday, during whose administration the holiday was created (1995), responded that the holiday was created to commemorate the arrival of the indentured workers from India, and argued that the reason for the holiday would be lost if the Indian designation were removed. Prime Minister Manning, not wishing to inflame further the intergroup tensions, indicated no interest in changing the holiday's name.

Despite the problems in getting the government impasse resolved, the economy was on a gradual upswing, with energy holding fast as the centerpiece. Energy remains the centerpiece of the economy. In the early years of the twenty-first century, the government was headed on a path leading to an increase in oil production. The government also hoped to continue to attract foreign investment and had streamlined the investment procedures, lowered corporate taxes, and increased financing for small businesses. In addition, poverty alleviation was a necessary priority, since over 20% of the population is estimated to live in poverty. The prevention of crime, especially international drug trafficking, is a central concern for citizens and government officials alike. Trinidad and Tobago has become a regionally significant drug transshipment center; attempts to bring drug lords to justice have often been thwarted by the disappearance or murder of witnesses. The government was working closely with the United States to hone investigation techniques and develop a more substantial witness-protection program.

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