Media Matters…………   “Politics as Usual” – SVG

Keywords; ULP; Unity Labour Party, NDP; New Democratic Party, SVG; St Vincent and the Grenadines

 I remember in 2008 the global financial crisis the World and a new President was elected into the White House. President Barack Obama was inaugurated on January, 20, 2009 amidst the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

However, I remembered, quite clearly, when a senior United States Senator from Kentucky and member of the Republican Party, now Senate Majority Leader “Mitch McConnell said; “Our mission for the next Four(4) Years is to make sure that President Barack Obama doesn’t get a Second Term. Not fixing the economy nor passing reforms to ameliorate the housing crisis and so on. Why? Because the Republicans had no policies/plans in place envisage improving the lives of ordinary citizens.

Today, in St Vincent and the Grenadines the NDP opposition Leader the Hon. Arnhim Eustace political rhetoric is liken to that of Mitch McConnell back in 2009. Mr. Eustace inability to highlight non-existing faults with a party that have govern the country for the last 15 years, only stands as proof that St Vincent and the Grenadines under the governance of the ULP Government have in fact improved substantially. Amidst the 2008 global financial crisis we’ve noticed more people matriculating to Universities abroad & indigent poor reduced to 2.9% from 25.7%.

Now, no one is perfect and of course at times there will be set backs. Especially when building a major project like an International Airport envisage reducing St Vincent and the Grenadines vulnerabilities.  St Vincent and the Grenadines is a small island developing state with a GDP of approx. $1.184 billion (2014 EST.). Moreover, our annual budget sits at approx. $185.2 million. Hence, we do not have the economic capabilities in order to complete the International Airport at a much quicker pace as we would love to, but, the idea is not to rush such an important project. Rather, it is to improve the Lives of all Vincentians in the long term. However, the contemporary political atmosphere emboldens this sort of tendency to employ “political bigotry” aim at distracting you the people from the broader goal of establishing the Argyle International Airport, by way of, constantly speaking on the issue of “Timeline or deadline missed”.

As of late; the NDP Opposition Leader “Arnhim Eustace” embarked on a Garifuna campaign envisage winning the next general election. However, Mr. Eustace seems to be running for the Prime Minister of a “Garifuna Nation State” instead of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The Opposition Leader seems to have enlisted the assistance of Mr. Ramos in regards to matters concerning “Garifuna issues”. It is important to note that; Mr. Ramos is not on any UN Envoys/Mission appointed by the UN Security council nor adopted in the General Assembly to advocate on matters pertaining to Garifuna….nor does he have the rights to speak on matters pertaining to St Vincent and the Grenadines be it Garifuna or any other matters. Also, there are no International Laws which speaks of any sort of inherent rights to Garifuna as it relates to “Honorary Citizenship” or any nationality of that matter.

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1949) speaks of everyone has the right to a nationality” and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality”. However, this is pertaining to the protection of the Citizens of the relevant State.

However, “Garifuna” fiasco seems to be mixed with confusion, excitement and even severity, but, the differing emotions varies across party lines. However, As a citizen of St Vincent and the Grenadines I am concerned about the economic, social and security impacts it would have on my Island, if we are to grant some approx.. 800,000 individuals – view on…[Garifuna] “Honorary citizenship”.

Also, I must admit that I’ve enjoyed some of the most laughable moments I have ever seen on the “internet” and in politics as it relates to the NDP and their Opposition Leader Mr. Eustace. However, I have become somewhat bemoaned and quite frankly ashamed by an incompetent Opposition Leader. Arnhim Eustace is neither opposition nor is he a Leader, but, rather the complete “opposite” of Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

Mr. Eustace and the NDP supporters miss the point of what a general election is all about. This upcoming election is not about the “Candidates”, but, rather it’s about You and Me, the proud people of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Governments should work for us not against us. So when an Opposition Leader who wants to someday be the head of government refuses to answer the proud people of St Vincent and the Grenadines questions, whom in which he intends to govern is something of grave concern and worry.

The NDP Supporters like to make reference to the “Bigger Bigs” Case in an attempt to substantiate their claims that, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and the ULP Government have done the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines wrong. Here they clearly miss the point again; Government should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but, for every Vincentian who is willing to work and be honest. Bigger Biggs was dishonest and took advantage of St Vincent and the Grenadines for years; making a lot of money while paying little to no taxes and selling his commodity to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines at a high price.

Good Governance, not only means people in political office must be held “accountable”, but, also civil societies, private sectors and we the people must all account for our actions. The NDP supporters must be held accountable for their disruptive behavior on July.20.2014 (E.G Lynch Funeral) and for the total disregard in respect to “the rule of Law” (violation of our Christian Tradition).

Promise kept: “Good Governance”

Dr. Ralph Gonsalves once said “we should fly like an eagle with our wings unclipped” in reference to bringing Universal access to Education. We’ve seen the Education Revolution Act (2005) did just that. By making education more “equal and equitable” for ALL Vincentians. The ULP have tapped into technology making Government more “Efficient, Effective and improved transparency”. In our recent, December.24.2013 flooding that saw families and friends lost love ones, Homes destroyed an a double digit hit (approx.13%)  to our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) , we’ve noticed a more “responsive” government.

The Hon Dr. Ralph Gonsalves took the time out to return home and stand with families and the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines whom lost loves ones. The ULP Government responded with a “Housing Revolution” initiative that saw so many people receive Houses that they’ve lost ensued by the December 2013 flooding and have since broaden the initiative to include members of society who are at a disadvantage either economically, physically and mentally.

On that note; we’ve seen a society that is more inclusive and a government whose policies promotes “Equity and Inclusiveness”. President Barack Obama said at the recent Panama Summit (2015) in addressing “Civil Societies” that; “We know that economies attract more Trade and Investments when citizens are free to start a new business without paying a bribe”. We’ve noticed this under the ULP Government lead by Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. For instance, “St Vincent and the Grenadines FDI (Foreign Direct investment) sat at $34 million USD in 2002, but, FDI sits at $115.4 Million USD as of 2012” (CARICOM; FDI 2002 -2013 Report, 2014).

St Vincent and the Grenadines as a SIDS (Small Island Developing States) is fashioned with a range of “Vulnerabilities”. Our small size makes it difficult for us to have a “wider tax space” and consumer base. Thus, making us dependent on external markets if we are to see real economic growth. The Argyle International Airport is a vital infrastructure that will see increase in areas of Trade, Investments and Tourism. Moreover, we’ve seen Min. Foreign Affairs et al Camillo MIchael Gonsalves embarked on a mission that will see Vincentians with less travel restrictions (Visa Free to 26 Countries in the Schengen Zone).

St Vincent and the Grenadines is also, vulnerable to Natural Disasters and under the ULP Government we’ve noticed more resilient building policies envisage mitigating the effects of natural disasters. Our vulnerabilities are also exacerbated by “exogenous shocks” such as; “Financial shocks” and the 2008 Global Financial crisis hit countries economy around the globe and especially developing states were some of the worse hit. We’ve seen St Vincent and the Grenadines under the ULP Government displayed a leadership role in the U.N. Conference on the Global Economic and Financial Crisis. At home no one was lay off or fired from the “Public Sector” meanwhile Barbados had to fire some 3000 public servant and even St Lucia and Bahamas saw lay offs of approximately 1000 employees.

– Emmanuel Quashie

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