The nation celebrates the 40th year of independence in October this year, and the period has been declared as a time to reflect on the successes, and work on building the future of the country.
And towards creating a national thrust in this direction, the ‘Renewal at 40’ programme was officially launched last Saturday at the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College, Villa, under the theme ‘With Strength, Honour and Dignity, we stand Resolute at 40 and Beyond’.
“Tonight, we commence this process of taking a fresh guard – that is what we mean by the ‘Renewal at 40’,” Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves told the launch.
“In short, therefore, ‘Renewal at 40’ is designed to make our country better; to make optimal the outcomes from our strengths and possibilities [and] to reduce the effect of our limitations and weaknesses,” he continued.
The programme is expected to run from the launch date and end on October 26, 2020.
“The 15-month period will encompass multiple activities across various sectors and interests led by the state apparatus,” the Prime Minister explained.
During the past 40 years, this country had made tremendous strides and, according to Dr. Gonsalves, these have been evident in areas including education, housing, sea and river defences, air and sea ports among others.
But there were also some challenges, and he noted that we had to believe in our capacity to deal with some of these challenges, which included high unemployment, pockets of indigence, citizen security, debilitating patriarchy, political divisiveness and the threat of climate change.
“We have made immense progress, but there are things we have to do. I want to say this, that no progressive society has ever been built on an addiction to leisure, pleasure and nice time. I like them, but you cannot have an addiction to those things; progressive societies are built on hard-work,” Prime Minister Gonsalves cautioned.
Among the activities included in the Renewal at 40’ programme, as disclosed last Saturday by Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves are plans to refresh the country physically.
Over the summer, he said, all primary and secondary schools would receive upgrades at a total cost of EC$6.5 million, and immediately thereafter, work will begin on constructing footpaths in villages to improve access. This project is expected to cost US$5 million.
Also included is a clean-up campaign for capital Kingstown expected to cost $1.7 m.
Other notable plans: Fort Charlotte and bridge rehabilitation ($872,600); Heritage Square rehabilitation ($450,000); Peace Memorial Hall rehabilitation ($71,200); and Garifuna and Diaspora Homecoming activities ($65,000).
Elvis Charles, Coordinator of the ‘Renewal at 40’ programme, listed a number of activities to be staged, inclusive of :the launch of the ‘Sport against Crime’ initiative on August 1; traditional games throughout various communities; a gospel extravaganza, youth parliament, schools essay competition; a National Day of Prayer; a series of lectures and conferences; and the Annual Independence Day Parade followed by activities in Kingstown.
And according to Charles, the decision was taken to re-introduce the ‘Best Village’ competition this year.
There were a number of cultural acts that helped to enhance Saturday’s launch. (VIN)