We pledge to work with the diaspora
The New Democratic Party (NDP) recently concluded a successful visit to United States of America and Canada. The delegation was led by President of the NDP, Honourable Dr Godwin Friday. It also included Member of Parliament Daniel Cummings, Senator Shevern John, PRO Lavern King and caretaker for East St. George, Lavern Velox.
The team held two Town Hall meetings. One in New York and the other in Toronto. The theme of the meetings was ‘Hope for Home’. At the meetings, Vincentians were informed by members of the team, of the failure of the ULP government, the sad state of the country’s economy, the deplorable condition of the infrastructure, the escalating crime situation, poor healthcare and the high unemployment among young people.
Public Relations Officer of the NDP, Lavern King, listed some of the broken promises of the ULP in her presentation at the Toronto meeting. She said, “The ULP said it would reduce the interest rate on student loans. They have not. They said that they would make the book loan scheme better. They have not. They said that they would implement community crime prevention techniques and rehabilitation programs. They have not. Also, in the ULP’s manifesto, they said that they were going to build apartments for sale, especially to young professionals, at Pembroke/Buccament. I can tell you that hasn’t happened. More and more young professionals are frustrated that they can’t get a job and further do not know if they will ever become a homeowner. Many young people are starting their own families within their family homes, and this is not because they are lazy but because most of them are either unemployed or underemployed.
Further, the ULP told us that they were going to support more cultural and creative professionals with PRYME grants – well it seems like there isn’t a dime left in the PRYME fund, because it has been a while since we have heard about that program. The government ‘hides up’ who they give grants to. It makes me wonder. Why are they keeping secret with who get grants? Is the PRYME grants being used to peddle funds to party supporters of the ULP and not being awarded based on merit? There are more questions than answers when it comes to the PRYME grants because accountability and transparency are foreign concepts to the ULP.”
The members of the team used the opportunity to communicate the plans and policies of the party, which it will implement when it forms the government. Dr. Friday presented the plans to tackle the escalating crime situation in the country. He also outlined his economic plan to rebuild the economy. The economic plan is built on the four pillars of economic development. They are agriculture, the new economy, the blue economy and tourism.
Members of the team expressed their appreciation to Vincentians in the diaspora for the vital role they play to the development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. However, it appears that the ULP does not appreciate the important role that most Vincentians in the diaspora perform. Some members of the diaspora are ridiculed and ostracized by the ULP, and are labelled as ‘Dog Walkers’ and ‘Internet crazies’ by spokesperson for the ULP. While some Vincentians in the diaspora may have different political views and support different political parties at home, we must appreciate the fact that they contribute significantly to the economic development of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
An NDP government will work closely with the diaspora. There are hundreds of Vincentians abroad who are qualified in various disciplines, such as, information technology, medicine, engineer, and other areas. Their expertise is welcomed by the NDP; as we seek to create a knowledge based economy. We look forward to the diaspora playing a major role in training, teaching and investing in information technology and its development as a sector. We welcome the investment from the diaspora in local business, which will improve trade between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the diaspora. We also see the diaspora having a positive impact on our health care system. We anticipate working with the diaspora.
Urgent action needed to tackle crime
The New Democratic Party (NDP) is calling for urgent action from the government following the homicide that took place Saturday night (14th October, 2023) in Central Leeward.
We have now equaled the record of 42 homicides, which was set last year with almost a quarter of the year remaining. This is a grim milestone for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. These 42 deaths are a tragedy for our country. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of every single victim. We should never have reached this milestone. The government has stood by and allowed this to happen. Months ago, they told us they would have got it under control. Everything they do is too little, too late. We need to get on top of this right away.
Statistics show that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has one of the worst murder rates in the world. This country is among the top three countries with the highest murder rate per capita.
The NDP has provided a range of proposals to the government to tackle the growing homicide rate. These include, introducing community policing, seek better international cooperation to target the sources of weapons entering the country, establish a forensic lab and greater investment in the Justice System. The government has repeatedly ruled out meeting with the Opposition to discuss any of these measures.
This cycle of violence must stop. The government seems unable to get control of the escalating crime situation. The Prime Minister should relinquish his role as Minister of National Security and allow someone who has the time and ability to get on with the job. It is time for the government to stop playing politics and implement effective measures to manage the crime situation.