Challenges facing us
Christmas Messages
December 23, 2004
Challenges facing us

Christmas is here with us once again. The New Year is but a week or two away as 2004, an eventful year comes to a close.

As we celebrate this festive season in recognition of the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour we as a people are all worried about the state of our nation and the challenges we face.{{more}}

There is the challenge of alleviating poverty; there is the challenge of economic development. There is the challenge of the implementation of the Caribbean Single market & Economy (CSME); there is the final challenge aimed at having a successful negotiation for an acceptable banana regime for Windward Islands bananas.

These are but a few of the many challenges facing this country at this time.

Our experiences, up to the time of my penning this message, have not been the ones we have been looking forward to nor the ones we were promised.

In recent months crime, violence and drugs have elevated themselves in the thoughts of many of our people.

On reflection I must stand by the side of the Public Relations Officer of the Young Democrats Shemille King when she stated in quite uncompromising terms that 25 murders in a small state like ours are far too many.

Since that pronouncement we have reached some 28 murders, with the last being the double murder of husband and wife. This is shocking, ridiculous and quite frankly outrageous and must be brought to some level of sanity with great urgency.

I am looking forward to seeing a drastic reduction in these criminal and drug related activities for the year ahead. In this regard I urge the government, churches, social clubs, political parties, NGO’s, families and community- based organizations to let us increase our efforts and make it part of our responsibility to stem this ugly growth.

How can we make these changes as our country and our people become increasingly tarnished in the region and internationally by drug related activities of those in leadership positions as well as those in diplomatic circles who are carrying out functions for the Government?

How can we make these changes for the better in our major economic sectors if we refuse to admit and accept that we have underperformed in the areas of tourism, agriculture and offshore financial services?

I am aware that it is during this festive season that many of our people go beyond their means in very many ways. My advice to all Vincentians is to ensure that during the season you do not indulge yourselves in the abuse of alcohol or the wastage of food as I know that this is a normal tendency.

The season is one of sharing, loving, caring and remembrance and should be so celebrated. It is in this context that I re-echo my call for “a kinder, gentler society”. We must look out for our neighbours, share with and care for those who cannot help themselves.

I say to all you young people do not try drugs; it is a time when you are most vulnerable and your peers at times seek to induce you into trying; do not accept this challenge.

The year ahead does not promise to be one of economic comfort as is indicated by the 2005 Appropriation Act presented by the government of St. Vincent & the Grenadines just a few weeks ago. It is important, therefore, that you take every financial caution you can if some semblance of economic stability is to be experienced. The road ahead is a rugged one.

In spite of the many challenges which have confronted us in 2004 and those multiplied to crush us in 2005, there is solace in the words of the one whose birth this season is intended to celebrate. He promises to be the burden bearer, a shelter in the time of storm, not to give us more than we can bear and he always keeps his word.

Based on this promise I want to wish every Vincentian a merry Christmas and hope for a better New Year.

God bless us all.

Hon. Arnhim U Eustace

Political Leader & President NDP

Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition