January 16, 2009
PM: No slackness will be tolerated

The financial crisis that the world is grappling with demands a focused and disciplined approach and Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has given that charge to his Cabinet and the nation on a whole.{{more}}

“…The economic challenges upon us are awesome. Our individual and collective discipline and focus at this time must be akin to that of being placed on a war footing,” Dr Gonsalves said, as he addressed the nation earlier this week.

“I laid out this and more to my Cabinet colleagues. All of us must lift our game more than ever. I personally shall work even harder and more determinedly than ever,” Dr Gonsalves said.

He said that in 2009 the delivery of service to the population must improve, and called on public servants, teachers, police officers, nurses, doctors and others to do their part in this regard.

“Before the end of January, I will be convening a symposium of senior public servants and the leading officers of State enterprises to ensure that the business of the nation is effected in accordance with the highest standards and to the people’s enduring benefit. And in early February, the Cabinet will go on retreat to facilitate further the enhancement of the quality and purpose of our work, “he said.

“No slackness will be tolerated,” he added.

Dr Gonsalves noted that tourism, remittances from nationals abroad and private sector projects that depend on direct foreign investments will be affected by the global economic slow-down.

He reflected on the two million plus jobs that were lost in the American economy last year.

Dr Gonsalves said that while only a small percentage may have been Vincentian nationals, remittances may be affected by people’s apprehension more than the actuality of losing their jobs.

“It is not just the issue of job loss; the question would be for persons who would have an apprehension that they may lose their jobs. So instead of sending home $200, they may send $150 or $175,” Dr Gonsalves said.

The Prime Minister, however, said that he and his government aren’t deterred by the challenges, and are prepared to make any adjustment that may be deemed necessary.

A list of capital projects, outlined according to priority, was being compiled by officials in the Ministry of Finance so that government could be guided if any cut backs become necessary, Dr Gonsalves explained.

“Others may panic at the on-rushing economic challenges internationally; our nation will not. Others will be pessimistic; we will not be. We will continue to keep our focus, work harder and smarter, and be more caring of, and to, each other,” he said.

He also used the opportunity to reiterate his commitment to the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) proposed economic union and the wider union between the OECS and Trinidad and Tobago.

“These are strategic imperatives for our nation’s development, especially so in the challenging economic circumstances internationally,” he said. (KJ)