PM delivers Independence message to SVG
October 29, 2010
PM delivers Independence message to SVG

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has called on Vincentians to rejoice for blessings in the midst of challenges, as he addressed the nation on the occasion of the 31st anniversary of independence.{{more}}

One blessing, noticeably missing from the Prime Minister’s tenth independence address to the nation, was the announcement of Christmas bonuses for public servants this year.

Gonsalves, speaking at the Independence Day Parade on Wednesday October 27, at the Victoria Park, made no mention of the financial incentive which some had been hoping for, but spoke of other areas of public policy, which he described as modest, but vital in the upliftment of the Vincentian people.

“In keeping with my government’s longstanding policy of providing duty free Christmas barrels and packages, this concession will be available this year from November 8th to January 14th 2011,” he said.

“Secondly, as of January 2011, the monthly public assistance for the economically disadvantaged, including children and the elderly, will increase in each category by 25 per cent, that is by one quarter,” the Prime Minister promised.

The Prime Minister also indicated that hundreds of housing lots are to be distributed to economically disadvantaged persons at preferential prices. He said that the interest rate on outstanding balances on the purchases of these lands has been reduced from 8 per cent annually to 3 per cent and a cap of 5 years has been placed on the number of years for which interest is payable.

The special allocations for university education for nurses, public servants, teachers and police men and women will continue for the current and upcoming academic year, the Prime Minister said.

Mention was also made of recreational and sporting facilities to be constructed in Sion Hill and Kingstown respectively.

“… Last Friday, I gave instructions to the State-owned National Properties to sell, on terms, to the State-owned National Lotteries Authority the parcel of land in lower Kingstown near to Bay Street, known as the old Glove Factory site or the Anglican School Annex. The Lottery has been mandated to develop an indoor sports facility for basketball, netball and a gymnasium as requested by several sporting organizations,” the Prime Minister said.

He also announced that the annual Christmas work programme will soon commence through Public Works and BRAGSA.

Gonsalves also spoke of a number of developmental policies that are to be implemented next year. These include an Agricultural Diversification Programme financed largely by proceeds of a $30 million soft-loan from the Export-Import Bank of Taiwan; a $35 million Health Sector Development Programme financed by the European Union; a $40 million European Union financed project for the further development of post-secondary education; the implementation of an integrated Agricultural Development Programme financed by “an expected $37 million from the Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM), financed by the European Union”; the Lives to Live Project for mentally and physically-challenged persons; and the “One Laptop per Child” project.

“These developmental initiatives are part and parcel of a whole bundle of ongoing projects,” he stated, “including the construction of the Argyle International Airport which will contribute to making tourism a truly transformational sector in the economy.”

He further said: “In the meantime, the private and cooperative economic sectors are performing admirably in challenging circumstances globally. Tourism investments, including foreign direct investments, are continuing at Buccama, Bequia, Canouan and Union Island. We are most grateful.”

The Prime Minister called on Vincentians to be proactive, and said that the current period is a time for boldness of action, creativity, optimism and hopefulness, and stated that it was not time to wait on ‘perfect conditions in an imperfect world’.

“It is imperative that we reject the apostles of negativism who import from some reactionary circles in America and elsewhere the debilitating and false doctrine of ‘No, No, No to everything which is progressive, good and worthy to the people,” he said.

“Such persons are invariably in love with problems and not solutions… they treat public policy making as if they were a continuous war zone, and they have a marked tendency to belittle intelligence and facts, enthrone ignorance and trivia….”

In one of his shortest independence speeches of the ten he has delivered so far, Dr. Gonsalves insisted, in the address which lasted approximately 20 minutes, that the resolve of the Vincentian people will weather the current economic storm by ‘digging deep in their individual and collective selves’.

“The future is bright. We must be confident about that and work towards its true fulfillment…. There is much to be thankful for, much to rejoice about….”