January 21, 2014
Nation will soldier on in wake of unprecedented disaster – GG

Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne has said that the nation will continue to soldier on, in the wake of the unprecedented natural disaster that took place in December last year.{{more}}

Delivering his throne speech yesterday at the beginning of the fourth session of the ninth parliament, Sir Frederick said that projects in health, education, airport development, as well as agriculture, housing and legislative reform, will go forward, despite the setbacks that the country experienced with the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day rains and flooding.

“The essence and spirit of our people have been put to a gruelling test,” Ballantyne stated.

“In addition, the developmental agenda of my government has been subjected to tremendous pressures, aggravated by the long global recession.

“However, the Vincentian people have proven and will continue to prove themselves resilient enough to withstand the pressures.”

Outlining some of the Government’s proposed projects, the Governor General said emphasis during the year would be placed on strengthening the national health system, in an effort to support and sustain healthy lifestyles, through the improvement and expansion of the health education system and through infrastructural development, including the completion of the Georgetown medical complex, and the relocation of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

In relation to education, Sir Frederick said initiatives such as the laptops for secondary and post secondary students will go ahead as planned as well as the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment exams for primary school students, which replaces the Common Entrance Examinations.

He also said several new pieces of legislation will be introduced in the upcoming year.

“The work to be undertaken is critical, as the justice and legal systems are fundamental components of good governance and social, political and economic stability.

Bills to be introduced include the Geothermal Resources Development Bill, which will support the exploration and safe production of renewable energy; the Public Health Bill, which aims to protect all citizens from the spread of diseases; as well as legislation to support electronic commerce and e-government initiatives.

There will also be a Domestic Violence Bill and a Child Justice Bill, which he said reflects his government’s commitment to the continued empowerment and protection of the family.

Sir Frederick said that measures to combat poverty, climate change, crime and violence are also part of his government’s central focus, and that all would be done to rebuild the lives of those affected by the Christmas disaster and promote the continued well-being of all Vincentians.

“All programs and projects undertaken by my government have as their unifying theme, the improvement of the lives and well-being of all citizens, to an extent which enables each to contribute meaningfully to his or her community….

“The task of rebuilding will be great; however, my government has begun the necessary work and approaches the task ahead with vision, resolve and unflagging commitment,” Ballantyne said.