August 19, 2014
Chamber of Industry and Commerce stunned by PM’s brief remarks

A number of business persons last week expressed disappointment that they were deprived of an opportunity to hear what plans Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has for the business community.{{more}}

Gonsalves, who was scheduled to deliver the feature address at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce-hosted cocktail at the cruise ship and ferry terminal in Kingstown, gave what could possibly go on record as one of his shortest addresses ever – a mere 26.59 seconds.

As Master of Ceremonies Anthony Regisford invited Gonsalves to the podium, Regisford hinted that the Prime Minister should keep his address short.

“The last time I attended a function in which he spoke, he said that he is at large. I hope he is not at large tonight and maybe contain it to one of his briefer remarks; so, I would now invite the Prime Minister to address you,” Regisford said.

Regisford and the rest of the gathering were caught off-guard when the Prime Minister addressed the session.

“Friends, arm, colleagues, members of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, citizens, I want to congratulate, on behalf of the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, the work of the Chamber, and to indicate to them that we are open for business with them, as we have been for the last 13 and a half years. Thank you very much; have a wonderful evening.”

A stunned Regisford returned to the podium to ask Gonsalves to return to the lectern, a request he declined.

“Prime Minister, I am not accepting that. Please come back and address us,” Regisford said.

“I’m done,” the Prime Minister replied.

“You are?”

“That’s it.”

The Prime Minister later told SEARCHLIGHT that he did not think the audience was very attentive, or that he should have been asked to be brief.

He referred to the fact that there was a lot of crosstalk while he and other speakers were at the podium delivering their remarks.

Some entrepreneurs at the well-attended function indicated their disappointment that Gonsalves did not give a more detailed address.

“It would have been nice for him to tell us what we can expect from the Government,” one businessman said.

“I think he would have had the attention of most of the persons here if he had delivered his speech,” said another.

The incident did not prevent the Prime Minister from interacting with business owners, CEOs, managers and other policy makers, with whom he held discussions and shared jokes. (JJ)