CHALLENGES ARISING OUT of the COVID-19 pandemic, dengue outbreak and ever-present threat of natural disaster have demonstrated the importance of capacity building and resilience across various sectors locally.
Governor General, Dame Susan Dougan delivered the Throne Speech in Parliament yesterday for the second time since being installed as this country’s head of state in 2020.
In her speech, the Governor General addressed the challenges being faced by the nation and highlighted several measures that will be implemented in this fiscal year to address these issues.
“The sobering realities of present-day life loom large in the minds of most persons. Their effects are potentially debilitating in one sense or the other. They range from health and safety concerns, to social and economic hardships at the individual, family, community, national and global levels,” Dougan said.
She noted that if citizens were to act irresponsibly, “there is a real risk that current happenings could engender a sense of virtual paralysis”.
In order to avoid this, the Governor General said persons should do all in their power to guard against defeatism and hopelessness.
The head of state said that the current pandemic and the dire warnings of the possibility of more public health emergencies of international concern further confirm the urgent necessity of strategic interventions led by the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, the Ministry of Social Development and other agencies of the State.
Dougan added that her government’s agenda for this financial year has been dictated by several factors.
These include “the requirement for an agile and efficacious response to an ever-evolving, serious public health change, with its attendant social and economic ramifications; the need to build resilience and mitigate the risks occasioned by disasters, natural and otherwise and the necessity of preserving with the overarching national development programme, despite the many impediments”.
The governor general noted that major sectors of the economy like tourism and hospitality and trade, have recorded marked decline as a result of the economic and social impact of the pandemic.
She said however, that strategic and timely interventions by the State have done much to avert resulting perils.
Dougan also said that despite the continuing impact of COVID-19, the dengue outbreak and seismic
activity at La Soufriere, St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has been able to fulfil its obligations to regional and international organisations to which it belongs.
In the delivery of the Throne Speech, the head of state also addressed work being done in various ministries and sectors, including Tourism, Health, Education and Foreign Affairs.
She also spoke of the plans that are expected to be executed in some of these sectors as well as during the 2021 fiscal year.
“I am certain that the indomitable Vincentian spirit will prevail over challenges and adversity as it has done repeatedly over the course of our history. Our response to the present challenges must be shaped by the very same elements that ensured our survival and success in the past,” she said.
The Governor General commended the Unity Labour Party- led administration for being returned to office for an unprecedented fifth consecutive term.
She said the November 2020 General Elections bore all the hallmarks of a mature democracy, which has come into its own and that the will of the people prevailed.
“My government continues to demonstrate its commitment to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The administration has provided steady and focused leadership during periods of triumph and achievement, and also, during trials and adversities,” Dougan said.
The head of state also congratulated Speaker of the House, Rochelle Forde on her elevation to the post, hence making Forde the first ever female Speaker of SVG.
Finance minister Camillo Gonsalves delivered the 2021 Budget Presentation shortly after Dougan’s presentation of the Throne Speech.
The debate continues today, with Opposition Leader, Dr Godwin Friday making his contribution at 9 am.