Our Readers' Opinions
October 1, 2004
NDP losing ability to reason

EDITOR: Hurricane Ivan must have totally removed whatever residue of common sense or ability to reason from the leadership of the Opposition, the New Democratic Party (NDP), and propelled them to expose their lack of diplomacy and desire to see St. Vincent and the Grenadines move forward.

Two statements from the NDP, since the passage of Hurricane Ivan, when put together, add up to show how the NDP leadership is insensitive, unscientific and backward thinking. {{more}}Firstly, without proving to anyone that they had done as much as a tour of the affected areas, the NDP released a statement, one week after Hurricane Ivan, claiming that the government had dishonestly overestimated the damage from the hurricane.

The NDP leadership on the radio also made much of this. The NDP rampage came just after visits to the country by senior World Bank officials and the president and project officer of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), who were on a tour of affected countries, following the passage of the hurricane. These officials were taken on separate tours of the various areas hit by Ivan, lead by the Prime Minister, along with the Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Senator Julian Francis, Director of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), Howie Prince and officials from the Ministry of Finance.

The World Bank and CDB officials got a first hand view of the damage and were given preliminary estimates of the damage by the government.

On the issues of the damage assessment, Arnhim Eustace, as a past prime minister should be acquainted with the official documented procedure for damage assessment, following the passage of a hurricane.

For those who do not know, NEMO comprises a number of subcommittees, including one for damage assessment. This committee is headed by Edmund Jackson, the budget director, and has membership from the private sector, the chief engineer, CWSA, VINLEC, and other institutions such as the Banana Growers Association. Is Eustace and the NDP saying that all of these people are dishonest and liars? In addition, why would anyone want to falsify such estimates?

The other statement made by the Opposition is that the Government is pressuring the Taiwan Government for money, giving the impression that the government is “milking” the Taiwanese for more and more money. Eustace went further and asked why is the Government not going to the World Bank, CDB and the European Union for resources? We must remember that it is the same World Bank and CDB that came here with the Government to look at the damage from Ivan. It is the same NDP, which said that the Unity Labour Party (ULP) Government is trying to get too much from the World Bank and the CDB to help the affected people in the Grenadines and the mainland to recover, and to repair the airport’s sea defence wall and the Windward sea defence system.

The NDP is either confused or trying to confuse the people of the country. On one hand, they say the Government is squeezing the Taiwanese for more and more money, to help to develop the country. And they say we should go to the World Bank and CDB, but then they say in the same breath that the Government is dishonest to bring the same banks here and give them preliminary estimates of the damage.

The lack of understanding of international diplomacy has lead the NDP to embarrass themselves and compromise cordial relations with the NDP leadership and the Taiwan Government. Eustace has actually suggested that the Government and the embassy here are into some sort of unusual relationship.

Let it be known that monies accessed by this country from Taiwan are budgeted long in advance by the Taiwan Government. When the ULP took office in 2001, the first mission led overseas by Prime Minister Gonsalves was to Taiwan. At that time, the Prime Minister and the Taiwan leader redefined diplomatic relations between our countries. For over 23 years, our two countries have had very good relations and there are mutual agreements for assistance between us, both ways.

At present, the World Bank, E.U. and CDB are funding a number of projects. The massive school repair programme was funded by the E.U. These institutions are funding the Windward Highway, the Social Investment Fund, the NBC-AM Project and many others

Put together, the message the NDP is sending to the people of this country is that the Government is working too hard to get resources for the people and the development of the country.

In reality, the NDP leadership is saying that if the Government is to assist anyone whose property was damaged by Ivan, it should cut back on the amount. Similarly, instead of fixing the airport and other sea defences properly we should half do it and wait for the next hurricane to destroy it again.

The NDP is in effect suggesting that the Government not build the library, the Learning Resource Centres, the Pan Yard and Pavilion at Sion Hill, the National Stadium and the Cross Country Road, which are all being funded, either in part or in full, by the Taiwanese. Funding for the YES Programme also comes from the Taiwanese, so one has to assume that

the NDP is seeking to close down the YES programme.

The ULP Government under the leader ship of Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonsalves will continue the implementation of its manifesto pledges and other projects for the benefit of the country and will not be deterred by those who have left the country in great debt and little to show for it.

Glenn Jackson

Press Secretary