The Unity Labour Party (ULP) government has failed Vincentians for nineteen years and it is now in panic mode, as general elections approach. The ULP government is in a mad rush to implement projects that it has failed to execute over the past five years. The ULP is trying desperately to convince the electorate to vote for them in the upcoming general elections. Vincentians will not be fooled! The ULP has failed miserably and will pay a heavy price at the polls, when the next general elections are held.
The ULP cannot campaign on its performance in government. It has returned to its old style of promises, the distribution of cement, lumber and galvanize, and offering short term employment to persons who have been unemployed for many years, in an attempt to bribe Vincentians. The electorate has grown accustomed to this old strategy and it will not work for these elections. All the polls have shown that the New Democratic Party (NDP) will win the next general elections.
Over past general elections, the ULP outlined a number of policies in its manifestos which it has not implemented. These include: making job creation, especially quality jobs and sustainable economic development their main priority; being tough on crime and the causes of crime; moving resolutely against corruption in government; deepening political democracy, strengthening individuals rights and freedoms, and upholding the law and the constitution; modernizing and reforming government to better and more efficiently deliver all the services provided by the government; developing as never before in our country, sports, culture and the arts; develop a modern city at Arnos Vale; upgrade Kingstown; making Campden Park a city and building a strong manufacturing base.
Vincentians are still waiting on the 1500 jobs that were promised in the first year of the ULP’s government. Thousands of young people are at home unemployed after graduating secondary schools, colleges and universities; and they are often referred to as lazy by members of the ULP. Where are the jobs? The ULP has failed to create jobs. Our country is grappling with a high rate of unemployment, particularly among our young people. As a matter of fact, unemployment is worse now than the 20-9 percent it was when the ULP took power in 2001.
According to the IMF, today’s overall unemployment rate is 25 percent and is 46 percent among the youth. And it has got worse in 2020 during COVID- 19 pandemic. Didn’t the Minister of Finance state recently that unemployment has increased by 10%.?
Further, what we have seen over the years of ULP-style governance, is a lawless government. The ULP government has demonstrated that it lacks accountability. It has little or no regard for our laws governing financial accountability and financial management. We recall the problems associated with the Petro Caribe funds, where $112 million were left off the books, according to the International Monetary Fund. And immediately following the 2015 general elections, the government brought legislation to parliament to correct the problem. There was also the lack of accountability during the construction of the Argyle International Airport. The latest fiasco is the acquisition of lands owned by Dr. Murray’s in-laws. There are also allegations of lands being taken away from farmers in South Central Windward, on the Lauders estate, and in North Windward, the advice of government ministers.
Then there was the abuse of the Special Warrants by this ULP government. During the years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, the government spent over $100 million under Special Warrants, but failed to come to parliament in a timely manner to get approval for the money. What a sloppy, messy way to manage government finances! And they would not have brought the matter to parliament had the Opposition, through a question from the Member for Central Kingstown, Major, the Hon. St. Clair Leacock, not raised the matter in the House.
We have also witnessed the demise of agriculture under this administration. Early in the life of this administration, the government took control of the Banana Growers Association. The government then removed the credit facility which was established to assist farmers with their inputs, making it extremely difficult for them to purchase fertilizer and other inputs.
High cost of living, victimization, discrimination, increased crime, lack of opportunities for youth development, a stagnant economy, closure of scores of businesses, deplorable condition of our roads, are features of the ULP government.
The NDP offers/proposes programmes and policies to restore hope and develop the economy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The creation of jobs, especially for our youth, will be our major priority. We have recognized that the youth is a critical to nation building sector and has a significant role to play in the development of our country. We will work tirelessly to provide the opportunities necessary for the young people’s advancement.
We will implement a number of programmes and policies which will create the enabling environment that will produce thousands of jobs. For instance, our Citizenship by Investment Programme will be an instant game changer for job creation and growing the economy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
We have also identified Information Technology as another area that will provide opportunities for our youth. In addition, we will put into operation our Basic Needs programme and Constituency Development Fund which will also create employment. We will work to revitalize the agricultural sector, and partner with the private sector to further develop the tourism industry.
We are confident that we will win the next general elections. The NDP will make SVG work for all Vincentians.