MESSAGE FROM DR. THE HON. GODWIN FRIDAY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION OF ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES TO MARK THE 41ST ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE OF ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES 27TH OCTOBER, 2020
On this day, the 41st year of our political independence, we must recall the hard work and dedication of Robert Milton Cato and all the leaders that got us here. It is a time to recall our past. A past burdened with the hardships of colonialism, slavery, and racial discrimination. It is crucial that we pay respect to those who fought for the freedoms that many of us today may take for granted.
Our beautiful country, with its warm, sunny climate and abundant natural blessings, is home to a resilient and capable nation. We are a God-fearing people, who never hesitate to give thanks to our Creator for His many blessings. This is our greatest strength. As we proudly say whenever we recite our national anthem, “Our Faith will see us through”.
Our beautiful beaches, rich volcanic soils and bountiful seas are the foundation for our tourism, agriculture and fishing industries which sustain our economy. However, it is our people who are our greatest resource. Our kindness, generosity and good nature welcome visitors to our shores and make them feel safe and happy. The strong work-ethic and skill of our farmers and fisher folk have built agriculture and fishing as fundamental pillars of our economy and culture. Our people of all walks of life and of every political affiliation and religious denomination are the basic reason that our founders fought so hard to defend our dignity, and earn our national independence. They understood the potential for Vincentian leaders to take this country forward and to ensure our precious land remains a safe home for our people and a haven for those who choose to join us here.
It is with all this in mind, that I express my concern for the current state of our country. The difficulties many of our people face when seeking employment sadden me. I see our people in poverty, with over 50% of our young people unemployed. Yet, our taxes such as VAT continue to increase year after year, and customs duties stifle the efforts of those seeking to bring in new equipment and supplies to improve business competitiveness. The corruption and nepotism of the current government, looking out only for those they favor, have left deep scars on our people.
The last 19 years of independence have been spent under the ULP government. It is now clearer than ever, that those have been years of lost opportunity and national decline, not what our forebears had in mind for us and fought to achieve. They have had ample time to make changes that help our people. They have watched over the decline of our agriculture and fishing industries and have not offered any new industries to generate economic growth and jobs.
With general elections close at hand, it is now more important than ever that the voice of our people be heard, to return the power to our people, so that their dreams and goals will finally be within reach.
We need a climate of growth and development in this country. The complacency and mismanagement of the ULP has placed us on the back-foot compared to our neighboring regions. Re-energizing government to tackle the problems before us requires political change now.
We must have a clear plan and the determination to build a better St. Vincent and the Grenadines for our future.
Our priority must be job creation and that is what we in the New Democratic Party urge in the election and will pursue in government. We want to build a country that works for everyone and where everyone who wants to work can do so. This will create better conditions and ensure that our people are happy to stay and build their lives here. We intend to deliver the investment, resources, and production that we need to create a good infrastructure and a strong economy. This will bring foreign investment and increased wages for all Vincentians. Our young people must be given the opportunity for a better start and all our people must be helped to succeed.
There will be many challenges, and together we will overcome them and create new jobs and grow our economy. Together we will create a better SVG for all of us and fulfill our destiny as a people.
In this election year, with a deep appreciation of our history, and mindful of our current situation, it is more important than ever that the voice of the people be heard. And to ensure this, I urge you, my fellow Vincentians, to go out and shout the message you have made so clear to us. Shout the message of change.
Shout the message of growth and job creation. Do this, by going out on November 5th, and marking your vote for the NDP. Help us to create a country where all our people can feel free to express their unique opinions and pursue their interests without any fear of violence and victimization.
On this our 41st year of independence, I want to express my appreciation for all the hard work done by those before us, and to assure you that I am committed to carrying forward that proud legacy. Our country must work for all of us and not just for those who have political connections through family and friends. All our people deserve to enjoy the rich blessings that our lands provide. We are one nation. We are one people. By the grace of God, and our collective efforts, we will persevere and prosper.
God Bless our nation. God bless us all.