The governing Unity Labour Party administration is seeking to pry the jobs agenda away from the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) which has made jobs the focus of its 2020 campaign strategy.
The ULP’s manifesto and subsequent speeches by the Prime Minister and leader of the party Dr Ralph Gonsalves feature several ‘big ticket’ items intended to woo the electorate especially swing voters just days before Vincentians go to the polls.
If elected to an unprecedented fifth term, the party promises to construct an Acute Referral Hospital at the ET Joshua site in Arnos Vale. Detailed designs have been completed using soft loans from the World Bank.
The government expects the construction of the ultra modern facility will cost close to US$55 million dollars. Renovation and other works are also expected to be carried out on the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.
The construction of a modern cargo port at Rose Place commonly known as ‘Bottom Town’ is also on the cards. The EC$540 million dollars facility will replace the aged Kingstown port and is being financed primarily by a grant by the British government and a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank.
The project has already begun with the relocation of several vendors from the reclamation site in the Little Tokyo area. The next phase will see some 47 houses of varying sizes constructed to provide housing solution for individuals and families who are currently living in the area earmarked for the development. Construction will only begin once the government takes over the site.
Other projects which has made the list of priorities for the 2020 – 2025 term include:
1. Building out the modern city at ET Joshua
2. further the plans to construct a tunnel under Cane Garden point to link the modern city at Arnos Vale with Kingstown as part of overall improvement in traffic.
3. Adding over 1,200 quality hotel rooms through the construction of four hotels by the private sector: Sandals Resorts at Buccament; Black Sands Resorts at Peter’s Hope; Royal Mill Resort at Ratho Mill; and Soho House in Canouan, and two hotels through the government: Holiday Inn Express at Diamond; and the Marriott Resort at Mt.
These investments along with other projects contained in the party’s manifesto amount to about US $350 million or almost EC $1 billion.
The projects are intended to create over 4500 permanent jobs with many more during construction with spill over into other sectors such as tourism and agriculture.