The first session of the Eleventh Parliament was officially opened on Monday 30th November. The elected members and senators of the New Democratic Party (NDP) were sworn in. Supporters of the NDP were present to show support to their party.
Dr. Friday and his team are cognizant of the responsibility that has been given to them, and are committed to work assiduously to represent the majority of Vincentians and bring about the change for which most Vincentians yearn.
Sadly, the 2020 general elections did not bring about the change for which most Vincentians had voted. That change has been deferred and the Unity Labour Party (ULP) has retained government by being declared winner of more seats than the NDP. Under our Constitution, the party with the most seats forms the government. However, it is a fundamental and treasured principle of democracy that a government that does not have the support of a majority of the people, lacks a mandate from the people to govern them. It lacks democratic legitimacy.
Most Vincentians are disappointed and frustrated with the outcome of the general elections and Dr. Friday has recognized it. He said, “I know the frustration and concerns that weigh heavily on our people following a difficult election with its inconclusive outcome. I am also keenly aware of the strength of our support, the deep yearning for change in our people. And I promise you, change will come. We must commit ourselves to that task for completing it, we will usher in a government that has earned the support of a majority of the people, and thereby set in place the essential foundation upon which our future prosperity and happiness depends.
“To succeed, this must be a collective effort. The NDP will be the vessel that carries that movement to its successful outcome. It is our duty and we are committed to continue providing constructive leadership that will guide our activism and lead us to a brighter future for all of our people.
“To our young people, I say a special thank you. Thanks for your support. I urge you to remain engaged in the political process. In the recent campaign, your voice was loud and strong, and your courage was inspiring. Now more than ever, your country needs you. Retreat is not an option. Become and remain part of the growing movement that is necessary to bring the change our country wants.
“As for me, I am not going anywhere. I love my country too much. This is my life’s work and I am honored to do it. The more people I meet and share a smile with, engage in a conversation or activities with, the more that love grows.”
Most Vincentians want change because they are fed-up of the numerous broken promises by the ULP. They want change because of the high unemployment rate. Unemployment is at an all-time high; 46% of our young people are unemployed and an overall unemployment rate of 25% before COVID- 19, worse than it was in 2001.
We have experienced an increase in violent crime, unprecedented in the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A record number of business have closed; agricultural activity and exports have declined significantly; tourism has shown little or no improvement, and our economy is in the worst state since conquest and settlement.
Further, Budget deficits are the order of the day. The capital budget is stymied by the absence of counterpart funding for projects identified. The recurrent expenditure for health has been reduced, leading to serious deterioration in that sector, and less funding has been allocated to BRAGSA and the tourism sector. You will agree that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is in a crisis, economically and politically.
NDP celebrates Forty-Five
The New Democratic Party (NDP) was founded by Sir James Mitchell. It was officially launched on 5th December, 1975. The main objectives of the NDP are: to raise the standard of living of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines through the development of the economic resources of the country, in a manner that provides equal opportunity for all; to ensure the highest standard of rectitude in public life, and to guarantee the maximum expression of democratic liberties by all citizens, and to lead in the building of a dynamic society.
In 1984, Vincentians voted the NDP into office and ended the victimization, oppression and corruption of the vindictive St. Vincent Labour Party. With the objectives of the party, a clear vision, sound policies and astute leadership of the NDP, it governed St. Vincent and the Grenadines for seventeen years, having won general elections in 1984, 1989, 1994 and 1998; in 1989, it won all fifteen seats.
During the period 1984 to 2001, the economy was booming; there was an average economic growth of 5% annually. All the productive sectors contributed significantly to economic development. Agriculture played the dominant role, in particular the banana industry. In 1990, St. Vincent and the Grenadines earned $120 million, and in 1992, $112 million from bananas. Vincentians enjoyed an improved standard of living. A middle class developed and unemployment was at its lowest.
The flag ship of the NDP was its land reform programme; where lands were given to the landless. A number of estates were sub-divided and lands distributed in Rabbacca, Colonaire, San Souci, Mt. Wynne and Diamond, among other areas, to the poor and working class. There were also major development to the infrastructure of this country, such as the construction of feeder roads which assisted farmers tremendously. Vincentians showed great appreciation to the construction of the village roads which the Labour Party called ‘gouti tracks’, and there was a marked improvement to the housing stock. Vincentians were living comfortably under the NDP administration.