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Unity Labour Party’s Convention and its Autocratic Leader

Unity Labour Party’s Convention and its Autocratic Leader

Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ political beliefs and deep rooted philosophy have been influenced by authoritarian and socialist leaders. In the 1970s, former Prime Minister, the late Robert Milton Cato, labelled him a communist and a dictator. As a result, he was unable to win a seat in the elections that he contested with political organisations that he formed. It was not until he joined the Labour Party, he won the North Central Windward constituency. At the recently held Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) convention, Vincentians heard from the real dictator.

At the convention, he took the time to list the ULP’s aims and objectives as they are in party’s constitution. And, stressed on the objective which states that, ‘members should refrain from making public statements contrary to the declared principles and policies of the party’. He gave them a stern warning not to criticize the party.  He didn’t say what the penalty was, if any member or supporter criticizes the party. One can only imagine what the penalty would be. So, a member or supporter cannot criticize publicly, cannot criticize privately nor criticize at the convention. What does that tell us?

However, more and more members and supporters of the ULP have begun to make profound public statements against their leader. They are dissatisfied with what is taking place in their party and the country. They have had enough of Dr. Gonsalves and the ULP. They have now begun to see the: victimization, corruption, nepotism, and the lack of accountability of the ULP government. The New Democratic Party (NDP) welcomes such individuals with open arms. We have a big tent. We have a country to build, and we need all the support where necessary. 

It is the mass movement of supporters away from the ULP to the NDP that Dr. Gonsalves has recognized and cannot accept. So, he attacked the NGO’s in the country and cursed what he described as imperialism at the convention. But, he sucks up to imperialism when it suits him. The British grant financing to the port project in Kingstown is 27.7 million pound sterling.  Is that imperialist funding? Further, his vain attack on the president of the NDP, Dr. Godwin Friday, is only making him more popular. Dr. Friday is the people’s choice.

Vincentians must not be fooled by Dr. Gonsalves and the number of projects that he outlined at the convention. For twenty one (21) years, he has been talking about constructing a hospital, he has not delivered it. What benefits are there for the poor and working class in a new parliament building? His hotel projects seem to be never ending. Dr. Gonsalves did not mention how he is going to ease the burden of the exorbitant gasoline price for Vincentians. He did not state what measures he would put in place to reduce the high cost of living. He did not say how the thousands of young bright Vincentians who are at home for years and are unemployed would get a job. He did not say one word about our agricultural sector and the plans to revive it. He did not mention a word on the cost of electricity and what he would do to reduce the high fuel surcharge, and how he is going to solve the crime situation in the country. His main concern is his obsession with power, while most Vincentians suffer. 

The disunity in the ULP continues. The cracks are widening. Persons are leaving the ULP every day. And, Dr. Gonsalves does not have the time and the strength to govern St. Vincent and the Grenadines and settle dispute among the three warring factions in the ULP.

The NDP has a better way

We have a clear plan and the determination to build a better St. Vincent and the Grenadines for our future. For too long, a lack of economic opportunities has seen many of our people leave for opportunities in Canada, United Kingdom, USA, St. Kitts and other countries. Many are lost to our islands and never return. A strong economy and good infrastructure will bring foreign investment and increased wages for all Vincentians.

We will pay special attention to our health sector. We will also construct a new hospital in St Vincent and the Grenadines. We will ensure it is certified as a training school as well. The NDP will also oversee the roll-out of a National Health Insurance Scheme. We will also introduce a Patient Travel Subsidy to help patients get to important appointments, and upgrade or construct new community health clinics.

Also, our fisherfolk and farmers have been neglected and have not been able to make a good living. We will completely reinvigorate our fishing sector – creating a separate Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Conservation to give this vial industry the attention it deserves. We will help finance new boats and equipment for our fisherfolk through our National Development Bank. We won’t dictate to fisherfolk what they need; instead we will work with them to get them the right equipment to succeed.

Our plan also includes fixing and building new feeder roads so our farmers can be more productive. We will also finance new equipment to make their job easier, and to make them more productive so that farming is more appealing to younger people. We will ensure that there are real markets in place for their produce. So that when you put in a crop and wait months for it to bear, you will have somewhere to sell it into at a fair price. We want our farmers to be farmers, focusing on what they do best and earn a decent living so they can build a home, send their children to school and save for retirement. The NDP has the programs and policies to get St. Vincent and the Grenadines working.

Chaos in the ULP

Chaos in the ULP

The much anticipated Unity Labour Party (ULP) convention is heading for an anticlimax. Probably, the most publicized contest for deputy leader of any political party was to have taken place on July 31. The excitement that was generated by the ULP’s supporters has disappeared. Neither Camillo Gonsalves nor Saboto Caesar will be deputy leader. It was revealed by the political leader that Montgomery Daniel would be the deputy leader of the ULP.

The decision to name Montgomery Daniel deputy leader tells us that Camillo Gonsalves is incapable of being deputy leader. It tells us that Saboto Caesar is incapable of being deputy leader. So, Montgomery Daniel as deputy leader, does that mean that Mr. Daniel will be the next leader of the ULP? Searchlight Newspaper of June 14, 2022, in an extensive interview with Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves reported, “We’ll just have a deputy leader and it is recognized that that deputy leader …… would rise to leadership” he said, “adding that once the convention ends, there will be a clear indication of the party’s plan for succession.”

It is crystal clear for all to see. There is no future for Saboto Caesar in the ULP. There is no future for Saboto Caesar in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And, there is no future for Saboto Caesar in South Central Windward. Also, the party does not want Camillo Gonsalves. East St. George does not want Camillo Gonsalves. And the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines do not want him. 

It was said that Mr. Eustace was too old and he must go. Mr. Eustace went and is relaxing comfortably at home. Now, we are saying that Dr. Gonsalves is old and tired. He sleeps ever where he goes, and he has no new ideas. He must go. Dr. Gonsalves is not in a position at this time to manage the three warring factions in his party and govern the country. The cracks in the ULP have begun to widen, very soon it will fall apart.

It doesn’t matter who leads the ULP in the next general elections. Let it be known that the NDP will win the next general elections.  The people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines need a government with innovative and creative ideas to move the country forward. The NDP will create new jobs and grow our economy; invest in small and medium enterprises; grow our agriculture and fisheries industries and provide funding for science and technology to support our economy.

Our Way Forward for Youth Development

The recently held Youth Parliament created much discussion among some members of the Unity Labour Party (ULP).  As if it were the first time a Youth Parliament was convened. That is far from the truth. It was done regularly under the New Democratic Party (NDP) government. As reported by an online publication, “The first sitting of a youth parliament in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in over 20 years.” The NDP welcomes the return of the Youth Parliament. 

The NDP is concerned about youth development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  We will ensure that our young people have the opportunities to succeed. We know that our most valuable resource is our people and we need them to prosper. Our policy for young people is to ensure that they are earning or learning. This means that they are either furthering their education or are employed.

We have stated on numerous occasions that our major priority is to create the environment to provide thousands of sustainable jobs for the youths of this country. We will implement a number of innovative programs and policies that will create an enabling environment for thousands of jobs to be created. And, has identified Information Technology as one of the important areas that will provide opportunities for our young people. We will place tremendous emphasis on Information Technology to tackle the unemployment situation which exists among our youths, in this country.

We will increase and diversify the scholarship program, more scholarships in more places. The existing scholarship program will be improved to offer a wider variety of opportunities for young people to access higher education in properly accredited universities and colleges worldwide. Diverse scholarships will be sourced to encourage persons into non-traditional education, including opportunities for young people in culture, music and sports. We will also reduce the interest rate for students’ loans. 

The NDP will design and implement non-academic incentive program for youth. The NDP believes that young people in St Vincent and the Grenadines must be encouraged to believe in their own self-worth. With this in mind, the NDP will organize targeted incentive programs to encourage our youth in the many areas of non-academic achievements. And, set up a Youth Parliament. The NDP will encourage and support the formation of a youth parliament where young people with an interest in politics can develop their understanding of the practice and methods of the parliamentary system.

Further, we will work to rehabilitate and reintegrate young offenders to society. An unfortunate mistake made by a young person, should not be a life sentence that condemns him or her to hopelessness. Under a new program to be developed by the NDP, young offenders will be offered second chances through targeted programs of technical and vocational training, counselling and rehabilitation. Also, set up mentorship programs for youth. The mentorship and career guidance program will be re-established with a view to bonding university students to giving back to all secondary schools upon completion of their studies, by way of lectures, mentoring and other tangible ways of contributing to the education of young students. We see the talent and energy of the country’s youths as pivotal in the effort to move our beloved country forward. 

 

 

Reinstate the Workers Now!

Reinstate the Workers Now!

The New Democratic Party (NDP) has reiterated its call for the government to reinstate the teachers, police officers and public servants who were fired because of the vaccine mandate. The NDP maintains that the policy to dismiss the workers was wrong, and it is time for it to be corrected. While the Prime Minister plays with words, such as ‘may’ and ‘considerations’, the workers are suffering.  They are experiencing emotional stress. And, are unable to pay their bills, pay their mortgages and maintain their families.

The message from the NDP on vaccine mandate is consistent. Reflect on this statement that was made by president of the NDP, Dr Friday, in November, 2021: While we, as a party support vaccination as a means of combatting COVID-19, we are philosophically opposed to making the COVID- 19 vaccine mandatory. Mandating vaccines—i.e. forcing people to be vaccinated against their will is not who we are as a democratic society.  It is also not who we wish to be as a people. And, firing government workers and taking away their benefits because they have not taken the COVID- 19 vaccine is cruel and counter-productive and will create more unemployment and misery in our country.

Let us acknowledge that the world was caught off-guard and unprepared by COVID-19. No country was truly prepared to tackle a public health problem on such as large scale.  A year ago, we did not have any safe and effective vaccines against coronavirus; that only became available early this year. It is therefore understandable, if concerning, that our vaccination rates are low, even though safe, effective, and free vaccines are now available. As a democratic society however, our concern and even frustration for some must not manifest into actions likened to dictatorship.

It is true that there is a lot of confusion and misinformation and even disinformation about COVID- 19 vaccines. I do not wish to engage in that debate except to reiterate that I accept that the vaccines provide very strong protection from severe illness and death from COVID-19. 

Also, we now have more knowledge and better tools to combat the virus than when it first emerged. But we will succeed only if we work together, as a nation. If we protect ourselves and others through masking, sanitizing, social distancing, building body immunity, expanded testing (test vaccinated and unvaccinated) and vaccination, we can and will turn the tide on COVID-19. It will take a lot of hard work, and it’s going to take some time.  I have no doubt that we will get there.

Mandating vaccination is not the way to go. All over the world, governments that have considered such as measure as a way out of the pandemic have retreated from mandatory vaccination. But, not in SVG. It is only through collaborative endeavours, communication, and trust that we can win this battle against COVID- 19. The ULP administration has time and again has broken the trust of the people of SVG. They have also neglected to engage with civil society and the private sector in any meaningful way over the years.

Now they have resorted to draconian measures to seek to achieve their aims, while disregarding the impact those measures are having on our public sector workers and the society. They have told teachers, nurses, police officers, other public and state entity workers to get vaccinated or lose their jobs. And, now that the policy has been implemented, workers have been made the problem. Since when did nurses, teachers, other public servants, and police officers become the problem in our country?  Does COVID-19 truly require this government to treat its own workers so unfairly and so harshly? No, it does not.

When did these workers with long service and valuable work experience suddenly become disposable so that they can easily be replaced with new recruits?  Statements by government officials about replacing police officers, teachers, nurses, including those who have many years of service and experience in their jobs with new recruits disrespect those affected employees. 

An NDP government would not have a mandatory vaccination policy and would not be firing public servants because of such a policy. Anyone who is fired or resigns because of the government’s vaccine mandate must be rehired or otherwise compensated without loss of benefits. An NDP government would ensure that anyone who resigns or is dismissed form his/her job because of the government’s vaccine mandate is reinstated or otherwise compensated and will receive all affected benefits as well.

No one should be forced to choose between their body and their bread. There are better and more effective ways to achieve vaccination goals that do not devalue and divide our people. The government’s approach divides families, workplaces, churches, and communities. It fosters resentment and distrust of government and engenders unnecessary fear among our people. Trust and partnership are the cornerstones that would place us well on the path to achieving recommended vaccination targets and better success against the pandemic. These factors are lacking in this administration’s current strategy and what we see here is simply the current administration lying in a bed that they made, as the old adage goes.

We must accept that there are different perspectives and be willing to listen so that we can better understand where we are and where we need to go in combatting COVID-19. In light of the high level of distrust of authority and the COVID- 19 vaccines, it is foolhardy to proceed with the approach that it is “my way or the highway”.

The ULP administration has historically done nothing more than deprecate the views of others. They have stopped listening and therefore choose to take heavy-handed approaches when their leadership failures are laid bare for the world to see.  The poor uptake reflects the failure of the ULP administration to listen and engage with our people. To re-emphasize, the NDP does not support vaccine mandates.  We believe that ethical and collaborative leadership is better and is needed here. 

Remarks upon the visit of the President of the Republic of India

Address by Leader of the Opposition the Honourable Dr. Godwin Friday to Parliament on the Occasion of the Visit of His Excellency Mr. Ram Nath Kovind, President of the Republic of India on May 19, 2022

Greetings.

Your Excellency, it is a great honour for me to join in welcoming you and your delegation to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  I extend this welcome also on behalf of my colleague Members of the Opposition. 

We welcome you as the Head of State of your great nation, the Republic of India, and as a friend. I trust that your journey here, though long, was buoyed with expectations about what you might see here and who you would greet, and pray that over the course of your visit, those expectations would be met and, indeed, that you are now enjoying the warm hospitality of our people.  

Differences and Shared Values

The differences between our countries may seem vast, but what matters most are the things we share that bring us together, ever closer,  in friendship and mutual cooperation.  In a world riven by enmity and strive– often caused by manufactured prejudice and exaggerated fears—we who get along well together must do all we can to promote peace, justice, and harmony in the world.  

We come from opposite sides of the world, you from the East and we from the West.  

You are a great and ancient civilization, interrupted by colonial rule, but once again on a path to wonderful things of your own choosing and forged by your own hands.  We are a young nation, comprised of the original peoples–Kalinago and Garifuna– and newer arrivals, including Indians, who came during colonial times and we, too, are striving to make our way in the world.  

You are the second largest nation on earth by population; we are one of the smallest. Yet, you honor us by choosing to visit. This tells us that the differences mentioned, though seemingly large, are in fact small matters in comparison with the common values and other things that we share. 

We share similar institutions of government and a commitment to human rights and democracy.  India, as the largest democracy on Earth, is an inspiration to us, one of the world’s smallest.  Like you, we believe that despite setbacks from time to time and the constant and often rancorous noises of the process at work, democracy is still the best form of government that humans have yet devised.  Let us persist in that belief and continue to work to perfect it in practice. 

We note the great economic and technological advances your country continues to make. We are grateful for the economic, technical, and diplomatic assistance you have provided to us over the years and, in particular, we note the timely contribution of covid19 vaccines at the height of the pandemic. It is my hope and indeed my expectation that these spheres of cooperation and collaboration will expand and, inevitably, deepen our ties with one another. 

Indian Culture in SVG

The contributions in the cultural sphere are no less significant. Colonialism brought our peoples and cultures together over 160 years ago, when Indians were brought here to provide labor for the colonial economic machine. The sinews of those people, their sweat and tears helped to build this land. The hardships they endured have not been in vain, as their children and successive generations have contributed to our national development and made successful lives for themselves in SVG:  your diaspora; their home.    

Their arrival is celebrated every year with reverence, enjoyment, and hope. We must applaud and support the efforts of those who seek to reclaim and promote Indian culture here, e.g. the Indian Heritage Foundation– a far better approach than in the early years when assimilation and cultural annihilation were the order of the day.  For after all, we must do more than simply share a common space: we must inhabit it together, shape it together, and make it a thing of joy and beauty—a light in the world.  

On the lighter side, but no less significant, we share a common love of cricket.  Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Tendulkar are as much our heroes as Sobers, Richards and Lara are yours.  May the friendly rivalry continue and may we always be able to appreciate each other’s accomplishments.

Conclusion

Excellency, I am happy that you will see various parts of our country:  La Soufriere volcano in its awesome splendor; and the Grenadines–specifically Canouan–in their pristine beauty.  I am confident that you will enjoy the experience.

We wish you safe travels in your overseas mission.

When you return home, please convey our best wishes and gratitude to your Government and people.    

Thank you.

Crime is Out of Hand in SVG

Crime is out of hand in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The recent rapid increase of homicides and the barbaric nature of these crimes have sent shock waves throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  The New Democratic Party is deeply concerned about this upsurge and dangerous trend in our society.

The following is a statement by the New Democratic Party: 

Vincentian society was shocked at the discovery of the decomposed body of a 17 year old woman in the community of Murray’s Village on the outskirts of Kingstown on Thursday 12 May 2022.

Then on Monday 16th May 2022, local police confirmed another shooting death in the New Montrose area. The victim brings to sixteen (16) the number of homicides in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) so far this year. This follows a four (4) day spate of four (4) murders. It does not go unnoticed that two (2) of the victims in this short period are women.

Should the current rate continue, St. Vincent and the Grenadines would equal its 2016 record-breaking murder count of forty (40) for the year. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) ranks 2016 in SVG as the 6th bloodiest in the world in the period 2012 to 2020.

A significant percentage of these homicides remain unsolved as the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force seems unequipped to come to grips with this crisis. This incompetence stands in stark contrast to the enthusiasm and vigour exercised in the pursuit and arrest of critics of the ULP administration and in preventing citizens from exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of expression and association.

Of greater concern is the administration’s refusal to acknowledge the depth of this crisis since 2007. It is evident that as Minister of National Security Dr. Gonsalves has failed to be “tough on crime and the causes of crime.”

In twenty (20) years the minister and successive commissioners of police (the current Commissioner of Police Colin John being included) have failed to present to the nation a credible and comprehensive plan to deal with spiralling crime. It would appear that such a plan has not even been drafted. The time has come for the administration to engage real expertise

While we offer our sympathies to families directly affected by violent crime, we recognize that expressions ring hollow without action. The New Democratic Party renews our call for a bipartisan, broad-based approach to the development and implementation of strategies for combating crime.

We call on anyone with information that might assist the police in their investigations to contact the police immediately.

The NDP’s Plan

Stop the Causes of Crime

The New Democratic Party (NDP) strongly believes that to effectively combat crime; the emphasis should be placed on identifying the likely causes of crime and developing a strategy to remove them. 

We will implement the Spiritual Social and redemption charter as an important programme in crime prevention; commission a review of existing research into the causes of crime followed by research in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to determine which of these causes are applicable here. This will inform the strategies we introduce for combating crime. 

Also, vigorously pursue community policing by increasing the visibility of police on the beat, involving police in trust-building activities in communities, and by providing specific training in community policing. And, institute measures that will encourage regular meetings with the police and certain communities about the resolution and reduction of criminal conduct in those communities.

Our Plans for the Criminal Justice System

The NDP recognizes the importance of developing and maintaining an effective criminal justice system to convict, incarcerate and importantly rehabilitate convicted offenders. An effective and well-resourced criminal justice system enhances the chances of securing convictions against those who commit criminal offences. This system involves the police, the Director of Public Prosecutions, lawyers, the courts, magistrates, judges and the penal system.

It is therefore of paramount importance that those persons and institutions mentioned are appropriately equipped to deal with reported crimes in order to ensure that the guilty are convicted and the innocent are set free. But most importantly, they ensure the maintenance of law and order and the preservation of the rights and freedoms of Vincentians. The NDP takes the maintenance of those rights and freedoms very seriously, and will introduce measures that will strengthen the criminal justice system. 

This will be effected by:

    • conducting a comprehensive review of the laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines;
    • introducing measures that will simplify and improve access to justice;
    • increasing the number of magistrates;
    • revising the laws to increase the sentencing options that are available to magistrates and judges;
    • expanding the High Court and improving its facilities;
    • upgrading the forensic lab in order to expedite the prosecution of offences and to reduce the number of cases that are outstanding;
    • reviewing the remuneration and method of promotion of police officers in order to ensure that promotion and remuneration are primarily based on merit, and
    • reviewing the Police Legislation to bring it up to date with the requirements for modern policing.

Furthermore, we will:

    • arrange for extensive training of police and prison officers, especially in the field of information technology;
    • establishing a Civilian Police Complaint Commission to receive complaints against police officers from both civilians and fellow police officers;
    • establish a Young Persons Rehabilitation Centre for non-violent young first time offenders and for juvenile delinquents;
    • introduce a rigorous rehabilitation programme that will be designed to improve the lives of inmates after they have left the prisons and reduce the chances of them becoming repeat offenders;
    • review the remuneration of prison officers and the promotion system to ensure that their career growth is dependent on performance and achievement;
    • identify communities in which new police stations will be constructed. And,
    • reintroducing the Police Cadet Service to provide young persons with an avenue into the Police Force. 

The NDP is committed to fighting crime. 

 

Celebration of International Women’s Day 2022

Release from the NDP Women’s President in Celebration of International Women’s Day 2022

It is indeed an honour to join with women around the world to celebrate International Women’s Day 2022. The theme, “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” #BreakTheBias, is most fitting given the global impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on everyone, particularly women. It is also timely as our world is currently facing many challenges including climate change, high rates of unemployment, inequity, armed conflicts, and the erosion of women’s rights. Indeed, many more of our women are struggling to survive having lost their sources of subsistence.

Gender equality is a critical human right. All humans, regardless of gender, are equal in the sight of God. Why then, should we treat each other differently? Women and men must enjoy the same benefits based on their roles in society. This can yield many positives including the promotion of respect for basic rights and social justice for all. Furthermore, the eradication of job discrimination and closing gender gaps in employment can maximize the use of talents and skills from a larger pool of more diverse and innovative ideas.

It is true that in the past women may have shied away from such fields as politics, private sector leadership, science, medicine, law, technology, engineering, and mathematics. However, today’s women have made tremendous strides in these areas. They have proven themselves as equally intelligent, functional, innovative, and competent co-workers alongside their male counterparts. Nevertheless, despite these gains, research shows that political representation by women in parliaments around the world stands at less than 25%. This must change.

Research has also shown that bias contributes to women’s sufferings as they are often bypassed for jobs and promotions. Three out of four women experience bias at the workplace. Black women, especially those who are physically challenged, are at an even greater disadvantage. Unfortunately, some of our men continue to sit in silence when women speak out and make valuable contributions on issues like gender inequality. We need men to help us change the negative mindsets that enable physical abuse, sexual harassment, and facilitate other unfair practices perpetrated against our women.

The world is rapidly changing and expects diversity, equity, and inclusion. Therefore, women must ensure that they equip themselves with the necessary knowledge and skills to confront these challenges. Government also has a role to play in helping to promote gender equality among the people. Appropriate laws must be passed and implemented to facilitate gender equality and empowerment. National plans and policies must pave the way for all to participate in national development. Collectively, everyone everywhere can strive to achieve “gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.”

Government asleep at the wheel while dengue runs rampant

Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 20 September 2020: The New Democratic Party has called on the ULP Government urgently act to control Dengue Fever. Cases have increased dramatically over the past two months, while two children have tragically lost their lives.

NDP Spokesman on Health and Member for West Kingstown, the Honourable Daniel Cummings MP called on the ULP Government to act now to control what is a growing national medical emergency.

“The ULP and Minister Luke Browne are asleep at the wheel while dengue cases skyrocket, almost doubling from July to August,” he said.

“We have lost too many to this virus, including the tragic death of two young children. The entire NDP express our condolences to their families at this difficult time.

“Dengue is a preventable disease by controlling the mosquitos that spread it. But the ULP is mismanaging the fogging program. It must be done regularly, at specific times to disrupt the mosquito breeding cycle, and the community needs to be kept informed.

“While thousands of Vincentians are unemployed and struggling financially, Luke Browne is also charging families for dengue testing and has not released updated statistics in nearly a month.

“It shows the ULP have become complacent after 19 years in office and have neglected the basics while they are busy campaigning.”

“Dengue is a medical emergency that must be acted on now. I say to Luke Browne: wake up and do your job before it is too late!”

NDP Representative for Central Leeward, Ben Exeter expressed condolences on behalf of the nation to the family of Jeremiah Charles who died as a result of dengue.

“Jeremiah’s family is in my prayers and those of NDP and the nation. All of Barrouallie will mourn with his family at this devastating moment.” Mr. Exeter said.

“No parent should have to face this alone, and the community with come together to support them at this heart-breaking time.”

Symptoms of dengue usually commence four to 10 days after infection and include high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a skin rash.

Persistent fever, abdominal pain or tenderness, and vomiting, or bleeding are signs of a possible severe case and people should visit a doctor immediately.

The NDP urges people to clear any areas to prevent standing water where mosquitos can breed. This includes cover rainwater storage tanks, rid yards of debris such as tyres, cover trash containers, and empty any standing water into gutters away from the house.

END

Statement: Union Island Gas Station Explosion

Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines: We in the New Democratic Party (NDP) are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of the three burn victims in the Union Island gas station fire.

The fire occurred at the gas station in Clifton, Union Island on Tuesday evening May 19, 2020. The owner of the gas station 72-year old Freddy Naert, and teenagers 14-year old Lindani Neverson and 17-year old Gra-niqua Azaria Alexander, were seriously injured in the fire and were transported to Milton Cato Memorial Hospital in Kingstown for emergency medical treatment. Last Sunday, May 24th, both Freddy Naert and Lindani Neverson died at MCMH. Later that day, Azaria Alexander was flown to Trinidad for further treatment. Last evening, Wednesday May 27th, she too succumbed to her injuries.

Our deepest condolences go out to the families of the victims. This tragedy is a hard blow for the family members. They need our prayers and support in this extremely difficult time. We mourn with them. No doubt, their community of Union Island and the entire nation share their loss. The Honourable Terrance Ollivierre, Member for Southern Grenadines, who has been in regular and close contact with the families of the teenaged victims, commented:

“I am truly at a loss for words. My heart hurts for all the families. This is such a tragedy and I know that all the people of Union Island are hurting right now. We must pray for everyone”.

President of the NDP, Dr. Hon. Godwin Friday stated:

“I am heartbroken! I pray for the families and for the community. They need our love and support.”

The NDP urges that there be a full investigation into the cause of the fire, the efforts to combat it, and of the transportation and treatment of the burn victims. As Dr. Friday has stated:

“We need to find answers and to learn from this tragedy. A full investigation is a necessary part of that process.”

 

Literacy and Numeracy Continue to Affect Students

(Excerpts of the Hon. Terrance Ollivierre’s Budget presentation)

 

Education is often a person’s most valuable asset. Undoubtedly, the education a person receives should adequately prepare him or her to reach full potential. That is an education that caters to the holistic needs of all individuals. In order for each person to perform at his or her best, emphasis must not only be placed on access but also on equity, quality and relevance. The real measure of our education system is how well it prepares and develops our people and the opportunities it affords to become active lifelong learners.

The Minister of Finance in his budgetary address stated, “The government has committed forcefully and unambiguously to investing in the full development of our untapped human potential in an unassailable historical reality that is known to all Vincentians.” However, has the ULP government adequately tackled the barriers to learning that many of the nation’s children face? The New Democratic Party has laid the foundation in the quest for spiritual, economic, moral, social, cultural and environmental development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Indeed, we continue to make education of our citizens the highest priority. Accordingly, we must rid the education system of the inefficiencies which plague the teaching and learning process and make education and learning a lifelong process.

Literacy and numeracy are the gateway to future learning and it is inextricably linked to better employability and upward mobility. There is no doubt that literacy and numeracy continue to affect many students. It is of concern that many students moving from primary to secondary level have not sufficiently mastered the 3 R’s (Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic).  Poor Literacy and numeracy skills at the primary level are inextricably linked to the worsening of these problems at the secondary level and beyond. However, in the estimates for 2019, only a miserly amount of $40,000 allocated to improving reading from Kindergarten to Grade 3. It is important that we recognize, that for the notion of, ‘no child will be left behind’ to be reality, that attendance is not enough but that each individual learning to read, write and calculate is required for success. This is absolutely necessary throughout the education system.

There is the need to make serious provisions to embark on a national literacy and numeracy campaign to tackle the problem; thus providing our youths with opportunities for positive outcomes. We must recognize that the various stages of education operate as an eco-system. Weaknesses and deficiencies at one level if not properly handled or resolved only worsen the problem at the next level. Dr. Didacus Jules laid it out plainly when he stated, “Put simplistically, poor childhood development leads to weak primary performance which in turn translates into stunted secondary achievement which leads to mediocrity in tertiary education.” Thus, we must have the political will and creativity to formulate innovative and bold strategies to strengthen our efforts at all stages of the education system to achieve positive outcomes.

A study commissioned by the World Bank of twelve (12) secondary schools in 2011, showed that a high percentage of students entering the secondary system were reading below the required standard. Indeed, the problem is still evident today.  Since the problem was not effectively treated; and the corrective remedial curriculum program delivered, optimized and assessed, we are faced with the series of interconnected deficiencies and weaknesses to overcome at the higher levels.

Meanwhile, an examination of the results of the national diagnostic tests offered to students at Grades 2 and 4 in English and Mathematics over the years highlight the problems faced. It shows the higher the grade level, the lesser successes students attain in the areas of Mathematics and English. Undeniably, in many of our primary schools, many students are struggling to achieve success in Mathematics and English language. The truth is that literacy and numeracy levels in our primary schools are unsatisfactory.  This can contribute to further problems, mediocrity or failure throughout the education system.

The Caribbean Examiner, a publication of CXC, highlighted the struggles some of the youths in the region face to achieve success. In the recent edition, we become acutely aware of the consequences faced as a result of weak literacy skills. One youth acknowledged, “I was not a very good reader and it caused a lot of difficulties in class, because I didn’t want to be teased and judged by my peers. Many days I would skip classes by faking an asthma attack. I would then go and hang out with friends because they would not make fun of me because of my reading problems.” Eventually, he dropped out of school at age 14. We must be cognizant, that as a small developing country, helping our young people to stay in and complete their formal education is a worthwhile objective.

Many students at the secondary level find it difficult to achieve success at Mathematics and English at the regional examination (CSEC). In fact, many students do not get the opportunity to write Mathematics or English being barred by the school they attend. This is mainly due to difficulties faced with numeracy and literacy.  Yet the pass percentage attained in these subject areas in some schools are below par. Of the 1647 entrance for the CSEC examination by St. Vincent and the Grenadines for 2018, 1461 were entered for English and 1305 for Mathematics. Hence 186 and 342 students did not get the opportunity to write English and mathematics respectively.

Of the 26 secondary schools, 17 obtained a pass percentage of less than 50 % in Mathematics, with only 9 schools recording pass percentage above 50 %. Although, it was the reversed for English A; nine schools received pass percentage below 50 % and 17 schools recording pass percentage above 50 %, the percentage pass rate at too many of our secondary schools are at 20 % range and below. Indeed, we must do better by implementing (i) targeted intervention for students who have weak literacy and numeracy skills and (ii) school wide reforms that are designed to enhance the teaching and learning environment.

The Petitions Still Alive

The petitions filed by Benjamin Exeter and Lauron Baptiste challenging the election returns in
the constituencies of Central Leeward and North Windward, respectively, are set for trial on
February 11, 2019. Despite the change of judge in the matter, we expect that the new date
February 11, 2019 will finally be the start date for the trial.
This matter concerns all of us. It is not just a Ben Exeter matter or a Lauron Baptise matter. It is
not just a Dr. Friday matter or an NDP matter. It is a Vincentian matter, perhaps even a
Caribbean matter! With all the delay we have had, and the apparent winding down of the clock to
the constitutional date for fresh election, many people have been disappointed about the way the
matters have gone. However, we cannot allow the cases to go on without the public knowing
what is happening and taking an interest in seeing them to their proper conclusion
Our electoral process must be free and fair and must be seen to be so by the people who rely on it
to elect their government. The petition is necessary part of maintaining that system for all of us.

Call us: +1 (784) 456-2114,
Email us: info@ndpsvg.com

Visit us: Murray’s Road, Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Postal address: Kingstown , P.O Box 1300 , St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

© 2020, New Democratic Party, St. Vincent
Public Relations Officer Lavern King