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.


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.

On the legalisation and decriminalisation of Marijuana

On the legalisation and decriminalisation of Marijuana: The General Position of the NDP

The discussion on marijuana has heightened within the last several months and is getting much
needed national attention. The government in its effort to set conditions to enable the
establishment of medical cannabis/marijuana industry has brought three bills before the
parliament to set the legal basis for this industry. The bills before the parliament are: (1) Medical
Cannabis Industry Bill; (2) The Permitted Use of Cannabis for Religious Purposes Bill and (3)
Cannabis Cultivation Amnesty Bill. The advancement in science and technology has exposed
many myths and falsehoods surrounding cannabis/marijuana. The discussion on the way forward
is hindered by varying views rooted in baseless and unfounded statements regarding marijuana
and its usage. Every day the world is rapidly opening up to the understanding that marijuana, a
herb, it is not a narcotic but a plant with many benefits for mankind.

The NDP is fully in tune with the developments taking place worldwide and is cognisant of the
history of the region and here at home with regards to the usage of marijuana as medicine and for
recreation. The compelling arguments in support of marijuana as a major source of much needed
income has motivated the government to set up a full scale marijuana industry with the intention
of making tons of money. As a party, we believe that any attempt to create a full scale marijuana
industry must bring major benefits to local farmers, especially the traditional marijuana farmers
who for decades have sacrificed a lot to keep “vincy weed” a viable commodity. However, we in
the New Democratic Party (NDP) have come to the conclusion that the approach by the ULP
administration to bring these bills in their present form does very little to change the status of the
present marijuana growers and users in St.Vincent and the Grenadines.

The cultivation of marijuana is one aspect of the cannabis industry with which Vincentians have
long and valuable experience. Most cultivation of marijuana/cannabis takes place in the North
Western portion of the country on Crown lands. Almost everyone who plants marijuana is
squatting on Crown lands. The crop is grown miles away in the foothills of La Soufriere
mountain range away from police attention and possible thieves who usually target marijuana as
easy picking if left unattended. The climatic conditions are also ideal for the growing process.
In the proposed cannabis industry bill, in order to be considered for a license to cultivate
marijuana an applicant must show some form of control of the land where the marijuana will be
planted. A marijuana famer has to show ownership or leasehold or a document of some sort that
will indicate that he has land legal access to the land. The bills also make provision to prohibit
planting of marijuana above certain contours so as to protect the forest reserve. In essence, after
the bills are passed marijuana farmers will not be permitted to plant where most of the marijuana
is being planted now. The NDP is of the view that this is a serious issue that needs urgent
attention. The land on which medical marijuana is to be planted is a matter of major concern that
must be addressed.

The empowerment of the local farmers, especially the ‘traditional farmers’ is not promoted by
the Bills. This is undermined by the draft bills. There are no provisions being made for them to
be given any financial resources in this new medical marijuana regime. Notably, the proposed
law does not provide for a co-operative or similar entity that will cater for the hundreds of small
“traditional’ farmers involved in marijuana cultivation. The traditional farmers are left on their own to face

investors in terms of pricing and marketing. Each of them must negotiate price,
quality and other terms of contracts essentially on his own. The pending bills have set out the
way the industry will be set up and managed. It is evident that a lot of financial resources will be
needed for farmers to be involved in the new industry. The present marijuana farmers do not
have the means to compete, especially if left on their own without government making resources
available to them to get started. It is, therefore, correct to suggest that the present bill will not
benefit traditional farmers and will in fact marginalised the pioneers who have been the vanguard
of the marijuana industry for many years. Partnerships between traditional farmers and
investors, local or foreign, should be encouraged and every effort should be made by
Government to ensure that traditional farmers are not put at a disadvantage or short changed.
The bills in their present form speak very little in terms of law reform. At the end of the day a
person smoking a “spliff” can be locked up. The farmer caught growing marijuana without a
license will still be committing a crime. Also, anyone caught transporting marijuana will still be
a crime. The bills do not in any way address these concerns. Every effort must be made to
introduce law reform that will allow marijuana related arrests, convictions and imprisonment to
be removed. These are some of the major concerns that the New Democratic Party has with these
bills and as a result the party sees the need to seriously address the marijuana issue in this

The idea of putting measures in place to enable the setting up of a Medical Marijuana Industry
is not an original one in the Caribbean content and therefore it would be sensible to learn from
the Jamaican experience. Jamaica, in drafting its legislation took note of the country’s history
with cannabis. In Jamaica, the parliament was very much aware that it may not have been a
good idea to pursue a strict medical industry and ignore recreational use, which had deep roots
among the people. In this respect, the Government of Jamaica allowed persons to have up to two
ounces of marijuana for personal /recreational use. (to be Cont’d)

NDP Speaks on LIAT

What does Keith Mitchell “…just doesn’t get”?
NDP responds to Gonsalves’ statement to Dr Keith Mitchell on LIAT
We feel compelled to comment on the division in CARICOM that has once more resurfaced over LIAT. The differences emerged over statements made by Dr Keith Mitchell, host of the 38th Summit of Caribbean Community leaders, about the regional airline LIAT and Prime Minister of SVG, Dr Gonsalves, who is chairman of the shareholder’s governments. Dr Gonsalves was critical of Mitchell’s statement on LIAT, which he regarded as unfortunate and claims that Dr Mitchell “just doesn’t get it.”
But what really does Dr Mitchell “just doesn’t get”?
Dr Mitchell asked “how could LIAT thrive when, for example, a few months ago, literally overnight, LIAT cancelled one of its most lucrative routes to and from Grenada, without any consultation with the citizens or leadership of Grenada?…And it was based on politics. Colleagues, we have to do better as a region”. Prime Minister Mitchell might have been taking the opportunity to express his dissatisfaction with the cancellation of what is considered one of the more lucrative routes in and out of Grenada but what he has done is to give voice to the public’s concerns about LIAT being politically driven and about high cost of travel, with government taxes being to a large extent responsible for this.
Is Dr Mitchell the first person to speak out against “POLITICAL INTERFERENCE” in LIAT. James “Jim” Lynch, a Civil Aviation Consultant, said that the problems with the carrier emanate almost solely from politics and the long-term solution is to remove the politics.
Just last year Prime Minister Allan Chastanet of St Lucia said the same thing. So, what really does Prime Minister Dr Mitchell “just doesn’t get”? Chastanet went as far as saying that “there is too much political meddling in the regional airline,” and that “it was time that the shareholder governments took their hands off the carrier and allow it to operate on a strictly commercial basis.” Does Gonsalves get it?
Former president of the Barbados Bankers Association Horace Cobham (who himself had raised money to save LIAT from death) spoke of the POLITICAL MEDDLING. SO WHAT REALLY DOES Dr Mitchell “just doesn’t get?”
If not for political reasons, why would one cancel flights to what was considered one of its most lucrative routes?
If not politics, what could be the driving force behind the high cost of LIAT airfares?
If not political meddling what caused the taking away from a scheduled route to land LIAT and ULP acolytes at the then unfinished Argyle airport during the last election campaign of 2015? We all heard Gonsalves boast that if the opposition “humbug me, I will land a LIAT?” If such an act wasn’t a political decision, what was it?
If not POLITICS what could have given rise to the call to make LIAT an essential service?
The real question is, does Gonsalves “get it.” Does he get that it is not only Grenada that has said that it is not going to pump more money into LIAT until things changed? Does he “get” that he made those very statements last year when he said that he isn’t going to put one more red cent in LIAT if things don’t improve? Has Gonsalves gotten it that St Kitts also said that they aren’t going to invest in LIAT?
But what is it that Dr Mitchell “just doesn’t get” really? Is Gonsalves the only person endowed with a brain thus enabling him and him alone to “get it”? One remembers too well when he was asked by a seasoned Journalist about LIAT being a business, he on more than one occasion told the Journalist that she doesn’t know or that she doesn’t understand. Is LIAT a business?. So I guess she doesn’t get it either.
What does all of this really say about Gonsalves – The fact that he “doesn’t get” that LIAT needs to be privatised. The fact that he cannot recognize that LIAT is failing under his leadership. Gonsalves in responding to Dr Mitchell, claimed that in 2001 SVG was the only government to respond to LIAT 40 million rights issue to get capital. His own statement is a clear demonstration that he “just doesn’t get it.” It was a drain on our country’s poor economy to preserve a LIAT monopoly beset by many problems that money just can’t solve. LIAT needs to look at privatisation.
This has become more evident since the start of operations by CAL and more recently the introduction of Trans Island Airways. These moves will bring more pressure on LIAT and the road ahead with the present arrangements point to more trouble for the company, especially since in our case it means breaking a monopoly enjoyed by LIAT.
We had, in a statement made on LIAT’s sixtieth anniversary pointed also to mismanagement as can be seen in the manner of the change over from the Dash 8 to the ATR and the failure to implement decisions, like that of relocating the headquarters of LIAT from Antigua to Barbados. The NDP said in 2016 that an NDP government would look carefully at implementing an open sky policy, forcing LIAT to compete and to lift its game if it is to continue to operate and serve the Caribbean public.
It has for long been clear to us that LIAT’s problems are more than monetary. As Dr Gonsalves himself said, LIAT has a lot of flaws and a lot of limitations. So, putting more money by calling on other governments to invest in LIAT which seems to be his approach does not appear to be the way to go. There will, of course, always be differences among CARICOM leaders, but the issue of regional travel and LIAT in particular, has been with us for some time and we need to put our houses in order on this matter. At a time when we strive to reach our goal of full implementation of the CSME and pledge to encourage more regional travel, cost is prohibitive and what is ironic is that it is cheaper and easier to fly out of the region. A 15 minute flight from SVG to St. Lucia, for instance, costs approximately US$ 300.
It is a clear indication that Gonsalves just don’t “get it.” Given the reluctance of other CARICOM leaders to pour money into the airline, it is clear that we can no longer continue the way we are going and need to look at alternatives, one of them being for him to answer the call by many that he relinquish the chairmanship of the Board.
This does not mean that overnight the problems of regional travel will disappear, but we are of the view that this is the best way to go. And perhaps there is some point to Dr Mitchell’s suggestion that governments can then subsidise flights to specific routes or destinations if a decision about privatisation is made.
The energy spent on trying to bring on board other governments to be part of the share-holding group should be spent trying to find other creative ways of addressing the LIAT issue. The preservation of the existing arrangement is doomed to continued failure and will remain a strain on our economies.
The issue of LIAT deserves to be in the public arena and politicians in the countries that are shareholders of LIAT need to pay more attention to public views on this matter. By voicing his disagreement publicly, Dr Mitchell might have done a good to the Caribbean public by, making it a talking point.

The ULP Must Be Honest With The People

On Tuesday 29 th January, Parliament approved the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for St.
Vincent and the Grenadines for 2019; totalling EC$1,067,343,283, in advance of the presentation
of the Budget.
Following the presentation of the Estimates by the Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, the
Leader of the Opposition Dr. Honorable Godwin Friday, led the response by the Opposition.
Speaking for approximately one hour, Dr. Friday pointed to many deficiencies in the Estimates,
including the ballooning “Other Capital Receipts” category of revenue, stated at over $198
million, which inflated the budget but will never be collected and spent. He declared that such
unrealistic and dishonest revenue projections make the Estimates exercise a mirage, far divorced
from reality.
Member for West Kingstown, the Honourable Daniel Cummings also responded. Among other
things, he spoke about the failure to address the dire health care situation in the country and the
poor planning and execution of river defenses in Kingstown. He was followed by Member for
Southern Grenadines, the Hon. Terrance Ollivierre, who pointed to the continued neglect of
public infrastructure, health services and education in his constituency.
It was obvious that after presenting their billion-dollar Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure,
those on the government side, including Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, did not seem very
committed to their revenue and expenditure projections, as only Agriculture Minister, Saboto
Caesar and Health Minister, Luke Browne spoke in support of them.
Why would a government that is so very media hungry bring their big Estimates to the House
and most of the Ministers fail to speak in support of it? Were they uncomfortable that the figures
were highly unrealistic and sensed that the Vincentian people would realize that they were being
misled again by the ULP administration? Given the 1% salary increase forced upon public
servants and teachers by the government and the resounding rejection of it by the teachers and
public servants, it is evident that Ralph Gonsalves and the ULP government are out of touch with
reality in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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