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SVG: Dr Friday calls for Ralph Gonsalves and ULP to pass on the baton, saying there’s a correlation between longevity and poor governance

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by Eulana Weekes

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Leader of the Opposition and that of the New Democratic Party in St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Dr Godwin Friday candidly expressed that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and his Unity Labour Party Administration have been in public office for too long and have poorly managed the affairs of the country.

“They talk about themselves as being there for so many years, but what matters is not how long you’ve been there is how you use your time when you’re there. It’s quite clear that they have not used their time in the best way for our country. There are other countries in the world where you have leaders who’ve been there longer, and look at the state of their countries and you will see that those are the countries that perform poorly on the world stage. So ask yourself, ‘Why are we doing so poorly in St. Vincent and The Grenadines?” – Godwin Friday.

Prime Minister Gonsalves and the United Labour Party are prepping for a grand celebration to commemorate its 23rd anniversary of ‘excellent governance’ dating back to March 28, 2001. In Dr Friday’s view, the Administration is celebrating while several woes in the country need to be addressed.

“Here they’re going out celebrating when you have 41% of the young people unemployed. They’re going out celebrating when you can’t get bandages and medicine in the hospital when the roads all about the country [are] in terrible condition, and when the hardcourts all over the country need repairs and [are] not made available to the young people,” expressed Dr Friday in conversation with the host of the New Times programme, Colin Graham.

“What they’re going to celebrate? I guess they are going to celebrate that they have been there long, but as I told you, look around the world and see the countries that have leaders who have been there long and see their state. There’s a correlation between longevity and poor governance because they begin to take things for granted, and when they use the machinery of government to stay in office, to hold on to power, when they’re not delivering to the people, then they are doing the country a great injustice and the people will in the next election deal with that. That is a choice they have to make,” Dr. Friday stated.

The opposition leader asserted that people can see what is unfolding in the country under the two-decades-old Administration, suggesting that it’s time for the Unity Labour Party to pass on the baton.

“These are the things that are necessary but have not been given the kind of support that is required for them to succeed under this present administration, and empty talk is not going to do it now. You can’t run after twenty years in Government and say you’re going to do it now. It’s just simply not plausible. It is not credible. You’re not believable. All they’re trying to do is bamboozle people now. The better thing to do is get them out of there, and if you’re going to use the sports analogy, it’s time for us to pass the baton from one person to another as Prime Minister, from one Government to another as Government in office, so that we could move the country forward—politics and governance [are] not a marathon. Nobody has time to run for all that distance, and when you reach the end, they drop down. It is not a sprint where you go fast, but you can’t go far. It is a relay, and you have to pass the baton so that people can move things forward in a way that keeps us abreast with what’s happening in the rest of the region and the rest of the world and don’t fall behind as we are doing now,”

According to Dr Friday, the state of affairs is so bad in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that many people have lost hope, and many young people are seeking opportunities in other countries.

“I know that things are not easy for young people in this country. In fact, that is putting it mildly. Things are extremely difficult. We have an existential crisis of lack of hope and lack of opportunity for our young people, with over 40% unemployed, with so many of them can’t get the skills that they need to get jobs here in this country. So many are losing hope. So many have lost hope. Some of them have gone to seek greener pastures elsewhere. I am talking about Canada and the United States. I am talking about the rest of the Caribbean; they’re going to Barbados, they’re going to Antigua, they’re going to St. Kitts because they get better paid there, they get better opportunities there. We are being left behind.”

The Opposition New Democratic Party hopes to win the next election and pursue economic development under the following pillars: Agriculture, Tourism, the Blue Economy, and the New Economy. The last election was held in November 2020. The next election is due in 2025.

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