TAIPEI, Taiwan:- The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will next Tuesday detail its “definitive position” on international airport development and other policy issues, ahead of general elections widely expected this year.
NDP public relations officer Vynnette Frederick did not elaborate Wednesday night when she spoke as a guest on Jomo Thomas’ “Voice” on WE FM.
“I wouldn’t take the thunder away from the leader. But that is something that we have discussed,” Fredrick said in reference to opposition leader Arnhim Eustace and the party leadership.
The ongoing construction of an international airport in SVG is expected to play heavily in the upcoming elections, due March next year.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves have said only he and his “coalition of the willing”, which includes Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela and Iran, can construct the airport.
Gonsalves on August 8, 2005 detailed his government’s plan to construct an EC$450 million (US$167 million) international airport in Argyle on St. Vincent’s east coast. Construction work began in August 2008 and the completion date had been revised to 2012.
The airport is being built on 290 acres of land, with a paved runway 2,743 metres (9,000 feet) long, and 45 metres (150 feet) wide and is expected to accommodate jets as large as the Boeing 747-400s.
Eustace did not give a response to Gonsalves August 2005 speech, as promised, and Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party (ULP) won the December 2005 elections with a repeat of the 2001 results: 12 seats to three.
Frederick said that the NDP, which ruled for the 17 years ending March 2001, had reviewed its policies and “deserves a chance”.
She said the ULP administration has gotten too big and the state is competing with the private sector.
“When you have a government who takes a decision to compete with the private sector, government is going into areas it should not be. Government cannot be the biggest employer of everybody. Government has to encourage private sector development so that people can be employed elsewhere,” she said.
Vincentians would also expect the NDP to table its foreign policy having criticized Gonsalves for warming relations with leftist nations such as Libya, Venezuela and Iran.
Fredrick said she could not say if an NDP administration will end relations with the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad government in Tehran.
“We have no difficulty with being connected with people. But we cannot be so strident in our support that it appears that the leadership of this country is personally enamoured with the leadership of other countries.
“You can have diplomatic relations with anyone but there is a certain level of professional conduct,” Frederick said.
Frederick, the NDP’s candidate for the West St. George constituency, said she did not expect to see Eustace embracing Libyan President Muammar Qadhafi.
“We have said there is nothing wrong with any government having relations with any other government. That is our sovereign right. But, our support must not be so strident as to be seen as personally pushing any agenda of any individual in a government with which we have diplomatic relations”.
She said Gonsalves had stopped listening, displayed a lack of understanding of the management of the economy and had abandoned his “together now” mantra, focusing instead on “I”.
“You say it but you don’t mean it,” she said in reference to Gonsalves’ call for “together now” after his party’s 2001 victory.
“I really hold him responsible to a large extent for pushing that sort of agenda where the politics is if you are not for me, you are absolutely against me; you must be destroyed,” the 34-year-old lawyer said.
She further said victimisation is perceived as “one of the hallmarks” of the Gonsalves administration and correcting it will be a “seminal challenge”
“People across the board are so angry, on both sides, that it would be a challenge to create an environment in which the perception that victimisation had happened or will happen does not exist.
“The reality is, we have to do it. St. Vincent cannot progress on the strength of one set of citizens, we need all Vincentians sort of disbanding this idea that a political party makes your life possible and understanding that government are supposed to function in the interest of the people.”