Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace. (File photo: Oris Robinson)

ST. VINCENT (Jan. 10):- The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) says it has begun to prepare to debate the 2011 national budget, expected to be tabled in Parliament later this month.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace said on Monday that 2011 will be a very “vigorous” year in the Parliament.

The NDP, Eustace said, will do everything legal to “topple” the Dr Ralph Gonsalves Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration.

The ULP won a third term in office with a one seat majority in December but Eustace said that the NDP Members of Parliament are more “competent” and are already preparing for the debates.

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Eustace, an economist, said he was pre-empting what Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, will do in the budget and was preparing his response accordingly.

He further said that while official statistics are not yet available, he expected that the local economy had contracted in 2010 for a third straight year.

He said that he expected the private sector, in a meeting with Gonsalves on Tuesday, Jan. 11, will discuss ways to enhance their business and to recoup monies owed to them by the government.

The former prime minister and minister of finance said that he expected that the private sector will also discuss with Gonsalves proposals for improving their position and for employment in the country.

Eustace noted that the NDP administration of 1998, which also had a one seat majority, fell after just two and a half years and suggested that the ULP administration will meet a similar faith.

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However, there have been suggestions in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that there could soon be a leadership struggle in the NDP, Eustace having led the party to a third consecutive defeat.

NDP chairman Dr Linton Lewis, who has failed to win the East and West St George seats three times, has complained publicly that he was not consulted as the NDP selected its public relations officer and first time unsuccessful candidate Vynnette Frederick and assistant general secretary Anesia Baptiste as its senators.

NDP vice-president St Claire Leacock told Searchlight newspaper last week that “as we speak at this time” he remained faithful to Eustace leadership but said he was prepared to lead the NDP “if the occasion arises”.