KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace is looking forward to the outcome of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting on this country’s economy on Friday.
And he believes that Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves did not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia because of the IMF gathering and not because of Independence celebrations tomorrow, as Gonsalves has said.
“This country is in deep financial trouble brought about by the nonsense that Gonsalves had done in this country in the last 10 years,” Eustace said of the ULP administration, which came to office in 2001 and won a third term in elections last December.
“I suspect, but I don’t know what they (the IMF) going to say. But I know … they will say we have to cut back … the money we spend on certain things so we could have a little bit of savings. But that has plenty, plenty meaning,” Eustace said.
“But I ain’t going in that tonight. Ah waiting for Friday,” he said at a New Democratic Party (NDP) rally in Overland Tuesday night.
“I want to hear the IMF report, what they will say. And, if he (Gonsalves) try to block it, I will still get it,” Eustace said.
Eustace further suggested that the government has been paying civil servants with monies not allocated for that purpose.
“… but I won’t tell you where they pay them from but that will become public just now. Remember I say it come from somewhere it shouldn’t come from,” he said.
The NDP’s meeting came on the heels of a similar meeting by the ULP on Sunday, both of which have election feel and rhetoric, 10 months after the last poll.
Speakers at meeting for both parties have referred to elections in their presentations.
Eustace said last year that the ULP’s one-seat majority government would fall by December.
He recently said that it does not seem that that will happen but said Tuesday night that he expects Vincentians to vote again soon.
He decried three years of economic decline, rising unemployment and the black sigatoka disease in the banana sector, which he said would further impoverish Vincentians.
And on the eve of the nation’s 32nd anniversary of independence of Thursday, Eustace said there was not much to celebrate.
“That is the stark reality of our condition here. …. I not celebrating that for no 32nd anniversary. It is something to be ashamed about; not to celebrate,” he said.
“And I believe that the only solution to that, is for the New Democratic Party to win the next election, which is coming very shortly,” he told party supporters in one of the nation’s poorest communities.
Gonsalves recently said he expected the country to register “small positive growth” this year after three consecutive years of economic decline.
According to him tourism, manufacturing and construction would generate the expected growth, in the face of a declining banana sector.
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank last week said real growth for the eighth-member Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, of which this country is a part, in 2011 is projected at 0.4 per cent.