Independence message 2013 by Archbishop Godfrey Gregg
My Patriarch, Clergy and Members of the Mystical Order of Spiritual Baptist Inc. in New York join me in congratulating the Government and People of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as you celebrate another year of Independence.
Today we mark 34 years of Independence from Great Britain. It was done with the lowering of the British flag and the raising of our own with much pride, gun salute and fireworks. We were all on board, and even though we were not all in agreements with the way things were done; we stood as a proud Nation Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
We embraced our own Anthem and with pride and sing it while standing at attention. A few years later our flag was changed, yet we embraced the change and still stand proud. We are a Nation of many failures, but are very proud of all our achievements over the last 34 years. Since that change of power we have seen three elected Prime Ministers including and a caretaker after Sir James demitting office. Governors General, Her Majesty’s Representatives, have changed in keeping with the political persuasions.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has come a long way with the improvements of seaports and airports. Every major island in the Grenadines has an airstrip with Canouan having a jetport. The development of Canouan needed to improve the infrastructure in order to continue attracting the economic climate. The vision of the previous administration was called into question and subsequently was built upon by the present administration.
Our homeland will always be held and rooted deep into our hearts, regardless of the political powers or party. For the last 10 years or so, we have expanded our diplomatic corridors and more so within the last five years. However, we are yet to see the benefits. While we are working to create a brighter image for us at home and abroad; we cannot help but to watch the great political divide that has overtaken the Nation. Such a great vacuum has been created that we do not know our neighbours anymore unless they are either red or yellow, NDP or ULP. While all this is going on the church where we often find shelter is caught up in the modern day politics and have forgotten the spiritual welfare of the people they preach to.
Everything is about politics; there is no help unless you are a supporter. Where is the love we once had? Yet we are talking 34 years later about repatriation and settlement with England and other European Countries. While the discussion is going on, our own people are being neglected of the basic assistance because of our party affiliation. Our political parties are becoming dynasties for families and this include the churches. I speak as an individual and with the stories reported in the greater diaspora, it is not even fair to say the least.
Charity begins at home and since Hurricane Tomas devastated the island there are some people still waiting and looking for the assistance promised by the Government. It is a shame to deny a citizen of our beautiful homeland the help that is so needed to improve the standard of living. Are we to believe everything we hear now coming from the government information service? More time is spent in the Parliament debating about a chair, yet one can travel on a plane seated for four to five hours without a prescribed chair. Sit in a town hall meeting for five hours or even at home without the said chair and we call that representation of the people. Interfering in another country’s government, while democracy at home is dying? The cry of the Opposition and the aspiring leader to become the next Prime Minister has once again failed to honour the very law of the land. He was public seeking severance pay for the Port Authority Police, while refusing severance pay to his former secretary.
The three basic things for growth and development of a country are:
Our people must come together and fix the broken system now before it is too late. We have to repair our schools to make them safer for our children to learn and achieve a proper education. Our Health care system needs more dedication and sincere personnel to take care of our aging population and Government MUST provide all the necessary funds to fix and revamp the system. As Saint Vincent and the Grenadines celebrate this year independence, a few yards stand a memorial to the Father of Independence. We look at the deplorable conditions of Milton Cato Memorial Hospital that is falling apart. What happen to the allocations to the Ministry of Works for repairs to government buildings? Since when has the Hospital been excluded? What happens to the road program? Is Bequia a part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines? Why are the roads in such a deplorable condition? I am sorry, but without these basic elements we are heading nowhere. Will another government do better? That is left to be seen sometime in the future, and I really don’t know when that will happen.
The Government has a vision for the development of the Country, but there are a lot more that need to be done at the grassroots level. It is time to:
1. Pass Integrity Legislation within the next year
2. Reduce crimes locally and more so against visitors to our shores
3. Improve the ferry service from St. Vincent to the Grenadines
4. Build a desalination plant in Bequia, and it should be priority to aid in the development of the tourist industry.
5. Improve the hospital infrastructure
6. Reduce the Country’s dependence on foreign oil, by “Green Energy” Windmills and solar energy. (Government can lead the way by installing solar panels on Government buildings and the excess can be routed to the national grid).
7. Consider changing over the electricity from 220 volts to 110, or encourage dual wiring to make the switch easier.
8. Building a modern sewage plant to process the waste before it is pumped into the sea.
9. Separate the Fire service from the Police Department and build fire stations in the outlying districts. Install pumps in the Grenadines, and start with some simple fire jeeps.
As we approach another link in good governance, with the opening of the new modern hospital in Georgetown and the near completion of the Argyle International Airport, Let me remind you that our greatest assets are our people. My fellow Vincentians at home and abroad, let us support the development of our country. Let us build up and refrain from breaking down. Let us train up our children in the fear of the lord and teach them the way of the Lord, so when they become old they will not depart from them. Let me remind you this Independence Day that your Country is a reflection of who we are. Our democracy is alive and well.
Let me take this moment to salute the good men and women that try daily to keep our State safe and with limited resources. Our coast guard fleet needs to be upgraded and spaced out in the Grenadines. A more aggressive approach is needed to combat the trafficking of illicit drugs in the beautiful waters of the State of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. We can only be effective and successful if our Parliament can forget the politics and work together for the good of our beautiful homeland. We are as good as our representation. I trust that you have a wonderful day of celebrations, and to our new Senators be a torch bearer of good representation. God bless the Government and people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
HAPPY 34TH INDEPENDENCE DAY
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