Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has congratulated Keith Rowley and the People’s National Movement on “their solid victory” at the polls in Trinidad and Tobago on Monday, saying also that he expects better ties between Kingstown and Port of Spain under the new government.
The PNM carved out a 23-18 victory in the polls, ousting the Kamla Persad Bissessar People’s Partnership government.
“I know Mr. Rowley quite well, I know the leading personalities in the People’s National Movement and I’m quite sure that we will work very closely together,” Gonsalves said on Tuesday.
“The ties between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago are very deep, very strong, enduring,” said Gonsalves who is the region’s longest-serving sitting Prime Minister.
Gonsalves, who is expected to face the polls before year-end, said the PNM and his Unity Labour Party government had very, very close relations prior to People’s Partnership administration.
He spoke of his close, personal friendship with former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister and PNM leader Patrick Manning, adding that the Labour Party in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the PNM have strong historical links.
“I expect that Dr. Rowley will be very strong in advocating deeper regional integration. There are some challenges and difficulties of a bilateral nature with us. I’m quite sure that we will see progress on some of them, like for instance, remaining resources, which had been agreed upon by the last administration and we haven’t had them yet concerning the British American Insurance Company matter,” Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves was also confident that there will be closer cooperation between regional carrier LIAT and Port of Spain’s Caribbean Airlines.
“I believe that we are going to find a very sympathetic hearing in relation to matters of bilateral trade and in particular with our trafficker (hawkers), those who sell our agricultural products to Trinidad,” Gonsalves said.
“And I believe that across St. Vincent and the Grenadines there’s a genuine happiness that the PNM is in office again because of the close ties between the people of Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and in particular families in Trinidad which support the PNM very strongly.
“I want to thank the people’s Partnership Government of my dear sister Kamla. The relations didn’t begin in the best way but they strengthened along the way, but I am quite sure that the relations between the new government and our government here will grow from strength to strength.”
Gonsalves said that he spoke to Rowley during the election campaign.
“… and I am sure that at a personal level and a policy level and all the bonds which I have spoken about before, historical and contemporary, will work towards the strengthening of the existing sound relations between our two countries and governments,” he said.