Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace says his New Democratic Party (NDP) has received “overwhelmingly positive responses” to its “People’s Budget” presented this week.
NDP Members of Parliament boycotted the Budget Debate in Parliament last week, choosing instead to hold a two-day “People’s Budget” at Frenches House in Kingstown last Monday and Tuesday.
“I have gotten overwhelmingly positive responses, particularly from people outside of St. Vincent and the Grenadines who followed the live stream,” Eustace told iWitness News on Thursday.
“It really, was very good. I had worked it out in my own mind what could happen when people hear, uninterrupted, what we had to say. When you are in the Parliament, there is always the cross talk and many points get lost. When you are able to make a presentation without interruption of anything in the region of half an hour to an hour, you get a more positive response from people; they get an understanding of what the positions are and, therefore, they respond,” he said.
“I’ve got so many call about how happy they were to hear, almost in total what you are putting forward.”
NDP lawmakers are boycotting Parliament even as they await the outcome of two election petitions before the court in relation to the Dec. 9 general elections, which they say the Ralph Gonsalves government stole.
Electoral officials say that Gonsalves Unity Labour Party won the election by eight seats to the NDP’s seven — a repeat of the 2010 election results.
Regional and international observers have ruled the elections free and fair, but local monitors are yet to present their report.
Gonsalves and his party have denied any wrongdoing.
Asked how would he respond to the view that NDP lawmakers were elected to represent their constituents in Parliament, Eustace told iWitness News:
“We are the only opposition that is not in parliament? That happens all over the word. This is nothing new.”
He said that before becoming Prime Minister, Gonsalves never attended meetings of select committees of Parliament.
“We spoke about it. Everybody ignored it,” Eustace said.
He was speaking to iWitness News on the sidelines of the protest that has been taking place in Kingstown daily since the results of the Dec. 9 elections were announced.
“We are protesting what happened in the general election. That is our reason for being outside of Parliament. For me, that is enough, until such time that we make a different decision. That’s how it is,” Eustace told iWitness News.