For the first time in almost one year, the parliamentary opposition in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has tabled questions for answers by the government in Parliament.
Opposition lawmakers, all of whom are from the New Democratic Party (NDP), had not attended Parliament for the first six months of this year as part of protest against the results of the December 2015 general elections.
They say that the Unity Labour Party stole the elections to secure a fourth term in office. However, regional and international observers have declared the poll free and fair.
The NDP broke their boycott of Parliament in June, returning to the national assembly to debate a bill related to PetroCaribe, but did not submit any questions for answers.
They also attended Parliament in August for the debate of the controversial Cybercrime Bill, which was passed into law without opposition support.
Now, the opposition lawmakers have submitted 13 questions — about half the total number of oral questions they are permitted to ask the government under the rules of the national assembly — for oral answers during Friday’s meeting of Parliament.
The questions relate to a range of national issues, including the performance of the economy, with NDP President and Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace, slated to ask Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Ralph Gonsalves, to outline the Government’s fiscal situation as of Aug. 31, 2016 as
compared with the similar period in 2015.
Eustace will also ask Gonsalves to indicate the status of the banana rehabilitation programme for 2,000 acres proposed by the government for 2016 “in response to the programme set out
by the opposition party to rehabilitate 1,000 acres of bananas”.
The international airport at Argyle, which has missed completion targets annually since 2011, will also get the attention of the opposition.
MP for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock, who is one of the NDP’s two vice-presidents, will ask Gonsalves to tell Parliament when the airport will be “completed and operation commence”.
Leacock would also want Gonsalves to say whether any of seven airlines, namely Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Jet Blue, American Airlines, Air Canada, CAL or Quatar Airlines will fly to Argyle in 2016.
He will also ask the prime minister about the search and rescue provisions at the airport and whether the fuel storage plant is ready and operational to supply large aircraft for international flights.
Leacock’s other questions relate to the land and property inventory at the state-owned National Properties Ltd. and capital projects such as road, river crossings, a bath and an agro-processing plant in his constituency
MP for North Leeward, Roland “Patel” Matthews, will ask the government when it will repair a retaining wall in Coulls Hill that was damaged on Dec. 24, 2013, where four persons have since died in vehicular accidents.
He will also asked about an update on assistance promised to fisherfolk in the constituency who lost assets as a result of that same weather system.
Opposition senator, Julian “Jules” Ferdinand, who was appointed a senator last December, will ask his first questions in Parliament on Friday.
He will ask the prime minister to tell lawmakers when PetroCaribe was incorporated in SVG and whether the company has applied for and received Certificates Of Solvency
And Certificates Of Continuance for the years since its incorporation to the present day.
If the company has, Ferdinand also wants to know what were the dates when these certificates were issued for the respective years of PetroCaribe’s operations and if not, why was this not done.
Ferdinand would also ask Gonsalves about the date of incorporation of the Argyle International
Airport Ltd., the state-owned company that will manage the airport.
He will also ask similar questions about certificates of solvency and continuance for the
Sen. Marcia “Zita” Barnwell, the sole female on the opposition benches will ask also ask her first question on Friday.
She will ask Minister of Education, Jimmy Prince, to tell Parliament how many students were expelled from secondary school for non-performance in the period 2005 to 2015.
She will also ask him to say how many students were expelled from secondary school for non-performance and reached the age of 18
years during the same period.
Barnwell will also ask Minister of National Mobilisation, Frederick Stephenson, to say why the Domestic Violence Act 2015 is not yet in force and will ask Minister of Information, Camillo Gonsalves, to say why the Freedom of Information Act 2003 is yet to come into effect.