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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, right, and Attorney General Jaundy Martin in Parliament on in January 2018. (iWN photo)
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, right, and Attorney General Jaundy Martin in Parliament on in January 2018. (iWN photo)
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The St.Vincent and the Grenadines Parliament will, on Wednesday, begin debate on a motion of no confidence in the Ralph Gonsalves government.

The debate comes two days after Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday, presented the notice to House Speaker Jomo Thomas, just before opposition lawmakers walked out of the national assembly on Monday.

Monday’s meeting included debate on the Camillo Gonsalves’ first Estimates of Income and Expenditure since becoming Minister of Finance, last month, and he presented the figures in the absence of the opposition.

Opposition lawmakers walked out amidst the younger Gonsalves’ continued silence on an on-going scandal in which former model Yugge Farrell has claimed that she and the minister were in an extramarital relationship that ended in 2016.

The alleged affair came to light after Farrell was hauled before the court on Jan. 5 and then Kingstown Magistrate Bertie Pompey granted a prosecution application that she undergo two weeks of psychiatric evaluation at the Mental Health Centre.

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The court decision came after Farrell pleaded not guilty to a charge that on Jan. 4, in Kingstown, she called the finance minister’s wife, Karen Duncan-Gonsalves — a senior crown counsel —  a “dirty b***h” at her Kingstown office.

Camillo delivered the figures to Parliament at one area of the city while supporters of the embattled model gathered outside the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court in another part of the capital, where she secured EC$1,000 bail after three weeks in the psychiatric hospital.

Farrell was further ordered to return to court on Dec. 17, 2018.

Empty opposition benches as Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, present his first Estimates on Monday. (iWN photo)

Friday’s New Democratic Party, which holds seven of the 15 seats in the 15-member national assembly, has made calls outside of Parliament for Camillo to explain himself amidst the scandal or resign.

But the finance minister seems to be following the advice of his boss and father, the prime minister, to maintain “a dignified silence” and not comment as yet about the scandal.

The motion

In Parliament on Monday, Friday did not comment on the grounds on which opposition lawmakers were bringing the motion of no confidence.

But a copy of the motion circulated to the media later on Monday, shows that it is signed by all seven elected opposition lawmakers, namely Godwin Friday (Northern Grenadines), Arnhim Eustace (East Kingstown), Roland Matthews (North Leeward), Terrance Ollivierre (Northern Grenadines), St. Clair Leacock (Central Kingstown), Daniel Cummings (West Kingstown) and Nigel Stephenson (South Leeward).

In the motion, the opposition lawmakers said that the Gonsalves government “has been failing the people miserably in providing a satisfactory quality of life” and its priorities of the Government in its use of taxpayers’ money have produced totally inadequate health services and basic maintenance of roads”.

The motion says “the collapse of the economy has deprived our youth of hope and employment opportunities” and that there is “a climate of fear through intimidation at all levels of Vincentian society”.

The opposition lawmakers say that the climate of fear has become “widespread due to the manifest abuse of the powers of the State in its institutions, which are often employed as weapons against citizens, to serve the agenda of Government officials, their family members and associates”.

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Persons in the Strangers’ Gallery in Parliament during the presentation of the Estimates. (iWN photo)

The motion further speaks of “a breakdown in law and order as demonstrated by the incidence of rampant crime and the failure of the various agencies of law enforcement to protect the more vulnerable members of society, including the elderly, women and young persons.

“Be it resolved that this Honourable House declares No Confidence in this Unity Labour Party Government of Prime Minister Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonsalves.”

The finance minister presented the Estimates in the absence of opposition lawmakers.

Gov’t confident of survival

In moving the suspension of Parliament, Prime Minister Gonsalves said he was made aware of the motion through the statement of the Opposition Leader during the meeting of Parliament.

“I would wish this motion to be heard speedily. We do not do like some other places, duck and run from motions of no confidence because I’m quite sure that the eight members on this side are more than seven members on the other side and all eight members have confidence in the government. So that, Mr. Speaker, motion is doomed to fail,” he said, noting that the Constitution makes it clear that only parliamentary representatives can vote on a motion of no confidence.

“I would wish to get this motion out of the way. My colleagues haven’t seen the motion. And I’d hope before we leave today that we can have it circulated.”

Gonsalves said that Tuesday would be too soon to respond to the motion because lawmakers need to study it to be able to respond.

He said on Thursday there is a programme for a visit of the foreign minister of Taiwan.

The prime minister further said that he worries that if the motion starts on Friday, it might not end in time for the commencement of the Sabbath for the Seventh-day Adventist MP, which begins at 6 p.m.

He, therefore, recommended the suspension of the motion until Wednesday, when two other members of the government side will debate the Estimates.

The debate of the motion will commence immediately thereafter.

“We don’t set a particular time for it since we don’t know when the debate is going to be finished. So it’s on the Order Paper.   There would be an Order Paper in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House. The Estimates would be there, and then the vote of no confidence.”

The government must debate the motion within seven days, and political observers have noted that the government would be minded to get it out of the way before the new finance minister presents his first budget, scheduled for next Monday, Feb. 5.

The prime minister noted to Parliament that the Constitution says if notice in writing of a motion of no confidence is given when the House is meeting, it must be disposed of within seven days.

He said if the debate is not completed on Wednesday, it could be completed on Friday.

The debate, which would go late into the night, would begin on a day when the NDP had planned to have a rally in Kingstown to highlight what it sees as the government’s failures.

6 replies on “No-confidence motion debate on Wednesday”

  1. Vincy in New York says:

    Kenton Chance is the opposition leader in SVG!!!!

    Prediction – every 3 or 6 months leaving up to the next general election, the ULP will be embroiled in a scandal and the opposition NDP will not gain any political ground.

    NDP is a retarded group of politicians. Imagine an inefficient group of politicians called the ULP is overseeing a youth unemployment rate of 46% and there’s no mobilization on the ground. No mass protests across the country. Business as usual for SVG.

    Kenton should collecting the salary for the leader of the opposition.

    Come to think of it, elections cost big money and the NDP is calling for fresh elections. Do they have a war chest? Here is an idea – gather $1M in cash and present it to Mackie or Soboto in order to cross the floor.

    !!! Mr. Kenton Chance – leader of the opposition NDP !!!

  2. Vincy in New York, obviously like so many in the Diaspora you simply do not understand just how frightened Vincentians are to be seen to protest.

    We have been taken over by a family which is creating a family dynasty hoping to turn the Islands into their plantation and the people into field slaves. A dynasty whose members have become very rich with many big cars and palatial houses.

    The people have been subdued and cowered by what most people see as misuse of the police and judiciary.
    If a citizen is seen or is informed on, that they are complaining, demonstrating, even writing such things as this, they are destroyed. Take as a case that of Bigger Bigs. He was seen to be supporting the opposition party so they closed down his business on pretences, in doing so they hoped to destroy him.

    When people are seen demonstrating against the ULP or its policies they are likely to lose their jobs, in fact the whole family may lose their jobs, and the children will be excluded from school grants and opportunities. People lose their little monthly handouts unless they can prove they are devout followers of the regime. Even down to your little house being damaged by flood or storm, expect no help unless you are a declared ULP supporter.

    The ruling family have created a dynasty which they hope will rule SVG forever, whilst using the whole state as their plantation and the people reduced to that of field slaves.

    Those business people and professionals who openly step out of line can expect a visit by the Police Special Branch, assisted by the Black Squad and the SSU with their big guns to instil the necessary fear. No one is safe from this procedure, doctors, writers, attorneys, business men and women, and even companies. Often accompanying these raiders will be VAT officers, NIS officers and Tax officials. They fish for crimes that they have no previous information except from a regime official informant or instructor.

    People are frightened and rightly so because they perceive the law and even judiciary are being misused and the people cannot get the protection that the constitution demands.

    There has been no creation of industry under this regime, in fact most of what was in SVG have left. There are no jobs for the people and no jobs for school leavers, nothing to look forward to and no future in sight.

    So unless they do as they are instructed and keep faithful to the regime things will get even worse for them.
    The only chance is to stay quiet, stand in the shadows, and vote them out at the ballot boxes. Problem is even that is controlled by some evil force and the ballot box like the people are subject to being raped.

    1. Vincy in New York says:

      Jolly Green,

      Youth unemployment is 47 percent. What r these youth afraid of? Their jobs!? The people need leadership. The youths are not going to speak out and demonstrate when they feel that the NDP is not going to support them 150%.

      The NDP is doing a horrible job of mobilization, and the party is not opening up to New ideas. Appeal to the unemployed and mobilize them in protest. Get off nice radio and go out into the communities and mobilize. Nice radio audience is for the diehards.

      Branding is very important in politics. The youths are attracted to cool campaigns. Wearing red appeals to the youths. NDP is not gearing for the youths.Reality is that an opposition cannot win without the chronixx, machel or beres concerts. Check out st. Lucia, st. Kitts and the other countries that changed governments. What happened last election? Fire Empress cut style on the NDP. Yes, fire empress. R u kidding me!?

      Many Vincentains are not nationalistic. We are quite willing to die for our party and hate to make any sort of sacrifice for our country. Ralph knows the psyche of vincies and takes full advantage of it. He knows we like gossip and big talk and goes all out to placate us.

      Ralph promised 30% salary increase in 2001. Did Civil servants receive 30% increase in aggregate? It’s called promises and big talk. On the other hand, Friday and Arnhim are saying there is no money, country is broke and painting a picture of joblessness, homelessness and hopelessness. Oh how i hate to hear cummings and patel on nice radio campaigning. Pure darkness! The major gives some hope by expounding on what he will do or what the government fail to do.

      Remember when Arnhim said that he would give honorary citizenship to garifunas? He put Ralph on his political back foot and forced him to scrape the bottom of the barrel by saying they, garifunas, will take away nonexistent jobs in svg. These are the kind of bold political statements the NDP needs to make. Promise the public sector an increase in salary and force Ralph to go higher. Promise $500 a month to any household that does not have anyone working. Increase the length of time for concessions on Christmas barrel. Show the people how the fat cats are getting rich and make a promise to look into their finances.

      Whilst the ppl are scared, instill fear into the politicians that got rich through other means than their salaries. Mention forensic accounting. Peomise the people that they will have to prove how they get thwir monies and assets. What iw thw ndp afraid of? Are they waiting on their turn to get fat? When the NDP speaks softly and carry a big stick, the populace will fall in line.

      There is a leadership vacuum in the ULP, and labour fatigue is covering the land. This is a political opportunity. There are cracks at the seams in the tight-knit ULP. Unfortunately, the NDP is not taking advantage. Make political overtures to mckie and Soboto ceasar. Promise soboto deputy pm for now and pm after 1 or 2 term. Force the pm hand.

      Prediction – Every 3 or 6 months leading up to the next general election, the ULP will be embroiled in a scandal. Are the NDP ready to prounce? A tape made the rounds last election. The holy NDP decided against using the tape. Lol. Is that leadership? Ppl sense weakness or power and react accordingly. The name of the game is politics!!!

      If 41 murders and 46% youth unemployment are not enough to remove a government by mobilizing the people, i dont know what will. Peter Tosh says to “stand up and fight back, we get nothing to lose”

  3. When you have no strategy and no plan on how your party will lead the country forward the only thing left to do is cry no confidence, smh this is pathetic from a cool guy like Friday is unexpected plus someone of his stature as a lawyer making these unsubstantiated claims with no legal ground .

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