ULP supporters at the rally in Kingstown on Thursday, to mark their 18th anniversary in official, which was March 28, 2019. (iWN photo)

The Unity Labour Party, on Thursday, celebrated 18 years in office with a march and rally in Kingstown, at which Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told party supporters and media audiences that things are well in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

“The state of the union, the state of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is sound,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said as he extended greetings to Vincentians in the diaspora.

“We have a compelling developmental narrative and progress is being made in the interest of the people,” Gonsalves told a rally at Heritage Square in Kingstown.

Flag-waving supporters of the ULP, clad in red — the party’s colour — led by Gonsalves, marched from their party headquarters on Murray’s Road to downtown Kingstown, making a lap around the city before congregating at Heritage Square for the rally. (See video at end of post)

They were celebrating the 18th anniversary of the ULP election to office on March 28, 2001.

Gonsalves said that when the ULP came to office, 26 per cent of the population lived in dirt-poor poverty.

He said that the number has since fallen to 3 per cent, even as the number of persons affected by under nourishment had moved from 22 to less than 5 per cent.

The figures show that over 8,000 more persons are employed today than in 2001, Gonsalves said, adding that the average income per head of population in 2001 was under EC$8,000 a year.

“Today, it is almost EC$22,000. The minimum wage was increased three times since 2001, while under the 17 years of the NDP, it increased only once,” the prime minister said.

He told party supporters that between 1987 and 2001, when the New Democratic Party was in office, National Insurance Services pension was increased once.

It has been increased four times since the ULP came to office.

The wealth of the country, as measured in terms of the GDP, was just over EC$800 million when the ULP came to office, but in 2018, it was EC$2.2 billion, Gonsalves said.   

There are over 300 more police officers now than in 2001.

All 12-year-olds are at school and the population at Community College has increased from 500 to 2,200 students.

Today, nurses are being paid a stipend of EC$1,000 a month to go to school.

Prime Minsiter Ralph Gonsalves, left, pose with Minister of National Mobilisation, Frederick Stephenson at Thursday’s rally. (iWN photo)

“Poor people children couldn’t go to nursing school. They can now go to do degrees,” Gonsalves said, adding that Vincentian nurses are in demand all over the world and the British came recently to recruit over 100 of them.

“Only two countries in the Caribbean have surplus of nurses: Cuba and St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.

In 2001, just under 70 per cent of households had pipe borne water; today, it is 98 per cent in St. Vincent. 

Garbage used to be collected only in Kingstown and the environs; today, it is collected once a week from Fancy and Fitz Hughes and twice a week in the Grenadines, the prime minister said.

“I am talking about things which touch our lives,” he said, adding that under the ULP government, the state has distributed nearly 4,500 housing lots and the government had built some 2,300 houses.

The prime minister said that whereas a handful of students were going to university, thousands have enrolled since 2001, including under special programmes for the poor and disadvantaged.

By 2030, each of the nation’s 36,000 households, on average, would have a university graduate.

Gonsalves said there is 25 per cent more houses than in 2001.

“You go around the Caribbean; there is no country in the Caribbean which has seen as rapid an expansion of houses being built as in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

He said that his government spends EC$42 million a year on secondary education, while in 2001, just under EC$13 million was being spent.

He said his government has built more playing fields than any other government in the history of the country.

And, for the first time since 1763, a government arrived in office at a time when SVG did not have one dominant agricultural crop. 

“Colonialism had, at various stages, sugar, cotton and arrowroot.”

Supporters of the Unity Labour Party march in Kingstown in celebration of their 18th anniversary in office.

Posted by iWitness News on Thursday, April 4, 2019

19 replies on “After 18 years of ULP rule, ‘the state of SVG is sound’ — Gonsalves”

  1. As one stand and watch in utter astonishment these bizarre happenings, it is very hard to envisage that in the most recent past, the ancestors of these misguided marchers were once “shackled slaves” and these themselves are little better off in their dire poverty than their ancestors.

    Moreover, the marching day is a working day, thus it is observed that yet another day’s much needed productivity is being lost to this very poor country from those employed, and since the Government itself here in SVG is the biggest employer, what very poor stewardship it advances to these misguided individuals.

    But there again, since other nation’s tax payers are the ones who now foots the financial expenses running cost bill of this “severely-broken- beggar-country” by way of Grant Aid, and our future generations will also be taking the hit for all of our reckless existing borrowings, who among those marchers care about lost productivity when there is much music in the street!

    Elsewhere “The Foundation for Economic Education” says: “7 Things I’d Do if I Wanted to Keep Poor People Poor” https://fee.org/articles/7-things-id-do-if-i-wanted-to-keep-poor-people-poor/
    So if the ULP just keep our marchers poor and ignorant it will always deliver good redshirted U.L P cadres!

    1. Elma Gabriel says:

      This is just what happens when people are in hope for a leader and their hope expires, anything to combat their fears of the unknown.

  2. Lies spoken with enthusiasm and gusto do have a way of twisting ordinary and plain reality! Indeed lies spoken with much zest and passion are often very convincing indeed.

    Having said that Ralph’s Gonsalves speech reminds me of the explanations once given by a cheating wife’s lovers! As the story goes the cheating wife’s husband was out at work for the day when her lover number one arrived at her apartment’s door and as she was there entertaining him, surprisingly there was a firm knock at her front door by her lover number two, so she hurriedly got lover number one to hide in a walk-in wardrobe of their third floor apartment.

    She proceeded to open her apartment’s door, and with a sheepish face she thus began to entertain her lover number two, but unexpectedly her lover number three arrived, flowers and champagne in hand and eagerly, most breathlessly and excitedly he pounded on her door, so she got her lover number two to hide in a large freestanding kitchen storage cabinet of the apartment.

    She had hardly began entertaining her lover number three, when there was the turning of keys in the apartment’s front door’s locks. The same was her husband returning home from work unexpectedly early because there was a power outage at his place of employment.

    With utter surprise the cheating wife having nowhere to hide her number three lover, she then asked him to exist the apartment via the apartment’s third floor window and wait there outside until all was clear. This her third lover proceeded to do and there he remained dangling by his finger-tips.

    The turning of the front door keys was by her wronged husband. Upon entering his home, the cheating wife’s husband removed his coat and proceeded to hang it up in their walk in wardrobe but upon encountering it he stumbled upon lover number one. The husband then enquired of him what on earth was he doing in the wardrobe, to which the response came “I am just here repairing the broken clothe racks!”

    Accepting the explanation and seeing an open bottle of champagne on the kitchen table, the cheating wife’s husband headed towards the kitchen storage cabinet for a champagne glass where upon he encounter his cheating wife’s lover number two. Enquiring of that lover number two what he too was doing in the kitchen cabinet, to which the reply came, “I am here repairing some broken shelving!”

    Accepting that explanation too the wronged husband proceeded to open the apartment’s third floor window before sampling the opened bottle of champagne on the kitchen table, but to his utter surprise, there was his cheating wife’s lover number three, dangling by his finger tips on the window sill.

    Surprised by this most unusual encounter, the wronged husband demanded to know for what strange cause was this most unusual behaviour, to which came the reply “ if you believe those other guys, I am here waiting for a bus!”

    I am also reminded of what Benjamin Disraeli once said that; “There are three types of lies — lies, damn lies, and statistics.” And if we are to accept Ralph Gonsalves at his word, he once reminded us that he sometimes tells lies.

    1. So stupid and long-winded. Be grateful, some other Caribbean countries you have to pay for secondary school, college, university. At least someone is trying to help you.

      1. Norma, you are obviously one of the silly deceived believers. All the islands were offered the upgrading of their educations system which was funded by the World Bank http://web.worldbank.org/archive/website00969/WEB/OTHER/B92A9D0D.HTM?OpenDocument

        Unlike the other islands Gonsalves chose to pretend the upgrading was his idea and only SVG were lucky enough for this to happen in. He chose to call it the ‘Education Revolution’ but it was not his idea, it happened not just in the Caribbean but in most of the developing countries at the same time.

        The twenty member countries of the CGCED shared with the rest of the world the common goals of reforming their education systems to equip Caribbean people for productivity, wealth creation, and social and personal development.

        The claim that the education boost was anything to do with decisions by Ralph Gonsalves are quite simply a lie and the call Education Revolution was invented by to fool the people that this was in some way to do with him.

        The new education scheme was first negotiated by the NDP at the CARICOM Heads of Government, at their Meeting held in Montego Bay in Jamaica in July 1997, adopted the profile of the ideal Caribbean person. Such a person respects human life as the foundation on which all of the other desired values must rest; is emotionally secure; values differences based on gender, ethnicity, religion and other forms of diversity as sources of strength and richness; is environmentally aware; is responsible and accountable to family and community; has a strong work ethic; is creative and entrepreneurial and has an informed respect for the cultural heritage.

        The Governments also decided that this ideal person should be placed at the centre of the
        regional development process. Education was seen as playing a critical role in the construction of social mentalities and regenerative capacities and in the development of the holistic
        CARIBBEAN person.

        That was the beginning of what Gonsalves pretends is his Education Revolution. All the Islands progressed their education systems at the same time.
        http://portal.unesco.org/en/files/25227/11081130321EFACaribbean.pdf/EFACaribbean.pdf

        None of the islands charge for public education. What we do know is that in SVG children have to pay for their school books which in some of the progressive countries come free.Children also have to pay for expensive uniforms.

        Some people in SVG who have 5 and 6 children have to send children to school on alternating days because they do not have money for transport and food to send them all. Also in some of the really poor families they have to share shoes. Many children still leave school unable to read and write.Many drop out at an early age. Most will never find work in their lifetimes because of the political position in SVG. The industry in SVG is so overtaxed the country can never get ahead, no one wants to invest in SVG, hence no work for our school leavers.

        So dearest Norma I doubt you will believe what I have informed you despite the evidence I supply. It really is such a shame you choose to choose untruth against the truth.

        I do not know you so I really do not know if you are an inherently ignorant person, or if you have just been mislead and misinformed.

        Good luck for the future

  3. We are living in the last days evil is call good and good evil , wrong is call right and right wrong these are the last day the signs of the time is happening right in front of us my people wake up!

  4. We are living in the last day where evil is call good and good evil where wrong is call right and right is wrong where. darkness is call light and light darkness the signs of the time are here wake up my People!!

    1. Nick W those are direct quotes by Peter Binose, I doubt he will mind since he passed away some time ago.

  5. Reminds me of the rape rally that was also attended by mindless ignorant people. People enslaved to a Marxist-Leninist political party believing it to be a Labour party, poor fools.

  6. We as a people keep missing the point about poverty, We’ve done a lot or research and we’ve been trying to figure out what’s wrong with us as a people for the past century.. can’t seem to figure it out so the easiest thing to do is find someone or something to blame. I’ve noticed other races and nationalities have surpassed us in terms of prosperity in the diaspora ..in the seventies West Indians were the most prosperous immigrants in North America..We’ve been relegated to No.18.

    Mr James H considering that North America has two of the richest countries in the world and as Caribbean immigrants ,we’re not doing as well as we did yrs ago,do you really think that an NDP administration in Vincy will bring prosperity to Vincy land or is it that you’re hoping that change would give NDP supporters a ride on the gravy train?
    It’s hard for any political party to change laziness and cure our bad mind disease. By the way I hope NDP wins because some of us do deserve some gravy too,fair enough and the government wages bill is way too big.

    1. Albert you saying svg is a better place today is only your blind opinion. There has been some progress but one would expect that and more from any government. Has there been enough progress, I do not think so, and that is my opinion with eyes wide open.

  7. Alena ballantyne Alexander says:

    I believe that the ndp has not seen the progress as soon as I came out of school I went to teach if it was for the ndp I would not have known what is a job and would not have even know what is education… The ndp above the river is the ones who always get the yes program work and also the road work I dont know what IIn God’s name he has. To do now for u to see he’s better than u guys leader…what he needs to do sends more ndp to Cuba and get there eye fix and then they will see. The sunshine of Ralph

    1. So because you have a job you are casting a blind uncaring eye to the 40% youth unemployment. Is that part of economic progress. If you manage to travel on your 1% go to Grenada and see what they have achieved despite being decimated by hurricane Ivan. Visit the other OECS countries and see where we are- you seem to have good eyesight.

  8. What is ever free in this life Norma? In the end someone has to pay for that “education” as the Venezuelans are now finding out, be it in the schools, Colleges or the Universities! If you would have it otherwise pray do tell? Once you have declared such education to be “free” please do tell why was it so Norma? Is it not your taxes, mine and/or the Foreign Aid donor’s that sustains these learning institutions?

    Or else do point us to that “free money Bank” where free Money is being dispensed to run these institutions Norma. To our knowledge only in some socialist nonsensical drivel will one ever get the idea that money spent or to be spent is for all intent and purpose “free bucks” Norma.

    Oh’ and do have a little tolerance and or patience and try learn to read for a little longer than your usual time span!

  9. It’s a pity that we allow visions to be clouded by our political persuasions. The stats that the PM presented is correct for the most part but statistics does not take into consideration people’s feelings and emotions. The ULP administration has no choice but to attempt to do all that was done. In fact going forward it is going to be even harder for any administration in this country because the population data shows that we have a population bubble between college age students (16 yrs) up to age 54 yr with a life expectancy of 73 years and a median age of 30.2 years.
    The ULP brags about the ‘education revolution’ but according to that data that is a double edged sword that will make or break this administration. The more people with access to higher levels of education also creates a need for more jobs and better paying jobs. Unemployment rate stands currently at about 25.8% and given our population pyramid that is set to increase whether we have a ULP or an NDP administration in power. The ULP is trying to tackle this problem by creating programmes such as YES but this is only a stop gap measure and such programmes with need to increase their intakes to remain relevant to the young people. The public service can only employ so much persons. The private sector is therefore the real engine of growth but to truly benefit one cannot show their true political colors. This is true whether an NDP administration is in power or a ULP administration. An unemployment crisis is therefore in the making because the kind of investments that would create bulk job opportunities such as call centers and factories are few and far between. Hotel investment, while nice, is only a small dent in the huge unemployment pie.
    But another crisis looms in the not too distant future as well that of retirement benefits and millenials are going to be the hardest hit when they get old as they are now being hit by high unemployment. That’s a double whammy. Our rate of reproduction has decrease and the social security system depends on more people paying in more money that what is being taken out to support retires. With so many people unemployed employers are finding ways to errode the hard fought for benefits by our trade unions etc. Gone are the days when you can accumulate years of working experience in one establishment and be entitled to proper retirement benefits. Now employers are using the unemployment situation to employ people on minimal contracts that renew your employment date with the business every-so-often. Permanency is a thing of the past. This is also true for Government.
    Now is the best time to retire because you will be able to lock in most of the benefits promised unless you had your retirement plan was with one those insurance companies affected by the 2008 financial crisis. As a millennial, I envy you all because while I am paying into social security to maintain your retirement benefits not much people is going to be working when my generation retires to support us.

    Sources:
    https://www.livepopulation.com/country/saint-vincent-and-the-grenadines.html
    http://stats.gov.vc/stats/

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