2020 is the year of change for the better in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday said on radio on Monday.
“This is a very exciting time for us in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We are in the year 2020. This will be a year of change, it will be a year of hope, it will be a year when lives will change for the better in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because the New Democratic Party will make it happen,” he said on his first radio show for the year.
Speaking on “New Times”, his party’s daily show on Nice Radio, Friday said he was excited about “getting on with this work so that we could change the government of this country to change the country itself”.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has said that the Vincentian electorate will go to the polls by the end of the year, ahead of the March 2021 constitutional deadline.
And Friday believes that his New Democratic Party (NDP) will be elected to office, thereby preventing the Gonsalves-led Unity Labour Party (ULP) from securing a fifth consecutive term in officer.
The opposition leader said that SVG has so much potential.
“All we need to do is make sure that we liberate that potential within the people but also to work tirelessly to create jobs, to create economic opportunity to get the government off of people’s backs so that we can create an environment where economic prosperity will come to St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.
“The same thing that so many of our Caribbean people are enjoying elsewhere, that we will partake in this in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Friday told listeners.
He said that when people say they are looking forward to the New Year, he is excited to talk to them because he knows what his party has to offer.
Friday said that SVG has had, under the ULP, a lot of talk and braggadocio, “big shiny objects, project here and there.
“As I have always said, what matters is how it affects people’s lives. If it makes your life better, then it is a good project; it is a useful project. If it only makes the government look better in the sense that they say ‘look at this big thing here that we can brag about’ but then your life doesn’t change, what’s the point of that? I want to focus on what is good for the people.”
Friday said that between 2014 and 2018, the Vincentian economy grew at an annual average rate of 1.5%, according to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.
“… that is negligible. That is almost no growth at all. People don’t feel that in their lives. It doesn’t change anything materially around you,” the opposition leader said.
In that same period, however, Grenada’s economy grew at an average annual rate of 5.2%, Friday said.
“That is where you can see things are actually happening. You can see buildings going up, you can see people dressed up nice and going to work, you can hear school children coming out and saying they can get a job. You can see businesses, local business, our local business people finding opportunities to succeed and nobody has to worry about a government coming down and chopping your knees out because you say something that was critical of them.”
Friday said that the NDP wants to create a society where everyone can succeed irrespective of their political affiliation.
“We will have differences politically; that’s what democracy is about. I welcome that because that energy, I think, will make this country dynamic and transform it in a way that we won’t recognise — transform it for the better.
“I have no doubt that the people of this country can do better and that with the NDP in office, with myself as the prime minister of this country, leading the development changes in this country, that we will not just grow St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we will transform this country because that is my objective.”
Friday said he believes that SVG has potential that exceeds that of many of its neighbours.
“… and so we have to liberate them. We have a chance now, we have, in this year coming — I have always said they can run but they can’t hide, eventually, they have to come and face the electorate and they will come with all of their plans…”
He said that that with election approaching, the government will send works to build bridges and roads “and make people think that this is how it is going to be for the future”.
“But just remember that when they finish election, the first thing they do is they bring taxes to re-collect that money that they say they spend on you.
“And, moreover, it is a cynical way of really staying or maintaining political control. We have to make it so that people feel that they have their long-term best interest in the government that is in place. There is no long-term best interest is served by that government. The present administration has not delivered that.”
He said the ULP has done projects and building here and there but there are fewer jobs available now than in 2001, when the government first came to office.
“If that is the case, how can you say that you have improved people’s lives?”