Opposition lawmaker, St. Clair Leacock is urging the nation to listen to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves’ national address at 8 p.m. today on the COVID19 pandemic.
The Central Kingstown MP made the call Wednesday morning on his New Democratic Party’s radio programme on NICE Radio, even as he complained that Gonsalves was going to address the nation without meeting with opposition lawmakers amidst the crisis.
He said that the prime minister has invited opposition members to talks at 8:30 Thursday morning, ahead of the meeting of the national assembly later that morning.
“Am I encouraging people to listen,” he said of the national address, which will be broadcast by state media from the Ministry of Finance Conference Room and relayed to other media outlets.
“My initial response was too little, too late. But I modify that and say now, better late than never. So I think we have to welcome that address,” said Leacock, and NDP vice-president.
“But I am not going to allow him to escape the fact that it is unacceptable, is unpardonable, that he finds himself as the prime minister, at this time addressing the nation on what probably would be one of the most important matters ever to impact St. Vincent and the Grenadines — COVID-19 — and he’s doing that before he had the opportunity or took advantage of an opportunity to have a consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and if for good reasons he could have gone on to the members of the opposition in general,” Leacock said.
He continued: “I mean, I don’t know how a person could have the kinds of education and exposure and training and experience in the common sense that he has and would not see the wisdom in so doing.”
Leacock said he hung his head in shame when he heard on the news on Tuesday that the prime minster had met with financial institution but had not had talks with the opposition.
He said that while financial institutions are “very, very important stakeholders in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but alas, there is an order.
“I don’t see how you can promote — I am not saying we (opposition lawmakers) are greater or more important than them; we’re all in there together — but as an order, certainly take the leader of the opposition into your confidence, and then begin to fan out and speak to all of the stakeholders that should be involved.
“So when he speaks to the nation tonight, I would be listening intently. I have to ask myself, what will be the benefit of a meeting with us tomorrow at an opposition group 8:30 to do what?
“To rubber stamp or to put on the stamp imprimatur as he says? Because nothing’s going to change. And then Parliament would meet and have its discussions and again, you asked whether Parliament would listen,” he said.
The prime minister is yet to meet with opposition members even as he is expected to seek their support on Thursday for approval of supplementary budget to respond to the fall out from the deadly virus.
Friday said that the members of the opposition “are available to meet appropriately” with the prime minister and other members of the government and public institutions to discuss the NDP’s recommendations further and plan on an ongoing basis for the implementation of a national response to the unprecedented crisis.
On Monday, Gonsalves said on Star FM, his party’s radio station, that he would meet at “an appropriate time sometime this week” with the opposition.