The New Democratic Party (NDP) says that as the general election approaches, the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration, which is hoping for a fifth consecutive term in office, is coming “with the old playbook” of giving hand-outs.
“There’s no free lunch in this country. The question is, ‘Who pays?’ And the people who pay are usually the poor people, the marginalised people,” Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday told his party’s virtual public meeting on Thursday.
“The ones who have the three SUVs in the driveway, whose bread is buttered on three sides, who when they get sick, they can fly out, who go on vacation to New York, and to Toronto, those, they’re always well. But we want to create a St. Vincent and the Grenadines that look after all of us,” the opposition leader said.
Friday said that his party values the contribution of the young people.
“So when I speak to them on the street, and as I speak here tonight, I say we are fighting for your future because your future … in this country [is longer] than mine,” he said and urged the nation’s youth to listen to the message of the NDP.
“Take this opportunity in this time, when you know that they are going to come with the old playbook. And they’re going to be hand-outs. And then after the election time, they’re going to come back and they’re going to raise VAT as they did last time, if they’re still in office, but they won’t be. You will recall in the last election, they raised VAT three years in a row, and that was to pay for all the hand-outs,” Friday said.
“And for those who work, who have good ideas can succeed because the only thing that matters to me, as your prime minister, to the New Democratic Party team that you will put in office, is not the colour of your party card.
“What it is, it is your commitment to succeed. How good your ideas are. Because you know when you succeed, you will create jobs for somebody, your neighbours, your family members, you will create more business opportunities in this country and our country will progress.”
Friday said he that under an NDP administration, SVG would be open for business.
“We are going to make sure that all unnecessary red tape, corruption will be punished mercilessly. No tolerance given. We will make sure that in our government, in our country, that we make the environment — this is what government’s supposed to do — create an environment for our citizens to succeed, to create business opportunities for local people first and foremost, and when we need the capital and skill from foreign direct investment, to encourage them to come here under conditions that create development for our people.”
He said that development, first and foremost, is about our people.
“When we invite investors to come into our country it’s to create opportunities, jobs, businesses that benefit our people,” the opposition leader said.
Friday said that the NDP plans to invest, through the citizenship by investment programme.
“We need to revive our offshore financial services so that we can also create jobs for professionals and opportunities for our people. But none of this will happen, if those people who are to invest in these businesses these opportunities, see in our country, a government that is anti-business, that’s suddenly telling you that they have seen the light that we need to create a partnership between government and private sector, when for the last 15, 18 years, they have been in competition with the private sector. “
He said that the ULP came to office saying they were going to put major merchant houses in this country out of the business. Now all of a sudden, we must believe that they have seen the light.
“Well, I’ll tell you what is happening. They have seen the message of the New Democratic Party resonating with the people far and wide throughout this country in saying that, in order for us to build a prosperous country; we have to engage everybody, all about business people, or young people, everybody who has a good idea to be given a chance to succeed.”
Friday said that that is the pivotal role that the NDP’s proposed development bank would play.
“Because it will make credit available to small business people. I hear they’re talking about they’re gonna give grants to the PRYME programme, by all means. They’re trying to say that they’re appealing to young people.
“We were the first party, I was first political leader to have a dialogue with young people, a serious discussion where you had a discussion, exchange of ideas not just a fete that this ULP government has been throwing every election time that comes around. And then on Monday morning, those young people have to go and look for work and they can’t find,” he said.