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Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday. (iWN file photo)
Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday. (iWN file photo)
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Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday says the voice of the youth of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is “not just desired, it is necessary”.

“I want to give you this solemn promise again. We have said that we will create the youth parliament again in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he told his New Democratic Party’s “Youth Voices” event broadcast on social media and radio on Thursday.

He said that the proposed youth parliament “is not just for decoration.

“What you debate there will be matters that we as government will take seriously. It is not just a place for show off.”

He said opposition members are fighting for the youth’s further and that he goes to bed and wakes up thinking about how to “create opportunity, jobs, businesses, so that you can have a good life, a better life here in St. Vincent.”

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Friday, a four-term Northern Grenadines MP who will face the electorate this year for the first time as opposition leader, said that when he saw the young people come up to the podium at Thursday’s event, “I know the courage that it takes as a young person to stand up, so I respect that and I urge and call on our young persons throughout this country to take a keen interest in what is happening in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because it is your future that is at stake, it is your future that we are fighting for.”

Friday said an NDP administration would create change because the party understands that for SVG to live up to its aspiration of being a progressive, free, democratic society that it has to deliver to all of its people.

 “Your voice is not just desired, it is necessary and so when you hear that election time is coming around or there is some big event coming up, there are some who will say you play the loud music, you play the nice music, the popular music and that is all the young people want, that is all they deserve.

“Well, I say that is not so because you need to know that there is a future here, you don’t have to leave and go further afield, if you don’t want to, that if you aspire to find a job, a life here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, that we can make that possible.”

He said he wants the nation’s youth to “reimagine a country where your own aspirations can be achieved.

“For too long, we accept the view that, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we are a backwater in the Caribbean, that there are lots of people who can talk big, but when you compare us to what is happening elsewhere, they have delivered very little.

“My thing is… talk is cheap. What we have to do is put ourselves to work, put you to work, put the country to work and we have a plan in the New Democratic Party to create jobs for young people,” he said.

‘less talk and more action’

He spoke about separating the ministries of agriculture and fisheries, adding that this is not just to show that the NDP thinks that the party is different.

“It is because we see the problems that agriculture is having and we want to have a minister, a ministry focused centrally on creating and reviving agriculture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and it is possible,” Friday said.

He said it is the same with the blue economy and the fisheries sector.

“No longer will fisheries be a desk in the ministry of agriculture. We will have people who are targeted, whose focus will be on developing everything to do with the sea….

 “We have it all here. What we need is just less talk and more action. What we need is people who are in government, who are in touch with the people, with their concerns, and who roll up their sleeve and say let’s do it together. That means the young people as well.”

Friday asked the nation’s youth to trust in his word as “the contract between me as your political leader… the contract between me as your prime minister and you as the people, not to lord over you but to respect your aspirations, to make them come true, to serve truly as a servant of the people”.

He said that the NDP team is comprised not just of people who are willing to win an election but also to be “part of a cabinet that will deliver for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I am picking people who are going to be exceptional ministers because there is nothing mediocre, there is no small aspiration for us here in the New Democratic Party. We are going to think big because we are thinking not just change but transformation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” the opposition leader said.

“And to do that, we need the young people. We need you to continue to hope because that is why we are doing it. It is for your future. Don’t quit on us. Don’t quit on yourself. Don’t believe the lies that they tell you that you are only interested in a jump up and a party and then tomorrow what happens? We are here for tomorrow.”

Friday promised that as prime minister he will have a forum where youth can meet with him “and not one on one in my office.

“You will have a forum where you can come and talk among your peers and question me and ask me why it is that you said you were going to do this and you ain’t do it yet and hold me accountable. That is what democracy is about. It is not an interim, five-year exercise. It is what happens every day in between one election and the next,” he said.