The woman who is hoping to unseat Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves, after one term, as Member if Parliament for East St. George has told constituents how she can work with them to” reverse 19 years of neglect and bring about the change that we so desperately need”.
Laverne Gibson-Velox, a first-time candidate, told the New Democratic Party (NDP) virtual public meeting last week Thursday that she has visited countless homes in recent weeks, speaking to people and listening to their concerns about the constituency “which has been neglected for too long by the son of Ralph Gonsalves”.
Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, the son of the prime minister, is seeking a second five-year term as MP for East St. George.
But Gibson-Velox said she has a plan “to get people working and to bring new investment to upgrade our deteriorating infrastructure.
“In return for a vote for me in this upcoming election, I — as part of a Dr. Friday-led NDP Government — can offer you jobs, jobs and more jobs,” she said.
The said that the first thing she would do, “when elected as your representative”, is to provide skills and training to young people so they have the expertise needed to build a thriving career, at home in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“For too long, young people graduating from school have not been able to find work and have resorted to leaving our shores in search for job opportunities. This is unacceptable,” Gibson-Velox said.
She promised to work with local businesses to develop internship and apprenticeship agreements.
“This will open up job opportunities for recent graduates and provide them with the skills needed for them to thrive in the workplace.
“Every young person deserves the opportunity to learn new skills, develop and provide for themselves and their families,” Gibson-Velox said.
The candidate said that the nation’s children deserve the best education.
“That is why the NDP’s Plan for Jobs and Growth will equip our children for successful futures and careers,” she said, adding that this includes improving the delivery of education at the Calliaqua Anglican School, which will also be expanded to facilitate day care and early childhood development.
Gibson-Velox said this education thrust will not be limited young people and children, but would also include improving computer literacy amongst adults.
“I believe everybody should be given the opportunity to grow and develop, if they want to. Therefore, I am going to open a program of adult classes on information technology, providing adults with the skills needed to navigate in a digital age.”
She said this will “open the door to new career prospects for the people of East St. George and give them new skills that can be used to better their lives.
“We cannot hope to grow as a nation if we do not help our people develop.”
Fixing roads to help local people, businesses
The candidate said upgraded roads to help travel and trade are needed to help her party’s plan for jobs and growth.
“I have been out door knocking the length and breadth of the constituency and people are fed up with the condition the roads have been left in.”
Gibson-Velox said that in order to help ease travel and trade, “we will rehabilitate the road network in East St. George, not in a superficial way that will require constant maintenance. We will do it right! No more choosing which hole to brave!”
All of this, she said, will create opportunity, as the NDP wants to employ locals to help fix local roads.
“The ULP have said they will oppose our constituency development fund, because they do not trust local people. They would prefer to give the contracts for minor local works to their friends or overseas companies. We, in the NDP, trust the people of East St. George to do what is best for East St. George!”
On the subject of public transport infrastructure, Gibson-Velox said she would construct covered bus sheds throughout the constituency, including in Fairbairn, Brighton, Belmont, Villa and Glen to provide shelter from the elements, so that people can get to work no matter the weather.
“With better transport infrastructure, less damage will be done to vehicles, goods and to our health, saving us from the cost of unnecessary bills.”
Her plan also includes improving local healthcare, Gibson-Velox said, and accused the ULP administration of neglecting for too long the healthcare of local people in East St George.
“It has never been more important to ensure access to quality healthcare. The COVID pandemic and the outbreak of dengue fever across the land are prime examples why the healthcare of our people is a priority.
“That is why we will improve the Enhams Clinic and upgrade the Calliaqua Clinic into a fully-fledged polyclinic, so the constituents of East St. George have access to the best facilities available. We deserve the best too,” she said.