Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday, on Monday, appealed to the nation’s youth to support his New Democratic Party (NDP) in Thursday’s general elections, saying that he wants to create a country in which everyone’s children, including his own, can live and thrive.
“I have two young children myself. Both of them grew up in this country. They went to Grammar School, and then they went to Community College. I want them, just like anybody else’s children here, to have a bright future,” he told a rally at Heritage Square in Kingstown, where his son, Nicolas, was among those seated on the platform.
“Not only that, I want them to use their talents to come back here and help to build our country,” said Friday, whose other son is a national scholar.
Friday, a four-term MP for the Northern Grenadines, is making his first bid to become prime minister.
He told the NDP’s youth rally that he wants to see the nation’s youth either employed or studying so as to be able to improve your situation in life.
“We want you to be able to afford to go to study at university. So we are going to make it much more affordable for people to go to university,” he said, and reiterated that his administration would reduce from 8.5% to 4.5% the interest on student loans.
On Independence Day, Oct. 27, weeks after the NDP announced it proposal to reduce the interest, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves announced a one-year waiver of interest payment and a reduction of the interest from 8.5% to 6.5%, beginning in October 2021.
“… the intention is to make it easier for the nation’s youth to go to university,” Friday said, adding that the youth are the nation’s most precious resource.
[KC1] “So we have to give them the tools to succeed,” he said. “That is what myself and my colleagues, what you will do every single day that we are in office, we will work for you.”
The opposition leader said he does not like to see when young people are desirous of living and raising a family in St. Vincent and the Grenadines but are forced to leave because of a lack of opportunity.
“So we want to change that so that everyone in this country who wants to work has a chance to do so. We want to create better opportunities, particularly for young people so that they can have a brighter future,” the opposition leader said.
Friday said that the “pain” that Vincentians are feeling is real and “will be relieved immediately upon our government taking office.
“Because I tell you this, I understand that the people of this country, not only are we paid lower than anybody else, [but also] we are overtaxed. We are taxed more than all of the other countries in the OECS and you feel it. So we are going to get you relief immediately. We will reduce the VAT from 16%, down to 13%,” he said, adding that
this means more money to spend to buy more groceries.
“And that will make things a little easier for you and your families,” Friday said, adding that this is just a start.
“We want to change the environment in this country so that businesses don’t have to find that the government is fighting against them, or they have to fight against government, or that you have to have a party card in order to succeed. We want to create an environment where businesses can thrive.”
He said that an NDP government will rationalise the policies and the practices at the port and will reduce the duties when it makes sense to do so, to attract more investment in local businesses.
“Because you want to get our local private sector up and working, the construction industry, the farmers, the fisher folk. Yes, these are business people too. They tend to get left behind because everybody wants to see people dressed up in suits, and so on, and consider those to be business people. But the fisherman and the farmer dressed up in his boots and a shirt, they are business people too.”
Friday said that the NDP wants to make sure that farmers and fishers have access to credit, access to markets, and access to inputs to make their businesses work.
“Because when they succeed, the whole of this country succeeds. So we have a brighter future in store,” the opposition leader said.