St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG)seems to be training its citizens to develop other countries, an opposition politician has told Vincentians in New York.
The practice of placing people in jobs, based solely on political affiliation, is wrong. Sometimes when we eliminate our brightest minds and put ‘square pegs in round holes’ we bear the consequences of mediocrity, low productivity and unprofessional conduct,”Laverne Gibson-Velox told the New Democratic Party’s “Hope For Home” town hall meeting in New York.
“We constantly hear of the increase in scholarships but it seems we’re training our citizens to develop other countries. The brain drain is real,” she said.
“Job recruitment and promotions within the public sector must be commensurate with competence, not a party card. The NDP will recruit persons based on merit. And that’s a promise,” she told the first of the events, which concludes on Sunday with a town hall meeting in Toronto with the Vincentian diaspora there.
In the 2020 general elections, Velox fell 196 votes short of unseating Camillo Gonsalves, the ULP’s “heir apparent”, as MP for East St. George.
She is the party’s candidate in East St. George in the next general elections, constitutionally due by February 2026.
Gibson-Velox is a retired banker who was the first female to be chief executive of a commercial bank in SVG.
She was part of the NDP’s delegation, headed by party president and Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday, to speak at the town hall meeting.
The other members of the team were Senator Shevern John, the NDP’s caretaker for North Windward, and opposition spokesperson, Lavern King.
Gibson-Velox told the New York diaspora that the NDP team had travelled to the city “so you can hear firsthand that we are the party of hope”.
She said the meeting was also to explain the party’s plans that would “catapult us to forming government following the next general elections.
“Our esteemed leader, Dr. Godwin Friday, is the greatest advocate of hope and the team he leads, echoes his promise for a brighter future under an NDP administration,” she said
She said too many Vincentians are suffering, with many people living “with hopelessness and despair.
“They cannot get jobs because it seems like jobs in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are for supporters of the ULP only.”
She said Vincentians are willing to work because, as a proud people, they want to earn their own money.
“We want to maintain our pride and dignity and don’t want to settle for handouts. We would rather not line up to collect poor relief but without sustainable jobs, we have no choice,” she said.
Gibson-Velox said that the twice-yearly — Christmas and back-to-school — income from the road-cleaning programme is “an insult to our people but if you can’t do better you say no matter.
“We have become a nation of people who settle for whatever they throw at us. It’s time to recapture our independent spirit. Pay careful attention to what pertains back home Most opportunities and the wealth are concentrated within a small circle,” she said.
“We live in a constant campaign mode. We are tired of it. Gone are the days when we had the picong and heckling during elections and when elections are over, we good again. These days, the brainwashing of the nation is constant and intense.
“It’s them or us. No healing takes place. We, the people, are battle weary. Even at national events like Carnival and Independence you see the separation. We forget we are one nation, one people, one Vincy. Dividing us is counterproductive to our nation’s development.”
She said many in the audience understand the pressures in SVG as more remittances and barrels are sent to relatives at home.
“We thank you for caring for your families back home by ensuring they survive amidst austerity. We know how hard you work, sometimes in less-than-ideal conditions but you persevere and you meet the needs of your loved ones. You are truly heroes in our eyes.”
Gibson-Velox said the NDP Is “steadfast in its commitment to make job creation a priority.
“Our people need jobs. Government cannot employ everyone but those persons who are blessed with skills can become their own brands.”
She said an NDP government would provide requisite support to enhance those skills , thereby improving the entrepreneurs’ marketability and their earning power.
“This will restore dignity for the thousands who seek honest work for honest pay,” Gibson Velox said.