Central Kingstown MP St. Clair Leacock said that St. Vincent and the Grenadines gets “zilch” from CELAC, the hemispheric grouping of which Kingstown is currently pro tempore president.
Leacock said in Chapmans on Saturday that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has no time to help residents of the village and the wider constituency because of his focus on the
Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which holds it summit in Buccament Bay on March 1
“And this is my beef here now. Dr. Friday, ah go want a job in yo government so pardon me if I ain’t so diplomatic in what I have to say,” Leacock said, referring to Opposition Leader Godwin Friday, who is president of the New Democratic Party of which Leacock is a vice-president.
“Something has to be wrong with St. Vincent. It couldn’t be a real place. Could not be a real place. How the hell on earth we find we self with [South Central Windward MP and Agriculture Minister] Saboto [Caesar] and Ralph?” Leacock said.
He said that “not a cent” of the eEC$810 million budgeted for recurrent expenditure this year comes from Venezuela.
“Not a cent from Mexico, not a cent from Brazil, not a cent from Nicaragua and the list goes on and on and on,” he said, mentioning some of the members of CELAC.
“But the end of this month, we bringing 70-something people here who contribute zilch to St. Vincent to say we showcasing them because we are members of CELAC.
“CELAC doesn’t contribute to the High Court or the low court. It doesn’t contribute to our police force, it does not reduce crime and violence in SVG, it does not address the unemployment of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It does not address the lawlessness in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” said Leacock, who is the opposition spokesperson on national security.
“In fact, I asked here before I ask in Parliament if it is that there is something that Major don’t know and in truth and in fact that we do receive money,” Leacock said, referring to himself by his military rank.
“Does it go into the Consolidated Fund? How do we spend those monies, what are the improvements we show through those monies? And I raise that because I want to connect the dots.”
He said that the country cannot return to “glory days” of the banana industry under the NDP and then agriculture minister, Allan Cruickshank.
“… Ralph, every Monday morning, he in some Latin American country telling them that the best place for agricultural development is this blessed St. Vincent and the Grenadines. What a shame! What bold facedness! What disgrace! Send the fool a little further.”’
Using dasheen as an example to show what he said is the difference between NDP and Gonsalves Unity Labour Party, Leacock said farmers grow and produce on the basis of guaranteed markets.
“You see that dasheen that we say we can’t sell or we can’t find markets or price for? Right here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Frisko ice-cream has taken dasheen and produced a high-quality ice-cream,” he said.
The opposition MP said he used that as an example, adding that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has “a production problem but we have an even greater problem in marketing that which we produce.
“In the very said same way that we can take 90 million [dollars] of NIS money to open a hotel and give it to foreigners to manager and to fatten the calf that already have, in the same way we can take $135 million of Taiwan money and build a hotel in the leeward coast and again give it to foreign management, we can take the same amount of monies share the love with our farmers, build a manufacturing plant in SVG that we can process every single thing that we grow, that we guarantee the life and livelihood of our people,” Leacock said.
“This yah constituency, this yah community will be in the forefront of that activity under your Israel Bruce,” he said, referring to the NDP’s candidate for the constituency in the next general elections.
“We guarantee you that we have thought through it, we have worked it through.”