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26.OCT.10

Vincentians have over the past nine years or so, paid keen attention to the annual independence address of Prime Minister Gonsalves, delivered at the military parade on Independence Day.{{more}}

It is on that occasion that the Prime Minister has traditionally played Santa Claus and unveiled a package of ‘Christmas goodies’, usually consisting of the duty free Christmas barrel programme; the special Christmas road cleaning programme; special allowances for pensioners; back pay and salary increases for public servants.

Tomorrow’s address will be his 10th independence address to the nation, and no doubt the most difficult he has had to deliver to date. The Prime Minister is about to lead his Unity Labour Party (ULP) into general elections, and naturally, he would wish to make statements which hold promise of a bright Christmas for Vincentians.

On the other hand however, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, like all the other countries of the OECS, and much of the world, is experiencing the full throes of the global recession. As Vincentians, we had perhaps hoped that we would have been spared the worst of the financial crash of 2008, but most reasonable persons would now agree that it has hit home.

Public servants did not receive the 2 per cent wage increase they were hoping for in June this year. When the prime minister delivered the bad news, he said the government was not yet in a position to pay an additional 2 per cent. He had said then, if things had improved by September, the increase would come at that time. This did not happen, so we can reasonably assume that things have not improved for the Government.

The Prime Minister has not given any hint about the contents of his speech tomorrow, but it would be surprising if he is able to offer up anything other than to urge Vincentians to further tighten our belts.

Condolences to the Government and people of Barbados

Even though it was well known that former Prime Minister of Barbados David Thompson had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, news of his death still came as a shock to many.

Prime Minister Thompson’s passing is extremely sad. He was a man who had always dreamed of becoming prime minister of Barbados, and after spending his entire life working towards the dream, he spent less than two years in office, hardly having time to see his policies and programmes take shape. Opposition politician and Barbados Opposition Leader up to one week ago, Mia Mottley, on hearing of Thompson’s death, put it really well when she said she has come to fully understand that the will of God cannot be questioned.

God’s will cannot be questioned, and Thompson’s death at such a young age brings to mind the succession plans of Caribbean governments, including our own here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. No one hopes for tragedy of any sort for any of our leaders, but two years ago, no one would have thought that PM Thompson, a man in the prime of his life, would be dead in October 2010. As we go into the next general elections, the succession plans of the contending political parties surely must be a consideration for the electorate.

Searchlight joins with the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in extending our sincere condolences to Prime Minister Thompson’s relatives, especially his wife, children, parents and siblings; and the Government and people of Barbados.

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