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Thanks for your contribution to development of SVG – Government

Thanks for your contribution to development of SVG – Government

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Five public servants who contributed to the development of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) in many areas, including education and politics, were honoured last Saturday during a cocktail reception at the Prime Minister’s official residence at Old Montrose.

“I really want to say a hearty thank you {{more}}on behalf of the Government and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines”, said Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, while paying tribute to Sir Vincent Beache, Girlyn Miguel, Clayton Burgin, Maxwell Charles and Hendrick Alexander.

The PM stressed that the four men and one woman have made an immense contribution to the country, as well as the Unity Labour Party (ULP).

“It is inevitable in discussing the life and work of these five that we talk both about government and politics, because they are intertwined. Although it is an official government function, it is hard to keep government and politics out of it”, said the PM.

Speaking individually about the honourees, the PM said that Sir Vincent is one of the longest serving parliamentarians in the country, while he held several important positions, including, Leader of the Opposition and ministerial positions under the Milton Cato administrations. Sir Vincent also served for five years under the first ULP government and he was the political leader of the SVG Labour Party and the first political leader of the ULP. After his retirement, Sir Vincent served as a consultant in the Ministry of National Security.

“He was instrumental in the merger between the SVG Labour Party and the Movement for National Unity…it is very difficult to overstate the immense contribution of Vincent Beache”, said the PM, adding, “he has a mind for extraordinary detail and if he had decided to study law rather than to be involved in the technical field of electronics, he would have been a fantastic solicitor.”

The PM said that the Government will miss Sir Vincent, although he is still available for consultation and involved in a number of state enterprises, including chair of the Housing and Land Development Corporation (HLDC).

Sir Vincent was Minister of National Security from 2001 to 2005 and Parliamentary Representative for South Windward from 1994 to 2005 and North Central Windward from 1974 to 1984.

Moving on to Girlyn Miguel, the PM described the former deputy prime minister (the first woman to serve in this capacity, 2010 to 2015) as “the chaplain of the Cabinet that would always smooth things over and is an assessor of personalities.”

He added that Miguel will be remembered for the “great work” she did in the Ministry of Agriculture (2003 to 2005) and “the phenomenal work in the Ministry of Education (2005 to 2010).” Miguel also served as Minister of Social Development, Cooperatives, the Family, Gender and Ecclesiastical Affairs (2001 to 2003). She was the Member of Parliament for Marriaqua from 1998 to 2015.

“She is very sober in judgement and like Sir Vincent, a social democrat to the core. Very progressive…dedicated and loves people”, said the PM.

Miguel also contributed to the education system as a teacher for 30 years, 13 of these as principal of six primary schools.

In describing Burgin, Gonsalves said that the politician, who won the East St George seat in 2001 and retired in 2015, was usually underrated and underestimated by his political opponents.

“There are some persons whom political opponents underrate and Clayton is one of them, because he moves in an unassuming manner and those more flashy opponents like Stalky (Stanley John) and Linton (Linton Lewis) thought that he is a pushover”, said the PM, who stressed that Burgin was far from being a pushover, as he is one of the best political canvassers he has ever seen.

It was noted that Burgin, who served as Minister of Health from 2012 to 2015, is a qualified teacher in sports and was an active member of civil society.

“…but they also underrated and underestimated Clayton’s scholastic achievement, as he has a Master’s from Manchester University and he knew every single constituency member”, said the PM, who revealed that Burgin, along with Mike Browne, were the architects of the education revolution, “and their work was immense”.

Burgin was also Minister of Transport and Works from 2005 to 2010 and Minister of Housing from 2010 to 2012. He was a teacher from 1973 to 1988 at the Brighton Methodist School.

The PM described Charles as “fiery on the platform.” Charles was Minister of National Reconciliation, the Public Service, Labour, Information and Ecclesiastical Affairs from 2010 to 2015 and, prior to this, served as minister counsellor in the SVG High Commission in the UK from 2007 to 2010. The earlier part of his professional life was spent teaching (1972 to 2007), while he was once principal of the Buccament Bay Secondary School (2005 to 2007).

The PM said that Charles, who won the Central Leeward seat on a ULP ticket in 2010, was instrumental in the distribution of lands at Glebe Hill, with over 200 lots successfully given out.

Alexander has gone down in history as the longest serving Speaker of the House of Assembly.

“He knows the rules, and he has been involved in the house as a Senator and he has also been a general secretary of the Labour Party, so he understands politics,” said PM Gonsalves, who stressed that Alexander knows the Robert’s Rules of Order, “back to front” and, “has made an immense contribution to parliamentary democracy here”

“I agonized in putting to my colleagues that we should consider changing Hendrick”, said Gonsalves.

In closing, the PM said that he is hoping that the honourees/retirees are in places still where they can give of their knowledge and experience.

Also commenting, Minister of Transport and Works and general secretary and campaign manager of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) Julian Francis described the five honourees as, “stalwarts, who have served this country very well.”

Said Francis, “Government is formed when a political party is elected and wins the majority of the seats and while I speak as Minister of Works, I also speak as general secretary (ULP), and these five played very important roles not only at the level of government, but the level of the ULP.”

He said that Sir Vincent, apart from being a former SVG Labour Party member, is one of a few political figures that have been involved in politics for four decades.

“All played a very important role in the functioning of the Government”, stressed Francis.

The function was attended by, among others, Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne, Deputy Prime Minister Sir Louis Straker, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Godfred Pompey and Commissioner of Police Michael Charles.

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