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GG praises Government, but says there is ‘still much to be done’

GG praises Government, but says there is ‘still much to be done’


In his Throne Speech to mark the opening of the fifth session of the ninth Parliament, the Governor General lauded the Government for its “sound leadership” through issues affecting the nation, but admitted that there is still much work to be done.{{more}}

On Wednesday, January 28, His Excellency Sir Frederick Ballantyne delivered his presentation at the beginning of the Budget, recounting the progress that has been made over the past year in the various sectors, and outlining improvements still to come.

“So much has been accomplished in so little time that we run the risk of taking it for granted,” he pointed out. “Some thought must, therefore, be given to what it took to surmount the huge obstacles presented…”

Referring to the spate of natural disasters that have struck St Vincent and the Grenadines over the past few years, Ballantyne noted that much of 2014 was spent recovering from these “unprecedented” effects – with the tourism and agriculture industries greatly affected, as well as damage to housing and public infrastructure.

“The task of rebuilding continues as my Government carries out its agenda of restoring lives and livelihoods, reducing vulnerability, and meeting needs of the victims.”

He spoke of the challenges that farmers and other stakeholders have been facing in the agriculture industry, and how the Government “stood firm in its support of the farming community.”

He asserted: “This has inspired greater confidence amongst stakeholders.”

In his speech, the Governor General gave details of the Housing Rehabilitation Programme (which began in early 2014) under which over 100 “high quality” houses were built for those who lost their homes in the recent natural disasters.

He also mentioned that as part of the Government’s mandate to “improve the standard of living and quality of life of the vulnerable and foster social inclusion,” it has also been building homes and improving existing abodes for disabled persons.

The natural disasters also took a toll on the health sector, with much damage suffered by the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH). Subsequently, the CT scanner was replaced and rennovations to the Paediatric Unit have been completed.

Under the 10th EDF Project, several other sections of the MCMH have been refurbished, and the Government is currently in the process of constructing polyclinics at Buccament and Marriaqua. Moreover, work is being done on the medical complex at Georgetown, the Port Elizabeth Hospital in Bequia, the Mental Health Centre at Glen, and the accommodations for medical personnel at Sandy Bay, Chateaubelair, Canouan and Union Island.

The Governor General said: “The sector was able to restore health care to pre-disaster levels, and to effect improvements in some areas.”

He also lauded the Government’s foreign relations policy, which has proven to be integral in SVG’s disaster recovery, describing it as “partnerships with friendly countries that will prove invaluable to our citizens in the near and distant future.”

Mention was also made of NEMO’s revised comprehensive national disaster management strategy, and its revised national volcano emergency response plan, which were both produced through the assistance of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

The Throne Speech also touched on the student laptops scheme, ICT training for teachers, the modernization of the SVG Community College, the Education Development Plan 2014 – 2019, expansion of the Ministry of Social Development, the global threats of Chikungunya and Ebola, the National Health and Nutrition Survey and the completion of the Argyle international aiport.

The Governor General also apologized for being unable to attend the funeral service of those who perished in the Rock Gutter accident, which took place in Fancy last Sunday. He conveyed his condolences to all the bereaved and wished a “swift recovery” for those who had been injured.

“Tragedies such as these are difficult to comprehend,” he lamented. “However, they serve as stark reminders that we need to draw closer to God… We must also live in deeper unity with each other.”(JSV)