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Issues to consider when election bell rings

Issues to consider when election bell rings

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Editor: We are in the middle of the silly season in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as we approach the general elections, and we are hearing much rhetoric coming from the two main political parties, the NDP and the ULP.

When the bell is rung and the elections are called, we will have to make a choice on which of the two parties is best equipped to deal with the many problems we face. {{more}}

Do we want to continue with the programmes initiated and/or proposed by the ULP or do we want to return to the NDP who promises to offer a new team which would govern in a different manner from the way they did from 1984 to 2001?

This week the biggest issue being discussed is the construction of an international airport on mainland St. Vincent and so I would like to look at the positions of the two parties.

The ULP stated that at the mid-point of their current term in office that they established a committee, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, to explore (1) the possibilities for funding the construction of an international airport without substantially increasing the national debt and (2) the best alternative for constructing the airport given the numerous studies commissioned by both the NDP and the ULP Administrations.

A state-owned company was formed and Mr. Tyrone Ballah was assigned to work full-time as project manager. It has also been reported in the media during the past two years, that as a result of consultation held in various capitals, the government had the commitment of a number of government to assist with the construction of the said airport.

The Prime Minister and the ULP argue that the international airport is vital for sustained economic growth for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I am clear on the position of the government, who for the reasons stated above, have been focused for the past two years on the construction of an international airport to be completed in a second term. I must admit that my confusion on this matter is with the NDP.

In 2000, while in office as Prime Minister, Arnhim Eustace, President of the NDP, on different occasions gave conflicting views on the need for an international airport. On one occasion, he spoke eloquently about the necessity for the international airport to aid in the development of the country. On another occasion, he spoke of the difficulties, including cost, associated with constructing the airport and ruled it out as not being viable.

I am concluding that as Prime Minister, interested in building an international airport, Arnhim Eustace was conflicted by his and his advisors inability to develop a strategy to overcome problems and construct the international airport. In recent months, as it became apparent that the ULP Administration was completing a plan for constructing an international airport, the position of the NDP has become very confusing and one might argue that it is because we are in the silly season. In NDP speaks, they once again affirmed their position that the airport was necessary.

However, members of the executive (not Mr. Eustace) have been speaking out on Nice Radio against the need for an international airport, saying that it would be a white elephant and that the Government is just proposing this as a election gimmick.

What is the true position of the NDP? Can it be that in their desire to regain the reigns of government that the NDP is prepared to say and do anything?