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The case for the ULP

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There are three reasons why the ULP should be returned to office. Firstly, they have a good team. Secondly, they have performed. Last but by no means least, they have a competent leader.

Nearly all the ULP candidates have higher education and in a wide range of fields: agriculture, education, law, medicine and political science. But degrees and diplomas are not all; academic qualifications need to be leavened by experience. Most of the candidates practised in their various fields for many years prior to entering government. Having been in government for four years they now also have experience in statecraft.{{more}}

Of the three Cabinets in which I have been privileged to sit, the incumbent one has been by far the most harmonious. Now that we have a good team working serenely together it would be madness to change it. One term is never sufficient and the people of SVG know it. They gave the NDP three consecutive terms, bad as they were, and before that they did the same for the Labour Party. So much for teamwork, we can now turn to the question of performance.

One of the basic principles of sound management is that you should reward the doers. The ULP has performed and should be rewarded with another term in office. This would not only allow them to complete unfinished business but also enable them to embark on new ventures. The achievements of the party have been fully documented in its manifesto. Here attention is drawn to four.

Unless we have law and order we can do nothing and without a jail, law and order cannot be maintained. The ULP, by carefully selecting the senior staff, by improving the training of all prison officers and by starting to build a new prison, has ensured that there is a properly functioning penal system.

In their 17 years in office the NDP built no low-income houses. They were merely involved in the fiasco at Diamond and in allowing a minister to buy a house at Campden Park which had been built with aid funds from the British Government. In no self respecting country would such a dastardly act have been permitted. The ULP has built 350 low income houses in their short time in office. This statement cannot possibly be gainsaid for the physical evidence is there for all to see 365 days of the year.

So crucial is electricity to economic development that it is often used as a proxy to measure growth. When the ULP moved to sort out Vinlec it was felt that there would be even more blackouts. This has not been the case. Instead more electricity has been generated and the ULP has already started to build SVG’s biggest ever power station. Fuel for the facility will be secured under the PetroCaribe Agreement.

Resources to undertake the acquisition of land as well as the earthworks for the Argyle airport, about 60 percent of total cost, are more or less in place. The decision to buy the Argyle properties with the proceeds from the sales of some crown lands is clever. The lands include what will be the former Arnos Vale airport. Lying as it does next to an already congested Kingstown this is probably the most valuable piece of real estate on mainland SVG. As it will not be possible to completely synchronize the land purchases and the land sales the plan to have the NIS provide bridging finance is an ingenious one.

The Cubans and Venezuelans are providing not only finance but, equally important, expertise for the earthworks. Whereas we had been feeling our way they have come with at least ten experts and plunged right into the project. They are now helping us to do the necessary wind, geological and topographical studies. They have undertaken to have the design ready in six months. After this, provided we have managed to acquire all the properties required, the earthworks will start forthwith. They know that we need all the help we can get. Cuba’s Minister of Aviation has therefore been detailed to visit us every month to monitor our progress. He himself has built seven airports. Let us not fool ourselves on this one; without the Comrade we would not have got this far. We all know of his longstanding friendship with the Cubans. We turn now to the issue of leadership.

A good leader must have many attributes. Space constraints permit me to focus only on three of the more important ones…

He must love and live what he does. No one has ever accused the Comrade of being a reluctant politician. On the contrary, he puts so much of his heart and soul into what he does that one fears for his health.

A good leader must have vision. The Comrade’s has been elaborated so often that we all know it by heart. It is a well-educated populace and an economy based mainly on services, in particular tourism. This is what the Argyle Airport, the trans-island road and the projects at Buccament, Mt. Wynn and Rabacca are all about.

A good leader must follow through. This is precisely why the Comrade has set up the Cabinet Committee on the Economy and the Committee to monitor the statutory bodies.

The Comrade is not perfect but let him who is without fault cast the first stone. Vote Labour.

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