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Vincentians, be careful when making your choice

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19.MAR.10

EDITOR: If the NDP were ever to win the reins of power in this country in the near future, we shall see a total transformation of this country’s standard of living, which will result in the rich class of society becoming middle class, the middle class becoming poor class and the poor class becoming poorer.{{more}}

I will certainly give Frank the ‘Frankly Speaking’ award for 2009 for making these bold and correct statements wherein he said that the Prime Minister is more compassionate than the Leader of the Opposition. These words make a serious indictment on the Leader of the Opposition and his political organization. These statements must strike a nerve among the public servants, school children and prospective entrepreneurs. For if we do not have a leader with compassion we will see a further decline in our country, wherein the unemployment rate will increase; increase in criminal activity and reduction in standard of living will be further consequences.

The Leader of the Opposition is confusing, to say the least. He is asking for economic stimulus, and when the PM gives one he is complaining about too much spending. My analysis is two-fold, for a leader must be compassionate in order for his policies and programs to make a difference in the lives of his people.

If we were to seriously analyze the performance of the Unity Labour Party in government in an honest and objective way, we cannot but agree that its policies and programs are indeed stemmed from compassion and have improved the lives of all Vincentians, starting from the bottom up, not the top down like in the NDP days of government. Severance payments to estate workers who worked tirelessly; The Education Revolution – giving increased access to secondary education and to university like never before, in just two terms.

The sensible and progressive foreign policy of the ULP is inconceivable for those who are stuck on antiquated ideas and judgments. They are timid – afraid of making decisions, looking over their shoulders. They are indecisive, incapable of running this country and should not be given the opportunity to do so in these challenging times. Their only option is to excite fear in the minds of Vincentians, based on the old and foolish label of communism. Is President Obama a communist for giving an economic stimulus to the American people and for wanting to have dialogue with Iran and Cuba? This labeling is old and worn and should not be entertained. Does anyone really think we will go that route with Dr. Gonsalves who has strengthened democracy more than his predecessors? China is a communist country and one of the superpowers. Is the rest of the world communist to do business with China? Let us grow up and stop insulting our people’s intelligence by suppressing their ambitions and taking them for granted.

The people who are making these charges need to take the beam out of their eyes before they try to take the mote out of other people’s, and clean up their backyards before attempting to clean their neighbours. They ought not to be taken seriously. When they are making noise on the radio call-in programs, just ask them about their records when the NDP was in office.

It is because of these policies that they are locked in a state of denial and they cannot understand the budget and the creative way in which it was crafted to provide for the needs of Vincentians.

The Opposition’s only solution is a recipe for disaster. The Leader of the Opposition is recommending less spending, and who analyses economics without taking into account the economic psychology of the situation? We first need to inspire hope and optimism in citizens so they would not be afraid to invest. Less spending will make matters worse. I firmly believe that when there is economic hardship it is the best time for investment, because there will be great deals available. Financial institutions and business places need to adopt these policies by offering discounts and reducing the lending rate. The idea for businesses should be one of less markup but good turnover, for in the long run it will result in profit rather than loss.

The international airport is the most bold and aggressive programme ever undertaken by any government in our country’s history amidst economic hardship. There are those who are bent on ancient economic theories, which will further retard the country’s growth. The international airport will give tremendous benefits to our country and people. There is the Buccament Bay Resort project. For the first time in our country’s history, we are having a five-star hotel on mainland St. Vincent, after all that was said by certain persons who are bent on suppressing the progress of the people of this country.

The housing programme, which includes 100% mortgages to civil servants, is another innovative project reaping great benefits. In my view, the most important characteristic of a good leader is that he must be compassionate. No matter what credentials and how experienced as an administrator, without compassion he will never be a responsible and successful leader. The Leader of the Opposition is being hailed as a strong economist, but the point we are missing is that without a compassionate leadership policy such an economist chooses money over life, and to balance the budget in economic hard times will result in a drastic reduction in the public service.

In these small and vulnerable countries, which have a weak private sector, the onus is on the government to advance the lives of its people and create employment, which the ULP is seeking to do. The leadership of the NDP has flip-flopped on the international airport which they were opposing, now they are neither here nor there on an airport that will bring direct foreign investment to this country and is the main source thereof. I must question what will the NDP do different to the ULP to bring such investment to St. Vincent and the Grenadines?

The ULP has a track record of being led by a far-sighted and able Prime Minister – able to organize his government and introduce policies from which the grassroots will benefit. This is another quality consistent with compassionate leadership.

To sum up, I assert that a leader must play a most important role to achieve genuine happiness for his people. Good and capable leadership brings a country to peace and prosperity, while a cruel and incapable leader brings his people to the world of suffering and ultimately to ruin. This is what the leadership of the NDP wants to do to this country. Just check their list of candidates.

Ariston Dennie

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