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Leaders we have had and their impact on SVG

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Editor: Robert Milton Cato is saluted as the father of our nation. I’ve heard glowing commentaries of his life and times as Chief Minister, Premier and Prime Minister. Of note would be his foresight in the establishing of the National Commercial Bank and undertaking the reclamation in Kingstown. He steered our country from statehood to independence and had to deal with the eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano and the repercussions which followed, in particular the damage to the agriculture industry.{{more}}

Sir James Mitchell was a man who was loved by the people. His initial tactics in the political arena proved to be masterstrokes which led to his prime ministership. Our country seemed to have made strides under his watch, but as is evidenced now, there was no “future think” in the New Democratic Party. There was no plan put in place for the manufacturing industry. I wish we had updated our producing technology in the areas of arrowroot, sugar and cooking oil. There was no plan put in place after the removal of preferential treatment for former colonies in bananas on the European market. There clearly was no plan for tourism, given the lacklustre approach to the construction of an international airport in St Vincent and the Grenadines, even though the Cruise Ship Berth was constructed (and this is commendable). It is common knowledge within and without that an international airport is not a want, but a definite need if we are to continue to progress and develop as a country.{{more}} I need not say anything about the legacy of corruption which still leaves a bad taste in our mouths, from Ottley Hall to the NCB. Thankfully these institutions seem to have rebounded with promise to grow and develop.

Then came Arnhim U Eustace who many praise as being a good technocrat. His stint at our country’s helm was short-lived, not enough to make any real impact on our development as a nation. But if that was disappointing, the years that followed with him as Leader of the Opposition, well, the less said the better. It is marked by extremely low standards in radio talk show programmes, resulting in several lawsuits for slander. It is marked by extremely poor representation in Parliament if any at all. It is marked by a total abdication of constitutional duty in his failure to convene the Public Accounts Committee. It is marked by a failure to make solid proposals for the taking of our country forward, and the failure to position the NDP as a viable alternative to the ULP. One can remember the last minute press conference to announce that the NDP will create 20,000 jobs if it wins office in 2010. If my memory serves me well, at this same press conference the NDP proposed to complete the international airport when Mr Eustace, not too long before, had made known his inability to find any funds to made complete it.

I cannot mention how disappointed I was at the occurrences at the recent town hall meeting in New York. Because whilst my allegiance for obvious reasons lies elsewhere, one would’ve hoped that the Hon Opposition Leader would not have embarrassed us as a nation like he did then. Once again, we are the laughing stock of the Caribbean. I cannot tell which was worse, the obviously uninformed pronouncement of Honorary Citizenship for all Garifunas, or the refusal to seize the opportunity and show us your leadership ability in smartly answering the questions posed. Maybe it is yet early days and we might just get a response to the Open Letter penned by yours truly and published on social media and in our newspapers.

To speak of Dr Ralph E Gonsalves would probably take a series of articles. I’ve said time and again that the ULP under the stewardship of Dr Gonsalves taught Vincentians what government should be like and I’d echo that sentiment again. St Vincent is vastly more developed than it was in 2001. I shall go into more detail in a subsequent article. As you obviously wind down your tenure as Prime Minister, on behalf of the citizens of our beautiful and blessed nation, we say a heartfelt thank you.

Kezron JS Walters

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