ST. VINCENT:- The opposition New Democratic Party on Saturday, Oct. 9, spoke of a “Vision 2020” for St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), including employment for at least one resident of each of the nation’s 33,000 households.
“Nobody must go to sleep hungry and wake [up] hungry without hope of feeding the mouths in that house,” NDP Vice-President and candidate for Central Kingstown, Senator St. Clair Leacock said at a party rally in Trigger Ridge.
“The New Democratic Party will do that for you, the people of this constituency. The truth be told, what we really want for St. Vincent is a better St. Vincent. We want to be more comfortable — less fear. We are not living on anybody’s estate and we need to rid ourselves of that,” he said.
“We start by saying your health comes before your wealth. A healthy nation is a wealthy nation and we must have a modern state-of-the-art hospital for you in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Leacock said.
He told party supporters that the NDP was not “stuck in its ways”, adding, “Our policies are not cast in concrete that we don’t listen to you the people.”
Leacock said the NDP, which lost the 2001 and 2005 general elections after 17 continuous years in office, had “revised our policy position on housing”. (Go to the homepage to subscribe to I Witness-News)
“And, even though we might be late to come into the game, the New Democratic Party will also build low-income houses for people when it gets into office,” he said.
The Gonsalves led Unity Labour Party (ULP) has trumpeted its low-income housing programme, which saw the government constructing hundreds of houses for Vincentians, with mortgage financing through local commercial banks.
“But, when we say low, we mean low. You can’t borrow $80,000 and pay back $256, 000 and call that low-income housing. We will finance it through the [Caribbean] Development Bank and we will cap or limit the money that you have to pay back so that it is within your means,” Leacock said.
He further said that an NDP administration would remove restriction that prohibit persons from selling or remodelling the houses before the mortgage is repaid in full.
‘Special developmental needs’
Leacock said that Trigger Ridge “has special developmental needs”.
“People in Trigger Ridge need title for their lands, as in other parts of the constituency. … They need access to their homes, back wall assistance, steps, water; they still need lighting in many areas and they still need an improved road network to get to their homes. You know, sometime we really don’t understand what the life is for people in these communities,” Leacock said of the constituency he hopes to represent in Parliament.
He said residents of the area often have to pay the equivalent of the cost of a truckload of building material to transport the material from the main road to their construction site. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
“It is sheer perseverance to build a house in these conditions and you will never get the value for that house because of where you live, and, sometimes, you don’t have the title. We, perhaps, as a government, will have to find ways to assist them,” he said.
Leacock further said the NDP was already meeting with a foreign embassy in Kingstown to discuss with them the NDP’s basic needs approach.
Leacock made the case for the NDP’s candidates for the three Kingstown seats.
Leacock will again try to win Central Kingstown for the NDP, having lost by 16 votes to the ULP’s Conrad Sayers during his first attempt in 2005.
Senator Daniel Cummings will make his second attempt to win in West Kingstown, having lost to Rene Baptiste by 35 votes in 2005.
NDP President and Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace, is making a bid for a fourth consecutive term as the representative for East Kingstown.
The ULP has fielded new candidates for all three of the Kingstown seats, namely Rhode Scholar Luke Browne in East Kingstown, teacher Elvis Charles in Central Kingstown and lawyer Michelle Fife in West Kingstown.
“You really believe in Central Kingstown, in Trigger Ridge in Redemption Sharpes, that Luke Browne, Elvis Charles, and Michelle Fife will better represent you that Eustace, Leacock, and Cummings?” Leacock told party supporters, who responded “No!”
“These are people some of them don’t even know what it is like to have a family as yet. I mean I don’t say that disrespectfully. I don’t say that they are not young, bright, intelligent people, without a future. Of course they do. But I also say in the same breath, I don’t care how bright you are, there are some things you’ll only learn in life with the passage of time; because time is the greatest teacher. We have paid our dues. We in the New Democratic Party are … an institution of great promise and credibility,” Leacock said.