KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) yesterday confirmed that its leadership recently visited Antigua were it met with potential investors in this country.
The confirmation came on radio from NDP Vice-President and Central Kingstown Representative Major St. Clair Leacock.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told reporters on Monday that he had “impeccable” intelligence that the NDP leadership met in Antigua two weeks ago with NDP financiers interested in an economic citizenship programme here.
The NDP financier, he said, would fund a no-confidence motion in his 14-month-old, one-seat majority government, said Gonsalves, whose Unity Labour Party administration discontinued the economic citizenship programme when it came to office in 2001.
“It is quite within the realms of legitimacy for us to explore every rational, legitimate means to bring and improved income stream to this economy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. If we don’t so it, then the people of the country suffers badly,” Leacock said of economic citizenship. He further said there is “no sin in examining a citizenship programme here”.
“It is no secret for us to say that the leadership of the New Democratic Party went to Antigua recently,” he said, adding that the leadership of the NDP leaving this country together for the same destination will send up a red flag among the state intelligence gatherers.
“… from the time we sign our immigration form at E.T. Joshua Airport, the Special Branch will call the Prime Minister and say ‘Mr. Eustace, Mr. Leacock, Dr. Friday, Vynnette Friday and the treasurer of the party are at the airport and they are departing to a destination’,” he said.
“We are intelligent to know that but we don’t participate, as a party, in clandestine activities. We are not in illicit activities. We don’t have suitcases coming here from military planes and have people parked on the tarmac at E.T. Joshua Airport and defy customs procedures and bring money into the economy.
“We don’t deposit million-dollar cheques into a bank account and don’t say where it come from. You have never seen or heard the Director of Audit indicate in the audit reports that so many accounts are unexplained for. We have always been above board with what we are doing,” Leacock said of the party that governed this country for 17 years and was voted out of office amidst accusations of corruption.
“The facts of the Antiguan visit [are] that we are a real party, we deal with flesh and blood issues and we understand [that], sooner rather than later, we will be government,” Leacock further said of the party that lost the 2001, 2005, and 2010 elections – although it came one seat shy of victory in the 2010 vote.
“We can’t wait either until an election bell rings or, alternatively, as it is inevitable, we assume the reins of government in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to begin to scratch whatever little hair we have on our head or comb out the grey hairs, as they are coming into my face now, to say what are we going to do for the people of ‘St. Vincent and the Grenadines?’” he said.
He said the NDP leadership has bent their backs and put themselves to work for a long time, produced a practical manifesto, which, on the economic side, is in keeping with the provisions of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank, and other leading financial institutions.
“But hope without work is dead and, therefore, we don’t go and turn on the tap to get water unless you were building a dam. And this is the time to do that kind of spade work,” he said.
He said the Antigua visit was to ensure that an NDP administration can fulfil its election manifesto promises and to cement discussions with international investors.
“I can say and reaffirm categorically now that you put a New Democratic Party government in office tomorrow and the level of foreign direct investment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will increase significantly and you will see within a short time, a significant increase in job opportunities for Vincentians because the moneyed-interest, who believe in the democratic tradition, as we are committed to in the New Democratic Party, are prepared to bring the money here and invest in very many agencies, airport development included if it is necessary, and ensure that we not only can balance our budgets but we can have the surplus provisions there and strong public sector investment programmes and capital programmes, that … things that matter to people are realised,” he said.
He described Gonsalves’ ULP government as a “left leading administration that is leaning even further to the left and at a clip such that people are not bringing there monies onshore in the levels, in the quantum, that is necessary for impacting in a positive and meaningful way in the lives of people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
“That is what we went to Antigua for. And if it is that any programme that is self-respecting and legitimate and does not impact negatively on the sovereignty of our people, would enhance the lives of the working people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, well the New Democratic Party doesn’t have to hang its head in shame. We are going to pursue all and every legitimate means, respectful means to enhance our people’s lives,” he further said.
Leacock lauded the success of economic citizenship programme in St. Kitts and Nevis and said other countries in the Caribbean, including Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada are considering such a programme.