Saturday, October 31, 2009

Independence Goodies

Prime Minister announces independence goodies for Vincentians

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, CMC – St Vincent and the Grenadines Tuesday celebrated its 30th year of political independence from Britain, with Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves announcing a EC$30 million (US$11.1 million) package to assist nationals in the future development of the country.

Gonsalves, addressing the military parade at the Victoria Park, said that the package includes EC$10 million (US$3.7 million) in direct payment, another 10 million in subsidies and the remainder in special works.

He said that a “one-off” payment of EC$200 (US$74) made to pensioners last week amounted to one million dollars (US$370,300) and that more than 6,000 persons receiving public assistance from the government would benefit also from an additional one off payment of EC$200.

Gonsalves said that his administration had spent EC$880,000 (US$325,925) purchasing 16,000 bags of fertilizer to be sold to an estimated 2,000 farmers at a reduced price of EC$55 (US$20.30 cents) per bag “as an independence gift”.

“This is on top the subsidy given two months ago on 14,000 bags” he said, noting that the government would be spending an estimated EC$10 million on rehabilitating roads and buildings.

“It is anticipated that this project would provide employment for over 5,000 people in short term employment,” Gonsalves said noting that more than 800 people would benefit from a land distribution scheme for housing across the country.

“These lands amount to 4.6 million square feet with a total market value in excess of EC$25 million (US$9.25 million). We are going to have a lot of generosity here. We are going to sell the land between 1o cents and EC$1.50 a square foot. The subsidy will be at least EC$15 million (S$5.5 million).

The Prime Minister said that in 2010, he intends to purchase more land to distribute to more people “so that people can get lands for their houses”.

Gonsalves also announced that students who performed well during their exams at the local, regional and international levels would receive a promised EC$500 (US$185).

“But there is a group of 30,000 persons, who represent the future of this country, the children in the primary schools, the children in the secondary schools, the young people in the post secondary institutions…from the ninth of November each of these students will be given a cash payment of EC$200 as a gift.”

“This will cost the Treasury six million dollars (US$2.2 million),” Gonsalves told nationals.

Meanwhile, in his Independence Day message, Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne said he was disappointed that not many people today recognize or even remember “the Vincentian warriors who gallantly fought against overwhelming odds to free this nation from the bondage of slavery and colonialism.

“Sadly today many of these warriors are forgotten and only the names of the outstanding politicians seem to be prominent in our memory.

“But they were only the Generals leading the battle ably supported by dedicated men and women from humble background like my parents and yours who worked diligently to educate their children, tilling the fields, cleaning the houses, pulling the seines all in an effort to build this beautiful country of ours.

“Sadly the story of many of these warriors have never been told or not repeated often enough, resulting in a young population who are unaware of their struggles and who do not fully appreciate the true significance of Independence,” he said.

Sir Frederick said that while the global economic forces have combined to prevent the island attaining its full potential, “we have produced scholars, tradesmen, musicians and artists who have excelled not only locally but internationally.

“We have made outstanding progress in Education, Housing and Health Care Delivery and have impacted significantly on the prevalence of poverty in our island State,” he added.