As St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrates its 40th independence anniversary, a Member of Parliament has saluted nationals in New York for their “unwavering support.”
“As our country, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, goes into its 40th year since reclaiming its political independence after colonization by Britain, I want, on behalf of the government and people at home, to salute you in the New York Diaspora for your unwavering support to everything Vincy (Vincentian), and to bring you greetings on behalf of the Hon. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves,” said Sen. Deborah Charles in delivering the keynote address Sunday during the 40th Independence Anniversary Gala Luncheon at Grand Prospect Hall, organized by the umbrella Vincentian group in the United States, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, US.A., Inc. (COSAGO).
Therefore, Charles, who is also Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, took the opportunity to bring a few of the developmental trusts that the Gonsalves-led administration has been undertaking, even as the country prepares to take its place on the seat of the United Nations’ Security Council for 2020-2021.
In that regard, she said the government has increased staff at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Mission to the United Nations, “to boost capacity, while at the same time allowing Ambassador (I. Rhonda) King to continue the pursuit of trumpeting – no pun intended – the name of St Vincent and the Grenadines even louder.”
In an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change on the small-island state, Charles said the administration has embarked on a campaign to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuel.
She said this resulted in the upgrading of the hydro-electric plants in the Richmond, South Rivers and Cumberland; development of a solar farm that powers the entire island of Union in the southern Grenadines (a solar farm is also at the Argyle International Airport and on some government buildings in capital Kingstown); and the recent exploration of geothermal energy on mainland St. Vincent.
“I am happy to announce that a second well has been dug, and the temperature is better than anticipated; permeability and steam are present,” Charles said. “This means the third well will commence digging shortly.”
She said these actions are geared towards ensuring that the country has 80 percent green energy by 2022.
“Not only are we adapting to the vagaries of climate change, but citizens at home would enjoy the benefit of cheaper energy bills,” the Member of Parliament said.
She said that since the commencement of operations at the Argyle International Airport, air travel to the country has seen a rise in visitor arrival.
Similarly, she said there is a rise in cruise ships to the state.
“This has given rise to the consideration of a new port in the city,” Charles said. “Therefore, the process of rehabilitating residents within the immediate area is in motion.”
With sportsmen and women making the country “proud, both at home and abroad,” she disclosed that funding has been secured for the building of the long-anticipated sports stadium at Diamond.
This year, 40 years after the national football (soccer) team of 1979 created history, two members Elliot “Morrie” Millington and Raultie Lowe have been accorded Sporting Ambassadors, along with Ian Sardine and Doris McIntosh. Peggy Carr and Kingsley Hero Roberts are also now cultural ambassadors.
“St. Vincent and the Grenadines is ours to inhabit, to build, to treasure and to leave unspoilt for the next generation,” Charles said. “As we look forward to another 40 years and beyond, we must unite our collective efforts in ensuring policies and programmes that are designed for the advancement of our country, are given necessary support,” she said.
“It is our belief that groups such as COSAGO, the Diaspora Committee, VINCI and others have been doing a great job in keeping the Vincentian community here together,” she added. “May I urge you to continue the upward and onward trust, as together we keep the words of the National Anthem alive: ‘What’er the further brings, our faith will see us true. May peace reign from shore to shore, and God bless and Keep us true.’”
The evening before, in addressing the Heritage Awards and Gala ceremony of the Brooklyn-based SVG Diaspora Committee of New York, Charles urged: “Let not the size of our resource inhibit us. Continue to dream; and, while doing that, give of yourselves to ensure that those dreams are attained.”
Then, she quoted Denzel Washington: “’At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have accomplished, it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you have made better. It’s about what you have given back.’”