St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves says the multi-island nation has, over the decades of political independence, and particularly over the last 20 years, experienced “a deep and far-reaching socio-economic transformation, which has resulted in vast improvements to the standard of living and the quality of life” of nationals.
“The policies, which have driven this strategic and well-conceptualised transformation, are rooted in social inclusiveness, equitable access to state resources and services, poverty alleviation and gender equality,” said Gonsalves in a message to nationals, published Sunday in the souvenir journal of the Brooklyn-based Vincentian-American Independent National Charities, Inc. (VINCI) during its 36th Annual Gala and Awards Ceremony and 40th Independence Anniversary celebration at El Caribe Country Club in Brooklyn.
“Further, these policies have fostered the participation of all Vincentians, including youth, women and girls, the elderly, the disabled, the working class, and individuals from all ethnic and socio-economic sub-groupings,” he added.
“Many of our citizens who originate from social groupings, which had previously suffered discrimination and marginalisation as a result of prejudices perpetuated by colonial, patriarchal and other types of pernicious discourse, have been supported in achieving success in a vast range of disciplines and endeavours,” the prime minister continued. “As a result, they now occupy their chosen spaces with well-earned confidence, commanding the attention of the region and the world.”
He said this is, perhaps, best reflected and symbolised in the country’s election to a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, “proving that, as a people, we refuse to be circumscribed by size, limited natural resources, vulnerabilities to multiple and diverse threats, and the legacies of a history significantly shaped by slavery and colonialism.
“Our spirits are buoyed by our successes to date, and remain undaunted by the current threats facing us and the huge tasks, which lie ahead, as we forge ahead with focus, renewed vigour and commitment to the development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and its people,” Gonsalves said.
But, overall, he said the country’s myriad achievements all flow from God’s grace and favour, “generously bestowed upon this nation and its people.
“While we are not always faithful on our service to Him, He remains ever-faithful to us,” the Vincentian leader said. “He has spared us from disasters and catastrophes, naturally occurring and otherwise, and has given us the means to rise above adversities, setbacks and limitations.
“We are grateful!” he stressed.
Luke Browne, the Rhodes scholar and minister of health, told patrons Sunday that St. Vincent and the Grenadines 40th anniversary of political independence from Great Britain, which is actually commemorated on Oct. 27, encompasses 40 years of “going strong.”
“It’s been 40 years of progress, 40 years of development,” he said in his keynote address. “We have been able to open an international airport.
“Right now, many things are happening, including construction of hotels,” said Browne, citing, among other things, the recent launch of the Marriott hotel, the pioneering of the medical marijuana industry and the establishment of a geothermal site.
“And the cream of the crop has to do with St. Vincent and the Grenadines as the smallest nation to join the United Nations Security Council,” he added. “This is monumental. Almost all of the countries commended St. Vincent and the Grenadines and its achievement.”
After lauding VINCI for its community work, the health minister called for the establishment of a think tank to consolidate Diaspora engagement.
“This is a time when the Diaspora can create ways of structural engagement,” he said. “There’s a natural affinity between Vincentians at home and Vincentians in the Diaspora. I believe there should be a think tank, there should be business investment.”
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