Prime Minister and Political Leader of the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC), Tillman Thomas has sought to dismiss the propaganda that his government has not done anything for the four-and-a-half years in office.
Addressing a large crowd of supporters at Carlton Junction in St. Andrew’s last week Sunday night, the Prime Minister pointed out that when his party took Office in July 2008, its policies and programmes catered for all sections of the society and looked after the interest of the young people in various ways through Information Communication Technology.
PM Thomas disclosed that video-conferencing was introduced at the T. A. Marryshow Community College so that students in the north of the island and Carriacou were able to follow the programmes taught at the institution.
In addition, he said that community access points were established in a number of villages giving people the opportunity to have access to computers.
“So when they go about saying that we haven’t done anything for our young people the record is there to show that we have done a lot for our young people,” PM Thomas told the gathering.
Agriculture is another area the Prime Minister said his government has given attention.
The Grenadian Leader stated that up to 2009, the average returns from government estates was $140,000.00 but in 2012 it moved up to $443,000.00.
He noted that over 2,500 acres of agricultural land were cleared through the farm labour support.
Prime Minister Thomas told the meeting of party members and supporters that his government has delivered and managed properly in hard economic times, and times of internal challenges within the NDC.
“No one could say we have done anything to make life difficult for the people of this country. We have tried our best to manage efficiently. We have not gotten involved in any corruption or any deals,” he said.
Congress was forced to expel a number of high-ranking members including five elected Members of Parliament in the midst of a deep internal crisis.
The NDC Political Leader told his supporters the message from Carlton Junction is that the victory train of the NDC is unstoppable.
Youth Empowerment and Sports (YES) Minister Patrick Simmons who came out in defense of his Political Leader said he did not get a fair chance to run the country’s affairs.
Simmons told the rally that the global economic crisis played a major role in the government not being able to achieve some of the things that it had liked to do.
In addition, he pointed to a worsening economic crisis, as well as the fact that the country had a huge national debt, which he described as being a millstone around the neck of Grenadians.
Simmons recalled that when the New National Party (NNP) of Keith Mitchell got into office in 1995 it met a national debt of a mere $375m, and that debt was brought to $1.8 billion when it was removed from power in 2008.
The senior government minister said the NDC Government made a payment of $350 million last year alone as part of debt repayment.
Simmons said due to the servicing of the national debt, this affected government’s plan to work on more capital projects.
He warned that had the government refused to service the national debt, the country’s credit rating would have been affected.
“If we were not in a position to pay, then the Grenville Market Project would not have been a reality, the Feeder Road project would not have been a reality, the schools’ rehabilitation project would not have been a reality,” he said.
The St. Andrew’s South-east Member of Parliament also said the infighting within the government prevented the Prime Minister from getting a fair chance to run the nation’s affairs.
PM Thomas reportedly faced stiff opposition from a pro-Peter David block of Ministers within his Cabinet.
The group was said to be pro-Casino gambling and wanted the Prime Minister to commit Grenada into full-fledged membership of the Venezuelan-funded ALBA arrangement, which sought to challenge the U.S dominance in the Caribbean region.
Simmons told the NDC supporters that he would not like to relive what happened in November 2010 when some former NDC Ministers including David and Glynis Roberts, the current leader of a new political party, refused to stand up for democracy by taking the Oath of Office in the reassignment of ministerial portfolios.
He said now that the NDC has a new and stronger team of Candidates that recognise who is the captain of the ship of State, they are ready for the challenge to lead the country once more.
According to the St. Andrew South East Candidate, since the NDC took Office in July 2008, the opposition NNP has been making unfair comparison between what happened in one hundred days to what happened in their 13-year rein.
The YES Minister reported on what was done for the youth.
He said in the past four years, his ministry had engaged over 2,500 young persons in the apprenticeship programme, providing them with $700.00 each and job placement.
He added that over $500,000.00 was provided to 25 young people to start their own business and more than 700 scholarships have been provided to the young people to further their education.
Through the Youth Upliftment Programme, over 900 young persons had the opportunity to write CXC Subjects.
Simmons said in order for the NDC to continue to build on what it has started, the electorate must return the incumbent into Office.
Senior Government Minister Alleyne Walker claimed that while they have been trying to go forward there were always NNP elements working in the various government ministries trying to hamper the progress.
Walker is optimistic that based on the foundation that has been put in place, now is the time for take off.
“I want you to look at what your government is doing, we are working for you in spite of what people are saying,” he said.
Another NDC Candidate, Sylvester Quarless said it was not an easy task over the last four years to marry the commitment given and the demands of the people.
Quarless stressed that despite the prevailing financial reality, the government had managed to weather the storm and delivered in good measure on the promises that were made to the electorate in the last election.
Some of the major achievements of the Thomas-led Congress government were the free school books programme which has benefitted 26,000 children at a cost of $13m, the Greater Grenville Project at $34m, a wind farm project in Carriacou, and land reclamation in Petite Martinique for the rebuilding of a playing field.