Fri 24th Oct 2008

The political independence of St. Vincent and the Grenadines: is it a blessing or a challenge?

St Vincent and the Grenadines, prior to independence, was one of the most productive islands in the Caribbean. Environmentally, it was the most tranquil. Our exports far exceeded our imports and we supplied all the other islands with food. Productivity was so high that workers from Barbados were queueing up to find work in SVG. In terms of tranquility, a ten year old child could walk from point A to point B without the fear of being molested. Crime was under control and opportunities were equitable.

Pre-independence political leaders were genuinely concerned about the plight of the poor and were nation builders, who were always fighting the wealthy to regain the heritage of our lands. Since independence we have seen a new trend where lands have been transferred to some of our people without the financial assistance to develop a proper agricultural industry or revitalise rural economies.

SVG Green Party contends that since independence there has been no proper cohesive plan developed with well defined goals and objectives for the agricultural sector, a fisheries industry, a proper health service, and more importantly, an education strategy to propel SVG into becoming a leader in the region and the world. Our biggest error was to invite Taiwan to our shores 27 years ago. How could a country, such as ours, have a long term vision and education plan without our own university as part of the plan?

There is a reason why we have a constant brain drain. We have not risen to the challenges that have faced us since independence. The biggest of them all is revenue creation through creative innovation. Where are our industries? We cannot build a strong nation and a strong economy without our own source of revenue, generated from indigenous resources. All of the post-independence leaders have resorted to the begging bowl. The most glaring of all is Ralph Gonsalves. We have not exploited our fish potential, our sports potential, our water and our aggregates.

There are three components in our country - people, land and water. All of the post-independence leaders have been fooling around on the 150 square miles of land with their main focus wrongly directed on tourism as the engine of SVG economy. They gave away the gold, the 10,000 square miles of sea space to foreigners for their own exploitation. Properly skilling and educating the population has never been treated as a priority.

The present collapse of the US economy should send a clear message to us that we need to take a new direction in building our nation. Our economy has to be multi sector, multi-variable and export driven. Education has to be science and technology oriented. We need to urgently create at least a half a billion dollars in revenue from fish, to invest in industry, job creation, education, health, crime prevention and poverty eradication.

Only a Green government has the economic intelligence to deliver SVG from this squalor of crime, unemployment, VAT, poverty and high bills to a state of peace, compassion and wealth. A Green government will improve your lives and alleviate the problems created by the incompetent ULP regime.

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