Fri 28th Aug 2009

Is Taiwan's 'santa claus' strategy cultivating poverty in the Caribbean

A recent World Bank poverty assessment report on St Lucia has revealed that St Lucia is the second poorest country in the Caribbean behind Haiti. There are three countries in the Caribbean with diplomatic ties with Taiwan: St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia and SVG. These three countries have two common components: they are listed amongst the world's highest indebted countries and they survive from grants and handouts from Taiwan.

What is poverty of the mind? It is a situation where the leaders of a country continually beg rather creative sustainable revenue. They are not able to energise their mental faculties and show initiative and inventiveness towards sustainable development, which is necessary to create a revenue structure within a country.

On the 13th of August 2009, PM Gonsalves in answering a question in Parliament, stated that the public sector bank overdraft at the NCB is 88 million dollars. Three weeks ago, the government decided to help the very poor and brought in a road cleaning programme. After working ten days they were sent home - the programme ended without any explanation.

Without an excessive bank overdraft and handouts from Taiwan, the ULP regime's economic strategy would have collapsed. SVG Green Party has said on numerous occasions that the 2001 Fish Act needs to be amended to bring in a joint venture component. That way, Taiwan, who is earning hundreds of millions dollars annually from our deep sea fishing licence, could contribute millions of dollars annually to the SVG treasury. Periodical handouts given by Taiwan are insulting.

The joint venture approach would also enable SVG to gain the technology needed for twenty-four hour fish harvesting and processing at sea. Rather than assisting us with transfer technology, Taiwan only give handouts, holding back the long-term development of SVG. Twenty eight years in SVG and SVG has not moved on.

SVG is still subordinate and dependent on Taiwan because of the ULP's poverty of the mind. Taiwan's presence is creating indigence within the community and poverty of the mind in the politicians.

The present Deputy PM stated that the present relationship between SVG and Taiwan is like a marriage. The St. Lucian minister for Foreign Affairs was on television last week saying that re-activating the relationship with Taiwan is a big positive for the St Lucian economy.

What is it so positive about Taiwan's presence and our development, that only the politicians are praising the Taiwanese and not the people? The Taiwanese claim to be assisting SVG with agriculture for 28 years, yet agriculture is in decline. They have been harvesting our fish and they have not built a fish processing plant. They have numerous vacancies in their universities, therefore when they offer us a few places, it is not a big deal.

Taiwan's presence here is a serious obstacle to SVG's development. The SVG Treasury is short of funds and it is high time for Taiwan to pay up under a joint venture arrangement in an amended Fish Act.

The people of SVG are being denied a life of financial stability because of poverty of the mind of the ULP regime.

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