Articles

Mon 24th Jan 2005

Best way forward

PRESS RELEASE - SVG GREEN PARTY

Ivan O'Neal and others have formed 'SVG Green Party' to contest the next general election in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

The electoral office has approved the Telephone as the symbol for SVG Green Party to be used at the next general election and beyond.

We in SVG Green Party are concerned at the likely collapse of the SVG economy. With the national debt of $857 million - which is almost twice that of SVG annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - and a large deficit on the economy, it is clear that the SVG economy is under the management of a weak team, bankrupt of ideas and innovation, to create wealth and sustainable jobs for our youth. The government has lost the public's confidence in their ability to ably stimulate the economy.

Eucation. SVG continues to have a high level of illiteracy. The ULP regime's ineffective strategy of universal secondary education, has failed to help eradicate illiteracy, and hence and poverty. Whilst teachers do their best, 55 per cent of the children in SVG do not receive the full complement of primary education.

Electricity. The astronomical high price of electricity is causing great hardship to low-income families. It also chokes-off their ability to save and hence stimulation of investment in the economy. The Government seem to have taken no steps to changing this plague on the poor.

Fishing industry. Deep-sea fishing in the Atlantic Ocean offers the greatest opportunity to bring in the revenue needed to build an international airport in St Vincent. The NDP and ULP regimes seem oblivious to this very important source of revenue. The potential revenue from the fish industry is projected to be over $1 billion annually, significantly out-stripping the combined revenue tourism and bananas.

Crime. The increase in serious crimes such as murders and gun-crime, in the last decade, has pushed people from a position of living in tranquility to living in fear. This worrying increase in crime shows that the society and the economy are moving in the wrong direction! Unemployment.

Unemployment still lingers unacceptably high at around 48 per cent. Only one in ten students gets a job within six months of leaving school. After nearly 4 years the ULP regime has shown that they do not have the ability to create new jobs. HIV and AIDS.

HIV and AIDS continue to rise at an alarming rate. 'By October, there were 96 new cases in 2004', and these just the reported ones, according the Chief Medical Officer. It is apparent that the ULP's policy on fighting HIV and AIDS is ineffective at reducing the rate of increase of infection.

Watershed destruction. SVG Green Party does not support the construction of the cross-country road for environmental reasons. It believes that this project will result in irreversible, long-term damage to the watersheds for SVG's supply of fresh, drinking water.

Air Pollution. The air in capital Kingstown is polluted. SVG Green Party is concerned at the long-term health implications, especially for children and elderly people. It seems that the ULP and NDP have disregarded this health hazard and have let the air that we all breathe become so polluted.

The bottom line is that both the NDP and ULP regimes are bankrupt of ideas and policies to take the SVG economy forward. The ULP in particular have so many weaknesses in managing SVG's economy that it is difficult to identify any strengths.

SVG GREEN PARTY - THE BEST WAY FORWARD

We, in SVG Green Party, strongly believe that in order to successfully manage the affairs of SVG, we must first successfully manage the economy as a going concern. When elected, SVG Green Party will positively stimulate the economy by focusing on increasing export and significantly reducing the present high capital expenditure on non-tradeables.

SVG's right to fish in the Atlantic Ocean is an excellent opportunity to earn over a billion dollars in revenue annually. SVG Green Party will cancel all fish licences given to 'flag of convenience' foreign vessels, and replace these licences with joint-venture agreements. Under the SVG Green Party government, all deep-sea fishing ships would have a fifty per cent Vincentian crew and there will be the potential of transfer technology in deep-sea fishing techniques. More importantly, half the revenue earned by each ship will come to the SVG treasury. This has been a missed opportunity under the NDP and ULP to earn billions of dollars to stimulate the economy.

In the 1940s there was informal immigration to Aruba and Curacao. In the 1960s and 1970s there was informal immigration to England, Canada and the USA. This informal export of human capital (labour) helped the SVG economy, especially the construction industry, through remittances. The SVG Green Party supports the policy of export of qualified human capital. There is a big global demand for formal human capital export. SVG Green Party will improve the present education and training facilities to provide the necessary skills to persons who wish to work abroad. But given the incentives to return on contractual basis to input their and experience in the economy.

In order to boost export and tourism SVG needs a proper international airport in St. Vincent. SVG Green Party will use revenue from Atlantic Ocean fishing industry to finance the construction of an international airport.

Research shows that the early years of education are crucial to the long-term development of a child. Whilst in government, the SVG Green Party will provide free pre-school education and introduce compulsory primary education. Education is a universal right -we shouldn't fail the children of the poor any longer!

SVG Green Party will focus on alternative sources of energy to oil, such as, wind, water and solar. It will abolish VINLEC's electricity monopoly and fuel surcharge, set up a National Grid to sell electricity and reduce the price of electricity by 50 per cent over five years. All producers of electricity will be contracted to sell to the national grid and the national grid will sell to the nation.

SVG Green Party will provide support and facilities to re-ignite the manufacturing sector. SVG has much potential for the export, including paper produced from bamboo, water and agro-processing, such as mint and lemon-grass herbal teas.

SVG Green Party believes that inequalities in society are a significant factor in the causes of crime. It will provide sustainable employment, better skills training and education, and an enhanced living environment, such as piped water and cheaper electricity at a lower rate for low-income families, free preschool and free mediation services to resolve neighbourhood disputes.

Taiwan and SVG's 22 years relationship has shown no significant benefit to the overall development of our country. Taiwan gets more from us than we get from Taiwan. In government, SVG Green Party will cut ties with Taiwan and create ties with mainland China. SVG will be better-off financially and economically forming relations with China and there is a much larger potential market. All Caribbean countries that have cut ties with Taiwan and created ties with China, have received far greater support from China than we have ever received from Taiwan. The NDP and ULP are unable to cut ties with Taiwan for reasons given above.

The continued increase in the number of those infected by HIV and AIDS is a serious cause of concern to the SVG Green Party. It will set up a structured, scientific approach, particular to SVG, to measure the environments in which HIV and AIDS are spread. Based on the findings, we will fine tune our policies to reduce the rate of infection and provide better support for infected people. We have good reasons to believe that the wrong variable are being concentrated on, focus should be on the environment in which the increase is most rampant, rather than the hap-hazard method of approach.

The protection and preservation of the watershed is paramount to long-term health of the environment, our people, and our future generations. SVG Green Party will take the ULP regime to the High Court when the ULP publicly announces the route for construction of the middle-section of the Cross Country Road development. In government, the SVG Green Party will strengthen laws to protect and preserve the nation's environment.

The extent of air pollution in Kingstown is unacceptable. The SVG Green Party will install air pollution monitors in the capital, to measure high and low periods and extent of air pollution. The SVG Green Party will use the findings to create policies to provide Kingstown's residents, workers and visitors, better, good-quality air at acceptable levels as agreed by the World Health Organisation.

Copyright of Ivan O'Neal BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA.

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