Thu 14th Dec 2006
Christmas is the occasion when we Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is also an important occasion when we manage our differences and show love and kindness to our brothers and sisters.
However, we live in a global world and it is crucial that we protect and preserve the environment in which we live. Year after year, we see evidence of increased poverty and inequity in our country, brought on by unbalanced development. For example, the introduction of universal secondary education before making primary school education compulsory, adversely impacts children of poor and low-income families. This unfair education strategy is the brain child of the ULP government, who hypocritically claim to be a government of and for the poor. We need to urgently correct this wicked strategy to promote sustainable development for all.
The year 2007 promises to be tough with spiralling high costs of living coupled with the erosion of the spending power of the poor. The introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) on electricity is one more nail in the coffin of the poor. The SVG Green Party strongly opposes and condemns VAT on electricity. Why? Vinlec has a monopoly on electricity and hence the power to charge whatever it likes for electricity. On top of the inflated electricity price it also charges a surcharge. It is daylight robbery for the ULP regime to charge VAT on already overpriced and over-surcharged electricity.
VAT chokes off savings and disposable income in the economy. VAT will put significant pressure on the poor and low-income families, who under the present circumstances can hardly afford electricity. VAT will increase poverty and destitution amongst the poor and adversely affect the introduction of small businesses.
Crown lands are an important legacy for the people of SVG. It allows future generations of Vincentian citizens the ability to live and prosper in their homeland. It keeps out gated-community and homogenous enclaves of foreigners. SVG Green Party policy remains the same: as from March 2005 any lands sold to foreigners will be repossessed under a Green Party government without the purchaser being reimbursed. The lands will be redistributed for the use of Vincentian citizens.
Freedom of speech is an important facet in our democratic country. The ULP regime will not succeed in its attempt to muzzle the SVG Green Party which is the voice of the people. The SVG Green Party will keep up the fight to promote true democracy in SVG and ensure that every citizen can freely and openly criticise government.
With almost 6 years in office the ULP regime still has little idea of how to create a flourishing economy. This fact is clearly illustrated by
- the escalating national debt (EC$1.06 billion) running away from national revenue;
- the selling of crown lands in an attempt to keep a sinking economy afloat;
- VAT on electricity;
- a whole succession of new laws which see Vincentians paying fine upon fine;
- a farcical plan to build an international airport at Argyle which is a misfit to the SVG economy and would be a monumental drain on the empty SVG Treasury.
A Vincentian government is meant to boost the livelihoods of Vincentians, not push them further into poverty. The ULP regime is trying to compensate for its economic incompetence by reaching in to our wallets. Will 2007 be the year remembered as a time when it was too expensive to turn the light on, too expensive to drink water, too expensive to build a shelter over our heads, Vincentians had their land sold from underneath them, Vincentians were gagged from speaking out and the ULP government finally bankrupted the Treasury and debt became unserviceable. Only time will tell, but you have the power to stop this misery in its tracks before it becomes too expensive to live.
SVG Green Party wishes everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Ivan O'Neal BSc(Hons), MSc, MBA, Leader and Co-founder of SVG Green Party.