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Fri 26th Jul 2013

CDB should invest in high-quality education for the Caribbean youth, not in Liat

SVG Green Party strongly opposes the Caribbean Development Bank's (CDB) loan of US$65m to LIAT to help purchase new aircrafts.

The CDB should have invested the $US65m in the construction of science and technology universities in Eastern Caribbean countries to help young people in the region. Investment in high-quality education for our youth would go a long way in eradicating poverty and helping our young people develop businesses.

Mr Ivan O'Neal, Leader of SVG Green Party, has a BSc hons in Accounting and Finance from Oxford Brookes University, England, a Masters in degree in Budgeting, Macro-economics, policy and planning from Bradford University, England, and a Masters degree in Business Administration from Leicester University, England.

According to Mr Ivan O'Neal, LIAT is its own worst enemy, in operating a high-priced business model in a low-income environment, which has very high rates of unemployment. It is a foolish business strategy by Liat. The CDB should never have approved the US$65 million loan to LIAT.

Liat has been going for 50 years and has never been able stand on its own two feet and make a profit. That fact in itself should tell you that its business model is wrong.

When Liat goes bust, it is the citizens of SVG and the countries that underwrote the loan who will have no choice but to repay the US$65m, plus interest, not the short-sighted policy makers who wrongly approved the US$65m loan to Liat. This means higher taxes, or money that would be spent on our children, being taken away to repay the loan.

The CDB must get its priority right in focusing on high-quality education for our youth and eradicating poverty. Poverty has a substantial negative effect on the education of the children of the poor and the disadvantaged. In the SVG 2013 Common Entrance Exam, policy makers reduced the pass mark for each of the three subjects to a historically low of 33.3%, yet still of the 2314 students who wrote the exam 1024 failed.

Also, in the 2012 Common Entrance Exam, some students got as low as 5% in some subjects. That is a very bad indictment on those who push tourism and unwise loans of US$65 million to LIAT. Education of the Caribbean's youth should be CDB's priority, not tourists.

Tourism is a dead variable and can never be the engine of Caribbean economies. The demise of Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Spain illustrates this clearly.

The CDB was established on 26 January 1970, yet in its 43 years of existence it has not bothered to build any science and technology universities in the eastern Caribbean. Do they really care about the youth of the region?

According to the CDB agreement, the CDB is meant to 'improve the standards of living of their peoples'. Perhaps the CDB should start investing in its peoples by funding education and building universities and funding high-quality education systems for young people.

Pumping money in to Liat and tourism is flogging a dead horse.

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