Articles

Fri 26th Sep 2014

Argyle airport - no foundation for a strong economy and jobs

The Argyle airport project is an economic delusion and is no foundation for a strong economy and the creation of thousands of new jobs. No cost – benefit analysis has ever been produced to show the public that the hundreds of millions of dollars thrown away at Argyle will actually boost the SVG economy.

The construction process of Argyle has wasted hundreds of acres of agricultural land, impoverished and displaced farmers, displaced many other people, caused extensive pollution and dragged the SVG economy down so much that poverty is high, unemployment is high and the ULP regime has been forced to go begging to the IMF.

Many countries in the Caribbean region have had an international airport for decades and focused on tourism, and the plight of their economies shows what’s in store for our people, unless we change course and focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, technology, university education and a Green economy.

The finances of many islands in the Caribbean are in a huge mess and threaten to push up poverty. The IMF calculates that public debt in the region averaged 70% of GDP in 2012 and current-account deficits were a staggering 23%.

As several Caribbean states are in a currency union, they cannot devalue to boost exports. The result has been a string of sovereign defaults in the region since 2010, in Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis and Grenada.

Table 1 shows that the economic delusion of ‘an international airport and tourism’ to drive an economy, has created high debt in many countries in the region and high debt to GDP ratios. The countries in Table 1 have had an international airport and tourism for decades, yet their economies are still in a desperately weak state and many of their people unemployed and in poverty.

 

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Grenada defaulted on a $193 million debt in 2013 and the Barbados government has begun firing 3,000 state workers to cut costs. The focus and economic delusion of tourism is killing Caribbean economies. The region has a high level of poverty and unemployment.

SVG must change course to create a strong economy and thousands of new jobs. We should look to successful countries such as South Korea and Singapore and follow their example. Singapore and South Korea have focused on innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, university education and Green industries, not tourism. The result has been incredible.

Table 2 shows that South Korea and Singapore have very low unemployment rates. There people have a high standard of living and Singapore has the highest average income per person (GDP per capita) in the world.

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They both have a highly educated and skilled population and attract vast amounts of foreign investment. Singapore is ranked as the most attractive country for foreign investors in the Asia-Pacific region and attracts 52% of foreign investment in that region. Foreign investment creates thousands of new jobs and a strong economy.

Singapore has the highest percentage of millionaire households as a share of a country's total households at 15.5%. South Korea is listed as number 14 for top number of millionaire households in a country.

SVG is in a state of economic desperation. The Argyle airport project is an economic delusion and financial misfit.

To create a strong economy and thousands of new jobs, SVG must focus on innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, university education and Green industries. We must take back our fish licence from the parasite Taiwan and create our own tuna fishing and fish processing and canning industry.

We must also turn to electricity from renewable energies to reduce costs and abolish the unfair tax and customs duty exemptions given to the parasitic super-rich of Mustique and Canouan.

The Argyle airport project is an economic delusion and will never take off. It is dragging our economy and people down.

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