Fri 11th Nov 2016

Unprecedented poverty causing social unrest and full jail

Gonsalves said on 27 October 2016, that there are too many youths in jail and he will make recommendations to the Governor General to release a large number of these young men from jail.

The overcrowding of jails in SVG is an indication of our economy being very weak. These young men went to jail because, as the economy is weak, there is high unemployment and no jobs for most young people, and these youths turned to crime to survive.

Nothing is changing in SVG and unemployment is not going down, so what does Gonsalves think these youths are going to do? With such a weak economy and jobs hard to come by, it is likely these youths will find it hard to avoid situations that will lead to them going back to jail. The jails will be full again.

SVG has been pushed to the ground by the gross incompetence of the ULP regime leadership. Investing about EC$70 million in building a new jail in North Leeward, rather than in education and setting up infrastructure for a strong business sector, was plain foolish. This has been one of the causes of SVG having a weak economy for so long, the increase in crime and overcrowding in jails.

There is unprecedented hardship in our society and we are flooded by criminal acts of all kinds as people seek solutions to poverty and financial worries.

In order to meet its responsibilities, the ULP regime must develop effective responses and solutions to the increased poverty in SVG, otherwise we will continue to have an increase in crimes and jails overcrowding. Having no plan will lead to higher rates of re-arrest, re-conviction and re-incarceration of ex-offenders.

In 2002, Gonsalves cut off a significant amount of revenue for the SVG Treasury, by granting the super-rich white migrants of Mustique and Canouan hundreds of millions of dollars in tax and customs duty exemptions, and foolishly failed to impose a fish tax on Taiwan under the SVG Fish Act 2001. These tax exemptions could bring about EC$2 billion in revenue every year to SVG.

Rather than deal with the causes of crime in SVG by implementing a fair tax system that would bring revenue to create opportunities for our black youths, Gonsalves chokes the SVG economy with an unfair tax system and this perpetuates poverty, poor quality education, crime and overcrowded jails. Nine out ten black youths in Gonsalves new jail cannot read.

The overcrowding of jails in SVG is driven by Gonsalves failing to invest in education, skills training and employment creation for our people. Consequently, gun killing has become a staple diet and is not going down. Gonsalves’ tax exemptions are stoking gun crime in SVG and filling up the jails and cemeteries, all to give the white migrants tax exemptions.

The tax exemptions given to Taiwan and the super-rich white migrants must end for there to be any chance of ending poverty and reducing the number of youths going to jail. Our youth need opportunities, training and jobs.

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