According to retired British Royal Air Force Engineer Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal, BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA, Leader of SVG Green Party, tourism has never, and will never be the engine of the SVG economy. SVG loses more money maintaining tourism infrastructure, than is made from tourists coming to SVG. It is very foolish for our country to focus on tourism, as it is low paying, low skilled and a nil or very low rate of return on money invested.
If we want prosperity and sustainable economic growth in SVG, we must stop focusing on tourism and focus on science and technology. We should replace the Ministry of Tourism with a new Ministry of Technology. Spending money on tourism in SVG is like throwing money down the drain.
Tens of millions of dollars were wasted building the Bequia airport. It is now dilapidated and costs more to maintain that it makes. About one and a half billion dollars was wasted on Argyle airport. That is rusting away and costs more to maintain that it makes. More money is wasted paying airlines to fly to SVG, than is made from the people coming on those planes.
Over the decades, SVG governments have given LIAT tens of millions of dollars and that has all been wasted as LIAT is bust. Tens of millions of dollars were wasted building the cruise ship terminal. When cruise ships come, the income from the passengers is peanuts.
The common thing about all the billions of dollars wasted on tourism infrastructure is that they do not produce a net financial benefit to the country. Poverty and unemployment have been widespread in SVG for decades.
Technology and high-quality education are the driving force of rich countries with strong economies. The young people of SVG are the future of SVG and it is important that they are given all the resources they need to reach their full potential, so they can be great leaders and problem solvers.
Young people in SVG need a university, so that they can compete with graduates from other countries for highly-paid jobs all over the world. In the UK, graduate jobs have a starting salary of between roughly EC$80,000 and EC$200,000 a year. In most western countries, 50% to 75% of young people graduate from university. In SVG, only about 2% of young people graduate from university and this is a shockingly low number.
It is important to expose young people to new ideas, new technology and the innovation that is taking place all over the world, so that they can learn and be innovators themselves. Home computers and internet access have become integral to the way many teenagers study at home. Young people can do research and their homework easier with free WIFI/internet access.
The internet is the gateway to knowledge and ideas and is an extraordinary resource for learning. It is important that there is free WIFI/internet in SVG, so that everyone, especially young people and children of the poor, have access to the internet.
The ULP regime has failed young people. After 19 years in office, all they have to offer young people is a jail or a life of unemployment.
Under a Green government with a Ministry of Technology, young people will be accorded training in Science and Technology through SVG’s own Science and Technology University. This will enable young people to become entrepreneurs and technology innovators.
Science and Technology innovation is the foundation of richer countries’ economic success. Just look at the economies of richer countries. The more innovation we have in SVG, the richer our country and people will become.
A Green Government will build a Science and Technology university and provide free WIFI/internet access for everyone in SVG, so that Vincentian children can become experts in Science and Technology, obtain highly-paid jobs all over the world and are able to lead a life of prosperity.
Obtaining a university degree helps children of the poor break the generational cycle of poverty, and enables them to gain prosperity. SVG needs a Ministry of Technology.