On November 5th, Vincentians will go to the polls to elect a new government. Vincentians are fed up of the nineteen (19) years of broken promises by the Unity Labour Party (ULP). They are yearning for change. It is obvious that Vincentians will vote overwhelmingly for the New Democratic Party (NDP). The NDP will deliver on its promises and provide jobs and opportunities for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
ULP Broken Promises
The ULP has not delivered on its promises. They promised to: be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime; move resolutely against corruption in government; introduce integrity legislation; make job creation especially quality jobs and sustainable economic development their main priorities; build a new hospital; construct a national stadium; replant and rehabilitate two thousand acres of bananas; develop a city at Arnos Vale; make Campden Park into a town; construct new hotels and produce geothermal energy. They have failed Vincentians.
Before COVID 19, the unemployment rate in St. Vincent and the Grenadines was 25 percent according to the IMF. This is worse than it was in 2001 when the ULP came to power. At that time, unemployment was 20 percent. Youth (15-24 years) unemployment rate was a staggering 46 percent. Since COVID 19, unemployment has increased by 10 percent according to the government. Young people need jobs and it is only the NDP who can provide the enabling environment for sustainable jobs to be created.
Plans that will make SVG working
Job creation is the main priority of the NDP. Further, we will provide opportunities for higher education for more young Vincentians to obtain degrees at home and abroad, implement a diversified scholarship portfolio by providing incentives and scholarships for youths who excel in sports, the arts and extracurricular activities.
The NDP will also ensure that meaningful employment can be had for these young people after they have completed their studies. We will restructure the schools’ curriculum so that sports education can again be a priority. Hard courts will be built, enclosed, lit and properly maintained to facilitate various sporting disciplines; at least one playing field in each constituency will be lit to encourage more participation in sports
The NDP will introduce the Citizen by Investment (CBI) programme, a programme that our neighbours in the OECS such as, Dominica, St. Kitts, Antigua, Grenada, and St. Lucia have implemented successfully. The economies of these countries are booming; while we continue to struggle. Undoubtedly, the implementation of the CBI will be a game changer for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The CBI will benefit Vincentians tremendously in a number of ways: generate thousands of jobs; attract foreign direct investment and ease the tax burden of Vincentians. Moreover, it is committed to improve and promote the tourism sector, support private sector and youth entrepreneurship, develop climate resilient projects, implement constituency development projects and improve agriculture, fisheries and manufacturing.
One of the obstacles to development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the lack or scarcity of credit. The commercial banks see most business ventures as too risky and more often than not say “No” to their loan applications. Financing is the lubricant that makes an economy move and credit is the most accessible form of financing. But, tell that to a farmer or fisherman, or small manufacturer or Agri-processor who has been turned away repeatedly by the commercial banks. They need a hand up.
The NDP will introduce a specialized bank, a National Development Bank, to eliminate the credit problem and make financing more accessible and more affordable for local businesspeople, especially small businesses. The main objective of the bank would be to promote economic development by fostering investment and business development in this country. Since the aim of this bank is not profit for shareholders, but to serve the national interest by promoting economic activity and business development, it will be able to provide cheaper loans to businesses. It will also provide financial and technical assistance in the areas of agriculture, fisheries, tourism, Industry, housing, small business development and Human Resource Development.
Other objectives of the Development Bank will be to: promote and develop Small and Medium sized Enterprises; assist with the development of Agriculture and rural development; further develop the Fisheries Sector; promote growth and diversification of the tourism sector; finance student loans and develop new areas of the economy such as ICT. The Development Bank will contribute immensely to the economic development of the country. Funding for our Development Bank will come from a number of sources including the CBI programme which we intend to introduce.
Vincentians are being taxed more and more every year. As the government’s debt increases, so too will taxes.
The VAT, by various means, was increased three years in a row following the 2015 general elections. We have the highest taxes and the lowest wages in the OECS. We can do better and will do better. To relieve the tax burden of people and free up cash in the hands of consumers, we will reduce the VAT from 16 percent to 13 percent. The poor and working class, taxi and bus operators, local contractors and the business community will all benefit from this reduction.
We will also design and implement a true low-income housing programme that will provide quality houses at affordable prices; pay the fees for CSEC and CAPE exams; implement a National Health Insurance; construct a state-of-the-art hospital; revive the agricultural sector and tackle and reduce corruption and crime among things.
The NDP is committed to working with all Vincentians to bring about meaningful change to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We welcome your ideas; we encourage constructive criticism, but most of all we need your support.
On Election Day, go out and vote for the NDP to get St. Vincent and the Grenadines working.