ST. VINCENT (Jan. 17):- Leader of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) Arnhim Eustace believes that the political divide in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is inhibiting the development of the nation.
The Unity Labour Party (ULP) was returned to office for a third term on Dec. 15 in elections that showed not only dwindling support for the party but also a political split, geographically, in the nation.
All but one of the eight seats won by the ULP were on the windward (eastern) side of St. Vincent. Of the NDP’s seven seats, five were on the leeward (western) side, plus the two Grenadine seats.
“More and more in this country, we see the wanton way in which people are treated just based on their party affiliation,” Eustace said on Monday during his weekly appearance on the NDP’s New Times programme on Nice Radio
“Our country can’t go forward like that. All these things are contributing to the decline in our economy,” he added, saying that for the first time since Independence in 1979, the local economy has been on the decline for three consecutive years.
“And [Prime Minister Dr. Ralph] Gonsalves talking about how things so good, employment has increased,” Eustace said.
The former prime minister and Minister of Finance said that Gonsalves uses statistics from the National Insurance Services (NIS) “as a basis for checking employment”.
Citing NIS figures, Gonsalves has said that his government has created 10,000 jobs since coming to office in 2001.
However, Eustace said the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) report for 2009 says otherwise.
“The Central Bank report for 2009 says that those who were that have dropped by 9.8 per cent, nearly 10 per cent fall off in those who were active in NIS. … The Central bank report says they are no longer active, which means no payments are being made on their behalf,” Eustace said.
“And he (Gonsalves) uses that all the time as a basis for showing how employment increased and this year it is down by 9.8 per cent. … If employment is going up, people on public Assistance would have been going down but that going up too. So all this talk about how much job created and so on, that is a lot of nonsense,” Eustace said.