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The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

In Barbados, thousands of government workers have lost their jobs because of one word: austerity.

Austerity means deep and damaging cuts. It’s a wrong-headed policy pursued by right wing governments across the world, and, it hasn’t worked. There are many ways that a government may choose to address debts and deficit. One way is through tax hikes. Another is through spending cuts. Both of the aforementioned policies are encapsulated in the word “austerity”. A third, and by far the most preferable option for dealing with debts and deficits, is growth.

The Unity Labour Party and Comrade Ralph Gonsalves has chosen a growth strategy. Here’s the theory. The theory is that if you grow your economy through targeted investments, you create a larger taxable base and therefore, more tax revenues. Those revenues can then be reinvested in the economy to create further growth, and, they can also be used to reduce the deficit and the debt. When bodies evaluate countries for their debt, they look at the ratio of debt to GDP and also the growth prognostication for the economy.

The other option, which Mr. Eustace and the New Democratic Party have espoused in interviews and on page 13 of their manifesto is one of austerity. It is the path taken by the Barbados government – a government that has shown lacklustre growth or economic recession for the past decade. Thousands in Barbados have been sent home. Programmes have been cut. Yet, the Barbados economy won’t grow because there is no investment or climate of investment in the country. This is the approach that Eustace and the NDP prefers for St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

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What does this approach practically mean for Vincentians? Well, if you have a government job. Or, if you have a government pension. Watch out. As we’ve seen around the world, this policy has meant job cuts. It’s meant benefit cuts. It’s meant pension cuts. It’s meant hardship. This is what is in store if the NDP wins on Wednesday.

The policy of growth to address deficits and debts is infinitely superior to the policy of austerity. Growth protects jobs. And, creates new jobs through targeted investments. And, it creates opportunities whereby the deficit can be reduced through the expansion of the tax base. It’s a win-win-win situation and one of the reasons why St. Vincent & the Grenadines weathered the global economic crisis better than most of our fellow Caribbean islands.

If you agree that a growth strategy — one that protects jobs, benefits and investments — is preferable to a policy of austerity — deep and dangerous cuts — then the choice is clear on 9 December. Ralph Gonsalves has a plan for this country — one that creates jobs and opportunity. Eustace ascribes to the tired old austerity politics that will mean that countless jobs will be lost, salaries cut and benefits cut.

On 9 December, vote for your job. X next to the STAR.

Ubaldus Lankford Parrish

2 replies on “How many jobs will be lost after the election?”

  1. A load of nonsensical political propaganda emanating from the office of the Prime Minister.

    The high tax-and-spend-and-borrow economic policy of this government has gotten us into the financial mess we are now in, a mess no better seen than in the tripling — yes a 300 percent increase — of our national debt since 2001.

    It is servicing this debt or borrowing more new money to service old debts or transferring debts from one pocket to the other as in the case of the National Insurance System that is slowly strangling us to death. The road taken by the ULP is the road leading to Greece, a socialist road like ours that has seen breathtaking austerity in the form of tremendous job loss, salary declines, pension rollbacks, etc.

    This is the road Mr. Parrish wants us to continue to take.

    As for possible job loss in the pubic service, it is clear that we have far too may overpaid, underworked, indifferent, unaccountable, and incompetent government “workers” in our tiny country. Many of these people were hired or promoted, not on the basis of serving a critical public need, but on the basis of political partronage alone.

    Many of the useless functions of government should be eliminated; many others could and should be contracted out to the private sector (with proper checks and balances put in place) where they would be carried out with far more efficiency and professionalism — both at a far lower cost to taxpayers.

    Any Vincentian would know that the services rendered by private sector businesses (Courts, Digital, Flow, etc.) are far superior to those provided by any government agency.

    As for Mr. Parrish’s assertion that “tax hikes” can promote growth, this is not only contradicted by Economics 101 which says high taxes stifle growth but by the fact that existing taxes in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are collected in a helter-skelter fashion and are routinely evaded by one and all because of the non-enforcement of existing tax laws.

    On the other hand, If this is what austerity would bring us — lower costs, better tax collection, more accountably, greater efficiency, better service, less patronage, increased professionalism — I for one am all for it.

  2. The people must realize that Austerity, THE WORST KIND OF AUSTERITY is RAISING TAXES.
    In that department Ralph is very pro- austerity.
    Obviously Ralph LOVES austerity.

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