Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)

More jobs can be created in St. Vincent and the Grenadines by the economic growth that could accompany a larger population.

That is the view of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who says the nation’s 106,000 people are too few for the landmass.

“I just want to say this for what it is worth: there are some persons who may feel that the population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is perfectly — is a good size,” Gonsalves told Parliament on Thursday.

“The truth is this, we are too small. We need more people to be working here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And I know some people take the mechanistic view that you have unemployment already. Well, the point is this, when people move and the economy grows, more jobs are created,” the prime minister said.

He was speaking as he gave an update of a meeting of the CARICOM Prime ministerial Sub-Committee meeting on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.

Gonsalves said the meeting took several important decisions going forward but he wanted to inform the national assembly that the committee is particularly interested in widening the categories of persons who can move freely between countries if they hold a Skilled National’s Certificate.

Currently, there are 10 categories of CARICOM national entitled to free movement under such a provision.

Gonsalves said he recommended an 11th, which CARICOM heads of government will consider at a special meeting in Trinidad later this year.

“I suggest that we look at extending it to look at agricultural workers, and then in relation to the category ‘artist’, I would like to see an expansion of the definition and clarification to include beauticians, nail technicians, cosmetologists.

“It’s a big area of trade, particularly for young women. And, Mr. Speaker, some people may say well, why are we doing this? The truth of the matter, if we have enhanced freedom of movement of persons, we are going to be able to grow the regional economy better,” Gonsalves said.

He said Member of Parliament for East Kingstown, Arnhim Eustace was shaking his head in agreement to the suggestion that the population of SVG is too small.

“… and, as an economist, he understands that and the history of the economies show this and, in any event, leaders have to look way down the road,” Gonsalves said.

The prime minister said if current trends continue, in 50 years’ time, SVG would probably have a population of 80,000 or 85,000

“… our population is not growing and the aged component of our population is increasing,” he said, adding that in 1960s and 70s it was 11 per cent, but in the last census period (2012), it had grown to 33 per cent.

“That would mean that we need more productive people to be working. This is a worldwide trend and we have to make — leaders have to think ahead to sort difficulties out.

“This is the debate that is taking place in several parts of the world and we, ourselves are not immune to that particular trend, but there is an insufficiency of serious discussion on this demographic issue,” Gonsalves told lawmakers.

“All I am saying is that our population is not growing within the country. People are living longer, people would migrate and go overseas, but others would also come and we have a Caribbean community and our economic strategy, whatever you do in the domestic, however you organise the domestic, you have to enlarge the economic space. That is the logic of OECS, that is the logic of CARICOM and we have to encourage this rather than discourage it. And one way to do it is to enlarge the categories to do work,” he said.

16 replies on “SVG’s population is ‘too small’ — PM Gonsalves”

  1. Utter hypocrisy from a man who continually encourages our people, including nurses, to migrate to other countries in search of work so as to send back remittances to their hungry family back home.

    Still he is certainly correct in theory that a country needs to grow its population to grow its economy especially when people are living longer while entering retirement at an earlier age.

    This Prime Minister has never put this elementary economic theory into practice in his own homeland but it now going all about to preach it.

  2. Wow, taking everything in consideration I wonder if he knows why the population is so small ,I could give a couple reasons, aids, homosexual activities and most of all poverty, point blank.

    1. The population, for PM Gonsalves, is too small because people move out of the country to find opportunity…something that has not been provided by the government in SVG, to include Ralph Gonsalves regime. If he wants more people to remain, why doesn’t he do something about it, stop raising taxes so that people that are skilled can keep the majority of thier money instead of it being taken by the government. Why doesn’t he clean-up the police force so that the people have better security instead of SVG being a paradise for criminals?
      Yes, he is just making excuses for his failures. He has been in “power” for a long time. He, more than anyone is responsible for the state of things in SVG.

  3. What am I missing with this ignorance coming from this PM? Is he saying the larger the population, the greater economic growth? Well Mr.Gonsalves, to be simplistic, consider Haiti! How does your argument hold up or apply? With somewhat of an understanding of macro and micro economics, I find this to be a case of hiding behind excuses for not being able to oversee or implement policies,or fostering an environment that attracts foreign direct investment…These are things capable of moving the country forward,but are absent- even after almost 20 years of governance. If he[Ralph] were serious about his love for SVG, he would step down!

  4. Most everything this man says makes no sense, that is why things are the way they are, his very poor logic and making excuses for his very bad performance. Just like all politicians, they run up to take credit for something when it goes well and they blame someone or something else when things go bad. Maybe someone should ask him why things were better before he became Prime Minister. We have gone nowhere, except we have a shiny new airport that is causing us even more economic hardship. Many are going to keep saying for the next 10 years: “Oh, give it time, give it time, it has only been two years.” If a hurricane destroys the Barbados airport I wonder where the people will then fly into…Grenada, St Lucia?

  5. Is the PM for real?More people in Vincy to be unemployed and living in poverty..it’s clearly not a case of more jobs in Vincy and we can’t find people to fill these jobs.. the unemployment rate is around 20%..Mr PM get the unemployment rate down to 3% and then you ‘ll be able to make the argument that Vincy here’s more people , until then please go sit down and be quiet

  6. Ricardo Francis says:

    An increase in the population: For Ralph and the ULP to use the newcomers as voting Cattle and Sheep. This is BACKANONOMICS. The unemployment rate is already high and an increase in the immigration population is further going to increase it.

    I am presuming that an increase of the population will happen for the elections and the increase in the population will strategically be placed in particular constituencies to ensure another ULP victory.

    Ralph Gonsalves motto: Every means possible to win, Again!!!

    Ricardo Francis, Ricardo Francis, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Waiting and in the Making

    1. Dear lost Rico, your dear uncle told a group of us how you are the family idiot and to ignore you. So we are doing just that.

  7. I believe this is a subterfuge to accommodate more Chinese, Iranians, Syrians and Europeans. Why not create a healthy political, social and economic environment whereby our children can have hope and the brain drain can be curtailed. ULP and NDP have truly passed their expiration date.

  8. Ralph has lost thousands of intelligentsia from the state, the very people who create jobs, driven out as part of the peasantization scheme.

    As for increasing the population he has apparently tried that himself as a biological stallion. But that only increases the dynasty members and the offspring outriders of such.

  9. Ralph is an idiot, he is a no brainer. Ralph using S.V.G money educating the nurses to send them oversea when they complete the study. what sense in educating your people to go and build a next man country after they graduated? This man is a visionless man, that why the people are suffering so bad. He talking about population to small, he can’t even create job for the small nation, so how can he take care of a larger nation. Look at kingstown, since the ULP take office its the worse I ever see kingstown. The town need a face lift, that’s why tourist don’t want to come to st.vincent. The country look like an old dilapidated building, something like in the movie will smith act with him alone and a dog on an Island. This man is a wotless man, he want to keep the country like how he kept his home. What hard to tell the people paint there building and enlighten the capital? What hard to put in place, the place of activities for tourist? I think glen beach was the one who was supposed to be the P.M, because him is the only one who sees in the party. Ralp educated, but he still a no brainer. He full of books, but he don’t have the brain to think.

  10. I’m think that anything the PM says or does is for the sole purpose of lending credence to himself as prime minister. all the PM cares about is staying in power. If he were a real statesman he would make room because he knows that even if he stayed for 50 years in power it wouldn’t change a thing. We have already seen that. You might deduce that from what he said. He must be depressed.

  11. I am sure that the population is small, but he was elected to solve the problems with what we have. Since the population situation is not something that could be solved in the short term then our great leaders must come up with innovative solutions to our unique problems.

  12. Since he started going limp and limping he has stopped or at least curtailed his goosing activities which may prove to be a mistake on his part, because that’s what kept him young.

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