St. Vincent and the Grenadines is in deep economic crisis, with the reality being masked by the propaganda machinery of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration, Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday told Vincentians in New York on Sunday.
“First of all, we are in deep economic crisis in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” the New Democratic Party (NDP) leader told a town hall meeting in Brooklyn.
Friday told the event that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said last year that between 2009 and 2016 the Vincentian economy grew by 0.2 per cent
“That is less than one half of one per cent. In an economy as small as ours, we should be having, 8, 9, 10 per cent growth for there to be actual progress,” he said, adding, “And the future doesn’t look much brighter.”
Friday said the ULP government talks about “all their accomplishments.
“Yet, the unemployment rate in St. Vincent today, according to the IMF again, is higher than it was in 2001.”
He noted that in 2016, the IMF said that the unemployment rate was 25 per cent.
“We believe it is higher, but that is the official figure, so let us use that.”
He pointed out that in 2001, when the ULP came to office; the IMF said that the unemployment rate in SVG was 20.9 per cent.
“We have actually gone backwards in terms of the creation of jobs.”
He said that the national debt is worse than in 2001, when the debt service ratio was below the average for the rest of the Eastern Caribbean.
“Today, it is higher than the average. In fact, it is the highest in the Windward Islands,” Friday said adding that the public debt also continues to grow.
“When this government came to office, it was less than 600 million dollars. Now, it is 1.6 billion dollars and we don’t know whether the money has been spent productively.
“Because you see, it has not generated the kind of economic growth to create employment for our people.”
He further said that SVG has the highest taxes and lowest wages in the OECS.
“Check it out from the eastern Caribbean Central Bank figure,” he said.
“So with all this talk about the wonderful things that have been going on in St. Vincent, that is just propaganda. It’s good public relations. They could sell snow in Alaska because they are very good at telling people what they want them to believe, not what is real. But I said at the outset about the genuine commitment we have to the people of this country tells you that a New Democratic Party government will never function in that way.”
Friday said that an NDP administration “will never use the office of government, the gift of gab to seek to mislead, to seek to bamboozle our own people.
“What is the point of political office if you are not looking out for the people you govern?”
He said that someone told him recently that in politics, winning rather than the truth, matters.
“But if the truth does not matter, what do you win? Where do you go? I don’t intend to take the rest of my life to waste it in trying to take advantage of other people. So when I tell you I am committed to this, that I do this for the love of my country, because I believe we can do better in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. You can take that to the bank,” said Friday, who became opposition leader two years ago.