Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves used the 2019 Budget to outline what he said are “10 principles for jobs, growth and transformative sustainable development” in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
The first is that the 17 internationally-agreed Sustainable Development Goals are the bedrock of the nation’s “modern agenda for growth and development.
“These goals and targets, mainstreamed and adapted to the Vincentian context, are the broad conceptual lights that guide our developmental efforts.”
The second principle is that an economy based on multiple, strong sectors is more resilient, more stable, and less vulnerable to exogenous shocks.”
Gonsalves said that in refusing to place all of the nation’s economic eggs in a single sectoral basket, SVG has managed to avoid “the wild cyclical swings and social upheaval that have typified the post-crisis era.”
He said that a recently released credit analysis by Moody’s noted that SVG is less volatile than similarly-rated countries.
“This is by design,” the minister said.
“Even as we emphasise other sectors for growth and development, we will not abandon existing segments. Within the confines of typical small-state limitations, we rely on economic diversity to maintain our climate of confidence and stability.”
The third principle he said is that economic transformation requires investment in productive, climate resilient infrastructure.
The construction of public infrastructure — in and of itself — stimulates growth, Gonsalves said.
“But the completed projects, if well-designed and well-targeted, provide the foundation for long-term development. Budget 2019 is focussed on multiple major infrastructure initiatives with transformative potential,” he said.
Ambitious goals and targets must be leavened by an obligation for fiscal, social and environmental sustainability, the minister said, identifying the fourth target.
He said the budget reflects moderate growth and a small surplus on the current account but said economic indicators are only part of the story.
“Budget 2019 commits to prudent fiscal reform and measured adoption of the more far-reaching adjustments to our way of life and production.”
The fifth principle is that the greatest form of social protection is a decent job, and the best guarantors of a good job are education, experience and training.
“Budget 2019 will support job creation, and deepen the scope and reach of the Education Revolution through a marked expansion in skills training and technical and vocational education,” Gonsalves said.
In the context of small island states, social inequality is a massively inefficient and debilitating drag on national development.
“Budget 2019 advances multiple policies to reduce inequality, increase opportunity, and foster inclusiveness — particularly among the youth. Further, the biblical admonition to feed, clothe, tend to and accept ‘the least of these my brethren,’ is also sound developmental policy,” the minister said, elaborating the sixth point.
“Budget 2019 focuses on the elderly, the infirm and the nutritionally vulnerable with specific initiatives designed to support fulfilling lives by reducing vulnerability and inequality.”
The seventh principle is that crime retards development.
“As such, Budget 2019 targets crime and the causes of crime in new ways and with new tools, including an increased emphasis on community-based interventions and relationship-building,” Gonsalves said.
He further said that while a healthy economy is dependent on a healthy and vibrant private sector, it does not preclude a catalysing role for an active and entrepreneurial state apparatus.
“As such, to complement timely private investments in critical areas, Budget 2019 will allocate public resources to accelerate sectoral growth and national development.”
Developmental transformation is impossible without concomitant enhancements to local healthcare architecture and service delivery, Gonsalves said, as he outlined the ninth principle.
“Accordingly, Budget 2019 reforms administrative structures, while substantially widening and deepening the healthcare offerings available to the
The tenth principle is that “climate resilience, in the form of adaption, mitigation and advocacy, is the sine qua non of modern sustainable development in Small Island Developing States.
“Budget 2019 therefore dedicates unprecedented resources to renewable energy, resilient infrastructure and citizen support in the face of the gathering climate threat.”