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Unemployment concept in tag cloud
Unemployment concept in tag cloud
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Political activist Jomo Thomas says he believes that unemployment will be a big issue in the 2020 general elections.

“The question as to what has happened over the years, you can be sure that the issue of unemployment is going to be a big, big issue in this election,” Thomas said on WE FM’s “2020 Manifesto” on Friday.

“If the opposition don’t know that yet, then they don’t know anything about politics and unemployment is a serious, serious problem in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Thomas said.

To illustrate, he said:

“I mean, we hang out at a particular place every now and again and we see what the traffic is, and we talked to the proprietor and we know what the difficulties are.

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“And that is an open secret. It is true that there are a lot, a lot of people who are seeing real, real difficulties in making ends meet.

“And that is going to be a central question. There are a whole host of other issues that may come into play. And I don’t want to give any advice for free for anybody. But certainly, it is not going to be an easy election — rhetoric aside… But fundamentally, I think that the unemployment issue is going to be a big issue.”

Jomo Thomas
Speaker of the House of Assembly Jomo Thomas, who is also a lawyer, journalist and social commentator. (iWN file photo)

Overall unemployment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) at the end of 2017 was 25%, 3.5 percentage points higher than in 2012, and 4 percentage points higher than in 2001, when the ruling Unity Labour Party first came to office.

Youth unemployment was 46%, according to the statistics presented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the 2017 Article IV Consultation Staff Report for SVG.

Gov’t project more jobs in 2020

However in January 2018, Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves said the numbers given to the IMF were “still being scrutinised” and were “actually not accurate” and should not have made it into the public domain.

He said the data was collected when university students were coming home and graduating from college and all of them were marked as unemployed.

In his 2020 Budget Address, Gonsalves said that the fiscal package anticipates employment growth in the construction, hospitality, manufacturing, agriculture and fisheries sectors.

In addition to the 106 posts created in the central government, the budget points to an “immediate spike in construction and agriculture employment, with rapid growth on the horizon in the hospitality sector,” he said.

He said that beyond construction and the jobs that typically accompany projected economic growth, the Clear Harbor Call Centre plans to employ over 300 young Vincentians by year-end.

Camillo 1
Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves presenting the budget this month. (iWN photo)

The Rainforest Seafood facility, scheduled to open in Calliaqua by September, will create 50 direct jobs, and sustain scores of fisherfolk,” he said, adding that jobs are expected in the medical marijuana industry.

The minister also projected job growth in the retail sector led by the opening of the shopping and entertainment plaza in Arnos Vale, and planned expansions of existing retailers.

Gonsalves said that surveys of local manufacturers suggest that many plan incremental expansions in 2020.

Further, scores of Vincentian nurses are about to begin work in the United Kingdom, he said.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves had announced that general elections will be held this year, ahead of the March 2021 constitutional deadline.

11 replies on “Unemployment a ‘big issue’ in 2020 election — Jomo”

  1. The Gonsalves family have been making fools of Vincentians for years, even from the very day that they took up office in government. And who here believes their unemployment figures? Why have they not given us that FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT so that we could fish out the unemployment information for ourselves? They won’t because we are but docile obedient dunce children to them.

    And what are we to make of these figures that they have stooped to give us if “Youth unemployment was 46%, according to the statistics presented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the 2017 Article IV Consultation Staff Report for SVG”. Who therefore is to blame for such a disastrous and wretched catastrophe?

    We have become more like a country under a blockade because of the Gonsalves family’s inability to understand economics or to see other Vincentians as capable.

    “The United Nations says unemployment in Gaza has reached 45% – one of the highest levels in the world. The territory has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007, when the Islamic movement Hamas came to power”.

    “Israel says the measures against Gaza are necessary to stop weapons smuggling and to put pressure on Hamas, but the UN insists the restrictions amount to collective punishment of Gaza’s population”.

    But what about Vincentians who have been suffering such high levels of unemployment for so long as the Gonsalves take us down a path that the Cubans and the Venezuelans went and with the same disastrous results. When a failed dogmatic ideology coupled with nepotism and Crony capitalism holds sway, mass unemployment always follows.

    Is it not high time that the Gonsalves tasted unemployment too!

  2. After Haiti and maybe Jamaica ,Vincy is still the second or third poorest Caribbean country.The stark reality is nothing has changed in terms of quality of life since 2001. It’s gotten worse instead of better.Sad reality.

  3. Its the new industries and new investors that will be coming under the NDP that will generate real new jobs for the first time in twenty years. Believe me there will a number of amazing surprizes.

    Why does it always have to be government jobs with government money that drives the ULP. More government jobs do not count, they only push us further over the cliff of bankruptcy.

  4. Now, big belly Gonsalves send you to say that unemployment is only at 25%. Alyo […] don care bout poor people. Unemployment is way higher. I hope alyo […] gets voted out. Then you truly can be the fake activist you are. You feel important now that you rubbing shoulders with the upper echelons of dutty politics. Alyo build a airport completed 6 years behind schedule at multiple times the cost which taxpayers have to pay for while ULP take all the credit. We already know that you’re […] for sale Jomo. Good riddance to you and the other ULP jackasses. […]

  5. Urban Alexander says:

    All the budget speech so far the finance minister has said employment will be created. Yes it is said on every iccasion. His father before sing from the same song sheet…employment will be created. So far where are the jobs? We must be joking in SVG.

  6. Whenever our Finance Minister, Gonsalves, does not like particular statistics or any information that does not make him look good, he always declares them “inaccurate”.

  7. Why must the government provide everything to the population? Why can’t Vincentian take a page from the persons from the other Caribbean islands and educate themselves.

    Take short courses at the community college, UWI school of business. This welfare type of thinking is what is wrong with Vincentians.

    Learn a skill and create opportunities then seek the government’s help. There is dearth of intelligent skilled persons in the country. This is not a government problem. We the people are the government.

    Get off your laurels and empower yourselves and stop waiting on a handout. Stop complaining and take action starting with self. How many persons have learnt a skill, has a degree , a diploma, a certificate??? Where do you propose the government put these non-skilled persons???

  8. The ULP promise THOUSANDS of jobs at every election but they never materialize. The last election the PM promised not only tens of thousands of jobs he also said there would be more road constrution done than at any time in the country’s history. Neither of these things happened, and this year they only have 39 million designated for roads. That is enough for only about 40-50 miles of repaving of roads, depending on quality, (which is normally very poor, so those roads will again be in disrepair within 4 years).

    When wil we ever get a quality government, instead of this poor excuse we have had for decades?

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