Too often, after work has been done for or goods or services supplied to the state, the government does not pay on time.
Often this can stretch for months, sometimes for years.
And, the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) says it will change this.
“Here you have government behaving like a bandit, basically, and not setting an example for people,” Opposition Leader Godwin Friday last week Thursday.
He told the NDP’s virtual political meeting that he believes that government should be a model in terms of its interaction with local businesses.
“That’s why we will bring in a government-pay-on-time promise for local businesses,” the opposition leader said.
He said that for most contracts, the government must pay for the goods or services within 28 days.
The opposition leader said that large contracts can be broken into smaller ones so that local businesses have a real chance of competing to secure these contracts.
“Most of all, we are committed to accountability in government in the way in which it manages the finances of the people and how it interacts with other sectors of the economy.
“Just as businesses have to be accountable, government must also be accountable and we must hold them to account,” Friday said.
He said that the pay-on-time promise means that an NDP administration would have to speed up the payment of people who the government owes.
“So we will do an assessment of the debts the government owes to people for services and goods provided and we will pay them.
“We will pay them because it is the right thing to do, but it will also stimulate the economy, creating jobs, allowing those businesses to hire and retain workers and to retool.”
He said that the government has to look at the incentives in the tourism sector, especially after COVID-19, adding that he would speak more about this during the election campaign.
Friday said that one of the main issues is what happens post-LIAT, the regional air carrier that went into liquidation earlier this year.
“Air service to this country has to be improved. But we used to ask the question before: how do we improve a particular carrier rather than how we improve air service to our country, which has to be the first question, to make it reliable and affordable.”
He said it is a time for the country to begin the process of opening its skies “so that those who wish to come and compete in our airspace can do so and provide the service that our people need.”
“I want to see that St. Vincent and the Grenadines become more competitive in all areas, every aspect of our lives is touched by transportation and communication. We make those more efficient, we become more efficient as a country and our businesses become more efficient,” he said.
The opposition leader said what the NDP is speaking about is not pipe dreams but things that should have been done years ago.
“Making our system more functional, making it more rational, dependent on rules and regulations and certainty, not on who you meet at the customs, who you meet at the registry, who you meet in those government offices [determines] whether the service that you are entitled to is received or not.We have to change that…” Friday said.