Chairman of the opposition New Democratic Party, Daniel Cummings says the setbacks that St. Vincent and the Grenadines faced in 2021 resulted in generous donations that “saved the day” for the country.
“The signs are absolutely clear. Despite the number of setbacks in 2021 — in fact, because of the number of setbacks in 2021, like the volcano and so on, St. Vincent and the Grenadines received generous contributions from several quarters. That is what saved the day with COVID being what it is, and with the economy being totally depressed, business squeezing, tourism grinding to a halt,” the West Kingstown MP said on radio on Tuesday.
The April 2021 explosive eruption of La Soufriere displaced over 20,000 people for months and the country received a significant amount of in-kind donations from regional and international agencies, as well as individuals.
The government also received monetary donations from friendly nations.
Between March 2020 and Dec. 31, 2021 the country recorded 5,952 cases of COVID-19 and 83 COVID-19 related deaths.
Cummings said that the Vincentian economy “was non existent” amidst these setbacks.
“It is thanks to the generosity of Vincentians around the world, and a number of friendly governments and institutions that provided relief. That is how St. Vincent was able to stay afloat,” he further said on New Times, the party’s daytime radio programme on NICE Radio.
“If, as we hope, this year we shall be spared from those kinds of catastrophes, unfortunately, our economic situation will worsen. I say it will worsen without the input of grants and supporting mechanisms from international and multilateral institutions.“
He said that the country’s ability to borrow is drying up. “We already have borrowed far more than we can repay.
“And so the future doesn’t look good, because there’s nothing we can see, that is there to help the economy, which is the bottom line, to put people back to work, to get the productive sectors going, none of that is there.”
As at Sept. 30, 2021, SVG’s national debt was almost as big as its gross domestic product (GDP) — the value of goods and services produced in the country in a year.
Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves told the Estimates Debate on Dec. 14, that the EC$2.08 debt was a 13.% increase over the total disbursed outstanding public debt for the comparative period in 2020.