I remember being in the audience at the post-election rally at the tarmac when Prime Minister Gonsalves, while throwing jabs at the NDP, spoke of the process that his party uses to come up with the content of its manifesto. At that time, he was seemingly suggesting that the NDP’s is written by foreigners, while every member of his team contributes to theirs. He reviews every word in it and then gives the signal for it to be sent to the printery.
Take that as a measure of worth of the contents of the ULP’s manifesto, of which there’s usually a subheading entitled “Jobs” or “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs”. Given the recent happenings regarding NIS reform, port construction, and hotel development, what do you think the next manifesto will have under this subheading? Better yet, can you take a chance at prewriting it?
Before you give more thought to that, let’s look back at what was presented to you previously.
Here’s the 2005 version (“Better …By Far”) – going for 2nd term:
“Between the end of the year 2000 and the end of 2004, over 6,000 additional active workers were on the list at the National Insurance Services (NIS). It means that, on an average, in excess of 1,500 jobs were created in each of the four years between 2001 and 2004. This figure does not include the 500 persons on the YES Programme annually and those who are working but have not yet registered with the NIS. The estimated growth in jobs since 2001 is about 8,000.”
2010 version (“We naaah tun back”) – going for 3rd term:
“A Jobs Revolution. Jobs are connected to everything we do. They are created through a strong economic environment across all economic sectors. Our policies in agriculture, tourism, aviation, construction and much more are all developed to maximize job opportunities for Vincentians.”
“In its almost ten (10) years in office, the ULP Government has created over 10,000 additional jobs, net. Unemployment is down; employment is up. All this has been achieved through our pro-active and strategic economic approach as outlined throughout the manifesto;”
2015 (“Labour Love”) – going for 4th term:
“Between 2001 and 2015, some 8,000 additional jobs have been created in our economy even though the rate of unemployment remains a major challenge, demanding further structural and strategic actions as advanced in this Manifesto.”
“In our fourth term, the target is to create at least 9,000 jobs in five years. This is realisable given the opening of the international airport; the geothermal development; the modern city at Arnos Vale; the Port modernisation and extension of the Cruise Ship Pier; the major tourism developments in Mt. Wynne/Peter’s Hope, in Bequia, Canouan, Union Island, Mayreau, and apartments for medical schools’ students; the initiatives in agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing, ICT, assorted services, and construction; the impact of the Education Revolution; and the Public Sector Investment Programme.”
2020 (“Lifting SVG Higher”) – going for 5th term:
The ULP government has overseen the creation of over 7,500 actual jobs between 2001 and the immediate pre-COVID-19 period. The statistics from the 2012 Census and the National Insurance Services (NIS) indicate all this, and more.
An earlier section of the 2020 manifesto states this:
“Over the past 19 ½ years, the ULP government under my leadership has, in communion with the people and with the support from our development partners, effected a veritable transformation in our economy and society, for the better. The ULP government has ensured immense progress overall; a significant upliftment in living standards, the creation of over 7,500 new jobs, pre-COVID…”
The 2020 manifesto also listed several initiatives that are “on track” to create “several thousands of sustainable jobs” in this current fifth term. That’s all the hotels, including Black Sands and Royal Mill, the hospital and the modern city at Arnos Vale, as well as the medicinal cannabis industry plus many more. These are things that should be happening in this 5th term.
To summarize what we’ve learnt so far:
1. 8,000 jobs were created during the first term.
2. 2000 jobs were created during the second term. Do the math: 8,000 created in the first term; 10,000 created after two terms (in 10 years). The difference here is 2,000 jobs created in the second term.
3. 2,000 jobs lost during the 3rd term. Do the math: 10,000 jobs after two terms; then 8,000 after 3 terms. This means a negative gain of 2,000 (-2000) in the third term. The number went down by 2,000.
4. Additional 500 jobs lost during the 4th term. Do the math: 8,000 jobs after 3 terms; and 7,500 after 4 terms. That’s a loss of 500 (-500) in the 4th term.
As the 2020 manifesto states, after “19 ½ years” or four terms, 7,500 jobs were created. That’s (8,000+2,000-2,000-500) =7,500.
Notice that there have been consistent references made to the NIS, indicating that this is how the job creation numbers are calculated. You may also be aware that some have argued against that method, suggesting that the NIS numbers include persons who work outside of the country, like those on cruise ships and should not be counted as part of the job creation numbers of the government.
This may also give an indication as to why the NIS is in the state that it’s in. If you call it by the numbers, it’s clear that if one were to judge by the last 2 terms (3rd and 4th) of the ULP, less and less persons have been contributing to the NIS. It may also give credence to what the youth and national unemployment numbers are, as reported by the IMF and the World Bank. Many may also argue that unemployment and poverty are tied at the mouth, so that poverty goes where unemployment goes.
Recently we saw the I-Witness News report where 1700 persons showed up at Sandals job fair seeking employment. In 2015 iWitness News also reported a high turnout (over 350), including college grads, at a job fair event held by KFC.
Given all that has already happened, like the vaccine mandate and emigration, etc.; and whatever else may happen before the next election, what would be your version of this “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” section of the next ULP manifesto? Besides all the noise about hotel development all over the country, keep in mind that one of the things we’ve also heard regarding NIS reform is to force all self-employed persons to contribute. Given that the NIS numbers are being used to calculate job creation, and let’s say for argument’s sake that there are 5,000 unregistered persons who suddenly become contributing members of the NIS, would you count them as part of your job creation numbers in your version of the “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” narrative?
It may be fair that you include them, given that you probably will lose count from those affected by the vaccine mandate and those who “took belly mek boat” to deeper waters.
As usual, our encouragement to you is that you pay closer attention to your affairs.
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