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Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (iWN file photo)
Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (iWN file photo)
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By *Jomo Sanga Thomas

(“Plain Talk” Feb.16, 2024)

To babble is to talk rapidly and continuously in a foolish, excited, or incomprehensible way. PM Gonsalves and his clansmen have perfected this craft. They took this nonsense to a new level in their column, “SVG Advancing as Never Before”.

One reads the piece and can’t help but scream, these jokers can’t be serious. On which distant planet do they reside? Are they in communion with the broad citizenry, or are they content to huddle with their dwindling band of supporters who say my party right or wrong or an even smaller sliver of the population who feed at the national trough and live it up at the expense of the rest of us?

In its survey of the national landscape, the party propagandist makes the following points:

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i. The gross domestic product, or the aggregate value of all goods and services produced in a year, has grown more than three and a half times from 2001, when it assumed power, to 2023. It says we have grown from $800 million in 2001 to $2.8 billion. It also tells us more wealth has been created in SVG than ever before. 

You can argue with numbers. But we can question them. We know the vast majority of our citizens have yet to see or benefit from the so-called wealth creation that has occurred.  Proof of this assertion can be found by looking at the unemployment and poverty statistics. We have over 40% youth unemployment, and four out of 10 Vincentians live in poverty.

ii. The party says that the nominal GDP has increased from $8,000 to $25,000 annually and that real income has more than doubled. Nominal GDP is not an accurate measurement of progress. The average person is far better off, ULP says. Seriously! Thousands of Vincentians go for an entire year without earning $800, much more $8,000 or $25,000.  The ULP bigwigs and their local and foreign friends make far more than $25,000 each year, but the majority of the population eke out a living and find it increasingly difficult to keep body and soul together. GDP as a measurement of progress has long been discredited. Gonsalves and his clan need to wield and come again.

iii. Taxes on businesses have been reduced from 40 to 28% at the top, and at the bottom, personal income tax below $25,000 is tax-free. This tax reduction is significant for those at the top. However, employees at the bottom are continually squeezed. They spend most of their money on food and other basic purchases. Most Vincentians work for starvation wages and have to pay 16% VAT. These claims that they retain more of their income rings hollow.

iv. More persons are employed today than ever before. The official unemployment figures numbers have mostly stayed the same in the last two decades. Governments past and present tell us it’s just over 20%. There has been negligible growth in the population. So, what accounts for what the ULP says is employment growth from 30,000 in 2001 to 44,000 in 2023?  How many of these persons are self-employed, small entrepreneurs? The roadside across SVG is littered with persons eking out a living with ice boxes and barbecue grills. Youth make up the majority of persons in SVG, and youth unemployment is more than 40%, so where is the growth the government brags about? Significantly, the party does not tell us our current unemployment rate. It does say, though, that unemployment is defined as persons 15 to 63 years old who can work, are looking for work, are prepared to work and cannot find work. 

v. The ULP says that the poverty level has fallen in SVG, and the war against poverty continues on all fronts. Just like with unemployment, the party refuses or fails to tell us the current poverty rate in SVG. In 2020, the government abandoned a poverty assessment report, which found that poverty consumed more than 38% of the population. It also discovered that there were deep pockets of poverty in every constituency. This revelation represented a drastic deterioration from previous assessments where only North Windward and the Barrouallie were identified as deeply poverty-stricken.  Gonsalves and his clansmen said that the poverty assessment needed to be peer-reviewed. Camillo Gonsalves said it was compromised and, therefore, had to be scrapped. 

vi. The party says that SVG has moved from a country with a medium level of development in 2001 to a high level of human development by 2023. One can only guess that foreign assessors look at the quality of our housing stock and the number of vehicles on the road. They need to check with the banks and credit unions to see the high number of homes that have been repossessed for non-payment of loans. They must also peruse the court docket for those persons brought there for nonpayment of small loans from Quick Cash, Fast Cash, Courts, Singer and other institutions.  Without easier access to credit, the ULP claims of a  “massive uplift” in our people’s material life and living will plummet.

vii. ULP says SVG is on the road to an economic recovery. This new view is a revision of its 2011 rhetoric that the country was on the “cusp of an economic takeoff”.  If there is an economic recovery, most citizens neither see nor feel it. With a projected growth rate of 5.5% in 2024, there is little or nothing for Vincentians to shout about. Sandals is ecstatic. Aecon laughs to the bank with the windfall from dredging our sand for “peanuts”. Rayneau is orgasmic, while Gonsalves and his clanmen remain jubilant. But as Brother Ebony reminds us, most citizens ain’t have nothing at all.

It is clear that damn fool ah tark, but nah damn fool ah listen.

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former senator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

3 replies on “Deconstructing ULP’s ‘Big Things Ah Gwan’ babble”

  1. I could only shake my head in disbelief reading these silly words.

    When I was growing up over 70 years ago most villagers walked the streets barefoot.

    Hardly anyone had a refrigerator, a stove, a radio, indoor plumbing, electric lighting, or a water pipe in their yard.

    Only, three people in a community with over 1,500 people owned a motorized vehicle.

    Only a few children went to high school and many dropped out of primary school after a few short years.

    Many children, some with distended bellies, went to bed hungry every night.


    Since 2021, our once poor country has gained upper middle-income status by global standards.

    Nobody goes hungry — including those who are unemployed — and everyone save those who are drug addicted or mentally ill have a roof over their heads.

    Indeed, a growing problem is obesity, an affliction almost unheard of decades ago in our ten hand-to-mouth country.

    Now, nearly every home is supplied with a refrigerator, stove, electricity, and running water. A growing number of families own an automobile.

    Most children now attend high school for at least a few years.

    Jomo Thomas, what island are you living on? Surely not St. Vincent.

  2. The ULP love the situation of unemployment and poverty in SVG. It uses funds received for projects to buy brick, galvanize, cement and blocks just before an election to buy votes.

    Folks would starve for more than 4 years, then close their eyes and vote for ULP.

    This is one reason why the situation looks just like it did during and after slavery, when estate owners and managers demanded sex from women who lived in poverty, because they had no money, food, homes, or lands.

    The result was that many women had several children for different fathers. Most of the young women in SVG today are being abused because of poverty. Just like it did during and after slavery.

  3. Lots of Vincentians will leave Vincy for any port in the Caribbean or further afield if given the opportunity. “Any port for the storm “that’s St Vincent and the Grenadines.

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