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Black father playing with baby feet. Close up. High quality photo
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Recent media reports have cited Prime Minister Gonsalves as referring to two “internally-sourced” problems facing St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

He pointed to a low birth rate as being one of the two problems. According to iWitness News: “Gonsalves, however, said that women are not having enough children because of his government’s successes in education, greater opportunities for a woman and the whole thrust of modernity.”

In that very same week, the NDP was being chastised for erecting a billboard, which states “41% of our young people have no jobs”.

Now, let’s go back to 1985. A story carried by CANA on Dec. 4, 1985, reported on former Prime Minister James Mitchell’s address at his party’s convention.

“Unemployment and population growth are the two biggest problems facing St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Prime Minister James Mitchell told the 10th anniversary convention of his ruling New Democratic Party (NDP) here at the weekend.”

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“The local population numbers 102,000 (July 1985), with an average annual growth rate of 1.4 per cent, with the majority of babies being born to teenage mothers. Unemployment has been put at 40 per cent.”

“… Mitchell underscored the link between unemployment and the rate of population growth within the context of proper policy planning.”

“If you’re unemployed today, what future is there for your children in 20 or 30 years when there are more children, he asked”.

“He said Vincentians must work to build agriculture and tourism, and to enable the country to reach its industrialisation capacity.”

Here, we see how Mitchell, in 1985, expressed concerns over the population growth, given the unemployment rate. In 2024, Gonsalves’ ties low population growth to the “education revolution”, a widely claimed success of the ULP government. Meanwhile, the current NDP erects a billboard claiming 41% unemployment among young people.

Put it all together. Has Mitchell’s 1985 caution trickled through generations? Indeed, if what the NDP projected on its billboard and what we’ve seen in reports published by the IMF and UNICEF about the unemployment rate, then perhaps Mitchell’s question in 1985 is worth asking again: “If you’re unemployed today, what future is there for your children in 20 or 30 years when there are more children?”

Having said that, for 39 years between 1985 and 2024, SVG seemingly faces the same issues with questions of population growth and unemployment. Despite the government’s claims of its education revolution success, is the country stuck in inertia?

Observer

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 “Same issue, 2 prime ministers, 40 years apart”

  1. It’s interesting that these people criticize Mitchel for saying “bat but don’t score” but silent when Gonsalves says “bat and score”.

  2. ..The two Prime Ministers are looking at the same problems from different lens. Who is right or wrong cannot be answered simply by a yes or no answer. One has to analyze the prevailing situation as to why the birth rate has fallen and factors contribute to the decline in population as follows:

    (1) high immigration
    (2)High unemployment especially among youths.
    (3) lack of social amenities
    (4)Low paid jobs as compared to other countries , lack of comparative advantage s.
    (5)High crimes
    (6)Better Education access

    Mitchell was right when he said bat but don’t score.This is a way to take off pressure bon the land and to have a lesser effect on environmental degradation.

    Whe

  3. Urlan Alexander says:

    “(1) high immigration
    (2)High unemployment especially among youths.
    (3) lack of social amenities
    (4)Low paid jobs as compared to other countries , lack of comparative advantage s.
    (5)High crimes
    (6)Better Education access”

    Youre on the ball Theirin lies the problem

Comments closed.