By D. Markie Spring
Yet, the majority is now convinced that Ralph Gonsalves does not understand the field of economics.
The author of a number of published works, D. Markie Spring was born in St Vincent and the Grenadines and now resides in Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands. He has an MBA from the University of Leicester, England, and a BA from Saint Mary's University, Canada
Each day we live, I've listened to Ralph moving his self-worth from a dollar to mega millions. The conclusion of this crafted lottery jackpot are to insinuate that he is the most brilliant, an outstanding economist and political scientist, and the 'God-sent', solely having the ability to run the affairs of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
Over time, his "Lumber-supporters" and "Paid-programmers" are echoing the same senseless sentiments without thinking and analyzing the status quo for themselves. However, Ralph's convoluted background does not match his performance over the 15 years he´s been in government.
During those years, SVG has been plagued by enormous economic setbacks. For over a decade now, SVG's economy has experienced negative growth although its prime minister had promised economic growth year after year, which has brought about extreme poverty and grievous unemployment, notwithstanding the escalating crime rates. Additionally, during Ralph's rule SVG's daunting economy was struck twice by the flash-floods and once by Hurricane Tomas, which the PM held onto as the passport for years of economic drawbacks.
Among other phenomena; the constant borrowing and taxes, yet, the scarcity of industries and other socio-economic development; Ralph's interview about LIAT in Grenada where he indicated that LIAT does not exist to make a profit; all the madness behind the scenes of the international airport in which the PM stated that the global economic meltdown (GEM) will have no economic bearing, has allowed me to infer that the PM is lacking economic knowhow.
Furthermore, the YES program, where person spends more than they earned; the geothermal landscape, which indicates that the country will own fewer shares than its external bidders; the distribution of lumber instead of stable long-term jobs -- hence, the "Love" campaign; the shutting down of agriculture industry, importing more than exporting; and the present economic condition of the state -- I am convinced that Ralph does not understand the field of finance and economics or its management.
Most disturbing, Ralph Gonsalves has, on many occasions, blamed the GEM and the floods for severely crippling SVG's efforts to grow its economy. Again this excuse surfaced once more on page 17 of the ULP's 'red' book; however, Ralph's claims are not entirely true.
First, let's agree that any type of disaster initially leaves an economic imprint on any economy -- sets in motion a complex chain of events, which often disrupt both the local and, in severe cases, the national economy. However, the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis argued that the recovery process yields economic growth and has termed the recovery period as the fiscal expansion.
The rebuilding and clean-up efforts generate temporary increases in retail sales items, such as batteries, canned foods and construction materials.
Furthermore, this rebuilding activity usually creates both increased sales tax receipts and additional employment. Hence, the bank describes this feature of a disaster as being ironic, as it spurs the pace of economic activity in the region where it occurred. Additionally, destroyed physical assets are replaced with assets incorporating highly advanced technology; thus, enhancing incomes.
Coupled with this, the bank reiterates, normally the net economic effects of the recovery period are wedded to a number of factors, which include strength of the economy prior to the disaster and the timing and extent of disaster monies from federal government and private organizations, like the Red Cross.
Hence, Ralph's claims could only be true if he dismantled the recovery process. Noticeably, there has been a huge rock on Byrea's bridge for many years, many homes are still unfixed and one of the bridges at Georgetown has to sink in the middle for construction to begin. Many more rebuilding efforts took place around election 2015; hence, leaving the economy to deteriorate further until that time.
Similarly, the PM hides his incompetence behind the GEM! On one hand he falsely indicated to the nation that the global economic setbacks sparked by widespread failures in financial regulations would never affect the construction of the airport. Contradicting, he returned later-on and adamantly blamed the GEM for his inability to grow the economy.
It is worthy to note that while PM Gonsalves was blaming the GEM, economists revealed that a number of economies around the world had positive growth, ranging from 0.1 percent to over 10 percent. Economists further explained that the key to these successes lay in the leaders' abilities and vision to gather their cabinets and design economic strategies and fight against protectionism; hence, developing further trade and investment agreements with key trade partners and lower trade costs and barriers.
In some nearby Caribbean countries the authorities opened their tourism sectors by offering vacation packages at reduced prices, which increased the airport traffic and tourist arrivals.
Other effective global responses to the crisis were: tax rebates and tax reforms to aid in sectors, such as housing; stimulus plans; and lower interest rate policy. In fact, some banks reduced their interest rates to entice investors while some leaders urged refinancing strategies.
Furthermore, I am also aware that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had, in September 2010, recommended that the financial crisis won't exit without a significant decrease in the unemployment rate, as millions of people worldwide lost their jobs in the process. Knowing this, SVG seems to be in a recessionary state.
The million dollar question is what was SVG doing during this recessionary period? The answers lie in the status quo! We did nothing, but adapted austerity measures and waited on developed economies to correct the situation.
To further bolster the two phenomena above, the ever-increasing taxes in SVG is alarming. SVG, being a small and vulnerable economy cannot solely survive on taxes. The truth is, industries, employment and taxes are wedded to each other -- without one there is no marriage. For one to pay taxes, there must be employment and for employment to exist, there must be industries.
What is happening in SVG is that the few employed are paying taxes for the huge number of people who cannot get a job; hence, the constant increases in taxes on one set of people -- the employed few.
I urge the PM to stop looking at us as opposition and internet crazies, and the other degrading names with which he has christened us and let us help in moving the country forward. In many of the PM's infamous speeches he often highlights that together we will build our country. The question is, does this 'togetherness' mean he and his family or is it the PM and the other followers? I ask because the PM's actions often refute his words.
These economic setbacks cannot solely be pointing toward the global economic crisis and the unexpected disasters -- there has to be some form of incompetence and lack of vision and leadership that is playing a huge role in SVG's economic collapse.
In my opinion, Gonsalves' only strategy and economic ability is to tax the daylight out of citizens and beg his way to economic prosperity -- we´ve seen the results.