|Letter: Prudence and Enterprise in SVG; c'mon, man!|
|Published on February 3, 2014||
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C’mon, man, be honest with the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG)! The rest of the Caribbean and the world is laughing at us. In particular, your statements on Prudence and Enterprise and not implementing austerity measures.
Here are definitions of austerity measures 1: The drastic cutting of spending by government; 2: Increases in taxes and or other revenue sources by government, whereby people have less money to spend. I would not belabour the point about austerity measures anymore except to refer you to my letter published on February 8, 2012 in Caribbean News Now entitled: We laughway - 'No-austerity-measures'.
Now on Prudence and Enterprise, where do I start? William Graham Sumner, “A good father believes that he does wisely to encourage enterprise, productive skill, prudent self-denial, and judicious expenditure on the part of his son.” Then in opposition, the current prime minister criticized the former New Democratic Party (NDP) government for maintaining a budget surplus and balancing the budget.
So the question is do we have prudence in SVG? For the last eight plus years, the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government headed by the PM has produced deficit budget after deficit budget. We have had an abysmal economy for several years dominated by negative or no economic growth.
At one point we were told by this current PM that SVG was on the cusp of an economic takeoff. Also, he said what happened in the US with the banks cannot happen in SVG. Well, Vincentians have seen the likes of Nano’s banks, Stanford’s banks, Millennium Bank, British American Insurance Company (BAICO) and its sister company, Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) all with problems.
Does the ULP government headed by the PM still consider itself as prudent? Well if they do, let me throw out this question. Was it prudent to embark on the building of an international airport during a global recession without securing the necessary funds?
Can they truly tell the nation the true status of the ballooning national debt and the cost of the international airport? Where is the fiscal responsibility? Where is the prudence by this ULP government?
What are they considering as being enterprising? The building of an international airport without securing the funds? The borrowing of $100 million to make the former government-owned National Commercial Bank (NCB) liquid, then selling controlling interest for $42 million? Owing the private sector millions of dollars for years (now over $60 million and counting), then choosing to give a no bid contract of several million dollars to a Jamaican company?
Was it the signing of an agreement with the Teachers Union then turning around and saying the agreement was only aspirational? Or was it the legislative 3% salary increase to civil/public servants which they were told to take or leave?
SVG was in a crisis long before the floods of December 2013. Many farmers lost their livelihood due to government negligence. While other people lost jobs because of political victimization. Many other job losses stem from the government failure to pay the private sector the over $60 million owed and to jumpstart the SVG economy.
As Calypsoian “Parry” lamented, “We take home pay can’t take we home”. So, too was the reclassification exercise where some saw their paychecks shrink, as prices in SVG continue to rise.
Therefore, I am sending out an SOS call to Prudence and Enterprise. Dear Prudence and Enterprise, SVG needs you both more than ever! Austerity measures killing we!
Peace and justice and get real.
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Way to go Pouie! You are in excellent form with this political commentary.
Last week I read Jomo's plaintalk column in which he sought to justify the government's spending as a response to the nation's and international economic slowdown. Unfortunately, Jomo does not realize that in order for government spending to be effective it must be used to create jobs to stimulate the economy. Just borrowing to spend on imported consumer goods and civil service salaries at home and abroad is imprudent and economically devastating. On the other hand, if the spending was used to purchase goods and services that were produced in SVG, the incomes to workers and stockholders would turnover in the economy to support other economic linkages. Instead, government borrowings to pay salaries and purchase consumer goods produced abroad is just a case of eating "the seed corn". This means that the government borrowings crowd out the ability of private sector entrepreneurs to get financing and increase the tax burden on taxpayers without any appreciable results. Therefore, I am at a loss to understand why the Hon. Arnhim Eustace, the Economist, does not take the time to hammer home these fact to the Vincentian electorate.
This opportunistic PM tries to justify everything, good (the Airport is good), bad (borrowing to pay salaries is bad), or ugly (increasing deficits without reasonable gains to the nation is ugly) by borrowing economic phrases from the developed world and politicizing natural disasters. Whereas the USA can engage in defit spending with appreciable effects, SVG could do the same with damaging economic effects due to the fact that SVG barely has a middle class and a private economic sector.
There is much in the PM's Budget message (after discarding the 90% of verbiage on the flood, the history of the party and the high-faluting nonsense) that the Opposition need to bring to the public in simple down-to-earth discourse. In fact, it appears that The PM writes these lengthy, irrelevant messages because he knows that few intelligent persons have the time to read them. And so he gets away with it.
WHAT AH COUNTRIE!
Mr Eustace has been hammering home those facts to the Vincentian electorate every Monday. It is like the man is prophet, he has predicted that the country would end up in this rotten economical state, if the ULP government continues to move in the direction it was going. Over the years, Mr Eustace, Major and others in the NDP have been pointing out precisely what Sir Dwight Venner said in his recent address. The problem is that a lot of people in SVG was not listening to what is being said by Mr Eustace and the NDP.
They prefer to listen to the fast talking, slick lawyer, we have for a PM. Many has been listening to the PM but not paying attention to what he is saying. Instead, many regurgitate the nonsense he is saying without understanding what is being said. All one has to do is go back and read what the PM was writing and saying in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 2000 and early 2001 (before becoming PM), then compare and contrast it to what he is saying and doing today.
Vin, Jomo is a lost cause!