August 17, 2010
PM predicts more unrest ahead in Western Europe

This country’s Minister of Finance is predicting more protest in Western Europe as the global economic crisis continues.{{more}}

At least three people were killed in May as Athenians took to the streets over the Greek government’s strict economic measures.

But Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on Tuesday said such unrest may break out in other parts of the continent as economists speak of the possibility of a double-dip recession.

Gonsalves was speaking to reporters in response to opposition criticism of the performance of the National Commercial Bank.

“Let me say this to you. You see what the Europeans are doing? Everybody in Europe is cutting back. The government is cutting back. The more they cut back, the more problems for places like St. Vincent and the Grenadines because you are going to have a slowdown in the economy,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Economic Development.

“I don’t know some of these (European) countries, whether when the cuts start to bite if you are going to see people on the streets, not only as you have in Athens, but you may see it in several other places in Western Europe. I am not calling [the name of] any country,” the Minister of Finance said.

Gonsalves further spoke of renowned economist and Nobel Laureate Professor Paul Krugman’s column in the New York Times of August 8.

Krugman said up to one-third of the streetlights in certain United States districts were being turned off to save money.

“They don’t have the money to pay for the electricity bill for the street lights. This is not America. I switched off streetlights?” Gonsalves said.

“They, [the opposition New Democratic Party], think it has been easy over the last two years to manage this small economy?” he added.

Gonsalves said the opposition should read Krugman’s column even as he spoke of slow down in the American economy and the absence of job creation.

He said that as a local economic planner, he has to take accounts of these realities, adding that the world is “not about to easily and quickly exit the worst depression in the world since 1929”.

However, while Gonsalves has read the New York Time’s commentary, he said he had not as yet read a Special Audit Report that red flagged misappropriation of funds and wastage of resources among other untoward practices at the Ministry of Health. (KXC)