December 23, 2010
Leacock – An opportunity missed

St. Claire Leacock, parliamentary representative for Central Kingstown, is of the view that the 20,000 jobs which the New Democratic Party (NDP) had promised to provide, had they been elected to government, is an opportunity missed.{{more}}

He said despite this, as a people, Vincentians need to determine how these jobs can be salvaged.

Leacock, who was elected to Parliament as the representative for Central Kingstown on December 13, made these comments on Sunday, December 19, when he called into an interactive radio programme on the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) radio.

“It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs! Every Vincentian really wants to wean himself off the politician. We have to go beyond this thing where we are beholden to politicians,” the Opposition parliamentarian stated.

At a press conference on Saturday, December 4, Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace had said that the NDP had lined up international companies who were willing to invest “hundreds of millions of dollars” in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but only if the NDP was elected to office. These investments, Eustace had said, would create more than 20,000 jobs for Vincentians in two years time.

When questioned by panelist on Sunday’s radio programme Jomo Thomas, Leacock said, creating 20,000 jobs is “real and possible.”

He, however, admitted that getting the investment projects from conceptualization to implementation in a two year period “could be tight”.

Leacock said that within the first five year period of an NDP government, “we would have seen jobs getting up to that 20,000 number”.

“Two years might be the watershed, beyond that, things would begin to flow,” he said.

When asked by panelist Renwick Rose if potential investors had set the conditions that they would only invest in St. Vincent and the Grenadines if the NDP is in power or if St. Vincent and the Grenadines breaks relations with Cuba and Venezuela, Leacock said the only condition should be the economics of the investment.

“No self respecting government should accept a condition of any foreign direct investment with a pre-condition being a break of relationship with Cuba or Venezuela, or any country for that matter. The conditionality should be the economic underpinning in which you are going to be involved,” he said.

“St. Vincent cannot go forward… without opening ourselves more to foreign direct investment. We don’t have the capital at home to do it, neither is it available in the region…. We must proceed with a degree of urgency, to provide private sector development,” Leacock, a business consultant said.

“I am not going to assume that we have the most enlightened private sector. In some cases, we have to create the private sector as well, because in many cases, it is backward, and outdated.”

Leacock said that in preparing the 2011 budget, the government has two or three choices available to it.

“We are running a deficit budget at the moment. We can’t continue that much longer. We will either have to raise taxes to close the deficit or borrow or contain costs.”

If costs are contained Leacock said, fewer jobs will be created. He, however, said with creativity, costs can be contained, while emphasizing productivity and having a look at all management systems.