PMC addresses state of SVG’s economy
August 16, 2011

PMC addresses state of SVG’s economy

In an attempt to engage the public in discussions on the effects of the global recession on the local economy, and ways in which they can be alleviated, the People’s Movement for Change hosted a forum on the matter on Tuesday, August 9, at Frenches House.{{more}}

Despite the poor public turnout, panelists gave thought-provoking presentations on their takes of how the local economy could be improved.

The panelists included Shafia London, Jomo Thomas and Ashley Cain.

London, the former executive director of the SVG Chamber of Commerce, and a small business owner, focused her presentation on small business ownership – in particular agro-business.

“We live in an integrated world where the actions of one country… can quickly affect us,” she reminded the audience.

London cited issues such as large fiscal deficits, huge public debt, high inflation and low international reserves as reasons for the instability of the world market.

She insisted that as a country, the onus is on us to find ways in which we can combat those effects through local solutions.

One such solution, she suggested, is for locals to adopt the culture of being business owners and not always look to foreigners to provide us with business opportunities.

“We manage, but some how cannot consider ownership,” commented London.

“Is it that we lack the initiative? Is it that we do not have the financial resources? Or is it that we are just better at following directions? Someone has to take the risk!”

She added that part of the problem may be that Vincentians have not managed to shake off the “shackles of colonisation”.

Another issue she mentioned, was the apparent low levels of technological “know-how” and skill among locals.

Despite the gloomy outlook, London insisted that solutions are available to us, and if applied correctly, can revive the economy.

“In a time of crisis, SVG is actually very well-poised to step into a productive nexus, and to move up the value chain,” she explained.

She identified several potential solutions, with particular emphasis on pursuing business ventures that utilise more local recruitment; investing more in our own work-force; and attracting those in the Diaspora back to our shores.

“As we develop, we should be able to atract a lot more people to our shores,” said London.

“St. Vincent and the Grenadines has a bright future. We should all be participants and beneficiaries. A prosperous and stable SVG is in everyone’s best interest… meeting those challenges will not be easy!”

Jomo Thomas, political economist, commentator and lawyer, also weighed in on the discussion.

He spoke on the country’s national debt, and other strains on the economy, such as Hurricane Tomas and the increasing cost of the construction of the international airport.

Thomas acknowledged the attempts to improve the local economy through agriculture and tourism, but said that he believes the real solution to our financial woes lies in better governance.

“If we don’t have good governance, we are going to end up with a tremendous amount of problems. Even more… than the ones we have now,” he warned.

“They must govern in the interest of our people.”

The final presentation was delivered by Ashley Cain, agricultural economist attached to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Cain highlighted the issues with which various countries have had to battle over the decades, and how they overcame them.

One such case was that of the Mad Cow disease outbreak in the UK, and its dire effect on the British economy.

“It is my hope that… we would be able to understand the global realities which confront us, and stimulate creativity,” he said.

Cain also highlighted the need for Vincentians to be more in tune with their spirituality.

He insisted that we need to “combine our new capabilities with the spirit of love, brotherhood and cooperation”.