January 18, 2013

Gonsalves is not the right man for the job at this time – Eustace

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is not the right man for the job at this time.{{more}}

Arnhim Eustace, Leader of the Opposition, made the comment during his budget debate presentation in the House on Tuesday.

He was referring to Gonsalves’ opening remarks in his presentation on Monday, when he referenced former world renowned Caribbean economists including Sir Arthur Lewis and William Demas.

“It is not that these frameworks or their variants did not provide some measure of economic growth and social development. By the start of the 21st Century however, there was an overwhelming sense in St Vincent and the Grenadines that these celebrated ‘lesser gods’ had failed to deliver sufficiently in the short to medium term and had led the country to a developmental dead end, in a world which had become increasingly globalised, technological, competitive, liberalised in trade and integrated though unevenly,” Gonsalves said.

The prime minister started his presentation going back 50 years, Eustace said, adding that at the pinnacle of his (Gonsalves’) arrogance, he said that the work of those involved did not provide any growth.

“But then in 2001, in comes Knight Gonsalves on his white horse to change the state of affairs.” Eustace said.

“Our knight, Sir Ralph, had come to save us, but what has he done? He has led us to consecutive years of negative growth,” the Leader of the Opposition continued.

He stated that Gonsalves had been the first Vincentian leader to establish a one billion dollar debt, the first to have the country’s credit rating reduced and the first to float a bond issue and have it unsubscribed.

Eustace continued, saying that Gonsalves currently presides over a significant current account deficit and the largest ever account payable and it was under his leadership that the banana industry has been at its worst.

“Is this the knight who came to save us? I wonder what should be done?” Eustace said.

Eustace went back to a speech he delivered in December 2004 when outlined some problems that had started to surface, then three years after the Unity Labour Party (ULP) had formed government.

He said then that despite the prime minister’s comments that the economy was doing well, it remained in serious trouble.

“There are so many indicators that could give us a feel of what our economy is doing,” Eustace said.

“Sales are down and expected are lay-offs; inflation would keep creating problems; instead of dealing with the problems of the day and dealing with the poor, much time is spent on those persons who are perceived as NDP supporters, in preventing them from getting jobs – their rights including their right to work has been curtailed.”

The difference then and now, was the economy was growing, Eustace said, but now the situation had worsened because we have had four years of negative growth.

And he continues to exaggerate the facts, despite the escalating debt, high levels of unemployment, negative economic growth which Eustace said had brought untold suffering to many people.

“The prime minister’s attitude reminds me of what they said about Emperor Nero, that he fiddled while Rome burnt; Prime Minister Gonsalves now fiddles as St Vincent and the Grenadines burns.

“It is time that he recognizes that he is unable and accept responsibility for failing,” Eustace said. (DD)