Leacock calls for a new dispensation
St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) currently has no programs designed to put and keep money into the pockets of poor people says St Clair Leacock, the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) vice president.
“…As a result, there is poverty richness,” Leacock said on Nice Radio’s New Times program on Tuesday.
He said that the “poverty richness” of the country has been recognised by the government whose response is to give people money in small increments, therefore creating dependency.
The Parliamentary Representative for Central Kingstown said in SVG, poverty is endemic, hurtful, painful and excruciating and, “the poorer you are, the more Papa will take care of you.”
“Papa” in Leacock’s statement refers to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, and Leacock said a poverty rich country produces ignorance and dependency where people can be bought.
“That is the simple political translation,” Leacock stressed while adding that in SVG this year, remittances have been mentioned when speaking about the economy but the bulk of money, “some windfall” , seems to have come from Alien Land Holding Licenses in Mustique, and that is not sustainable.
“…If you raise 20, 30, 40 million as a government from land sales in Mustique, nothing is wrong with that. It is income that is coming into the country on the surface at least.
“…But what are the jobs being created when one rich man buys land and pays the government, plus 5/10% ,and he sells it two three years after? The same piece of land sold over, the same property sold over, where is the sustainability, where is the job creation?” Leacock questioned.
He pointed out that he is not saying that Mustique is not “exceedingly” important to SVG’s economy, but land sales/Alien Land Holding Licenses does not put money into the pockets of the poor and down trodden people in the country.
“A few lawyers may get, but those people who are starving today, who are poor today, will remain poor,” Leacock said.
He noted also that when money is taken from the consolidated fund, money that was set aside, and put into the income stream, that is not new money being generated.
“…Ah mean good God man show a little bit of understanding nah. Is like if you have a saveall in the house, and every day you come and use to drop some money into the saveall and you burst the saveall and use the money, it ain’t new money, it is money been there all the time.
“Is the same, same money, so you haven’t earned anything new, you have just unleashed something that you had for the rainy day, so all you have done is compromised the future for today,” Leacock said.
The long-standing politician said that taking money from the consolidated fund is not unreasonable, “because all of us have to live and survive, and if we can’t find, beg, steal or borrow we use what we have, but that is not income.”
He said when taking money from the consolidated fund, it must be used in productive ways.
“…Unless you are now going to spend that consolidated money in some productive ways, sustainable ways to improve and enhance agriculture, to do value added things in the society, to change the fundamental structural weaknesses in the economy that people have an ongoing, basically getting money over and over again, we are not going anywhere…
“…And the message is that, we can’t keep selling to our people the same tired, microwaved statements over again.
“St. Vincent needs a new deal, a new plan, a new vision, new insights, new creativity, new innovation to guarantee our young men and women, our children coming out of schools, that there is a future for them.” Leacock stressed.
PM Gonsalves announced on Tuesday that he would use EC$20,000 of his own money to open credit union accounts for a number of children but Leacock also said that is not sustainable.
“…So when you flaunt that you will give $20,000 of your money to children going into credit union, it is good, it is noble, you in a good place and you can be generous, but the children would prefer if they could put the money into the credit union themselves, and if the parents could put it for themselves because they can’t depend on you forever,” the opposition politician said.
“In short, taking advantage of the poverty richness of the country, you are creating a dependency syndrome,” Leacock opined while nothing that it is almost as if the government is saying, “so long as the Unity Labour Party and papa and colleagues are present, you can depend on us for more poor relief, more freeness” but that is not what the country is crying out for.
“The country is crying out for us to take the lands that God has given to us and make use of it, take the ocean, take the sea and make use of it, take the brain that he has given us and make use of it, the fertile minds and ability of our artisans and culture people to make use of it to give this country a place in the modern world and that is what we want to hear…a different kind of conversation which people can lift themselves up, believe in themselves, not be dependent on their neighbours dollar, or the government dollar, or a parliamentarian dollar, not more of the same…”Leacock said.
He added that the current situation shows that citizens have their work cut out for them and they should make sure they, “do not sell themselves for 30 pieces of silver.”
Leacock pointed out that, “this country needs a new dispensation, a new way of thinking, of ideas and which we are grounded in the resilience, the hardworking ability of our people that we have inherited from our grandparents and parents and generation of yore”.