St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) currently has a cost of living crisis coupled with high unemployment due to many of the government’s economic decisions, an Opposition senator has said.
Speaking on radio recently, Senator Israel Bruce said these issues are evident and show in many forms, such as many families being unable to pay for basic necessities and the many males that can be seen on blocks throughout the country.
Bruce spoke about these issues on Nice Radio on August 9 during the New Times Radio program where he said that many young men in this country cannot recognize their full potential while living with pride.
“I am using the example of South Central Windward…I am committed to tackling that crisis…and the party stands with me in tackling the unemployment,” Bruce said, while noting that he is seeking out several opportunities in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) that may benefit unemployed young men.
“I know the country is failing the young men of South Central Windward and [Saboto] Caesar is failing the young men because they need a better economic situation,” Bruce told listeners.
The politician who contested the South Central Windward seat on a New Democratic Party (NDP) ticket and lost to the Unity Labor Party’s (ULP) Saboto Caesar during the last General Elections, said once appointed to government, the NDP will address the cost of living crisis using a five point plan.
The five points of the plan are (i) Reduce the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 16 per cent to 13 per cent, (ii) Reduce the Customs service charge (to make life easier for consumers and small businesses), (iii) Increase the support for lower income families (by expanding the existing support programs), (iv) reducing the impact of the fuel surcharge on electricity bills and (V) reducing the list of VAT items with the aim to zero rate some items that will help persons.
“That is the solemn commitment of the NDP in addressing the cost of living crisis that this government has brought on the country…” Bruce stated.
He added, “Right now I know too many families that catching they ‘nen nen’ to make ends meet. People neglect buying text books because of VINLEC bill, just to save the embarrassment of the entire family. People having problem paying for basic food stuff.”
He said the NDP, when they form government, will address the issues affecting the country with targeted interventions aimed at problems affecting young people.
Speaking during the NDP sponsored program, Bruce, a lawyer, said that the government just spent over half a million dollars on the ‘One Family Concert’ which was supposed to be a celebration of CARICOM’S 50th anniversary and while he is not saying that we shouldn’t celebrate the milestone, the money could have been used differently.
“Some parents can’t buy books, pay (school) registration fees, VINLEC…,” said Bruce while adding that although the concert was for CARICOM, no official invitations were sent to any member of the NDP.
The aspiring parliamentary representative for South Central Windward said he is committed to providing better representation to everyone and not just party supporters.
“If you choose not to support me, I want you to know that will not be a jail sentence. You will not be in prison because the NDP does not share the notion that if you don’t support us you are in some metaphorical prison. You will be treated equally and with respect regardless of political persuasion,” Bruce said while noting that is one of the differences between the ULP and NDP.