Our Readers' Opinions
April 5, 2016
Something is really wrong in this country

Editor: As a taxi driver who operates at the ET Joshua Airport at Arnos Vale, I’m fortunate to interact with persons from various parts of the world. The majority of these persons I meet tend to enquire about different aspects of St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}} I’m very mindful about my responses because I’m of the impression that they know the answers and are testing my knowledge. Many of these visitors ask about our Prime Minister and his management skills; they also ask about the Opposition’s take on how the Prime Minister is managing the country. Crime is something they also inquire about, but the question I always find very interesting is when they ask about our foreign policy. My answer to them about foreign policy is: “We are friends of all and enemy to none.”

I also draw their attention to the Argyle International Airport, as it is a product of our international policy. I also inform them about the numerous medical schools we have, because it speaks of the value of our national security. We must commend the tourism department for their efforts; they seem to be doing well despite the recent incident on the Leeward side of the island; they seem to be trying their best with the safety aspect of our tourism product. Another question that is very commonly asked by visitors is about our economy. I would say to them: “Like any other country there are challenges, but we trying.” The conversation with visitors always gets interesting when they inquire about the private sector. First, I inform them that we have a buy and sell economy and the taxation is difficult on private sector businesses who are trying to develop.

As a Vincentian, I am aware of the country’s wants and needs. It is true that the Government has reduced corporate tax, but if one wants to know what is happening, ask poor people who are finding it difficult to make ends meet.

Could one truly say that the private sector is doing well? Don’t judge the private sector by a few supermarkets who appear to be doing well (man must eat). If one ventures to most of the clothing stores in Kingstown, you will hear and see what’s happening.

Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley recently said that Trinidadians are living above their means and I strongly believe that applies to the majority of us Vincentians. I am of the opinion that is why most Vincentians seem to be struggling; they give the impression that all is well, but that is far from the truth. Unemployment is a very serious problem; criminal activities and crime seem to be the way of life of some Vincentians. Begging seems to be a part of our culture. There are only a few Vincentians who are doing well and when you ask them how they are making it, they say to you “mind your own business; once me and my family doing well, to hell with the rest.”

It’s a shame where we are today; something is really wrong. Is it right to blame the Government for what is happening today with the state of the economy? What about the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). It definitely isn’t oil prices to blame, because prices today are at their lowest. Is it VAT? Is it import duties? Or is it our need to produce more? What about the quality of our production; this is where we need to show significant improvement.

The Trinidad and Tobago economy is struggling; Barbados is finding it difficult to sustain its economy; yet our Prime Minister is saying we are doing well and he expects modest growth. Where is it going come from? I wonder if it would come from raising taxes. Go around and ask Vincentians if they can sustain themselves after the high raise in tax we saw in the recent budget. So, I’m hoping leaders of the Caribbean put their heads together and focus on a better Caribbean.

Kingsley De Freitas