The Unity Labour Party Manifesto 2015
Table of Contents
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a small, open, resource-challenged economy with an historical legacy of underdevelopment, buffeted by the challenges of globalisation and trade liberalisation, and subject to the vagaries of severe natural disasters at a time of global warming and deleterious climate change. At the same time, our country is possessed of possibilities and strengths which flow from an industrious people, fertile soil, bountiful seas, natural beauty, clean air, a peaceful and democratic way of life, the rule of law, the application of modern science and technology, strong regional and international ties of solidarity, our belief in the supremacy of God and the freedom and dignity of man and woman in a Caribbean civilisation of increasing nobility and quality.
Since 2008, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been particularly badly hit by a series of externally-sourced blows, including: The socio-economic fall-out from the worst global economic depression of the last 100 years, lasting from 2008 until the present time; five adverse weather events/natural disasters (2010 to 2014) occasioning economic loss and damage amounting to more than one-third of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or over EC $600 million; the adverse impact of the CLICO and BAICO melt-downs amounting to 17 percent of GDP, in liabilities; the shaking of confidence brought about by the weakening of the indigenous banking sector in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU); and the huge increase in the price of a barrel of imported oil from US $30 in 2000 to US $148 in July 2008, stabilising at roughly US $60 currently. These are in addition to the virtual dismantling of the preferential regime, between 1995 and 2005, for our bananas in the United Kingdom/Europe.
Despite all these blasts to our economy from 2008, and continuing, economic growth resumed in 2011, tepid at first, then strengthening modestly in 2012 and 2013, before a marginal dip occurred in 2014 consequent upon the horrendous natural disaster of December 2013. Economic growth has occurred in 2015, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts an upswing of 3 percent growth in 2016, and a continuing uptick thereafter. St. Vincent and the Grenadines has undoubtedly been among the better performers in the OECS, before and after 2008. Further our fiscal performance has been far better than the OECS average. And our country’s financial sector stability has been sound, and our indigenous bank, Bank of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been, and is, among the better banking performers in the Currency Union.
Between 2001 and 2015, some 8,000 additional jobs have been created in our economy even though the rate of unemployment still remains a major challenge, demanding further structural and strategic actions as advanced in this Manifesto.
Historically, the absorptive capacity of our economy for labour has been low. Incrementalism has not worked as has been shown in the period 1984 to 2001. Big ticket items are required to boost economic growth and job creation including: International Airport development; cheaper, reliable energy such as the geothermal initiative; the modernisation of the Port and Cruise Ship facilities; widespread education and training; sound health facilities; major tourism developments; enhanced services such as those delivered through the four medical schools for overseas students; further initiatives in agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing, and construction; and building resilience to climate change. All of these are to be grounded in fiscal consolidation of prudence and enterprise, financial sector stability, monetary stability, low-to-moderate inflation, private sector development and increased foreign direct and domestic, investment, an ease of doing business, a viable and productive public sector investment programme, an efficient public administration, deepening regional integration, an efficacious and beneficial foreign policy, and good governance generally. This comprehensive and creatively balanced approach to economic development, job creation, and equity is the only way forward for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
It is this overall framework which the ULP government has advanced in its SVG National Economic and Social Development Plan, 2013 – 2025. The Plan’s five major Strategic Goals are: (1) Re-engineering Economic Growth; (2) Enabling Increased Human and Social Development; (3) Promoting Good Governance and Increasing the Effectiveness of Public Administration; (4) Improving Physical Infrastructure, Preserving the Environment, and Building Resilience to Climate Change; and (5) Building National Pride, Identity, and Culture. Within these five strategic goals there is an aggregate of strategic objectives.
Under the central goal of Re-Engineering Economic Growth there are eleven strategic objectives, namely:
✔ Maintaining strong macro-economic fundamentals;
✔ Revitalising the agricultural, fisheries, and manufacturing sectors;
✔ Stimulating growth in the tourism sector;
✔ Developing the financial sector;
✔ Enhancing the role of the private sector in economic and social development in conjunction with the state and cooperative sectors;
✔ Attaining a strong and sustainable external trade position;
✔ Developing the information and telecommunications services sector;
✔ Enhancing production and competitiveness;
✔ Maximising benefits through integration into the OECS Economic Union, CSME, and the global economy;
✔ Boosting economic activity in the construction sector;
✔ Optimising the economic contribution made by ocean resources.
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS
In our fourth term, the target is to create at least 9,000 jobs in five years. This is realisable given the opening of the international airport; the geothermal development; the modern city at Arnos Vale; the Port modernisation and extension of the Cruise Ship Pier; the major tourism developments in Mt. Wynne/Peter’s Hope, in Bequia, Canouan, Union Island, Mayreau, and apartments for medical schools’ students; the initiatives in agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing, ICT, assorted services, and construction; the impact of the Education Revolution; and the Public Sector Investment Programme.