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‘Movement of people both negative, positive’

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The movement of Vincentians to other countries can have both a positive and negative economic impact on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

So says financial advisor and economist, former Girls’ High School student Stacia Morris, who presented the tenth lecture in the series last Thursday February 10, as part of the school’s 100th anniversary celebration.

Morris, who was speaking on the topic ‘the Global Economic and Financial Crisis and a Small Economy’, indicated that there were two types of persons who leave these shores for a better life: the ones who went away and stayed, and the ones who returned home called the Boomerang Migrants, of whom she went into some detail.

“A lot of what we get from them is in the form of remittances to the Caribbean; they send back money, but they also will send back educational and entrepreneurial opportunities.

“They also brought money back into the economy, they brought back savings and they built houses; they brought back their retirement incomes, they receive remittances from their children and they hire local help.”

Touching on remittances, Morris noted that there were the formal and informal types, stating that the informal type is that which cannot be quantified (cash gifts, cheques in the mail, barrels, food packages etc). The formal remittances included monies sent through banking and financial institutions.

She noted that remittances were a more important source of finance in Latin America and the Caribbean, and represents the most stable source of income for the region.

Quoting World Bank figures, she highlighted that St. Vincent and the Grenadines recorded formal remittances of US $33 million in 2007 (5.5 of the country’s Gross Domestic Product), $31 million in 2008, $30 million in 2009, and it is expected to rise to $33 million for the next three years.

“Remittances in 2008 and 2009 became even more of a lifeline to poor countries, given the massive decline in private capital inflows sparked by the crisis, slow growth of the remittances, uncertainty, impacts on emigration…. St. Vincent has been severely impacted by the global slowdown.”

According to the Layou native, who resides in Connecticut, remittances create positive impacts, including higher savings, better access to health and education, promotion of entrepreneurship, poverty reduction, better housing and better standards of living and financial provision to the general economy.

Emigration also creates a ‘Brain Drain’ which can have both a positive an negative effect.

Of the positive, Morris asked : “Whose job would I have had? We (migrants) freed up space so that the unemployment rate in St. Vincent is not higher. If we all come back you cannot absorb us….”

Of the negative brain drain, she said: “St. Vincent is one of the top countries of tertiary college educated individuals. In 2000, St. Vincent lost 84.5 of the college educated… based on World Bank statistics, a high level of higher educated West Indians have left the Caribbean.”

The author said that one of the most disturbing negative social impacts of emigration is the number of children living with no parental guidance, when a parent or both parents migrate.

“It’s mothers leaving their children because they have to go to other economies to work and leaving the fathers or grand parents to bring up the kids…. It’s personal and it’s emotional.”(JJ)