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Joblessness a time bomb – Leacock

Joblessness a time bomb – Leacock


A prominent opposition parliamentarian has described the unemployment situation in this country as a time bomb waiting to explode.{{more}}

St Claire Leacock, parliamentary representative for Central Kingstown, told SEARCHLIGHT that the “joblessness and inability of people to make ends meet” is worrying him.

He said the situation is so bad that he would not be surprised if one day, in giving vent to their feelings, people begin to loot.

Leacock referred to the approximately 2,200 persons who graduated from secondary and post secondary educational institutions this year, and asked how many of them will get jobs.

He said that at a workshop where he addressed a group of school leavers recently, it was estimated that at most, 200 people would be employed this year.

Leacock said that extrapolating over the last 10 years, these figures suggest there may be 20,000 young people “on the streets unemployed.

“My sense of St Vincent as it is now, … is that political parties are not a long way from becoming irrelevant to people and their solutions,” the vice president of the New Democratic Party said.

“How much longer are they going to wait on us to create these jobs and opportunities…?” he asked.

Leacock, who was elected to parliament for the first time in December 2010, said because politicians are not creating jobs and opportunities for many of the people, “they believe the political thing now is just talk and nothing more, and therefore, why listen to you anymore?

“It is explosive!”

He also described as serious, the vulnerability of our young women.

“When are they going to be able to do something for themselves?” he asked.

“Now, those who are trying to put a food basket on the road, or those who are trying to make some sugarcakes, or those who are trying to make a necklace, … you are running them off the streets. What must we do, and you say, don’t go to the hills and the private sector is closing down, … how are we supposed to live?

“So, one of these days, God forbid, a young man goes in town and he throws a brick into somebody’s glass pane, nearly about 10 of them, a mob, or a band of people, it would not surprise me if others join with them and start to loot,” he said.

He said they may do this because of what they see on television and to give vent to their feelings.

“What would happen, the policemen coming on the street, recognizing that they are relations and so, you think they would be quick to pull guns and so forth?

“I have seen people in the SSU (Special Services Unit of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force) who are reluctant to do their work, because they are obeying orders on the one hand, but they have empathy for the situation that you are sending them to address,” Leacock said.

“It is a worrying situation,” he said, adding that people have to be prevented from going back on the streets to protest.

The parliamentarian also said the problems being faced by Vincentians will be compounded by the new market value method of assessing property tax, which was legislated this year.

Previously, the tax paid was based on the annual rental value of the property.

“You are telling me I can’t work, I can’t try this, I can’t try that. You are telling me you want more from me to support government policies, something will have to give and I don’t know to what extent on the either side of the political fence, we will be able to make sense of the situation.”

He said legislators, on both sides of the House of Assembly, need to be practical and grasp certain fundamentals of economics.

“On both sides, there are too many people who are not making that effort, and expressing that willingness to appreciate and understand that there is a country to run and after all the political hype, there has to be a certain amount of pragmatism, practicality about this,” Leacock said.