We will get the economy working again, and create jobs for our people – Friday
The Opposition has made three major promises, including the creation of a specialized National Development Bank which, partly funded by the Citizenship by Investment(CBI) program, will make financing more accessible.
The Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Dr Godwin Friday, was the last to speak at the 41st annual NDP Convention held at the Arnos Vale Playing field on September 29, and he said he was bringing with him a message of hope.
“The New Democratic Party(NDP) will bring prosperity to the people of this country. We will get the economy working again, and create jobs for our people. That is our number one pledge,” he stated.
He assured that many of the most serious problems in the country would be solved by fixing the economy and forming a strong and robust one.
“We have not had that under this ULP administration,” he stated, noting that in terms of economic performance SVG is at the bottom of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States(OECS), while giving some statistics from the Central Bank.
“One of the most serious obstacles to development here in St Vincent and the Grenadines is a lack of or scarcity of credit,” he posited, and explained that commercial banks see most business ventures as too risky to confirm their loan applications.
“Financing, my friends, is the lubricant that makes an economy move and credit is the most accessible form of financing,” the Opposition leader commented.
“We will create the specialized National Development Bank to eliminate the credit problem and make financing more accessible and more affordable to the local business people. Especially to the small businesses,” he continued.
It was also assured that the bank will work with students to make sure that their student loans can be financed and that loans will also be offered to students from the community college as well.
“Student loans will be financed at a lower interest rate of between four and five percent, with flexible term security, and flexible repayment schedule,” the leader informed.
“It will also be able to provide financial and technical assistance in the areas of agriculture, fisheries, tourism, industry, housing, small business development and human resources,” Friday noted.
He affirmed that the aim of the bank will not be for profit, “although it must operate financially sound.”
“Funding for the bank will come in part from the CBI (citizenship by investment) program,” he stated, “[which] will keep the cost of borrowing low, and make it more effective.”
Secondly, the leader indicated that the NDP intends to relieve the “heavy tax burden” on Vincentians.
Friday stated that the value added tax (VAT) has increased three years in a row, “They increased it on basic items, on chicken and salt and so on. The following year they increased the rate from 15% to 16%, and the year after that they increased it on electricity.”
The VAT, which is now 16% will be decreased to 13% by the NDP, he promised.
“We don’t have to be poor. We of St Vincent and the Grenadines, we have the highest taxes in the OECS, and … we have the lowest wages. The two things are not a happy composition,” he stated, saying that there can be better.
He addressed a third problem, noting “VINLEC is killing us. VINLEC is quick to increase the fuel surcharge with the slightest provocation…that is any increase in oil prices. But slow to lower it when oil prices go down.”
He said that the electricity bill is too high, and something must be done about it.
He informed that the NDP will ensure that the fuel surcharge never exceeds the cost of the electricity consumed.
“Let’s get the St Vincent economy moving and working to create jobs for our people,” he told the crowd and those listening across the airways.