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Stupidity and recession

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Fri, Aug 5, 2011

by: C. I. Martin

A columnist in a newspaper in another island recently defined stupidity. He said it was the inability to think and make decisions on the basis of logic and empirical evidence.{{more}} Empirical evidence is simply marshalling the facts and deducing the conclusion from them. Logic is inferring conclusions from a set of premises. To say that one is tired of hearing of the international financial crisis in a discussion on the economic conditions currently prevailing in SVG is inane if not plain stupid.

The issue is not whether or not one is tired of anything; it is whether there is a financial crisis and if it is affecting SVG. We have all heard of what is happening in USA, UK and Europe. So there you have the empirical evidence.SVG is heavily dependent on the aforementioned countries for trade, aid and remittances, so we can infer that it is affected. The inference can be checked against empirical evidence such as a decline in tourist arrivals and remittances.

Education has long been regarded as an antidote to stupidity. We have to hope it is. This is why I have always supported the Educational Revolution, in particular, universal secondary education, and getting as many scholarships as possible to enable students to attend university. Unfortunately, Government cannot really afford to lend students a lot of money to go abroad. Let us, however, return to the issue of the recession.

We are into an international financial meltdown and there is little that SVG can do to change that. There are, however, several measures we can take to help ourselves. Some of these are adumbrated hereafter.

We can continue to grow our own food, giving God the glory that we have had lots of rain, unlike those countries that face starvation because of drought.

We have to take a hard look at agriculture. The possibility of developing such crops as cocoa, coconuts and bamboo needs to be fully investigated. The productivity of land and labour has to be increased. The impact of praedial larceny and weed cultivation on farming cannot be ignored. Then there is the critical issue of marketing. The OECS cannot go on buying so much from Trinidad while they buy so little from us. We do not want them to be our cash register, but there should be special arrangements for them to buy our agricultural commodities.

It has never been possible to keep SVG going without strict financial discipline in the public sector. There is little scope for giving away anything. The double pension issue needs to be sorted out; the size of the public service contained and foreign travel curtailed.

Public Works have long been used to alleviate recession. The projects need to be carefully selected and the necessary finance raised. Several projects already exist: the Terminal Building, the Airport itself and the building scheduled for the Bottlers’ (Ju-c) site. Government must insist that Vinlec get on with the installation of wind generators at Ribishi. Petrocaribe funds should be available for this. Rehabilitation work occasioned by storm damage should have a significant impact on the level of Public Works. Road maintenance and clearing overhanging trees seem to have seriously started.

We need to take steps to ensure that tourism does develop as world economic conditions improve. This involves not merely completion of the airport but other issues such as noise abatement, improvements in security and the provision of things for the tourists to see and do. Sidewalks need to be cleared so that not only the tourists but also our own old people can find space to walk. The informal sector must and will continue to exist but in carefully delineated and controlled areas. Our country is naturally beautiful. We have to strive to keep it so and where possible improve on it, with say, neatly tended gardens and a general aura of orderliness. If you were a tourist, would you want to spend money to go and see dirt and squalor? Yet we are relying on the tourism for our development. Let us not all be stupid.