Can the ECCB be relied on to advance the economic cause of SVG?
Editor: The position of the ECCB in 2008-2009, must be referred to in any discussion on the prevalence of non-communicable diseases in St Vincent and the Grenadines, the intensity of which is driven by the reduction of the availability of food, healthy foods which we produced locally in abundance over the years. Lack of food road access has been a significant handicap to agricultural activity today. In this regard Dr Ralph Gonsalves and his men/women will find it very difficult to offer a defence, when one remembers that they had promised fervently to address the enhancing of our agricultural potential. In too many areas blatant mismanagement has been in evidence.
This has been painfully obvious that we have gone from the producing of all our needs in green vegetables and a prominent exporter of root crops including carrots but today we are importing carrots and coconut products. Our administrators seem not to have appreciated what we had and what we needed to do to enhance the well-being of the people in this land of agriculture. There has been lack of evidence of assertiveness, by the technocrats who had been trained in the relevant disciplines.
And they have thus accommodated the immature recklessness of the politicians who had been elevated to positions of authority, though they had hither to not been involved in societal development.
They on their own, determine how the country’s resources are used!
The evidence of this hap-hazard approach to management has been particularly obvious with respect to agriculture and it underlies the current strangulation of our economy and the hardships which a large percentage of the population are burdened with. That cannot be refuted!
It can be fairly said that in that area St Vincent and the Grenadines has retrogressed under Ralph.
Remembering that in 2008-2009, when the ECCB devised a plan to respond to the economic pressure resulting from the world wide economic down-turn; they said that they would inject significant capital in the sectors of Tourism, Manufacturing, Construction and Fishing. The Agriculture sector was not included in that plan, despite the fact that at that time agriculture employed over thirty five thousand people.
The ECCB was not even concerned about our food security, for indeed the then Governor of the ECCB posited that the sub-region could import food cheaper, if the states purchased collectively from outside of the region. That was the position of Sir Dwight Vennor the then Governor.
So today we have a high food import bill and the healthy food and fruits we produced and used have been replaced with imports the eating of which has been crippling our people with the high incidence of non- communicable disease. The evidence is there and to a significant degree that the ECCB had been indifferent to the welfare and development of the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines who have survived and to some degree prospered over these many decades because of our agriculture.
We in St Vincent and the Grenadines cannot now trust the ECCB to determine our way forward; remembering that the much landed “stimulation and growth plan” of 2008-2009 did not produce the expected results. All the target sectors declined! Let us now focus on an examination of the plan, comprehensive and open, to see why it failed.