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Take the jab, man!

Take the jab, man!

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EDITOR: On the back page of last week’s Searchlight newspaper, there is an article which headlines a quote from my colleague of longstanding– Leo Anderson. The article which captions the words, “ Brace for steep prices, consumers warned”, speaks in particular to the steep rise in building material prices worldwide.

Leo’s comments are not an exaggeration in any way but, is in fact, a statement of today’s reality. Yet, I am optimistic that there will be a greater balance of economic forces before year’s end – and we all have a role to play in achieving this.

I see it as a perfect economic storm – reduced production and tight supply chain, matched against unbending market demand, has resulted in major price hikes. And it all has to do with the Covid pandemic.

Since 2020, lumber mills either closed their doors or curtailed operations. Some staff refused to turn out to work for fear of contracting Covid even when there were no work restrictions mandated. Timber was also in limited supply, so too were billets for steel production. This situation was exacerbated by delays in shipments , of both raw materials and finished goods. The entire chain continues to be problematic :- i.e. making the products, getting ocean containers, hauling them to the port, getting sufficient dock workers ,clearing backlogs in ports and so on.

In the meantime, building projects continue apace. This is the remit of governments who recognize the importance of construction to help buttress struggling economies. Also, individuals ( in the USA and Europe) who now spend more time at home, have diverted their funds from travel and entertainment to take on small home projects. They have more time on their hands. So, the result of the cocktail of variables is , ballooning prices. They are with us now, right here in the Caribbean.

Thinking positively, if we line up all the ducks in a row, prices should come back down by late 2021. The underlying substrate will be the steady and purposeful decline in the number of active Covid cases. Observance of the protocols by everyone will help but I think more than ever, the taking of the vaccine is supremely critical. We have to work towards getting to herd immunity levels, especially if variants could put a spanner in our anti-Covid programme going forward.
Even here in SVG, we have to play our part. I believe that many of us are leaving it up to others to take the vaccine and that we will be fine in the end, despite not having taken it. But it will not work that way. It requires all of us to travel on this road – together. We have an obligation to ourselves, our children , parents and to this place we call home.

I believe that we could be in for a major uptick in economic activity in 2022 if we do the right things. From where I sit, I am aware of keen interest by persons to come to St Vincent and the Grenadines by both air and sea. Yes, people will want to travel again. The government and the private sector are working on building capacity. Prices will come back down and level out, despite the prevailing demand. To take advantage of the possibilities before us, we have to play our part. Take the jab, man!

Joel Providence

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