Phillip Jackson, while speaking on Asbert News Network and ITFX Digital Solutions’ Facebook live talk show ‘On D Spot’, outlined a number of ideas that he hopes to implement in Marriaqua, if he is nominated by the New Democratic Party to contend, and eventually wins, the next general elections constitutionally due here by March 2021.
He is coming up against three other persons who have also offered their services to represent the New Democratic Party, the main political Opposition force in SVG.
Academically versed, Jackson – a scientist and innovation specialist – is currently pursuing a Phd. in economic development with special focus on the digital economy and its inherent prospects for small States development.
Considering his training, experience and passion for community and national development, he opted to offer himself on an NDP ticket, where he hopes to exercise, “more direct impact as a policy maker, using political power for transformation” than his current position as a public servant affords him, if elected.
Jackson is keen on facilitating access to, “wealth creation, total wellness, jobs and opportunities” for the people of Marriaqua. His vision is of life beyond non-value added farming for his constituency.
He therefore plans to use the hitherto dormant La Croix boxing plant as a value adding station where raw agricultural products can then be processed allowing for exportation.
Not only will such processing plants add value to raw material, they will stimulate the need for intensive labour that will lead to job creation and revenue generation. Employing a cooperative approach, as is his plan, will lead to general production cost reduction and allow farmers to be more competitive in regional and international markets, he asserted.
Jackson believes that challenging the prevailing perception of agriculture so to encourage an investment centered approach will help to eliminate the negative mindset young Vincentians are cultivating towards the industry. His NTRC SVG I-Squared winning agri-marketing app, is being used in a data driven manner, providing relevant information to suppliers, buyers and distributors to make better marketing decisions that will help to secure fairer prices for their products, in turn helping to stabilize the market for a longer period.
Additionally, he intends to initiate a credit system with financial institutions that will help furniture makers, in Marriaqua, to sell their wares. This will help them to compete with businesses who offer hire purchase payment plans.
Jackson, as embodied in his campaign mantra, “Marriaqua On De Move”, is passionate about training people in the largely agricultural district to incorporate the use of technology, food production and traditional knowledge to create wealth that will transcend through generations. He also sees the need, now more than ever, for the astute exploitation of the digital economy across St. Vincent and the Grenadines given the still rampaging COVID-19 pandemic along with other potential threats.
His panoramic vision includes stimulating development through wealth creation with the use of information and communications technology. Jackson hopes to transform Marriaqua from being a low-end agriculture based community to a “world class hiking destination,” that promotes an eco-friendly tourism product.
Once he is “fully weaponized” as the NDP’s legitimate area candidate, Jackson plans to promote his idea to develop a “virtual Marriaqua, virtual St. Vincent …” This would see Marriaqua being positioned as a virtual tourist destination which in turn is expected to generate revenues through the use of intellectual properties, called geographical indicators.
This strategy brings with it an added advantage – the ability to host a considerably larger number of tourists, without the need to house them or incur COVID-19 management related expenses.
However, the community would only benefit from this type of tourism, if the government exercises prudency. If he is to become an elected MP, in an NDP-led government, he would lead the charge to ensure that a percentage of revenues generated through virtual tourism be used directly in the constituency for local development.
Apart from virtual tourism he proposed that Marriaqua can become a leader in his Party’s wealth creation drive simply by offering tourists a truly Vincentian experience. This, he posits, is achievable by providing local bed and breakfast styled accommodations and other packages that allow visitors to be involved in preparing freshly harvested food – straight from the garden, community clean-up programs and other hands on involvement; all combined to give the visitor a sense of spiritual connection with their destination.
Jackson is hopeful that his network, philosophy, skills and experience coupled with adequately harnessing the rewards of collective ownership is the basis needed to propel his prospective constituents into better economic conditions. To that end part of his mission would be to establish properly functioning cooperatives in the area.
Come Tuesday August 11, some 50 qualified delegates are expected to convene the NDP’s Marriaqua constituency council to determine whether or not Phillip Jackson’s plans for the Valley are worthy of their political capital.
[email protected] & Elma Francis