Two important things our country needs to be optimally productive and achieve prosperity for all, are a healthy population and an educated population.
Countries around the world that are prosperous and have strong economies, such as Singapore, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, have very good health systems and educational facilities.
However, in SVG, the health and educational facilities are not that good, as they have been underfunded for many years by the ULP.
In the Budget Estimates 2021, the allocation for health was only $28,843,610 and for education it was only $33,741,410. Based upon a population of 108,000 in SVG, this works out to be only $267 per person for health and only $312 per person for education.
Only $267 per year to cover a person’s health and medical needs is not enough. Our health centres and facilities need to be modernised. We need more doctors and nurses in SVG. Health services, including dental and ophthalmic services, hearing test, medicines, physiotherapy, etc. need to be free. SVG needs a healthy population to have a working and industrious population.
Having poor health can lead to an inability to work, income loss and an inability to support one’s family. Having a high number of people who are unwell can affect a country’s overall productive capacity and it is also likely to adversely affect a nation’s development prospects.
Having a high number of people with poor health can affect the amount of foreign and domestic investment in the economy. This also adversely affects a nation’s ability to become prosperous.
Only $312 per year to cover a person’s educational needs is not enough. It is a gross injustice that poor parents are forced to beg for money for books and uniforms. Many poor households struggle to feed their children, and being asked to pay for books and uniforms also, is too much. Our children deserve free school books, free school uniforms and free education. Poor parents should not be forced to beg on the streets for money for books and uniforms.
SVG needs better and more educational facilities and resources, including our own SVG university and adult education centres. If SVG had a highly educated population, then we would be better placed to attract foreign investment and become a prosperous country. Our economy would be stronger and this would create thousands of new jobs and mass employment.
Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA, Leader of SVG Green Party, says that long-term underfunding of health and education facilities in SVG by the ULP regime, has been very bad for our people and our country. Spending just 2.38% of the budget on health and just 2.78% of the budget on education is an insult to the people of SVG. It creates more hardship than it solves, as the country creates less revenue than it should, and wastes money paying interest on unnecessary loans.
Public finances should be invested in creating a healthy population and an educated population.
A Green government would invest substantially more in health and education. We would build more hospitals and health centres, and undertake a massive refurbishment of schools and build preschools, so all children can get free, high-quality education from preschool to university.