Crime in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is out of control under the incompetent ULP regime. Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA, believes that the ULP regime does not have the ability to make the necessary economic and social changes needed to rectify the situation.
Research has revealed that illiteracy and poverty are substantial contributing factors to criminal activity in SVG. The research shows that males who cannot read and live in poverty, have a very strong possibility of falling into crime. Failure to eradicate illiteracy will be very costly in terms of dealing with subsequent crime and criminality in the long term.
From 2008 to 2012, SVG suffered an extended period of gruesome crime with 119 murders. In that same time period, there were 21 brutal killings of women by cutlass wounds, gun shots, strangulation, knife stabbing and blunt instrument trauma.
Years further down the line, the problem had only become worse. In 2016, SVG became one of the most dangerous countries in the world when it suffered 40 murders, making it one of the top 10 most murderous countries in the world. It was the highest murder rate in our country’s history. If our people’s blood continues to run because of fatal crimes, this would mean our country is in a dangerous and desperate state.
SVG has a low level of human development – only about 1 to 2 per cent of each school year goes on to become university graduates. Our education system is shockingly bad. The statistics show that SVG must invest heavily in education to eliminate the spiralling problem of crime. The level of illiteracy in male youths in SVG is shameful and despicable.
All of this, especially over the past 20 years is because the ULP regime has been massively underfunding our children’s education and has failed to build our own university in SVG.
According to the World Bank, high murder rates undermine economic growth and social development, and leave countries caught in a vicious circle: high murder rates cause lower economic growth, which causes insufficient economic and employment opportunity, which causes poverty, insecurity and underdevelopment, which causes high murder rates, which causes…etc.
In SVG, the root cause of the poor education system is the lack of revenue.
The billions of dollars of tax and customs duty exemptions given by Gonsalves to the super-rich in Mustique and Canouan under the Mustique Act No 48 of 2002 and to Taiwan under the SVG Fish Act 2001, starve our country of revenue.
By simply abolishing these tax exemptions, we could quickly put ourselves on the path to solving the problems of high rates of crime, a poor economy, wide income disparities, high levels of poverty, insecurity and underdevelopment, low levels of human development and the lack of revenue.
SVG needs that money now to start the process of significantly reducing the murders. We need to break this unfair tax system immediately, without hesitation, for the sake of our people’s lives. Unless we do this, the murder rate in SVG could return to, or surpass, the murder rate of 2016.
Under a Green Government education will be free for every child from preschool to university. A Green government will strive to eradicate illiteracy, poverty and crime in SVG by driving our economy on education, science and technology. We must educate our people to encourage entrepreneurs and small businesses and stop crime.