A group of young people who were in discussion with the Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal, BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA, told him that young people deserve more. The young people were frustrated by the lack of opportunities in SVG, to make progress with their lives. The two main sticking points were the high unemployment rate and access to buying land.
High unemployment has plagued our country for at least two decades. Even though the ULP regime has been in power all this time, they have not managed to create mass employment. If anything, unemployment has become much worse under the ULP regime.
The high unemployment rate means many young people, moreso, do not have a job and are denied the opportunity to establish a steady financial income. Without an income, young people do not have the ability to save up money to purchase land.
An effective way to create many more jobs is to take back our SVG tuna fishing licence from Taiwan, and for our country to set up our own tuna fishing and canning industry.
As in Zanzibar, a tuna fishing and canning industry would create hundreds of new jobs in secondary industries such as ice-making plants, cold-storage services, boat-building yards, workshops to make fishing nets, and engine repair and maintenance workshops.
It is imperative that factories are set up for agro-processing too. It makes no sense that SVG exports peanuts, but imports peanut butter; and exports a variety of fruits, but imports fruit juices. These types of economic anomalies need to be sorted, to create jobs and strengthen our economy. By exporting ‘value-added’ products such as fruit juices and peanut butter, rather than primary products such as peanuts and fruit, the economy will grow faster.
Our country has a significant potential to export many more goods, but the economic incompetence and lack of vision of the ULP regime, are dragging our economy down and pushing unemployment up.
As well as young people’s lack of opportunity to save up money, another concern for this group of young people who were in discussion with the Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal, BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA, was the increasing scarcity of land to buy. Too much land, they say, has been sold off to foreigners and this makes it hard for them to buy land, even if they had the finances for it.
SVG Green Party believes that we must ban the sale of lands to foreigners, as is the case in Georgia, Cuba, Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka and many other countries.
Many Vincentians have expressed their deep concern about hundreds of acres of land being sold to foreigners. They say that this will make it harder for their children and grandchildren to buy land in St. Vincent, and that Vincentian children are being pushed out of their own country.
The young people of SVG deserve more. They need jobs so they can start saving money and they need greater access to buying land in their home country. They want the ability to plan and shape their future.