Fri 4th Dec 2020
After 19 years of the ULP regime in government, the country is in a very bad state. Unemployment is very high and the economy is very weak. The ULP regime has tried to run the economy on pretty much tourism alone and this is a major mistake.
The economy should be run on many different sectors, not just tourism. Agro-processing and manufacturing would be good sources of revenue for the country, and for that, SVG needs factories. Our country has significant potential to export many goods, but the economic incompetence and lack of vision of the ULP regime is dragging our economy down and pushing unemployment up.
The SVG economy cannot grow significantly unless we increase the number of products that are exported. Creating new products expands the economy, and in order to create new products, especially in light industries and agro-processing, we must build factories.
The economically incompetent ULP regime is focused on a policy of begging and borrowing and mass tourism. This is a waste of time and does not bring long-term, sustainable economic growth.
The priority for SVG is to build factories to create jobs, boost the economy and help farmers and small businesses export their goods. As well as a strategy of import substitution, we need to change our economy so that it is export-oriented.
We should cut ties with Taiwan and use SVG’s deep-sea tuna fishing licence to set up a tuna fishing and canning industry. A factory could be built in SVG to process and can tuna fish, so that it can be exported and also sold in shops in SVG. A tuna fishing and canning industry would create thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue a year for our country.
In Zanzibar, the tuna fishing and canning industry also created 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. 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.
By setting up agro-processing factories in SVG and making use of the fruit and vegetables SVG farmers produce, about $200 million a year would be going in to the pockets of SVG farmers and it make food cheaper for everyone in SVG.
SVG should be exporting products such as organic tea, organic baby food, organic fruit juices, organic honey, organic dried fruits, organic vacuum-packed vegetables, organic bottled coconut water, organic coffee, smoked fish and numerous other products.
Many of the vegetables grown in SVG, such as dasheen, have by-products that can be exported too. Vision and innovation is needed to boost the economy and create a thriving agro-processing industry. The ULP regime has been a failure.
Most of the manufactured goods in SVG are imported. For example, most clothing in SVG is imported, but by importing cloth and working with fashion designers in SVG, our country could not only have factories producing clothes, but exporting clothes too.
Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA, Leader of SVG Green Party, believes that by doing this type of economic adjustment and innovation, we can bring the change that is needed in our country to create thousands of new jobs, reboot the economy and get money circulating our country. Factories, import substitution and an export-oriented economy are necessary to reduce poverty, expand the economy and create economic growth.