Fri 13th Jul 2007

Taiwan preying on SVG's vital indigenous resources

Taiwan has the world's third highest reserve of foreign exchange and gold valued at approximately EC$ 668 billion. Taiwan is also a world leader in manufacturing for export and yet after over 21 years in SVG it has not built one factory in SVG to create sustainable employment for our youth. The average Taiwanese citizen earns EC$ 68,563 a year - much more than the average Vincentian.

Recently Taiwan officials in SVG have been given full permission and control to manage SVG's gold mine, i.e., SVG's Rabacca sand. Taiwan's takeover of the mining of Rabacca sand has pushed over 50 people out of employment. Many backhoe operators who were self-employed making a living loading the Rabacca sand on to trucks and truck drivers who were using their own vehicle to transport the Rabacca sand, have lost an income. One Vincentian backhoe operator told the leader of the SVG Green Party, Ivan O'Neal, that he and other backhoe operators were not happy with what is going on at Rabacca.

Backhoe operators feel that Vincentians are now second class citizens with regard to the mining and sale of their own indigenous Rabacca sand. More importantly, the Vincentian public have not been told what percentage royalty, if any, Taiwan pays to the SVG Treasury. Also, questions have arisen about whether Taiwan has paid duty on the backhoes and trucks they imported for the Rabacca sand mining project. The backhoe operators are very concerned that foreigners are taking control over SVG little by little in their gated homogenous enclaves.

This is a serious matter. For Vincentian culture having one's own house is very important. Rabacca sand is a crucial component for building houses in SVG. To give control of Rabacca sand mining to foreigners is unacceptable, said one backhoe operator. The Rabacca sand is a national treasure and property of all Vincentians and it should not be in the hands of foreigners.

The obvious consequence will be a rise in the price of Rabacca sand and ultimately the cost of building a house. Yet again, it is the poor who will be most affected and they will be the first who will be pushed out of the housing market. Taiwan clearly has not gone to the trouble of importing machinery to lose money, so they will raise prices for increasing profits.

A further consequence will be that the lives of poorer people will be threatened. As more people have to turn to building wooden houses, in the hurricane season these houses are more likely to be destroyed and the owners be at greater risk of losing their lives. The ULP regime is allowing this to happen.

SVG Green Party is totally against Taiwan being in our country and against Taiwan owning the mining of the Rabacca sand. The relationship of Taiwan with SVG is economically destructive. While they give a few token items they take from us hundreds of millions of dollars. In government, SVG Green Party will return the mining of Rabacca sand back to Vincentians and seek compensation for Vincentians who have lost an income.

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