Gonsalves accused of mismanaging economy
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Mar 17, CMC – Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has accused Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of bringing the Vincentian economy to its worst state since the country gained independence in 1979.
In an address to the New York chapter of the New Democratic Party (NDP), on Saturday, Eustace accused the current administration of mismanaging the economy.
“Let him (Gonsalves) dispute that. In 2012, to our eternal shame, St. Vincent and the Grenadines exported EC$1.1 million in bananas. We used to do that in a week,” Eustace said, noting that the country’s record in banana earning for any one year is EC$111 million.
He complained that the EC$799 million budget approveed by lawmakers in January includes a deficit of $126 million and spoke of the specific ways in which this affects citizens.
“People are so fed up with our road that it isn’t funny,” he said, adding that the deficit has implications for the country. And that is why I am saying you end up not doing the road, you end up not paying for things you should pay for, including for tourism, which is important in terms of earning money for our economy.”
This year, St Vincent and the Grenadines is expected to pay EC$133 million on the EC$1.3 billion National Debt, Eustace said.
The opposition leader also restated his objection to this country’s participation in PetroCaribe, a pact with Venezuela that allows participating countries to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment.
He said that under PetroCaribe, the Government owes Venezuela EC$41 million, although Vincentians consumers have already paid the Government for the fuel sourced under the agreement.
“He said the Government likes the PetroCaribe initiative because it allows the Government to defer payments, hence having more cash to spend.
“But these things have implications –serious, serious implications for us. … and that is how we have to analyse these things and not just play politics,” Eustace said.
He further accused the Government of inflating the budget ahead of the 2010 general elections and said this is having a negative effect on the economy.
“You don’t bump the budget to make an election point, because, in the end, the people suffer. You don’t play politics in that way. I am very aggrieved by that. It hurts the economy and therefore, it hurts our people,” Eustace said.