St Vincent celebrates 39 years of Independence

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

On Saturday October 27, St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrated its 39th anniversary of political independence from Britain  with Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves indicating the country has made “modest’ economic growth over the past year.

Economy on sound footing

Addressing the Military Parade in the capital of Kingstown, Gonsalves said that the island’s diversified economy is growing and being placed on a sound footing. He said, “Indeed this year, our country is experiencing economic growth albeit it modest following upon marginal to modest economic growth in each of the last seven years.

“At the same time the government’s fiscal condition has improved despite the loss of substantial resources under the PetroCaribe agreement occasioned by the unwise banking and financial sanctions against Venezuela,” Gonsalves said.

PetroCaribe is an oil alliance of several Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. The alliance was launched on the 29th of June 2005 in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. In 2013, PetroCaribe agreed for links with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), to go beyond oil and promote economic cooperation.

Haven’t turned to IMF nor sold citizenship

Gonsalves told the nation that amidst all the challenges facing the country “we have not gone to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) nor have we sold our citizenship and passport” he said in reference to the move by some Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to lure foreign investors through the Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) that allows them to get citizenship in return for making a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of their countries. “Our passports and citizenship are not commodities for sale. We oppose such sale in principle and in practice. I so re-affirm today,” Gonsalves said.

He said the various sectors of the economy, including the banking, and credit unions “continue to play a significant role in our country’s development. “Current initiatives by the state sector facilitate and fuel further developmental advance. We see so in the consolidating and expansion of education, health and housing revolution,” he said, noting the new Argyle International Airport is now playing a significant role in the development of the tourism industry.”

Gonsalves said those who had been very critical of the airport were on the losing side “again and again and again” and that the “existing hotel stock is expanding and new hotels and apartments are currently being built.”

He also made reference to the proposed US$145 million modern cargo project and the multi-million dollar plans to re-develop the city.

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