Letters & Opinion

Crime and unemployment go hand in hand

By James Stanislaus

The unfortunate incident in the south of the island from Thursday to Sunday last week can certainly be regarded as a real disgrace.  In last week’s article it was highlighted that there was a noticeable breakdown in law and order. It was also predicted that if not addressed the situation will only grow worse and this is what has been experienced.

Firstly, we must take the Prime Minister to task in respect to the biggest mistake he made one day after becoming P.M.  He permitted over one hundred law breakers to be expunged for their criminal activities during COVID under the guise that he knows how to play his politics.  The second concern which the SLP administration continues to ignore is the importance of creating sound and long-term employment for our people.  They failed to support the last administration in various ways regarding the many projects for the south not understanding that a hungry man is an angry man.  The barrage of criticism towards the DSH, HIA, ST Jude’s and the cruise terminal are just a few which would have employed over two thousand persons in various categories.

The south of the island is worse off today than several years ago based on neglect and lack of development.  No one can dispute the fact that the drug trade is alive and well but when we deliberately fail to offer an alternative what do we expect.  The education level in St Lucia leaves much to be desired and the evidence is right before our eyes by the number of young men on the block.  Based on the competitive world we now live in, unless politicians recognize that the country needs development and growth to improve, otherwise we shall continue on a downward slide without the required skills to uplift both our young folks and by extension the country.

Relying on taxation to fund our financial requirements is not the answer as what it does is create hardship and make our goods and services too expensive for our citizens and investors.  While on the subject of taxation we must remind St Lucians that when the fifteen percent VAT was introduced government received a windfall of approximately ninety-five million annually but thereafter two situations arose, the business community became cash strapped and the VAT revenue reduced considerably as the business momentum dropped.

One does not have to be a genius to understand that sucking ninety-five million dollars annually from a small economy spells trouble.  This is why PM Anthony referred to VAT as the most oppressive tax.   A small business person employing two to four persons failed to meet their day to day expenses and slowly laid off one or more workers here and there but more importantly, established a level of fear to small investors.  In the last two years, the Bahamas which had a VAT of fifteen percent has now reduced same to seven percent and the government recognized decisive growth in the economy as leaving money in the hands of our people generates growth.  Our last administration dropped the VAT by 2.5% and our economy grew and government was able to honour their obligations.  Investment ignites growth, confidence and independence and governments need to encourage this trend.

When one looks at the drug trade, we must accept the fact that it is driven by money and in the absence of income the drug trade will not flourish.  People by nature are innovative for example during COVID how many St Lucians were aware of the vast trade in goods, besides drugs, existed between St Lucia and Martinique?  Persons explore items that are cheaper at each destination and speculate, hence the term speculation.  People will find ways to make a buck at all times but if we can guide them in doing so in an organized fashion positive results will follow.

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