Tuesday, January 12, 2010

PM remains optimistic

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he remains optimistic that the St. Vincent and the Grenadines economy will experience positive growth in 2010.

In a New Year’s radio and television broadcast on Monday night, Gonsalves said that his optimism is “grounded in the growing prospect of an improved economy internationally”, a hard working population, available natural resources and a government with “sensible progressive policies and the blessings of Almighty God”.

The Prime Minister said that over the past 16 months, the world economy had been buffeted by the ill-winds of the ‘worst global recession in 80 years” and that the world major economies such as the United States, Europe and Japan “there has been an economic and financial crash wreaking havoc upon financial giants in banking and insurance”.

Gonsalves said that ordinary families and homeowners were also not spared the effects of the global economic and financial crisis”.

He said all of these factors have had a massive adverse effect on the economies of the developing countries including those in the Caribbean and the livelihoods of the people especially the poor and the vulnerable.

The Prime Minister said that the collapse of the Trinidad-based conglomerate, CL Financial and its direct effect on the insurances companies – Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) and British American Insurance company – “have placed some indigenous banks, credit unions other financial institutions, families and individuals at risk.

“Further, the meltdown of the (disgraced Texas financier Sir Allen) Stanford empire hit Antigua and Barbuda very hard and which sent more than ripples financially through the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).

Gonsalves said that Antigua and Barbuda accounted for one-quarter of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the ECCU, which comprises mainly the members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States including St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Moreover, the global economic recession has caused immense liquidity challenges to indigenous banks in our currency union which in turn have put a few of them in straight room circumstances,” Gonsalves said, urging nationals to work together to maintain the peace and stability necessary for sustaining the socio-economic development of the island.

Last March, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said economic growth here had slowed sharply during 2008, reflecting the impact of global downturn and that growth in the region is expected to remain flat in 2009.