Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Country Report
The stability of the administration of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) was challenged by a high court ruling in June 2017, which has allowed the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) to challenge the 2015 general election result in two constituencies. The NDP continued to pursue this case throughout 2018.
A sharp rise in the murder rate in recent years has also called into question the ability of the government to maintain law and order, leaving the ULP vulnerable ahead of the next general election, currently scheduled for 2020. The opposition NDP has announced that it would switch diplomatic recognition to China, from Taiwan, if elected.
The government welcomes investment, and companies can easily set up operations. The investment promotion agency Invest SVG provides guidelines for investors. However, ongoing constraints include partially deficient infrastructure and the continued threat of natural hazards (mainly hurricanes). The recently opened Argyle International Airport is likely to boost inbound tourism. In December 2017, the IMF called for more labour market flexibility and improved access to credit. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves opposes granting citizenship for attracting inward investment, an initiative implemented by other Caribbean countries. Investors in the country face bribery solicitation risks.
There are no domestic terrorist groups with the intention or capability to undertake attacks against the population and/or commercial or government-owned property. The country is not considered a target for international terrorist organisations. St Vincent's offshore banking sector has come under pressure from international organisations to tighten money laundering controls and reduce the possibility of terrorist groups using the jurisdiction to conceal assets or direct funds abroad. In May 2017, the government published an Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Code. After government websites were targets of cyber-attacks, the country pledged to increase cyber security in December 2017.
The likelihood of interstate conflict involving St. Vincent and the Grenadines is very low. St. Vincent disputes Venezuela's claim to Bird Island, but relations between both countries are friendly under the current administrations. Prime Minister Gonsalves has ideological sympathy for the governments of Cuba and Venezuela. The country has been involved in mediating talks between the Venezuelan government and the opposition. The country works alongside US and European security forces, particularly in regional anti-drug trafficking efforts. In 2017, St. Vincent and the Grenadines signed maritime boundary agreements with Barbados and St. Lucia, reducing the risk of diplomatic disputes.
Deep divisions between the ruling and opposition parties are likely to generate public-sector strikes and protests over governmental policies in the next year. Given the June 2017 High Court decision enabling the opposition to challenge the December 2015 election result in two constituencies, there is a growing risk of political protests in the county. In January 2018, the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) filed a no-confidence motion against the government, accusing the administration of widespread political misconduct. Despite this, there have been no indications of the government's political stability being under threat due to social unrest.