These two terms are very popular in the discourse on national issues and they are used heavily as tools of the trade by those looking for votes. Interestingly, both of these require a level of discipline and commitment to fulfil the business of the nation.
As usually found in the practice of ‘tricks and traps’, both concepts have been bastardised. Some politicians are talented at using words to impress and persuade people, examples: “the policy of this party is to move the country forward” and “this party is serious about the development of Grenada”! Loud pronouncements while ‘chasing the donkey’!
Fairly put, development is a measure of substantial improvement in the human and physical stock of the country, covering education expansion, higher production, increased or modernised services, better infrastructure and larger revenues; and the availability, access and enjoyment of better conditions of living by the people, while protecting their social and cultural values.
Development is often used in its aspirational sense as a basis to justify our Independence by tracking changes that affect the people positively over time. Appreciate that one cannot develop country without inspiring people. Note also that political instability and corruption are the biggest enemies of development. Both political parties are guilty here, one apiece!
Policy is really a statement of intention to commit to procuring or using resources in specific ways or to pursue particular courses of action. Often, clear objectives and legislation are attached to policy. Therefore, policies are not solutions to economic and social problems. One needs thereafter to design sound projects and programs which are more tangible in offering rewarding results.
Notably, one cannot be assured that a policy will be implemented as precisely as it was announced. Furthermore, measures to implement a policy that is otherwise worthy, may themselves be very unpopular.
Policies derive from the outlook (mindsets and world views) of leaders. These days, there is hardly any talk about economic philosophy or political ideology. Accordingly, it is not easy to determine what party leaders believe in and the foundations on which they base their ‘development thinking’ or ‘policy formulation’.
Recently, the NDC put forward a ‘Policy Agenda’ for consideration. Obviously, they intended to show that they had the intellectual capacity to focus on the needs of the people in a structured way. Were it not for the fact that they were ill-advisedly seeking to upstage the ‘Plan 2030’ process, one would give them higher marks for the effort.
Strangely, although carrying the stigma of the collapse of the public finances in 2012, they did not commit to stabilising the public finances going forward!
The ‘Agenda’ discloses an intention to prepare a Ten-Year Development Plan for Grenada. Something must be very wrong here! Seemingly, the NDC is saying to Grenadians that they are “better” at planning for Grenada than other parties and Civil Society groups which are all participating in ‘Plan 2030’! Indeed, the NDC is itself on the Steering Committee for the Plan! Is this a case of ‘crowns for the clansmen’ or party before country, not party for country? Solutions to problems of national development are not the preserve of individual parties.
There are two major public interest issues now on the table, pensions for public officers and poverty. Both parties will have to address these issues, beginning with a statement of policy. We have heard a policy statement from the regime regarding pensions and it would appear that the NDC is still searching out the issue.
One would not be surprised if the position they eventually take resembles that of the regime in significant respects. The poverty issue is extremely dangerous to the society, given its magnitude and its psychological hit on Grenadian households.
Financing both calls for innovative and sacrificial measures. Regarding poverty, one suggestion is that all funds obtained from the Citizenship by Investment Program be earmarked to finance poverty reduction programs and projects over the next ten years. Alleviating poverty would be a huge legacy value compensating for the uncomfortable act of selling our citizenship and passports.