The following statement was read out by President of the Grenada Chamber of Industry & Commerce, Aine Brathwaite at a press conference held last week Thursday to express concerns about the current economic and financial situation in the country:
Part of our role as the Grenada Chamber of Industry & Commerce is to show high levels of sensitivity at all times to the issues that prevail in the Private Sector, not only for our members but businesses as a whole.
It is a role that we take very seriously and there is an expectancy that we lead from the front in that respect.
The plight of the Private Sector in the Caribbean, let alone Grenada has never been more unpredictable than it is right now, and unpredictability is not a foundation for growth and does not lend well to Foreign Direct Investment where predictability is a necessary component that the private sector requires for future planning.
Many businesses at present are treading water and many of those will eventually sink, with significant bank and utility arrears, imminent foreclosures, longer credit repayment terms from customers whilst trying to keep employees employed.
This has been the all too familiar story of the past 24 months as we’ve watched business after business fail in an environment where there appears to be little or no evidence of support.
Unemployment is at unacceptable levels and those seeking employment or reemployment have no where to turn.
The recent well publicised demise of La Source – who struggled through the recession – is just one example of the position many of our businesses find themselves in. Thankfully in the case of La Source – Sandals stepped in giving the tourism sector a welcome boost.
We note the speed at which this transaction was completed so we now know that we can with the proper will do things in record time.
With all this uncertainty which has been heightened by us being in an election year, it’s inextricable links to economics and an already depressed investment climate that currently exists, the questions have quite rightly been asked “how did this happen?” “When will it end?” and most importantly “what can we do about it?”
The fact is the “Private Sector” does not operate in a vacuum. It is an integral part of society and a vibrant private sector bolsters a vibrant society. That is why greater levels of understanding and commitment to supporting the private sector is paramount to the well being of the nation.
Currently the Motor Dealers, Manufacturers and Hotel & Tourism sectors have all submitted proposals to the government with recommendations and possible solutions to move the sectors forward during this economic decline. They feel like these proposals have fallen on deaf ears.
The Government in numerous releases/statements refers to the Private Sector as the “Engine of Growth.” Yet, we are witnessing the erosion of the private sector at an unprecedented rate. A situation which cannot be allowed to continue.
It is clear that the government is struggling to meet its projections and commitments as $7m is owed to Manufacturers through rebates, $100m in public debt to the Private sector, increasing unemployment with postponed, stalled or delayed projects and very little hard evidence of anything tangible in the pipeline.
To address these mounting issues the Private Sector requires Government to create and support the infrastructure in which growth and development can take place. The private sector has tightened its belt as far as it can, now we are looking for government to deliver on its promises.
To date, the actual pace of implementation leaves a lot to be desired, causing much frustration in the private sector with the incomplete responses that just leave all of us in limbo.
In our opinion, the key to succeeding is focused, result orientated collaboration between government agencies and the private sector, by collaboration we don’t mean reports and research – which are important and do have their place – we mean “Action,” Positive Action” by the government that can be seen and immediately felt. Not only by the private sector but also by the ultimate beneficiaries, the public at large.
We need a visible plan with time lines and tangible outcomes. We are prepared to share our expertise, our talent in the national interest.
We reiterate that the GCIC is an independent body with no alliance to any political party. It is our role to work hand in hand with the government of the day, to bring attention to the private sector issues that prevail and seek the relevant solutions in an expedient manner.
Government has to play its role in upholding our private sector. It cannot be about sound-bites and lip service. The private sector businesses have made it very clear, that they are tired of the rhetoric and want “Positive action” as stated earlier.
This is about jobs, investment, opportunities and growth for all, this is the path Grenada should be on. For that to take place, government must exercise real time strategies to curtail the serious demise of the Grenadian private sector which continues to spiral downwards and out of control.
The Private Sector is gasping for breath. Presently, we all find ourselves in a reactive rather than proactive mode of operation due to these undesirable dynamics.
The challenge for us all now, is to find the means of genuine collaboration with short-term strategies that give the private sector and the country the kick start needed and deserved.