Grenadians have just about four weeks before they go to the polls to elect a government of their choice.
Prime Minister Tillman Thomas used a public meeting of his ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) last Sunday at the Sauteurs Bus Terminus in St. Patrick’s to announce February 19 as the day for General Elections in Grenada.
Drumming erupted, conch shell blew as the crowd that was estimated to be in the vicinity of six to eight thousand got into a frenzy screaming and dancing as the sound system blasted a favourite NDC Song, “Nobody ain’t beating Tilly.”
In announcing the date, Prime Minister Thomas indicated that until the writ for the holding of the General Elections is issued by Governor General Sir Carlyle Glean, registration of voters continues throughout the country.
Prime Minister Thomas recalled that it was four and a half years ago the NDC took over the reins of government when it won eleven (11) of the (15) fifteen Parliamentary Seats.
He said the party was responding to the call of Grenadians for the kind of leadership that would best serve their interest.
“We responded positively and received a resounding mandate from the people,” he remarked.
PM Thomas admitted that this is now a testing period for the nation. However, he said NDC is the right choice to lead Grenada at this time and is ready to face the future.
The Prime Minister recounted what his party inherited when it assumed Office in July 2008 after breaking the 13-year rein of the New National Party (NNP) of former Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell.
He said the new administration found a bankrupt economy, large-scale unemployment with a quarter of the labour force not working and workers being laid off as well as chronic poverty in the country.
In addition, Grenada was one of those Caribbean Islands that had to struggle financially as a result of the global economic crisis.
According to the Prime Minister, the task of mobilising Grenadians to shape the future of the country cannot be put back into the hands of a reckless group.
He accused the NNP of having engaged in reckless behaviour while it was in Office, and gave the nation the assurance that the NDC would not engage in any recklessness.
The Prime Minister told the large gathering that during the past four-and-a-half years, his administration had to work very hard “to rescue the country” from hopelessness.
“As a people of faith, we should never permit this country to be in the hands of a gambling mentality of the New National Party,” he said.
The rally that set the stage for the commencement of the campaign presented the entire 15-member NDC Team of Candidates, two of whom are women, who will be contesting the elections.
Ten of the candidates are newcomers to the political arena on the NDC platform.
The NDC Political Leader expressed satisfaction with his team of candidates, which he said would take on the task during the government’s second term in Office.
He described the team as one that represents the rich blend of youth and experience.
The Prime Minster is confident that with such a “high Caliber team” in place, he has come to the decision that the time is right to seek a fresh mandate from the people of the country.
“We need a trustworthy capable and talented team to develop policies and effectively present the programmes that would reflect the new realities of the global village,” he said.
“We are united in our dedication to the people and in our determination to lead this country into a new era of economic and social well being,” he added.
The NDC Political Leader indicated that his party, which was formed in 1987, has remained committed to the democratic principles on which it was founded, and will remain a valued-driven movement.
In his almost forty-minute address, Prime Minster Thomas recounted the achievement of the Congress Government over the past four years.
He said his government’s first priority was to stabilise the economy and to stop further job losses.
According to him, this was achieved by the bold and brave actions taken, and by providing opportunities for gainful employment and expanding the social safety net programmes.
The Grenadian Leader said jobs were also created in the agriculture sector through the farm labour support programme and incentives were given to the private sector as a means of keeping their workers employed.
Government had also provided a one hundred percent waiver on interest and penalties to people who were negligent in paying their taxes
Looking forward, Prime Minister Thomas identified a number of infrastructural projects that are due to take off.
He announced that the Grenville Market Project that is being constructed at a cost of $25.6m is eight percent complete.
Other projects to come on stream include the new hospital with teaching facilities at a cost of $178m, a University Campus at Hope, St. Andrew’s, the construction of a Parliament Building with support from the Government of Australia and the United Arab Emirates, the Government Office Complex at Lowther’s Lane, St. George’s, and the Halls of Justice.
Prime Minister Thomas said his government recognises the significance of education in the development of a nation and as a result are committed 15 percent of the total national budget to education.
The Prime Minister spoke of the legacy of his government in Office for four years.
He said Grenada has seen the best years of agriculture revitalisation in the post revolution period, the best years of educational advancement since independence, the best years of youth development and sports in decades, and the best years of good governance since 1974.
“I am unshakably convinced that the NDC is the right party to lead Grenada at this time,” the NDC Political Leader said.