The main opposition New National Party (NNP) on Monday unveiled its vision for a new economy in its 72-page Manifesto for Tuesday’s general elections.
Monday’s launch of the manifesto at the Spice Island Beach Resort took place in the presence of several private sector leaders, interest groups and executive members of the party including the 15 Candidates.
Party leader, Dr. Keith Mitchell who is seeking to return to office for a fourth 5-year term outlined his party’s plans if re-elected in the February 19 General Election.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the main architects of the manifesto were former Strategic Trade Advisor, Dr. Patrick Antoine and former Director of Tourism, Simon Stiell who is tipped to become the Minister of Tourism if NNP wins the upcoming poll.
The Antoine-led manifesto is advocating the building of a “New Economy” under the NNP that envisions promotion of world class tourism, yachting and marina, as well as finance and information technology services, developing a light manufacturing sector, and a diversified agricultural sector focused on “value added” products.
The document also speaks to a dynamic oil and gas and renewable energy sector, and a highly efficient agro-industrial cluster dedicated to oils and extracts for health, food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications.
The NNP, dogged by charges of mismanagement and corruption in its 13-years in office, is promising Grenadians to develop an economy that is “fuelled by an educated society capable of adjusting to changing circumstances… specialized in producing high-quality, competitive goods and services, driven by a dynamic export sector, efficient import displacement and information and communications technology (ICT) capabilities which are “second to none”.
In its stint from 1995 to 2008, the Mitchell-led NNP regime was chided for guaranteeing millions to foreign investors for projects that failed to materialize like the Ritz Carlton hotel at Mt. Hartman with American investor, E.J Miller, and the Garden Group of small hotels in the south of the island.
According to the document, the so-called “New Economy must provide job opportunities for those who wish to work, business opportunities for those who choose to invest, opportunity for wealth creation and prosperity for those prepared to sacrifice and play the rules”.
The manifesto targets job creation and skills development as one of the priorities for NNP given the existing rate of unemployment in the country.
The NNP document promises to reduce unemployment through policies that would stimulate private sector activities, improve fiscal incentives, revitalise key economic sectors and implement a genuine economic stimulus programme.
In his address, former Prime Minister Mitchell told the audience that Grenada is in a financial crisis under the leadership of Finance Minister Nazim Burke, and that the incumbent NDC administration has delivered a failed State to the people of the country.
“It is our view that when a government is elected to office the expectation of all its citizens is that they must benefit and therefore government must provide leadership and good governance which includes improving the quality of life of all its citizens of the country,” he said.
He believes that the manifesto, once implemented, will allow Grenadians to effectively compete in a changing global environment.
“Our plans have examined these matters thoroughly … and we believe that with the nation’s support we can achieve major successes”, he said.
The party promises no new taxes as the country is already heavily burdened, but gave a commitment to “review” the 15% Value Added Tax (VAT).
The NNP also announced that it intends to collaborate with the private sector “in establishing a Distressed Assets Hotel Fund, exploring and developing our oil and gas resources, developing a new agriculture, including value-added manufacturing and competitive exports.
The party has committed itself to taking on six major development projects within the first year of getting back in office.
It announced plans to overhaul the education system, including technical and vocational education and training, introduce five new and creative youth development programmes, employing ICT in creating new jobs, building e-communities, and ensuring better service delivery across the sectors.
The NNP document also highlights improved access to quality health care and promoting wellness as a way of life, stabilising the economy, and practicing prudent fiscal management, demonstrating good governance, as well as enhancing justice, law and order and rolling out a more realistic foreign trade policy.