The following address was delivered by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell last week Wednesday night to mark the first 100 Days of the New National Party (NNP) coming back into office after defeating the National Democratic Congress in the February 19, 2013 general elections
In just over 100 days, the Government for which you overwhelmingly and decisively voted, has succeeded in stopping the economic free-fall, bringing a semblance of order back into fiscal management, and restoring hope among you the people.
All those things are the foundation necessary for the growth that will follow.
You will appreciate that you cannot completely restore what was completely destroyed in five years, in just twelve weeks.
Fellow Grenadians, the decisions have been tough to make, but we are trying to make them in the interest of all our citizens.
I know that we have angered many of our own political supporters by being inclusive of persons who were active members of other political parties.
My view, sisters and brothers, is that this is not just “NNP Time”-but as I said before, it is “Grenada’s Time.”
I know too, that the expectation is that everyone’s needs would have been met by now, especially some key supporters. I want to reassure you that we are working hard to make this a reality. Based on your skills, ability and commitment, you will soon be able to find a livelihood.
Fellow citizens, we are in the business of uniting all Grenadians as I have said consistently, and securing gainful employment for as many people as possible.
We are pleased with the way things have started, but of course we will never be satisfied. My government will never be satisfied until the bulk of our people get back to productive work, led by increasing activity in a robust private sector.
We will never be satisfied until government meets all its commitments to the workers of this country. We will also never be satisfied until we pay people for their services rendered to government, and that unpaid claims in the treasury are brought down to a mere minimum.
We will never be satisfied until a sustainable strategy is fully in place to ensure that our youths are not left behind. And we have begun-and we’ll move forward-with hope and expectations.
The challenges are great, and there are still a lot of tough decisions and hard work ahead. But your government is at work.
That’s why I am pleased to announce tonight that the fundamentals of this recovery are strong, and the direction of your government is certain.
My dear sisters and brothers, all, you will be amazed at the sheer number of dishonest practices that were done in your name, by the previous administration.
As much as I have no desire to raise this issue again and again, I must say, however, that for a previous government that claimed honesty, integrity, and transparency, the discoveries are horrendous-to say the least.
We want to ensure that we inform you – the people – and that we provide the details of those practices down the road. After all, a people informed, is a people empowered.
Coming in, we knew the economic realities were bad, but we have found them to be much worse than we thought.
We were immediately confronted with a treasury of Unpaid Claims at an all time high of $115 million and counting.
These include millions that were due to University of the West Indies, Caribbean Development Bank, the Regional Security System, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Kuwaiti Fund, the World Bank and the OECS Secretariat – and many other organisations, regionally and internationally.
My friends, although appalled, we were not daunted. We understood then the enormous responsibility that we had assumed.
Your Government has now regularised the situation with both the Kuwait Fund and the World Bank; thereby ensuring that critical projects are up and moving, creating much needed jobs and infrastructure.
We have also affirmed our commitment to the Caribbean Development Bank and other regional organizations. Here again, this effort is part of our carefully conceived strategy to revive the Grenadian economy.
I am pleased to announce that Grenada has now completed its subscription (EC$3 million) to the CARICOM Development Fund after 3 years of not being able to meet its obligations.
This payment paves the way for the funds to be eventually channeled through the Grenada Development Bank to assist in boosting the productive sectors so that more jobs can be created.
I can now confirm, sisters and brothers, that the long-awaited and much anticipated Agricultural Feeder Roads Project Phase II has begun.
We promised to so do within our first 100 days-and we have delivered. Tonight, we can report that many CCC workers are returning to work after four long years of frustration.
Just look at the difference – what the previous Government could not do in four years, our Government was able to do in four weeks.
I wish to recognize the efforts of all involved in resolving the issues so that this Project could begin – in particular the Minister of Works, Honourable Gregory Bowen.
In the coming weeks – from virtually immediately, several road projects will begin. Other projects on-stream include the St. Mark’s Flood Mitigation project, the Carriacou Marina project, and manufacturing projects which have started at Frequente.
Between now and July 1st, Thousands of workers will be out, claiming a livelihood in a number of areas. Those areas include the De-bushing programme, the Concrete Roads, and House Repair Programmes. The Small-Business Loan Scheme will also be in place by then, to encourage entrepreneurship among our citizens.
What these projects all have in common is the ability to put people back to work. Thousands of people will be employed once again.
We are committed to creating opportunities for our citizens, especially our young people. We understand that we have to consolidate our economic opportunities in such a way as to make them sustainable, more than just seasonal shifts.
Tonight, I wish to announce that using public/private partnership, we will be pursuing the following projects that will generate hundreds, or even thousands more jobs.
These include the
* Construction of Governor General’s Residence
* Upgrading of Cuthbert Peters Park
* Construction of the Police and Prison facilities
* Refurbishment of the Parliament building
* Expansion of Lauriston Airport
* Renovation of Maurice Bishop International Airport
What these projects all have in common is the ability to put people back to work.
During these first 100 days, I have had the opportunity to meet many of our citizens and stakeholders. I have been very encouraged by your willingness to work together with Government to address the many issues facing us at this time. Moreover, I have been particularly pleased with both the tone and substance of these dialogue.
One of the most distressing issues for many Grenadians has been the lack of basic medicines at our hospitals and health clinics. From day one in office, this issue has been tackled head-on, in an effort led by Dr the Honourable Clarice Modeste-Curwen, our Minister for Health.
I am pleased to report that over $2.0 million has already been paid to various suppliers. Furthermore, a dedicated account has been established into which donations from home and abroad can now be made to support the provision of basic medication and hospital services.
In addition, the Ministry of Health has now established a donations desk to ensure that all contributions to our health system are received and processed in a timely manner.
No longer will there be reports of nationals and friends of Grenada sending equipment and medical supplies only to learn they remained on the port for months because no one knew about their arrival or they were never cleared.
The new arrangements will also ensure that these contributions will be based on Grenada’s needs, and will be of suitable quality.
The work on National Health Insurance is ongoing. The report from the Advisory Committee, led by former Senator Chester Humphrey, is expected within the next few weeks. All social partners agree that this is an issue of national priority.
Our Government has reached out to all labour unions – as together we seek to give our workers their due, while at the same time getting our economy growing again. These discussions have been cordial and constructive and some progress has indeed been made.
In this regard, we are pleased to note that for the first time in five years, our workers have received salary increases. Let the record show that workers of this country have always fared better under the New National Party governments.
Ultimately, Government will meet all its obligations to public servants. We say continue to work with us because we are working for you.
We have begun a complete restructuring of the economy, with recommendations from the International Monetary Fund, but with our clear direction that any programme must have growth and job creation as its fundamental focus.
The New Economy requires that Government put its fiscal house in order. The New Economy demands that Government lives within its means – that is, it must not continue to spend more than it earns.
Your Government has already begun to demonstrate our commitment to putting our fiscal house in order by some of the measures announced in the 2013 Budget. More will follow in the 2014 Budget.
I am pleased to note that the piloting of electronic tracking of Government vehicles has begun. Based on our observations of this pilot phase, we are moving swiftly to roll out this programme for the entire fleet of Government vehicles, including Police vehicles.
Each public servant must understand that every dollar of wasteful expenditure is a dollar less for providing basic medicines at the Hospital, fixing our roads, educating our children, or paying salary increases.
Similarly, persons who defraud the Government of its taxes must know this is hurting our country and is certainly unpatriotic. Every cent counts in Government’s support of every sector of our economy.
One of our most important priorities is the development of our youth. We have already launched our new Imani Programme aimed at least 3,000 young persons.
Every member of our Government was deeply moved by the gathering of at least 3000 young people in Grenville not long ago. As a consequence, we will be expanding this programme.
Many of these young people will be placed as soon as all the arrangements are finalised with the private sector. We urge the private sector to come forward and partner with us in this worthwhile venture.
Your Government is clear that Grenada’s economic revival and financial deliverance must start with strong and caring leadership under the guidance of almighty God, and must be propelled by the private sector.
We have also re-established the Multi-Partite Committee, which met twice and have agreed on some priority issues for our attention. At our invitation, the church community has now joined this Committee of social partners.
This dialogue will continue as together we deliver results for the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique.
I have received the first draft of the proposals that will guide the formation of the village and parish councils I have advocated, and this will soon be before Cabinet for its consideration.
We are committed to deepening our democracy, and to giving people a direct say in the running of their lives.
Fellow citizens, I have been moved by the outpouring of support from home and abroad for our new Governor General, Her Excellency Dr. Cecile La Grenade.
May she be a beacon of hope and inspiration to all women of this Country and a symbol of unity for all the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique.
On May 09, 2013, I made an official visit to Trinidad and Tobago where I met with the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and other senior Government officials. That visit was fruitful, with our countries agreeing to cooperate on several fronts including energy, security and trade. A team from the Ministry of Energy will visit Grenada in mid June to recommence discussions on energy cooperation.
I recently attended the Board of Governors of Caribbean Development Bank in St. Lucia where I reiterated Grenada’s commitment to our premier development institution. I also held several bilateral meetings with the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme among others on development assistance for Grenada.
We have begun to engage the world and to make the case for Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique. Within the last month I have met with both the Vice President of the United States and the President of China.
We have conducted successful bilateral discussions with both the Vice President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping.
China has already committed nearly 20 million EC dollars to Grenada this year, and as we speak, other projects and support are being considered.
Our next major move is the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT). We have already held discussions with, and are accepting proposals from investors around the world, with a view to implementing widespread technology use in schools within the framework of our established curricula.
In meeting with Vice President Joe Biden, we have urged the United States to put money in our regional trust for the development of ICT.
Fellow citizens, our economic revival has begun.
* Our CCC workers are on the job again.
* Our youth are beginning to find opportunities.
* Investors (local and foreign) are coming forward to take risks and to create jobs once again.
Together, we can rebuild this country.
Let us be inspired by the word of the Prophet Daniel, found in Daniel 11:32, and I quote “but the people who know their God shall be strong and do exploits”. End of quote.
And so, we look forward with expectations to the next 100 days, and the other 100 days that will follow.
“We will deliver” is not just a campaign slogan made out of a fairy tale. It is a substantive determination that fuels a conscious policy to put people first.
“We will deliver” is a solemn contract spelt out in three words – fter five years of inaction, and two hundred weeks of ineptness.
Because of all the tough times you have endured, you can rest assured that the best days are ahead.
The cold winter of political division and spite has given way to a warm summer of unity and understanding. And so we march on together, through the grace of God and inspired by your own aspirations.
Let us build Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique together.