The grouping of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) has openly expressed its reservations over a number of initiatives being undertaken by the Keith Mitchell-led Administration in the name of sustainable development.
CSO, last week Tuesday, called out members of the media to a press conference at the Grenada Red Cross Conference Room on Upper Lucas Street, St. George’s where a number of issues were highlighted.
Judy Williams who is CSO’s Conveyor disclosed that the group has brought to government’s attention several issues and concerns relating to the economic and social development of the country through the Social Compact Channel.
Williams said the most pressing issue for CSO is the planned relocation of Camerhogne Park at Grand Anse, St. George’s to facilitate a hotel.
Three alternative sites for Camerhogne Park have already been put forward by the Mitchell Administration.
The CSO Conveyor denied that coming out of a presentation the developers had with the group, there was an agreement for the proposed alternative sites.
“The developer made a presentation… there was no conclusion and there was certainly no agreement. It came out subsequently… that the Social Partners were in agreement with the alternatives that were offered,” she said.
Williams also delved into the 2030 National Development Plan which was launched in May 2015.
She said CSO came on board with the aim of preventing haphazard development.
She said for the Social Compact to really have meaning, the nation has to be engaged in a planning exercise that would have a vision for the development of the country over the next couple of years irrespective of which political group is governing the country.
According to Williams, the process for the development plan must involve the people, representing their views, and that it must not be a rushed process without a timetable.
“Unfortunately we are learning that this plan is part of what is intended to meet the ‘home-grown programme of the International Monetary Fund.’ Another disappointment, another something that we are not expecting, that we are not aware of, that we are not party to, that we are not intending to do by getting involved,” she said.
Williams along with Interim President of the National Fishermen Association, James Nicholas who represents CSO on the Committee of Social Partners said when the group agreed to participate they promised their constituents whom she described as the people of Grenada, especially the voiceless to periodically report publicly on the issues and recommendations being brought to the table.
The CSO Conveyor rehashed the reasons why the group refused to attach its signature to the Social Compact.
She recalled that in January 2015 following a one-year process, most of the Organisations that were invited to become part of the Social Partners signed onto the document.
Williams said while CSO agreed to continue to participate in the process of engagement with government, the position was taken not to sign the Social Compact at that time as there were issues on the table “violating the very principle of the Social Compact.”
She added that on several occasions CSO raised the issue relating to the development of the Carriacou Marina which is being established within a Marine Protected Area (MPA), and according to her, to date it has not been addressed by the authorities.
“It didn’t seem to be given the attention and the concerns of Civil Society… we cannot now go into an agreement with government when we have such a) pertinent issue… so we did not sign the Social Compact, and to date we have not signed,” she said.
Williams pointed out that since the decision was taken that CSO was not going to affix its signature to the Social Compact Document on January 13, 2015, there has been no further discussion on how the process can go forward and her grouping was told that the project will continue.
She gave a commitment that the group will continue to try to serve its constituents, adding that as a body they think it is important to continue to engage government.
She stated that in 2013 CSO developed an alternative growth and poverty reduction strategy and action plan.
However, she said the trust CSO has had with the Mitchell Administration has been damaged.
CSO is committed to taking an active interest in the sustainable development of the country.