“February 7th, 1974 will be forever etched in our memory as the birth of this independent nation. That struggle for liberation from colonial powers united us. In the ensuing years, that same fierceness and resoluteness have united us and unfortunately, at times, have also divided us. As we celebrate 45 years of independence, I want to recognise those who have unreservedly put country above self; those who are cognisant that sometimes, what is good for one category of persons must also be good for the wider population.”
That was the declaration of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell in his address at the Independence Day Military Parade and Rally last week Thursday at the national stadium at Queen’s Park.
The Grenadian Leader described the nation’s 45th Anniversary of Independence as a “significant milestone” noting that the country has attained an age of maturity, having experienced periods of turbulence and is now well-poised for the future.
“We endured the challenges, we fought valiantly for political and economic recovery and now, the stage has been set, the foundation laid for the future we have so long envisioned; a future where we solidify the economic, political and social gains made, for the benefit of all Grenadians, Carriacouans and Petite Martiniquans. We must continue to press forward on that upward trajectory,” he said.
“As I reflect on this significant milestone, our 45th year of independence, I am heartened by our progress as a nation and I have renewed confidence in our future. Sisters and brothers, we are batting well. The runs are coming in singles, but with each passing year of independence, we are adding to the tally. Soon, we will reach our half century which will be another commendable milestone,” he added.
Prime Minister Mitchell, who, has been at the helm for 19 of the last 24 years said, “As Prime Minister, not even popularity among the electorate should warrant a decision that is not in the best interest of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.”
This is an apparent reference to the ongoing impasse between government and the nation’s teachers and public officers on the 25% pension and gratuity payment issue.
The unions have signaled their intention to take the matter to court on the grounds that the constitution makes provisions for the payment and not the latest offer of 8% put on the negotiating table by Mitchell’s ruling New National Party (NNP) administration.
The Prime Minister noted that the education of the nation’s children is critical to securing the country’s future, pointing out that “the many academic successes already recorded, came about through the collaborative efforts of the parents, teachers and other education officials and the enabling environment created by the Government.”
Dr. Mitchell called for continued collaboration among all stakeholders for the benefit of Grenada’s children.
“It is that same collaborative approach we must take to address the current challenges that have the potential to impact the future of our children. It is incumbent on us, as responsible leaders, to bridge the gap and act in the best interest of the nation’s children”, he said.
He gave assurances that government “stands committed to engaging with partners and stakeholders in a spirit of mutual respect in the quest for economic and social justice for all.”
“As the current gatekeepers of this beloved nation, we must continue to ensure that our children are afforded the best education possible and that they are not deprived of opportunities to excel academically…for our athletes seeking to emulate the exploits of our jaguar, Kirani James and our other sporting icons who have excelled regionally and internationally, we must also ensure that they are not denied the opportunity to showcase their talent on the world stage,” Prime Minister Mitchell declared.
Additionally, the Grenadian Leader sought to assure the nation that his government’s focus is on “development that is inclusive (and) informed by you the people of this land”.
“Your voice, your contribution is equally important to the process as is our leadership. We must ensure that our development transcends political differences…”, he added.
According to Dr. Mitchell, “Grenada continues to be a shining example among regional and international peers (with) our economy one of the fastest growing in the region; our debt to GDP ratio continues to improve significantly and we are well on track to achieving the goal set by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), way ahead of schedule”.
On the issue of climate change adaptation, improved resilience and sustainable development, the Prime Minister stated that Grenada is also a recognised leader on the world stage.
“These developments, he said, “are not taking place by chance (as) significant emphasis has been placed on development planning and we are beginning to see and reap the rewards of that”.
“You can expect to see even greater emphasis on development planning going forward. We have just concluded another round of consultations that will inform Grenada’s National Sustainable Development Plan 2035. This plan will help shape the short to medium-term future of our country, identifying and promoting strategic priorities for the way forward – social, economic, and environmental and governance strategies,” the Prime Minister added.