By Linda Straker
The Government of Grenada has signed a Social Compact/agreement with civil society representatives, described as a partnership for the sustainable development of the country for the benefit of all citizens.
The agreement which will have ongoing review, is guided by the principles of openness and candor, mutual respect, trust, transparency and informed and mutual compromise in the interest of national good — focusing on a number of areas, including that of sustainable livelihood and economic development.
The document which will be tabled in the Houses of Parliament for deliberation, will become a document that will provide a wide policy framework for the ruling administration. “The intention is that it will be reviewed and become a living document for the next five, ten or fifteen years,” said Senator Christopher DeAllie, who represents the Business Community in the Senate and on the Committee of Social Partners.
“The Social Compact is about being honest and having the right to have opinions and views,” said Dr André Vincent Henry, the noted Caribbean Consultant who assisted in putting together the agreement.
The Committee of Social Partners or the Social Dialogue Working Group was established subequent to the 19 February 2013 general elections, as a means of giving a differing opinion on creating a framework for the development of the country in the absence of a formal Opposition in the Lower House of Parliament. The ruling New National Party won all 15 seats in the Lower House, which created the situation of no Opposition in the Parliament.
In its present state, the scope of the Compact will include, but not be limited to: improving the economic framework for the development of Grenada; facilitating good labour and management relations; promoting sustainable livelihood; and promoting integrated social and community development.
“The social partners are committed to working together to create conditions in which all citizens can realise their full potential and enjoy the rights and privileges as a member of the Grenadian family,” states the Compact in the Statement of Intent. “The Social Partners will build on the unique expression of family and community that distinguishes Grenada. They will leverage the richness of our traditions and embrace the opportunities for change that are available,” says the document.
The CSP was formed in March 2013 to ensure a more inclusive approach to governance. The CSP is made of representatives from the Grenada Private Sector Organisations; the Conference of Churches in Grenada; the Grenada Trades Union Council; the Civil Society Organisations of Grenada; the Grenada Council of Evangelical Churches; and the Government of Grenada.
The members were nominated by the membership of the respective organisations after they were requested via a letter from the Prime Minister expressing his intention to establish the multi-sectoral Committee in the absence of a formal opposition in the parliament.
Dr Mitchell is the Chairman of the Committee, and the monthly meetings are used to provide updates about developmental, economic and other projects or initiatives undertaken by Government. The Committee were very instrumental in educating the general public about the three-year Home-Grown Structural Adjustment Programme which is due to end in 2016.
At the meetings there is frank and open discussion, as members voice their views and opinions on decisions of Government. As a result of the work of that Committee, Grenada was able to receive millions in grant funding from international donors such the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to assist with the development of the country.
Government is expected to open a secretariat for the effective implementation of the Compact and the attainment of its objectives.