2016 Budget Statement

GRENADA

2016 BUDGET STATEMENT 

PRESENTED BY

 

THE RT. HON. KEITH C. MITCHELL

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Energy

 

To  

The House of Representatives

 

November 25, 2015

 

Moving Forward Together and
Delivering Results

 

CONTENTS

1.0        INTRODUCTION

 

2.0        INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS

2.1     Recent Performance of the Global Economy

2.2     Recent Performance of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union

2.3     Update on the BAICO and CLICO Situation

 

3.0        DOMESTIC ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS

3.1     Economic Performance and Prospects

3.2     Fiscal Performance

3.3     Public Debt and Debt Restructuring

 

4.0       ESTIMATES OF REVENUE AND EXPENDITURE FOR 2016

 

5.0        PROTECTING OUR GAINS FROM THE HOMEGROWN PROGRAMME

5.1     Fiscal Responsibility Legislation

5.2     Attrition Policy

5.3     Waste Reduction

5.4     Improved Tax Administration

5.5     Stronger Oversight of Statutory Bodies

 

6.0        INVESTING IN OUR PEOPLE AND PROTECTING OUR VULNERABLE

6.1     Education and Human Resource Development

6.2     Youth and Sports Development

6.3     Health Care

6.4     Housing and Social Care

 

7.0        GROWING OUR ECONOMY AND CREATING JOBS

7.1     Improving the Investment Climate

7.2     Agriculture and Fisheries

7.3     Tourism

7.4     Energy Development

7.5     Carriacou and Petite Martinique

7.6     Information and Communications Technologies

7.7     Trade and Export Development

7.8     Support for Small Business Development

7.9     Major Government Projects

7.10   Public Private Partnerships

7.11   Major Private Sector Projects

 

8.0        IMPROVING GOVERNANCE

8.1     Constitution Reform

8.2     Committee of Social Partners

8.3     National Sustainable Development Plan 2030

8.4     Financial Sector Regulation

8.5     Foreign Affairs

8.6     Labour and Industrial Relations

8.7     Public Sector Modernization

8.8     National Security

8.9     Prison Reform

8.10   Environmental Management

8.11   Disaster Mitigation and Management

8.12   Information

8.13   Justice Reform

8.14   Legislative Agenda

 

9.0        ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

10.0      CONCLUSION

 

ANNEXES

  1. Budget Framework Paper: 2016-2018
  2. Preliminary Economic and Fiscal Review 2015
  3. Recent Economic Performance and Forecast for ECCU
  4. Comparison of Income Tax in the OECS
  5. Tax Rates in the ECCU
  6. Use of Petrocaribe Funds in 2015 and Proposed Use in 2016
  7. Summary of Public Sector Debt 2015
  8. Summary of Fiscal and Debt Indicators 2015
  9. Summary of Recurrent and Capital Expenditure 2016
  10. Financial Summary of Statutory Bodies and State-owned Enterprises
  11. Grenada’s Ranking on the 2016 Ease of Doing Business Index and Summary of Findings
  12. Small Business Development Fund: Summary Listing of Approvals
  13. Basic Needs Trust Fund: Achievements in 2015 and Plans for 2016
  14. MAREP: Achievements for 2015 and Plans for 2016

 

TABLES

 

1.0     IMF Projections of Global Growth in Selected Countries

2.0     Size of Grenada Public Service in 2014 and 2015

 

 

 

 

 

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Mr Speaker, I beg to move the following Motion standing in my name:

Whereas it is necessary to provide for the State of Grenada for the year 2016 by means of an Appropriation Act;

Be it resolved that the Estimates of Expenditure for the year 2016 be approved.”

Mr Speaker, as this is a Money Motion, I wish to signal to this honourable House that I have the consent of the Governor-General to proceed.

Before I proceed, I wish to acknowledge that our Nation has lost a cultural and sporting stalwart in the person of Kenneth “Teloti” Hood.  We extend our profound condolences to his family and his many friends and admirers.   He has left a positive legacy on the many lives he touched.

Mr Speaker, 2015 has been a year of solid progress and very encouraging results.

In January, we witnessed the historic and unprecedented signing of the Social Protocol by our Social Partners.

In May, our Parliament enacted unprecedented Fiscal Responsibility legislation, a rarity in the Caribbean.

Several major projects commenced or were completed this year.

Earlier this month, Grenada concluded debt restructuring with external commercial creditors and the Paris Club.

In the sporting arena:

  • Kirani James, Grenada’s premier athletics ambassador continues to make us proud
  • Lewis Hamilton, whose grandfather is Grenadian, was again crowned Formula I Champion.
  • Damion Daniel secured his third regional Body Building championship
  • Grenada Swim won the OECS Swimming Championship

Then came the revelation that Grenada has the sweetest honey in the world.

I congratulate Dr Valma Jessamy and Jerry Edwin of Eden Apiaries on their outstanding achievement of the gold medal at the International Beekeepers Competition.

Mr Speaker, as a Nation, we have made tremendous strides on our journey to fiscal and debt sustainability and economic recovery.

I express my profound gratitude to the Grenadian people for their sacrifices, prayers and support, which have helped us to navigate this important period in our Nation’s history.

It is a celebration of our unity and tenacity.

It is the story of us, as a People, coming together, making sacrifices and now beginning to see and receive the benefits of our collective efforts.

As I reflect on the road we have travelled together this past year, I am drawn to a portion of Scripture in Daniel 11:32, King James Version, which reads and I quote:

“But the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.”

Mr Speaker, the theme chosen for the 2016 Budget is “Moving Forward Together and Delivering Results.”

This theme speaks to the progress we are now making having come together and put Grenada first.

At the outset, I am pleased to confirm that this Budget has no new taxes.

I am also pleased to note that this Budget has several firsts:

Consistent with our approach to economic management and requirements under the Fiscal Responsibility law, we are accompanying this Statement with a presentation of our Budget Framework Paper. This is found in Annex I.

As an expression of our focus on results and our commitment to be more accountable to our Nation, you will observe in the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, performance information for each ministry and department.

Mr. Speaker, I now turn to international and regional developments.

 

2.0 INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS

2.1 Recent Performance of Global Economy

According to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook of October 2015, global growth is projected to reach 3.1%, slightly lower than last year’s 3.4%.

The Outlook states and I quote:

In an environment of declining commodity prices, reduced capital flows to emerging markets and pressure on their currencies, and increasing financial market volatility, downside risks to the outlook have risen, particularly for emerging market and developing economies.”

The strongest rebound remains in the United States. There has been modest recovery in the Euro area and a return to positive growth in Japan. Growth in China, the world’s second largest economy, has decelerated and is projected at 6.8%. Growth in the United Kingdom is projected to be solid but at a slower pace.

In 2016, the global economy is projected to grow slightly faster at 3.6%. 

 

2.2 Performance of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union

In respect of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, growth in 2015 is projected to be 1.9% with Tourism leading the way.

Based on this projection, Grenada (5.1%) will again record one of the strongest growth performances in the ECCU.

More details on the performances of the global economy, CARICOM and the ECCU are available in Annex II of this Statement.

 

2.3 Update on the BAICO and CLICO Situation

Mr Speaker, our Government remains very concerned about the hardship being experienced by policyholders of BAICO and CLICO who are yet to recover their investments.

We are especially concerned about senior citizens whose pensions are not being paid at the time they are most in need.

We will continue to work with regional Governments on this issue and will do all in our power to help. In that regard, I have already raised this issue with the new Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

Our Government supports the private initiative recently taken to establish the British American Insurance and CLICO Policyholders Association to pursue the recovery of policyholders’ investments.

 

3.0 DOMESTIC ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS

3.1 Economic Performance and Prospects

Mr. Speaker, based on preliminary data, the Grenadian economy is projected to record real GDP growth rate (at market prices) of 5.1%, following a revised growth rate of 5.7% in 2014. This result is much faster than originally projected.

For the third consecutive year, Grenada’s growth rate will exceed the ECCU average of 1.9%.

The main drivers of this growth performance are Construction, Agriculture, Tourism and Education. After contracting in 2014, Construction has rebounded well.

In sum, growth is becoming more broad-based (more people are beginning to feel it).

According to the preliminary results of the 2015 Labour Force Survey, the rate of unemployment in Grenada is now 30.4% slightly up from the 28.9% recorded in 2014.  This slight increase is due to a higher labour participation rate as more persons, particularly women, are now seeking employment.

Today, hope has returned and as the economy improves, more and more people are seeking work and finding work — a very good sign. Indeed, the number of persons employed has increased from 37,365 in 2013 to 41,046 in 2014 — an increase of 3,681 persons.

Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, fell by 1.3% for the first 6 months of this year.  The main reason being the fall in oil prices which led to decreases in the price of Electricity, Water and Fuel.

More details are contained in the Preliminary Economic and Fiscal Review for 2015 which can be found in Annex II.

For 2016, our economy is projected to grow by at least 3.0%.

 

3.2 FISCAL PERFORMANCE

Mr Speaker, Government’s fiscal position has significantly improved.  This year, Grenada will achieve its first primary surplus (budget balance less interest payments) in over a decade.

By the end of this fiscal year, we expect the following fiscal results:

  • Current revenues of $550.4 million compared to target of $545.4 million;
  • Grants of $72.1 million compared to target of $214.1 million;
  • Current expenditure of $470.8 million compared to target of $482.7  million;
  • Capital expenditure of $199.0 million compared to target of $313.3 million

The area of the 2015 Budget which has not met our expectations is grants from the National Transformation Fund (NTF) under the Citizenship By Investment Programme (CBI).

Though constrained, capital expenditure is projected to reach $199.0 million, 36.5% lower than the budgeted capital expenditure of $313.2 million.

For the second consecutive year, both the Customs and Excise Division and the Inland Revenue Division will exceed their targets.

Customs and Excise is projected to collect $260.8 million compared to its target of $237.8 million (above by $23.0 million).

Inland Revenue is projected to collect $258.4 million compared to its target of $253.6 million (above by $4.8 million).

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that Government is putting its fiscal house in order.

Lest we forget, the monthly shortfall peaked at $18 million before we commenced the Homegrown Programme.  For the first 10 months of this year, the average monthly shortfall was down to $1 million.

Unpaid Claims which were $110 million, on our arrival in office, has now been slashed.  By year end, we project that Unpaid Claims over 60 days will be zero.

Fellow Grenadians, these results are your results.

It is imperative that we stay on course and move forward together to deliver even better results.

 

3.3 PUBLIC DEBT AND DEBT RESTRUCTURING

Public Debt

At December 31, 2015, the total Public Sector Debt is projected to be $2.7 billion or 103.6% of GDP, broken down as follows:

Central Government debt – $2.2 billion

Government Guarantees – $126.9 million

Other Public Sector Debt – $378.4million

Total Public Sector Debt – $2.7 billion

The stock of Government Guarantees fell in the past year to $126.9 million from $128.9 million, a reduction of $2.0 million.

The Public Debt to GDP ratio is expected to fall from 109.1% in 2014 to 103.6% in 2015, reflecting in part, the effect of the restructuring on the commercial debt. At the completion of the Debt Restructuring, the Debt/GDP ratio is projected to fall to 89.5%.

Mr Speaker, there are some persons who continue to proclaim that this Government is not paying debts. This is a blatant lie intended to make the previous Administration look good and the current Administration look bad.

This year alone, Grenada has already made debt payments of $299.4 million.

It should be noted that these payments include EC$3.7 million to Taiwan. The previous Administration did not pay one cent to Taiwan during its time in office.

The public may recall that not only did the previous Administration fail to pay Taiwan, but it could not negotiate a settlement.  As a result, the assets of both the Airports Authority and the Ports Authority were under threat.

It was this Administration which resolved this longstanding problem.

Mr Speaker, this is another clear manifestation of our Government delivering results.

Further details on the Public Debt can be found in Annex VII and Annex VIII.

 

Debt Restructuring

Today, I am pleased to state that Grenada has now regularized its relations with most of its creditors.

Earlier this month, the formal agreement with external commercial creditors was completed.  Last week, agreement was reached with the Paris Club.

As a consequence of the restructuring, the debt on a per capita basis has been reduced by $3,200 for every citizen.

This is a major step to reduce Grenada’s debt and places Grenada on a path to achieve a debt to GDP ratio of 60 percent by 2020.

For the international bonds, the first half of the haircut (25%) was implemented immediately. The creditors will await the final IMF review scheduled for June 2017 before providing the second haircut of 25%.

Mr Speaker, there are some key points in this Agreement which I wish to share with our Nation.

  1. Government’s negotiation of a 50% principal reduction (before accounting for the capitalization of accrued and past due interest) represents a major accomplishment by historical standards. Indeed, only a minority of sovereign debt restructurings has achieved a principal reduction, and never has a repeat bond restructuring by a middle income country achieved a 50% reduction.
  2. The phasing of the debt reduction was insisted upon by creditors because of the collapse of the IMF programme under the previous Administration.

Mr Speaker, the Nation must not forget the misdeeds of the previous Administration. These include:

  • Abandoning its IMF programme in 2011;
  • Lacking the courage to proceed with debt restructuring even after the Cabinet agreed to do so (I have the Cabinet Conclusion);
  • Selling national assets left, right and centre to pay salaries;
  • Shutting down the Parliament for more than 7 months; and
  • Refusing to implement Integrity in Public Life legislation.
  1. The bad governance by the previous Administration eroded Grenada’s credibility for upfront relief. However, Grenada is over-performing under the current programme and on track for timely completion.

Mr. Speaker, before I continue, let me make this point.

There is no doubt that Grenadians are making enormous sacrifices.

However, it is no secret that some elements have been hoping and predicting that not only will the Homegrown Programme fail, but that Government will not have the discipline to complete the Programme.

Some of the “noise” of these elements is not about poor people but about their desperation for power.  They have been hoping that Government will abandon the Programme and lose all the benefits for the people of Grenada.

I say to the Nation, we have come too far to turn back now. Let us continue to move forward together.

Mr Speaker, tell me which Grenadian really wants to go back to the days of political infighting, indecisiveness, joblessness, hopelessness, mounting unpaid claims and plummeting investor confidence.  Not one.

Mr Speaker, I now wish to address the restructuring of Government’s debts to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).

Following initial discussions with the NIS, it was agreed that there will be no haircut on Government’s debts to the NIS. I repeat, no haircut.

Subsequently, Government and the NIS agreed that Government will repay all bonds over a period of 25 years at an interest rate of 3 percent.  Furthermore, after the first ten years, Government will pay both principal and interest on these bonds.

We wish to thank the labour unions and the NIS Board for their partnership. They understand, when the economy grows, NIS grows.  When employment increases, NIS becomes stronger.

Mr Speaker, the leadership of the Opposition has been making some wild and reckless allegations that Government is not paying contributions to the NIS.

Here are the facts:

On arrival in office in February 2013, Government’s arrears of contributions to NIS were $24.2 million. At the end of October 2015, these arrears had been reduced to $20.1 million.  In addition, Government has paid contributions to NIS every month for the past 33 months.

Furthermore, Government has entered into a payment plan with NIS to clear all arrears.

Mr Speaker, the bottom line is that this Government has paid $68.8 million in cash to the NIS since returning to office.

Does anyone recall, how much the previous Administration took from the NIS?  The princely sum of $162.1million.

Some people, unless they are shameless, should never mention the NIS. Then again, they are so accustomed to telling untruths, that it has become part of their nature to do so.

I say no more.

That said, Mr Speaker, I wish to reiterate the Government of Grenada’s full commitment to the long term viability of the National Insurance Scheme.

The onus is on Government and all citizens to manage well after the Homegrown Programme is over. In this regard, the Fiscal Responsibility law will be very important.

We wish to acknowledge the Conference of Churches in Grenada and the Jubilee Campaign for their continual advocacy for debt relief for Grenada.

We also recognize the support of our Social Partners and the cooperation of all creditors.

Most of all, we thank the Grenadian people for their sacrifices.

I now turn to the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for 2016.

 

4.0 ESTIMATES OF REVENUE AND EXPENDITURE FOR 2016

4.1 Budget and Financing Summary

Mr Speaker, the 2016 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure provide for total expenditure (including principal repayments) of $1,125,607,770.

The overall budget is summarized as follows:

  • Recurrent Revenue: $574.6 million
  • Recurrent Expenditure: $481.2 million
  • Current Account Surplus: $93.3 million
  • Primary Surplus (after Grants): $103.5 million
  • Capital Expenditure: $291.6 million
  • Principal Repayments/Amortization: $352.7 million
  • Overall Surplus (after Grants): $0.2 million

The seven largest allocations, by vote, are:

  1. Debt – $456.0 million (40.5% of total expenditure)
  2. Ministry of Education and Human Resources – $102.1 million (9.0% of total expenditure)
  3. Ministry of Health – $75.7 million (6.7% of total expenditure)
  4. Ministry of Finance and Energy – $72.1 million (6.4% of total expenditure)
  5. Ministry of Works – $55.5 million (4.9% of total expenditure)
  6. Ministry of Youth and Sports – $53.7million (4.7% of total expenditure)
  7. Pensions and Gratuities – $50.1 million (4.5% of total expenditure)

Recurrent Revenues for 2016 are projected at $574.6 million, approximately 9.5% more than expected collections in 2015.

Total capital expenditure for 2016 is projected at $291.6 million. Of this amount $78.2 million is projected to come from local sources, $198.5 million from grants and the proceeds of the National Transformation Fund and $15.0 million from external loan disbursements.

 

5.0 PROTECTING THE GAINS OF OUR HOMEGROWN PROGRAMME

5.1 Fiscal Responsibility Legislation

Mr Speaker, as promised, our Government took the unprecedented step and introduced Fiscal Responsibility legislation to Parliament earlier this year.

The Fiscal Responsibility Law (FRL) will come into force on 1 January 2016.  The key objective of the FRL is to support the achievement and maintenance of a Debt/GDP ratio of 55%.

In order to bring the Debt/GDP ratio down to 55%, the FRL mandates that:

  • The rate of growth of expenditure by the Central Government and covered public entities shall not exceed the growth rate of revenue.
  • Expenditure on the wage bill shall not exceed the equivalent of nine percent of GDP.
  • Salary negotiations must be concluded prior to the year in which adjustments are expected to take effect — thereby eliminating the need for back pay which could have the effect of disrupting fiscal operations.
  • No multi-year commitments could be entered into during periods in which Parliament is dissolved.

The FRL establishes a Fiscal Responsibility Oversight Committee which will be responsible for monitoring compliance with the provisions of the Act and reporting annually to Parliament.

 

5.2 Attrition Policy (Personnel Expenditure Control)

Mr. Speaker, lest we forget, before the start of our Homegrown Programme, Government was spending 70 cents of every dollar collected on wages and salaries and pensions. Clearly, the wage bill, not the public debt, was the single largest Government expenditure.

In dialogue with the trade unions representing public servants, Government agreed to wage restraint during the Homegrown Programme.  In the dialogue with all Social Partners, Government also agreed not to proceed with the drastic and devastating measure of retrenchment of public officers.

Given the decision not to retrench workers, Government has had to find ways to manage the public service wage bill. In this regard, Government approved the Attrition Policy which provides for no more than 3 persons to replace every 10 persons who retire from or exit the Public Service.

At the end of June 2015, the size of the Public Service was 5,879 compared to 6,166 at 31 December 2014, representing a decrease of 287.

In 2015, the proportion of every dollar of revenue spent on wages and salaries and pensions has fallen from 70 cents to 48 cents.

It should be noted that an exception was made to the Attrition Policy to regularize 205 temporary teachers.  Permission was also granted for Ministry of Health to fill 24 vacancies, 16 of which were Nurses.

 

5.3 Waste Reduction (Non-personnel Expenditure)

Mr Speaker, Government has set a target of reducing non-personnel expenditure by 20% over 2012 spending.

For the first ten months of 2015, we achieved a reduction of 13% or saved $1.4 million.

After intensive negotiations, an agreement was signed with Digicel for the provision of fixed line and internet communications.  This agreement will be implemented in 2016 and is expected to save Government $3 million per year.

5.4 Improving Tax Administration

Consistent with Government’s commitment to make the Inland Revenue Division a modern tax service, the Large and Medium Taxpayers Unit was recently established.

We anticipate this Unit will make it easier for taxpayers to do business with the Inland Revenue and will also lead to improved revenue collection.

 

5.5 Stronger Oversight of Statutory Bodies

Mr Speaker, this year for the first time, the Minister of Finance issued a Letter of Expectations to all statutory bodies, inclusive of reporting guidelines for performance management and accountability. Subsequently, all statutory bodies were given guidelines for compensation. As a consequence, reporting and oversight are improving.

The monitoring of these new arrangements will be strengthened next year.

A financial summary of all statutory bodies is provided in Annex X.

 

6.0 INVESTING IN OUR PEOPLE AND PROTECTING OUR VULNERABLE

6.1 EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT

Mr Speaker, our Government is committed to helping our citizens become productive and competitive in the global economy.

The integration of ICT in the delivery of various education services has elevated the quality of education offered to our Nation’s children.

At the primary level, there has been a significant improvement in performances in the Minimum Competency Tests (MCTs) in Mathematics and Language Arts, and in the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA) in the component of Mathematics.

As per Government’s stated commitment, 205 Teachers have now received their letters of permanent appointment, as a first step in the regularization process for teachers who have been temporarily employed for many years.

We are continuing to deliver on our promise of more scholarships.  For the academic year 2015/2016, a total of 193 Scholarships have been awarded. These scholarships are aligned to the National Priority Training Needs and include the following sectors: Health, Education, Agriculture, ICT, and Tourism. The total value of these scholarships is $37.8 million.

Furthermore, we recently secured funds to the tune of US$200,000 from one of our investors to ensure that our young people who are pursuing higher education can meet the gap between their scholarships and personal funds. In the last three months alone, dozens of young people have received assistance from this Fund.

This year, as part of Government’s continuous improvement of facilities for our students and teachers, several schools were refurbished or upgraded:

  • David’s Catholic Secondary School
  • Expansion of T A Marryshow Community College
  • Expansion of Grenada Boys Secondary School
  • Expansion of Mac Donald College

In the case of GBSS and Mac Donald College, they now have additional facilities for technical and vocational education. These new facilities will serve not just their students but persons in the private sector who wish to improve their earning capacity.

Without a doubt, our Government is delivering.

For 2016, the allocation for Education is $102.1 million.

 

6.2 YOUTH AND SPORTS DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Speaker our Government knows full well if we lose our youth, our Country has no future.

Consequently, we make no apology for our major investment in youth through the New Imani Programme.

That said, we will continue to take on board any suggestion that can improve the Programme and enhance the Nation’s return on this significant investment.

In direct support of job creation, Government will continue to promote youth entrepreneurship.  An allocation of $200,000 has been provided for the Youth Entrepreneurs Fund.

Government is also desirous of partnering with the Junior Achievement Programme to support the development of the most promising businesses after the students exit the Programme.

Thanks to the generosity of the People’s Republic of China, Grenada will soon take delivery of our state of the art Athletics and Football Stadium.

Next year will be exciting as Grenada hosts several major tournaments including Intercol, Windward Island Secondary School Games, CARIFTA and FIFA under 17 women.

Through a public private partnership between the National Lotteries Authority and Canadian Bank Note, we will soon see the lighting of the National Cricket Stadium.  This development will pave the way for us to enjoy national and international cricket at night.

The lighting of the Fond Playing Field is nearing completion and is funded by FIFA.

Other facilities being lit are the La Sagesse and Beausejour Playing Fields.

In addition, Government has allocated $4 million to light other facilities.

Mr Speaker, it is our hope that the lightning of facilities will not just provide opportunities for entertainment and family activities but will also encourage more active and healthy lifestyles.

Several other sporting facilities, such as Cuthbert Peters Park, will be upgraded and the Vendomme Basketball Court will finally be built.

This Budget provides $53.7 million for youth and sport development, of which $31.4 million is for administration and delivery of the New Imani Programme.

 

6.3 HEALTH CARE

Mr. Speaker, health affects all of us and it behooves all of us to come together to address the issues of our health system.

Many of these issues are not unique to Grenada. Only last week, the OECS Heads of Government agreed to adopt a regional approach to lower costs for the provision of certain services.

Despite many challenges, health care is improving.

Has anyone forgotten the millions of dollars that were owed to the OECS Pharmaceutical Service during the reign of the previous Administration, as a consequence of which basic medicines were unavailable?

Today, these same people can be seen prancing around and making the most noise about the state of health care.

Since February 2013, millions of dollars of outstanding bills have been paid and basic medication is in more regular supply.  In addition, there have been significant donations, for which we are thankful, through the Donations Desk of the Ministry of Health.

Several strategic actions have been taken this year including:

  • Completion of the National Strategic Plan for Health 2016-2025;
  • Development and implementation of Policies and Procedures for system-wide quality improvement;
  • Approval of the National Primary Health Care Policy; and
  • Enactment of the Food Safety law.

Preparatory works continues for the introduction of National Health Insurance.

I now wish to highlight some of the improvements of our health infrastructure.

Work continued on Phase II of the General Hospital with grant funding from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.  Already more than $4 million have been spent with the following results:

  • The Eye Ward has been refurbished and was commissioned last month;
  • The Steel Structure has been adjusted to four levels and will accommodate Accidents and Emergencies; Laboratory; Imaging Unit and Out-patient clinics.
  • The Children’s Ward has also been repaired.
  • The Isolation Unit (4 rooms within Private Ward) has been retrofitted to accommodate infectious disease patients.

The services in the Operating Theatres and Intensive Care Unit have been boosted by the installation of Cardiology equipment and this service is now being provided at the General Hospital in collaboration with St George’s University.

A new Chiller has been purchased and installed at the General Hospital to store fruits and vegetables and reduce wastage.

The Gynaecology Ward is now 75% completed.  The refurbishment works of almost $300,000 is funded by the National Lottery Authority.

The Doctors’ Quarters through assistance from “Friends of the Hospital” (FOTH) was remodeled; furnished and WI-FI internet and TV access upgraded.

Repairs have been effected at the Mt. Gay Hospital and the Richmond Home for the Elderly.

At Princess Alice Hospital, the X-ray building has been completed by the Benjamin Foundation and Government. The X-Ray machine was donated by GRENLEC and Government. Furthermore, the Incinerator has been repaired with support from GRENLEC and Government and is now fully operational.

Very importantly, the medical team at Princess Alice can now access laboratory results online thereby facilitating faster diagnostic services and timely treatment.

Mr. Speaker, Grenada will receive approximately $5 million in grant funding from DFID through PAHO to retrofit four health facilities.  These are: Princess Alice Hospital, Princess Royal Hospital, Central Medical Stores and Woburn Medical Station.

It is envisaged that construction of the Gouyave Health Centre will commence in 2016 with funding from the European Union.

Mr Speaker, much has been said recently about the number of doctors and nurses at our health facilities. In this regard, the misunderstanding of the Attrition Policy is unfortunate.

Here are the facts:

  • A total of 43 new nurses and nine doctors (House officers) have been recruited this year.
  • 17 specialist doctors have been contracted from Cuba to complement the current staff.
  • 3 Medical laboratory Technicians and three X-ray technicians will soon be returning from studies.
  • 5 scholarships have been provided to doctors to pursue specialized training in areas including Obstetrics/Gynaecology, Pediatrics, and Pathology in Cuba and China.

This Budget provides for the hiring of more nurses and doctors next year.

In fact, Mr Speaker, bearing in mind the cries of dozens of qualified but unemployed nurses around this Nation, Cabinet has taken the decision to allow for the Minister to bring legislation to Parliament to address their license to practice in the shortest time. Nurses will soon be able to obtain a provisional license for practice through the ministry, while they await their regional certification.

Mr Speaker, we acknowledge that the situation with the Dialysis Unit at the Hospital is of grave concern. Yes, we know that the previous Administration dismantled the Unit for petty, political reasons, but the onus now falls on us to do something about it.

We cannot keep blaming the previous administration or the private sector. As a Government that has been in office more than two and a half years, we should have already solved that problem. We dropped the ball, and we have to take full responsibility for that.

I recently met with the top officials from the Ministry of Health and we have come up with an immediate plan to solve the problem so that we can save lives.

In meeting with Prime Minister Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago in October, we discussed several areas of partnership, of which healthcare was key. Our two line Ministers will soon meet and chart the way forward. For now, we will do all we can to restore the functionality of the Dialysis Unit in the shortest possible time, so that patients can get the requisite care.

Finally, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has launched a Chaplaincy Programme at the General Hospital aimed at providing prayer and counselling support not just for patients but also to nurses and doctors.

Mr Speaker, the foregoing results bear testimony of the caring and hard work of this Government.

I also express gratitude to all persons and organisations (home and abroad) that are contributing to improvements of our health care.

The total allocation for Health is $75.7 million, almost $12 million more than budgeted in 2015.

 

6.4 HOUSING AND SOCIAL CARE

Mr Speaker, the need for housing is huge and heavy on the minds of all parliamentary representatives.

As a consequence, earlier this year, Government launched a $2 million Soft Loan Housing Programme to help families with their repair and expansion needs. The sum of $4 million has been provided for this Programme next year.

In our dialogue with the labour unions, we have also heard the need for more and better housing for public servants.

In September of this year, our Government through the Grenada Development Bank, launched a $6 million special mortgage programme primarily targeted at public servants.  The Bank is offering 100% financing to public servants. Already, the Bank has approved 25 loans to the tune of approximately $5 million. In addition, there are approximately 59 loans in the pipeline with a total value of $11.6 million.

Mindful of this dire need, our Government has authorized the Bank to expand this special programme. With the attractive terms on offer, GDB’s programme is assisting persons who cannot secure mortgage financing from the commercial banks.

The Bank will also adopt a more flexible policy for longstanding public servants who are on contract or do not yet have a permanent appointment.

Following the distribution of homes to 350 families in Soubise, Frequente and Mt Gay, the second phase of the Chinese Housing Programme will commence. This Phase will provide homes for 650 families and will be constructed in Beausejour and Frequente in St George, Black Bay in St John, Diamond, St Mark, St Patrick and Dumfries in Carriacou.

For 2016, the allocation of the Grenada Home Improvement Programme has been almost doubled to $6 million.

Mr Speaker, Government again reiterates its commitment to ensure the vulnerable and poor are protected and supported during the Homegrown Programme.

The sum of $1 million is budgeted for Uniform and Transportation Allowance as vital support to help our vulnerable children to regularly attend school.

As a caring Government, we continue to do our best to meet various needs including educational and medical.  In this regard, an allocation of $1.25 million has been provided for the Needy Assistance Programme.

After some implementation challenges, the new Management Information System will soon be ready for roll out leading to better targeting of the most vulnerable children, families and senior citizens. Government intends to spend $13.8 million under the flagship safety net programme called “Support for Education, Empowerment and Development “(SEED).

Approximately $2 million have been set aside for the Roving Caregivers and Geriatric Programme.

At long last, the Bacolet Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre has been completed and will be officially opened early next year. Its operation will facilitate the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act. The sum of $1 million has been allocated for the Centre’s operations.

The total allocation for Housing and Social Development is $36.1 million, of which capital expenditure is $28.6 million.

 

7.0 CREATING JOBS

7.1 Improving the Investment Climate

Mr Speaker, Grenada’s fall in the Doing Business Ranking is unfortunate and unacceptable. The ranking and a summary of the key findings are shown in Annex XI.

Several efforts were made to improve the investment climate over the past year including the revision of Tax Incentives and drafting of Bankruptcy and Insolvency legislation. Unfortunately, they were not completed in time to impact the rankings.

Our Government accepts responsibility for this shortcoming and will do better going forward.

I now wish to highlight two incentives which the business community can expect in 2016. First, the period for the carry forward of losses will be increased from three years to six years.  Second, Government is providing a tax deductible for training including support for youth development programmes.

The new incentives which will be rolled out in 2016 will cut the red tape.

 

7.2 AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES

Agriculture and Fisheries are vital for food and nutrition security as well as the economic well-being of our Nation.  To this end, a National Agriculture Plan has been developed in collaboration with CARICOM Secretariat and financed by the European Union.

The Zero Hunger Programme will continue building on successes in 2015 which included the first Cassava Festival.

Mr Speaker, our Government is very sympathetic to the plight of farmers who lost crops and income as a result of the recent heavy rains.

As a consequence, we have allocated the sum of $1 million in an Emergency Relief Fund to help affected farmers and in the event of similar losses during 2016.

This Fund does not replace the need for crop insurance which we will continue to pursue with regional and international partners.

The revamped Marketing and National Importing Board increased its purchases from farmers by 58% and paid out more than $5 million to farmers.

Mr Speaker, the scourge of praedial larceny is real.  However, we are beginning to see results of the Praedial Larceny Control Programme. To date, more than 6,000 farmers have been registered and almost 4,600 ID cards issued. The Task force is now sharing this database with the hotel industry and other buyers of agricultural produce.

We are encouraging the Task Force to do random checks on vendors and importers to ensure the trafficking of illegal agricultural produce is minimized.

The Farm Labour Programme will resume in early 2016.  The sum of $500,000 has been allocated.

Government will continue to support the development of high demand crops such as soursop.  In this regard, the sum of $500,000 has been earmarked.

Mr Speaker, the plague of Sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean has adversely impacted the livelihoods of our fishermen.  In collaboration with regional partners, efforts are now underway to develop early warning systems, mitigation plans and to explore commercial options (agricultural and medical) for the Sargassum seaweed.  In fact, I just returned from the OECS Heads meeting where the decision was taken to implement a Maritime Research Strategy that will incorporate comprehensive work on the Sargassum seaweed.

Greater attention will be given to improving fish quality control and post-harvest technology to enhance returns from the industry and maintain Grenada’s fish export status to the European Union.  This effort will include more stringent measures for licensing.

We are also working to enhance our fish export product and secure more airlift for our cargo and fish exports through an equipment upgrade at the Airport.

Government will continue to strengthen Marine Protected Areas to enhance the management of critical marine species and improve marine biodiversity.

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Co-management Project funded by Japan will help farmers improve their productivity and income.  This Project is being piloted on the east coast in Grenville and is expected to be replicated in other fishing areas.

The total allocation for Fisheries is $20.4 million.

The total allocation for Agriculture and Fisheries is $42.2 million and includes $32.9 million in capital expenditure.

 

7.3 TOURISM AND CULTURE

Mr Speaker, there is no doubt about the economic impact of Tourism on Grenada’s economy.

For the first nine months of this year, total arrivals grew by 4.1%, including an 8 percent increase in stayover-arrivals.

The economic assessment (by the Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Finance) of the Test Match played in Grenada last April revealed a spend of nearly $16.3 million with 1,805  visitors.

Mr Speaker, our Government understands that marketing of Grenada is critical.

I am pleased to note that as a result of our improving fiscal situation, every effort will be made to ensure timely disbursements of the full $12 million in 2016.

In collaboration with the OECS Commission, joint marketing was undertaken for our yachting products and services in Canada and North America.

Mindful of the urgent need to improve our tourism product, the following steps were taken during this year:

  • Installation of signage by the GTA throughout the Country
  • Completion of Bathway vending facilities
  • Enhancement of existing trails and the development of new ones

Unfortunately, the commercialization of our sites did not proceed as quickly as planned but having completed additional technical work, we will soon invite expressions of interest for the following sites:

  • Fort George
  • Fort Frederick
  • Annandale Waterfalls
  • Grand Etang National Park and others

These sites will neither be sold nor privatized.  Instead, they will be leased under contract to capable firms and individuals.

In this regard, I wish to announce that Government has decided to relocate the Headquarters of the Royal Grenada Police Force.  An alternative site has been identified and efforts are underway to mobilise funds to build an appropriate facility on this site.

In respect of airlift, Delta Airlines commenced flights out of Atlanta as well as an additional flight out of New York, thereby contributing to the increased arrivals from the USA.

JetBlue also commenced operations to Grenada in June with two flights out of New York.  JetBlue has increased its service to three flights per week and plans to add a fourth flight in January 2016.

Next year, we also expect to see the commencement of a weekly service out of Panama.

The allocation for airlift in 2016 is $8 million.

Mr Speaker, upgrades were completed at the Maurice Bishop International Airport including an Airport Operations Centre, a Passenger Security System and Border Management System.  The VIP Lounge was refurbished and an Airport Executive Lounge was established.

Mr Speaker, things are looking up.

As part of our fiscal responsibility, Government will proceed with the amalgamation of the Spicemas Corporation and the Grenada Cultural Foundation in 2016. We expect earlier planning, marketing and timely execution of Spice Mas and our major cultural festivals.

The Botanical Gardens will be renamed Sir Eric Matthew Gairy Botanical Gardens in honour of our Country’s first Prime Minister.

The total allocation for Tourism and Culture is $27.4 million.

 

7.4 Energy Development

The National Energy Policy is being reviewed and will be revised next year.

During this year, Government circulated drafts of a new Electricity Supply Bill and a Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Bill. Furthermore, model licenses and most regulations have now been drafted. These laws are essential for electricity reforms and will be implemented next year.

An initiative for solar street lights is also being pursued.

The initial 3-G study on Grenada’s geothermal energy potential has been completed with support from New Zealand and additional baseline work is being done by Japan.  Already, a roadmap for geothermal development has been developed and shared with key development partners.

In 2016, there will be several pilot projects for solarisation of Government buildings and retrofitting of air-conditioned units.

In terms of exploration of oil and gas potential, cooperation will intensify with Trinidad and Tobago.

 

7.5 CARRIACOU AND PETITE MARTINIQUE

The sister islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique continue to get their fair share of development.

This year, the Lauriston Airport was upgraded and made safer.

Several roads were rehabilitated and two desalination plants including one in Petite Martinique were constructed.

In 2016, key projects include:

  1. Road Works – $2.0 million
  2. Agriculture Programme – $1.0 million
  3. Sports and Culture Support Programme – $1.0 million
  4. Asphalt and Concrete Works – $450,000
  5. Petit Martinique Playing Field- $400,000

The total allocation for Carriacou and Petit Martinique is $13.4 million, of which $4.4 million is earmarked for capital expenditure.

 

7.6 INFORMATION COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES (ICT)

Under the Caribbean Regional Communication Infrastructure Programme (CARCIP), a public private partnership for the design and construction of a broadband network is expected to be completed within the next 18 months.

Government has now formalized an agreement with MGRM after one year of onsite information gathering and assessment of the ICT needs of Government by that Company. Under the agreement, MGRM will implement the                         e-governance Portal and e-Governance Platform components of the Master Governance framework as Grenada intensifies its drive to use ICT for economic transformation.

Some of the priorities include paperless initiatives for Cabinet and Parliament and more online services for citizens.

Beginning in January, the Police will be using a completely computerized system for managing vehicle licensing.  Plans are also underway to allow vehicle owners to pay their vehicle license fees online. This new system will greatly reduce the long lines and wait times involved in paying vehicle license fees each year.

 

7.7 TRADE AND EXPORT DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Speaker, food imports account for 20 percent of Total Imports. This is unacceptable.  Consequently, Government will be working with the Grenada Poultry Association, among others, to reduce this Bill to no more than 10% of Total Imports over the next five years.

Government, through the Grenada Bureau of Standards, will continue to support export businesses and businesses with export potential. The sum of $250,000 has been allocated for the Bureau of Standards for this purpose.

Government will continue to support the export thrust of the Marketing and National Importing Board and the National Export Strategy.

 

7.8 SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

By the end of December 2015, the Small Business Development Fund is projected to disburse $1.65 million resulting in 325 jobs.

The 2016 Budget provides an allocation of $4 million. When disbursed, the likely impact is the creation of 650 jobs.

The Grenada Industrial Development Corporation anticipates that it will provide business advisory services to at least 25 small and medium size enterprises in 2016.

 

7.9 MAJOR GOVERNMENT PROJECTS

Mr Speaker, this Budget provides $291.6 million for Government’s capital programme in 2016.

I now present some of the major projects.

 

Grenada Houses of Parliament

The next Phase of this Project (actual construction) is expected to commence in January.  An initial allocation of $10.1 million has been made.  Based on information received subsequent to the meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance, this sum will be increased by an additional $3.4 million.

The total cost of the Project is about $29 million and will be financed by United Arab Emirates, Mexico and the Government of Grenada.

Completion is expected in 2017.

Road Rehabilitation and Maintenance Programmes

Mr Speaker, we have begun to address the sorry state of our Nation’s roads.

This Budget provides $5.5 million for Asphalt Works.

A provision of $7 million has been made for Road Maintenance Programmes, including Debushing.  I wish to note that on the advice of the Social Partners, the Debushing Programme will now include planting of flowers to further beautify our landscape.

For 2016, another $5 million has been provided for Concrete Works such as roads, drainage and retaining walls.

These Programmes will again provide several short term employment opportunities.

 

Special Projects

Special Projects continues to be a very effective programme to address needs in communities.

In 2015, hundreds of projects have been implemented throughout Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, at a cost of 4.2 million Eastern Caribbean dollars.  This translated into 1100 jobs being created at the community level.

This year, the allocation is $7 million.

 

Construction and Refurbishment of Government Buildings

Many Government buildings are in a dilapidated condition while Government rents various facilities.  This makes no financial sense.

Consequently, Government will commence a systematic programme of repairing key Government buildings.  This will mean increased capital expenditure but will reduce recurrent expenditure over time.

The sum of $5 million is budgeted.

 

Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) Programme

Mr Speaker, the BNTF Programme is another example of this Government delivering results.

Under Education, the following sub-projects will be implemented:

  • Paraclete Government
  • Bonaire Government
  • Moritz Anglican
  • Dominic’s Preschool
  • Victoria Resource and Day Care Centre
  • Theresa/Vincennes Preschool
  • Gouyave Day Care Centre
  • Telescope Resource Centre
  • Mirabeau Upgrade
  • Skills Training for rural folks
  • Technical training for single parents
  • Training in craft production and small engine repairs (Marquis)
  • Skills Training for Inmates

Under Water and Sanitation, the following sub-projects will be undertaken:

  • Davey Fishermen’s Locker Facility (St Patrick)
  • Loretto Toilet Facility
  • Water Tanks for ten schools in St Patrick
  • Grand Roy Toilet Upgrade
  • Wharf Lane in Grenville
  • Clozier Water Treatment Phase II

Under Community Access and Drainage, the following sub-projects will be done:

  • True Blue Road Avenue Road (Telescope)
  • Chantimelle Retaining Wall
  • Laura/La Pastora Road

Contracts have been or will soon be awarded for most of these Projects as they must be completed by the end of 2016.

This Programme is projected to spend $7.8 million, all of which are grants.

 

Market Access and Rural Enterprise Development Project (MAREP)

For 2016, the following farm access roads and bridges will be done:

  • Rosehill/Chambord
  • La Poterie/Conference
  • Pearl’s Bridge
  • Ahoma
  • Fountain, St Mark
  • Lower St John Road (Gut), St Andrew
  • D’or/Grand Bay (Carriacou)
  • Grand Bras (La Kabacay) Bridge

Other areas will include approval of 15 projects under the Rural Investment Fund.

A total of $3.1 million is projected to be spent next year.

Approximately 689 jobs are projected, of which 377 will be permanent.

 

Agricultural Feeder Roads Phase II

Most of these roads have now been completed and the remaining roads will be completed early next year.

Government is pleased to announce that confirmation for funding a Phase III has been received from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and the OPEC Fund for International Development.

We expect work to start in 2016.  The cost of Phase III is likely to be more than $60 million.

 

Regional Disaster and Vulnerability Reduction Programme

Significant progress has been made towards the goal of building resilience to the impact of climate change and reducing vulnerability to natural disasters.

The following projects have commenced:

  • Sendall’s Tunnel Rockfall
  • Landslip at St John’s River (River Road)
  • Landslip at Constantine Main Road
  • Landslip at Market Square (St John’s)
  • Construction of Water Tanks for NAWASA

In addition, contracts have been awarded for:

  • Community Infrastructure at La Sagesse and Beausejour
  • Cadrona Home for the Aged
  • Patrick’s Anglican School

Finally, tenders have already been received for the following projects which will commence early next year:

  • Construction of Hubble Bridge followed by the Lance Bridge; and
  • Holy Cross R.C School in Munich

 

OFID/GOG School Rehabilitation Project

Work on the Woburn Methodist and St Mary’s RC School in La Fillette will be completed next year.

 

St Patrick’s Roads Project

This Project will start next year.

At least $2.25 million will be spent.

 

7.10 PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS

Mr Speaker, there are several development projects for which Government is pursuing Public Private Partnerships.

 

Grenada Aviation Academy    

This Project is on track with the commitment and support by 3 major institutions of higher education namely:

  • Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology (Queens New York)
  • The University of the West Indies (St. Augustine Campus)
  • Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT)

In May of this year, the above institutions signed a letter of intent with Government to construct and establish the Aviation Academy.

The financing of this Project will come through the Citizenship By Investment Programme.

This Project will be executed in four phases and is carded to commence the first quarter of 2016.

 

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficient Solutions for Public Buildings

The initial phase will be done with the Caribbean Development Bank.

 

Commercialisation of Tourism Attraction Sites

Invitations for expressions of interest will soon be issued.

 

7.11 MAJOR PRIVATE SECTOR PROJECTS

Mr Speaker, investor confidence is on the rise.  Over the past year, the GIDC has seen growing interest from local and foreign investors.

In 2016, the following are some of the major projects which will continue or commence:

  • The Point at Petite Calivigny Resort is a three stage development in which phase one will consist of four villas and twelve townhouses. The construction and finishes will be of a five star standard and will commence construction in the first quarter of 2016. Total cost for phase one is estimated at US$16m. Phases 2 and 3 will be US$18m and US$21m respectively. The Project will, during the construction of phase one, provide an estimated 100 jobs.
  • Laluna Beach Resort & Villas Phase II involves the investment of $64 million to construct additional villas, art studio, among other amenities. Employment during construction is expected to be over 100 persons while 45 persons are expected to be permanently employed once the project becomes operational.
  • The Sanctuary (in Carriacou) will invest $40 million for the construction of 10 additional suites.
  • Clear Harbor Call Centre: employment which was at 403 at the end of 2013 is now 612. Another round of recruitment will commence by the end of this year resulting in a further increase in employment for 2016.
  • Sandals Marketing Centre which opened this year with 60 persons, has increased to 153, and plans to hire an additional 50–60 persons next year.
  • Le Pointe involves the establishment of a 5-star boutique hotel and villa resort, encompassing 63 villas, to yield 114 room keys. The project will be constructed on 30 acres of freehold lands at Hope, St. Andrew and will be developed in two phases. It is expected that the first phase will yield a total of 23 room keys which is expected to be completed within 18 months of the start of construction.
  • Grenfresh $12 million is expected to be invested to establish a fruit-based product manufacturing plant at La Sagesse, St. David’s. The project is expected to create employment for 15 persons.
  • West Indies Hospitality involves the acquisition and rehabilitation of the Mt. Edgecome Estate into a luxury retreat plantation house at Victoria, St. Mark. Employment is expected to be created for 15 persons.
  • Solamente Villas which is being implemented involves the reconfiguration of an existing villa into a 10 bedroom luxury Boutique Villa and Retreat Centre at Lance Aux Epines, St. George’s. The estimated project cost is $23.6 million and will employ about 20 persons.
  • Coyaba Beach Resort involves the refurbishment and upgrading of the current facility. The estimated investment cost is $27.5 million over the period 2016-2025, and the employment is projected at 25 persons.
  • Turbulence Grenada Ltd. involves the expansion of its current operations at the Clarkes Court Bay Marina. Permanent employment is expected to be created for an additional 6 persons, and scores of others will be employed during the construction phase.
  • La Heliconia and Day Spa involves the expansion and refurbishment of an accommodation facility located at Point Saline, St. George’s. The expansion involves the construction of 6 additional rooms to complement its 8 existing rooms. Project cost is estimated at $1.7 million.
  • Grenada Marine involves the expansion and renovation of its current boatyard facility.
  • Carriacou Development Marina which is currently being constructed and involves the development of $13.9 million marina and dry dock facility at Tyrell Bay, Carriacou. Ten persons are currently employed.
  • Joyau des Caraibes (Silver Sands Resort Development) which involves construction of a luxury resort hotel located on the site of the former Silver Sands Hotel on Grand Anse Beach will continue to be constructed in 2016. It is estimated that over 175 persons will be employed throughout the construction phase.
  • Mount Cinnamon Expansion involves an additional 39 rooms. Already 25 persons are employed in construction and an additional 50 will be employed next year.  Over the next 12-18 months, the occupancy of this property will be doubled and 25 persons will have permanent employment.
  • The Rivera Hotel is now being designed and will create a further 100 jobs during construction. During this design phase, the investors have agreed to construct a new Camerhogne Park nearby, and upgrade the vendors market and the basketball and tennis courts.  Additional employment is expected to be created for approximately 260 Grenadians when the hotel becomes operational. 
  • Grenada Resort Complex: The developer and his team will soon submit an Environmental Impact Assessment and design documents to Physical Planning for a construction permit. As a first stage, an interpretive centre will be built.  The developer will select a contractor for this initial phase within the next 2 months.  The next phase will likely include the flagship hotel, casino, residential apartments and villas, and associated amenities.
  • Urbaniza Grenada has engaged one of the world’s top master planners to commission a master plan for the Carenage. The Company plans to purchase at least three buildings on the Carenage and renovate them for business opportunities. The Company will complete all studies, including the EIA for the free zone and finalize negotiations with the existing port to start operations of the free zone at the existing port. It is expected that least 50 to 75 jobs will be created in construction and another 50 when operations commence.

 

These private investments will lead to at least an additional 1,000 jobs.

 

8.0 IMPROVING GOVERNANCE

Financial Sector Regulation

The credit union sector continues to play an important role in the local economy. All credit unions in Grenada have now been subject to an onsite, risk-based examination by GARFIN and follow up action is being taken where necessary.

The United States has now confirmed that an extension for implementation of FATCA was granted and implementation is now expected by September 30, 2016. Consequently, our local Financial Institutions will not be subject to the 30% withholding requirement as mandated under the FATCA legislation. The Government remains committed to partnering with the financial institutions during the implementation process.

 

Foreign Affairs               

Grenada is focused on a proactive foreign policy that raises Grenada’s international profile, forges strategic partnerships and brings benefits to citizens, home and abroad.

The priorities for 2016 include:

  • Mobilising resources for the Technical Assistance and Scholarship Funds
  • Effective promotion of friendly relations with traditional and new cooperation partners, particularly in Asia and the Middle East

 

Labour and Industrial Relations

Government remains committed to promoting an atmosphere of harmonious industrial relations, health and safety in the workplace and opportunities for decent work, including self-employment.

The Draft Revised Labour Code is now before the Labour Advisory Board for consideration. This Code is expected to be tabled in Parliament in 2016.

Government will continue to identify job opportunities under the seasonal agricultural programmes in Canada, and for the cruise ship employment programme.  Discussions have started with the Grenada Mission in Miami to pursue similar opportunities in the United States.

 

Public Sector Modernisation

In 2016, the DPA will give priority to modernisation initiatives that support the Homegrown Programme and helps build the New Economy. These include:

  • Pension Reform
  • Establishment of a Public Service Training Centre
  • Leadership Development Programme for Middle Managers
  • Orientation Programme for Public Officers
  • Succession management and Leadership Development

 

National Security

Significant progress has been made by the Royal Grenada Police Force in improving general response to reports and implementing measures to reduce crime. This has resulted in an increase in confiscation of illicit drugs, dangerous weapons and improvement in crime detection.

A modern Immigration Border Management Control system will be implemented for the enhancement of regional integration with respect to hassle-free travel using e-gates.  This new system will also improve security to combat transnational criminality, terrorism and human trafficking.

 

9.0 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Government and People of Grenada, I wish to place on record our appreciation of all Governments and Organisations for their financial, economic and technical assistance during the past year. A full listing can be seen in this Statement.

Mr Speaker, I acknowledge and applaud the sacrifices of all citizens.

I recognize the ongoing contributions of the Committee of Social Partners and the Homegrown Programme Monitoring Committee.

I express my deepest appreciation to my Cabinet Colleagues for their ongoing sacrifices.

I take this opportunity to express my commendations to the Permanent Secretary, Deputy Permanent Secretaries, Accountant General and staff, Chief Budget Officer and members of the Budget Unit, Head of Policy, members of the Policy Unit and Macroeconomic Adviser, Head of Debt Management and staff, Head of Corporate Communications, management team and staff of the Ministry of Finance as well as the Manager and staff of the Government Printery.

I thank the Attorney General and his staff, the Secretary to the Cabinet, Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Non-Ministerial Departments, Press Secretary and other public officers who have contributed to the preparation and delivery of this Budget.

I also thank the Clerk of Parliament and staff for their assistance in the preparations for today’s Presentation.

Finally, Mr Speaker, I wish to thank you for permitting the use of technology to support my presentation today.

 

10.0     CONCLUSION

Mr Speaker, thirty three months ago, a great cloud of hopelessness hung over this Nation.

That cloud is gone.

Today, bright rays of hope are in view.

The seeds sown by our shared sacrifice are now beginning to yield a wonderful harvest – fiscal turnaround, sustained economic growth, rising employment and increasing opportunities.

This Presentation and the accompanying pictures are powerful stories of our resilience, recovery and results.

Your hard-working Government is delivering.

When we spoke earlier about over three and a half thousand new jobs being created – we were not just reporting an impressive number; we were speaking about real people whose lives have been impacted positively.

We are keenly aware that still more people await delivery.

But ‘We will deliver” is not a mere idle slogan for the construction worker in Paradise, who four years ago, because the job sites had gone idle, was in trouble with his mortgage. He has since found work; he is back on schedule with his mortgage; he does not fear losing his house anymore.

For the temporary teacher who has been in the system the last 5 years but is only just able to access a loan to build a house because she is now regularized;

For the over 100 workers who are employed at the Silver Sands Resort Project, or the hundreds of trained young people at Clear Harbour or Sandals Sales and Marketing Center, and the many others from River Sallee in the North to Grand Anse Valley in the South, who are looking for work and finding work;

 

Your hard-working Government is delivering.

For the public servants whose paychecks are now on time;

For the small contractors who are finally getting paid; and the many suppliers who are finally receiving payments for services provided to the previous Government,

 

Your hard-working Government is delivering.

For the doctors at the General Hospital who, after a hard-day’s work serving our people, can now relax in more comfortable quarters;

For the long-suffering unemployed nurse, who has finally found a way to practice her profession;

For the current or future patient who can now rest assured knowing that Government is working overtime to ensure that basic medications are provided and in regular supply;

 

Your hard-working Government is delivering.

Unlike others, we talk less and do more.

Indeed, Mr Speaker, it is better to have a heart with fewer words, than many words without a heart.

For the brilliant young people from Resource, Union or Maran, who are now studying in Morocco, or China, or Cuba, and for whom those opportunities would not have been possible otherwise;

For little Harry in Dudmar, St. David, who now can attend school regularly because of the Transportation and Uniform allowance that he, is receiving;

 

Your hard-working Government is delivering.

For the relocated residents of Soubise who are no longer compelled to feel vulnerable and exposed to rising sea levels;

 

Your hard-working Government is delivering.

For the scores of small business people, who because of that hand-up through the expanded small business assistance programme do not have to accept hand-outs anymore;

And for all these people and more, those are not just the much-needed pay checks.

They have had their dignity restored.

Three thousand youth now have skills, greater self-esteem and hope. They have had the trajectory of their lives changed through their participation in the Imani programme. They understand, that as difficult as today is; these are far better times than yesterday.

But most importantly, they can hope for a better tomorrow.

 

In this period of growth, our strongest currency is hope.

And that’s why we can say today – that hope lives and more help is on the way.

 

Your hard-working Government is delivering.

As a Nation, we have faced great odds but made great strides.

And we are fortified by the words of the Holy Scriptures found in Romans 8: 37, and I quote: “despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

And so, we are marching on, determined to better the lives of everyone.

Our faith has sustained us, and hope lives!

May God bless the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

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