Thursday, 22 September 2016
Deputy Leader of our Party, Brother Joseph Andall
Members of the National Executive Council of the National Democratic Congress
Former Party Leader and Prime Minister – Tilman Thomas Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Other Specially Invited Guests
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
I must let you know at the outset how delighted I am that so many of you have found it possible to join us here this evening, as we launch the Policy Agenda of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for the period 2017 to 2030.
By your presence, you have confirmed for us not only the importance that you attribute to this occasion, but the historic significance of this event. For never before in the post independence history of our country has any political party laid out for the scrutiny and evaluation of the public at large, outside of an election context, the policy framework and guidelines that will inform and guide its policy prescriptions and choices as it seeks to govern the country.
This event is even more significant when it is considered that the agenda is intended to cover 13 years of our development — 2017 to 2030 and not just the next election cycle.
We are indeed grateful for your presence.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that I can safely acclaim that, in this room today, we have assembled a balanced representation of the Grenadian society and interests. We are especially pleased because this is about the future of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. I am unshakably convinced that through our collective vision and collaboration, we can build a sustainable and prosperous future for our people and our country.
Over the past several months, we have been engaging Grenadians of all walks of life, talking and sharing with them, listening to them and soliciting their views on the state of our nation, and what they want for themselves, their families and our country. The more we hear from our people about their hopes and aspirations, the more convinced we became that our people deserve more and our country can do better.
The NDC holds steadfast to the belief that our mission must not just be to win the next election; it must be to transform Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique into a strong, stable and respected democracy, capable of sustaining a high quality of life for all of our people.
We have consulted our women, our youth, the trade union movement, workers, the professional communities, farmers and ordinary Grenadians here on the mainland, as well as our brothers and sisters in Carriacou and Petite Martinique. We also engaged the unemployed and those frustrated by the circumstances of their present existence because they too must be heard.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this process could not have been completed without consulting with Grenadians in the Diaspora on their ideas about the economic and social development of their homeland. We have always held the belief that much more needs to be done to take advantage of the opportunities and benefits presented to our nation by having hundreds of thousands of our nationals living in the diaspora.
In the end, we have crafted a Policy Agenda which lays out the framework and guidelines that we believe must guide our policy prescriptions and choices as a nation over the next thirteen years and which we will adopt and subscribe to should you give us the opportunity to govern the country.
We have entitled our Policy Agenda “INVESTING IN THE FUTURE, TODAY”. We have done so in recognition of the fundamental truth, so aptly captured by the late Malcolm X, that “tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” The document therefore sets out a framework for investing in the future of Grenada and the Grenadian people.
I must hasten to say, that it is not our Manifesto.
This Policy Agenda defines the broad goals and objectives of our party and is intended, primarily, as a guide for decision making, although there are some specific programmatic proposal stated. Our Manifesto, when it comes, will properly detail our plans, programmes and projects which we intend to implement.
The policy agenda document incorporates our vision, our 12 core principles, our political philosophy, our belief in self-reliance and our commitment to transform Grenada.
So, what are some of the elements of our vision for a new and strong Grenada?
The NDC strongly believes that it is necessary and possible to foster development by creating opportunities for all Grenadians and at the same time protecting the environment. So, our vision begins with:
“A Green, Equitable and Prosperous Grenada for All.”
This vision continues to be our primary source of inspiration and guidance and we are convinced that:
“A Better Grenada is Possible.”
As a nation which embraces diverse faith communities and their harmonious interaction with each other and with other groups in society, embracing diversity and practicing tolerance at all times. This vision envisages:
“Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique as truly one nation”
“A nation in which everyone has an equal opportunity to realize their potential and enjoy the fruits of their labour without fear or discrimination.
“A nation whose people take pride in their culture, heritage and patrimony.
“A country where the environment is protected and preserved for the use and enjoyment of the present and future generations.
“A nation in which poverty and ignorance have been abolished and Grenadians are taking their rightful place among the community of nations.
“A nation that sets and achieves the highest standards in all areas of human endeavour.”
The policies of our Party take into account the changing realities of the global environment in which we are today and reinforce our belief in the vision that I have laid out so far. All of this will be guided by our political philosophy.
The political philosophy and value underpinning our party is good governance.
Our idea of good governance means accountability, transparency, adhering to the rule of law, being responsive to our people, being effective and efficient, and always ensuring equitable and inclusive decision-making. Last but not least, good governance requires participation from and by all interest groups.
As we engage Grenadians, we have adopted 12 core principles to which we subscribe and aspire, as we seek to form the Government of Grenada.
What are those principles?
Acknowledging the Supremacy of God
That those who offer themselves for public office must acknowledge the Supremacy of God, upon which the State of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique is founded.
That those who offer themselves for public office must regard themselves as the custodians of our sovereignty, patrimony, national heritage, national pride and national integrity; and commit themselves to the defense of these sacred tenets. As such, it is an act of national betrayal for such persons to engage in behavior that rob Grenadians of, undermine or discredit these sacred tenets.
Demonstrating a High Level of Personal Integrity:
That those who offer themselves for public office must submit to the principles of good governance; and commit to the principles of democracy, personal integrity in public life, transparency in their dealings in the name and on behalf of Grenada and its citizens, accountability to those who elected them to office, respect for the Supreme Law, the Constitution, the rule of law and the institutions of the state.
Advancing the Principles of Self-Reliance:
That our country must depend less on others and be more self-reliant. That our people are given the opportunity to earn a decent living and to uphold their self-esteem.
That any economic and social philosophy embraced by our party, if it is to have any real and substantial connection with the Grenadian people and their aspirations, must find its moral authority and justification in the philosophical belief in self-reliance.
By self-reliance, we mean the capacity and determination to seek and extract from within our own circumstances and environment the resources, opportunities and energies we require to advance as a nation.
Securing Grenada’s Economic and Social Development:
That our government must develop a well thought out and realistic long term plan for the sustainable economic growth and social development of the country – a plan to pursue the fullest development of the human and material capabilities of our country protect our environment and mitigate the risks from climate change. That the government must encourage diversified and new avenues of economic activity that would bring sustainable, equitable and inclusive economic growth, sustainable jobs, greater economic opportunities and an improved standard of living for all Grenadians. An equitable and fair tax, legal and regulatory environment must be created to spur the economic growth and social development which our people need and deserve.
Putting People First:
That the government must unite our people and build national consensus after adequate consultation, open debate and democratic participation by all stakeholders.
That our people are given the opportunity to earn a decent living and to uphold their self-esteem.
That the government would put in place an affordable healthcare system for the people, and give priority to the education of our children.
Empowering the Youth:
This is the most important asset of any nation and therefore it is necessary that more be done to engage and empower our youth. Since they constitute the majority of our population, they must be given a seat at the decision making table. They must have a say in the formulation and implementation of public policy. They must be regarded, not as a problem to be solved, but as a resource to be utilized. Therefore, facilities and opportunities must be created for them to fully realize their potential and for the country to benefit from their talent, energies and enthusiasm.
That government must ensure a better education for all. That our children must get a better education than the previous generation. That children would not be deprived a proper education because their parents cannot afford to feed them, or to buy books, or to pay the fees, or to pay to write the CXC subjects or to send them to university. Appropriate training facilities must be provided for our youth to equip them to take advantage of employment opportunities in a technologically oriented world.
Protecting the Poor, Vulnerable and Disadvantaged:
The soul of a nation is reflected in the way it treats with the elderly, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged. That the government must make adequate provisions for the poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged groups by designing and implementing suitable policies and measures to ensure their personal safety, security and equitable treatment.
To this end, the government must do everything that is reasonably possible to control or reduce the cost of living for everyone and to maintain adequate social safety net programs so as to ensure that the most disadvantaged do not descend into abject poverty and destitution.
Protecting Women and Children Against Violence:
It is important that when we consider a core principle to give protection to our women and children that we ensure that our policies and programmes do not leave them at a disadvantage. We must therefore create better systems to protect our women and children from all forms of violence, but especially sexual and domestic violence, which have become a scourge on our nation.
Recognising the Value of the Diasporan Community:
That our government must understand and acknowledge the significant contribution being made by Grenadians in the Diaspora to the economic and social development of our country; and appreciate the tremendous untapped potential for them to contribute further to the economic and social transformation of Grenada. Our government must be committed to taking the necessary steps to incorporate and ensure the participation of the Grenadian Diaspora in the long term development plan for Grenada.
Creating a Social Partnership:
That our government must create a social partnership with all interest groups and engage in genuine consultations with the people before making important decisions affecting their daily lives so that their views and sentiments can be fully aired and taken into account.
That our government must pursue a genuine and patriotic policy of inclusion of all Grenadians in the process of nation building regardless of political affiliation and pursue excellence and develop a system of rewards based on merit rather than on relationship and association.
Our approach in putting together this Policy Agenda document was very deliberate. We have undertaken an analysis of the local, regional and international realities in which we have found ourselves and have been guided by our Vision, our political philosophy and the twelve core principles just described.
Today, we have brought before you, in this Policy Agenda, a mixture of principles and policies intended to achieve social cohesion and economic transformation of the Grenadian society, broken down into 5 pillars:
A Framework for a Well-Ordered and Equitable Society
This pillar which covers institutional development and constitutional reform among others provides guidance for the promotion, protection and the importance of defending our National Sovereignty, National Pride and National Heritage. It lays out the necessity for building and maintaining Patriotism and the spirit of community among our people. In so doing, restore a sense of pride in being Grenadian, fostering unity and oneness among us all and command respect for our country at home and abroad.
A Framework for Economic Growth and Sustainable Job Creation
This pillar covers actions necessary to stimulate the economy and to provide a stable basis for long term, sustainable, equitable and inclusive growth and development, while raising productivity levels and creating sustainable long term employment, income generation and wealth creation opportunities for our citizens.
A Framework for Personal Social and Physical Development
This pillar constitutes the improvement in the quality and delivery of Health Services; development and streamline of the human resources capacity of the country by ensuring that opportunities for education and training and re-education and retraining are available to all persons; development and implementation of a comprehensive program for the holistic development of our youth and the provision of personal, social and income security to the most vulnerable members of our society.
This framework also encompasses our commitment to develop and implement a comprehensive plan for the physical development of the country without compromising the ecological environment. It will serve to enhance our national security by strengthening our police, immigration, fire and prison services. Facilitate cooperation with international law enforcement agencies in the battle against international crime. Improve our disaster preparedness by improving our capacity to adequately prepare for and respond to natural disasters.
A Framework for the Development and Empowerment of Carriacou & Petite Martinique
This pillar, we believe, is very critical and sets out our path to achieving a truly unified nation. The people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique must not feel as though they are second class citizens and therefore we have sought to include in our policy agenda the empowerment of the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique and to afford the residents, in a fair and equitable manner, the opportunity to realize their fullest potential.
By achieving this we aim to build a vibrant and modern economy and community, while preserving their cultural heritage and traditions; enjoying a decent quality of health, education and social protection; and facilities for their participation in, and enjoyment of sports, recreation, culture and entertainment.
A Framework for Diaspora, Regional and International Cooperation
The development and implementation of a plan, in conjunction with Grenadians in the Diaspora, for their full integration and participation in the sustainable economic and social development of the country forms the basis of our fifth pillar under this policy agenda. We believe that Grenadians abroad have much to contribute to the development of the country and therefore every effort should be made to create the mechanism to explore all the resources available among them.
This pillar being two-fold, also, includes actions to ensure that we are in full compliance with all regional and international treaties and agreements to which Grenada is a signatory. We will strive to ensure that the development and pursuit of our foreign policy, and the objectives of our diplomatic engagements will advance Grenada’s vital national interests and do all that is within our power and capacity to promote the deeper integration of the OECS, CARICOM and the wider Caribbean region.
Altogether, in this Policy Agenda we have addressed 26 different areas of public policy which we believe speak to the aspirations, wishes, needs and circumstances of our people.
With your indulgence, I wish to take this opportunity to share with you by PowerPoint presentation a summary of these principles and guidelines.
Fellow Grenadians, at this juncture in our nation’s development, we are at a watershed. We have to make a choice between continuing on the current destructive and narrow-minded path being pursued by the current administration or decide democratically to put a stop this runaway train and embark on a course of participatory and inclusive development as outlined in our Policy Agenda.
We must seize the moment now. This is not about the NDC as a political movement; it is not about NNP either. This is a moment when the nation must look beyond party colours and forge partnership to advance the interests of Grenada.
To signal our commitment to break this colour divide in our country and to “put our money where our mouth is”, in a manner of speaking, we have decided to rebrand our Party so as to include all 3 national colours — Red, Gold and Green in our brand. We are prepared to demonstrate, in word and deed, that there is a place for every Grenadian on this journey and that no one will be left behind.
Ladies and Gentlemen, achieving adequate progress toward the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals in each sector and sub-sector of our society requires effective responses to increasingly complex emerging challenges. It also requires team-building efforts, openness, evidence-based knowledge, fairness, justice, respect for self and others and our institutions, and thoughtful, mature reflection about possible solutions to our problems.
The Policy Agenda is firmly grounded in our strong belief:
- That Grenada today is performing well below its capacity and potential as a nation;
- That our country is plagued by numerous problems which can be addressed and needs to be addressed. Grenada needs fixing;
- That a better Grenada is Possible;
- That our people deserve and can have a better quality of life;
- That not enough is not being done to advance the standard of living and improve the quality of life of our people;
- That our people have the talent, industry, will, determination resilience and pride to do much more and much better;
- That what has held back and continues to hold back our country is the lack of visionary, capable and committed leaders to harness the true potential of our nation;
- That opportunities abound for a new Administration with new and bold thinking and policies to guide our destiny;
- That the National Democratic Congress’ youthful, capable and dynamic team of individuals is deeply committed to taking this process forward.
- That we know that among us, we have the foresight, the talent and the heart to transform Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique into a dynamic prosperous and stable democracy capable of sustaining a higher quality of life for all our people.
We must INVEST IN OUR FUTURE, TODAY.
We invite all Grenadians to join us on this historic journey!