by Linda Straker
- Social fund will be used to help most vulnerable in society
- Concept is that everyone who is working will contribute towards this fund
- Social partners independent committee to manage and disburse funds
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell has proposed establishing a non-legally binding social fund to assist people affected negatively by the measures adopted to contain and control the spread of Covid-19, as part of an innovative solution that will help people cope and recover by the impact of this public health pandemic.
“I have always prided myself on being able to sleep comfortably but the suffering of our people now keeps me up at night. The burden is great, maybe even overwhelming, but I am committed to doing everything possible to ease the suffering of Grenadians,” the Prime Minister said in his 2021 Independence Address.
Grenada celebrated its 47th Independence anniversary on 7 February 2021. Protocols enforced for the controlling and containing the spread of Covid-19 restricted mass gatherings and as a result, the celebrations limited persons at venues, but was broadcast live through electronic broadcasting outlets.
“Unprecedented times necessitate strategic, innovative, outside the box thinking, to find solutions that will soothe the desperate cries of those among us who simply have no means of helping themselves right now. We must remember them and do what we can to help them,” he told the nation following the Military Parade.
“It is for this reason that I plan to present a proposal to the social partners, for the creation of a social fund that will be used to help the most vulnerable in our society. The concept is that everyone who is working will contribute towards this fund. I will lead by example, contributing a portion of my salary every month to help those in need and I will be encouraging my Cabinet colleagues to do the same. Similarly, I will be encouraging everyone who is able to make a contribution, to do so.” He disclosed that more than 2,000 persons in the tourism sector have lost jobs.
“I assure you that if this fund is successfully started, apart from our individual donations, members of Government will not have any involvement in this fund. The way I envision it, the social partners will establish an independent committee to manage and disburse the funds acquired through this effort. Any beneficiary of this initiative must be someone with a justifiable need, that can be verified.”
The Prime Minister pointing to some professionals who are affected by the control measures. The list includes farmers, fishermen, workers in hotels, restaurants and bars, tourism and market vendors, taxi drivers, water taxi operators, tour operators and tour guides, other industry service providers including operators of marine-based business, LIAT workers and others involved in aviation services, hairdressers, barbers, entertainers, school-based vendors, shopkeepers, small travel agencies, other business owners, property owners.
“The way I see it, I can either be so overwhelmed that I become powerless to help or I can use the cries as motivation to find solutions. I opt for the latter. Making a difference in the life of one person may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things but to that person, it represents a much-needed lifeline, at a time when all else seems lost. We can all be that lifeline to a brother or a sister in need. The reality of the situation facing us now, is that while some are forced to make something out of nothing, others are demanding more,” said Dr Mitchell who previously served as Finance Minister.
The Committee of Social Partners (CSP) was formed in March 2013 and is chaired by the Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell. The Committee meets monthly and comprises representatives from the Labour Unions, Conference of Churches in Grenada, the Evangelical Churches, Civil Society, Private Sector Organisations and Government.
The main objective of the Committee is to foster a relationship/common approach between Government and the social partners through the development and implementation of a National Social Protocol/Compact as a strategic mechanism for the formulation and implementation of national policies and for ensuring nation-wide problem solving on various issues.