February 7th, 2021 marks 47 years since the birth of our nation. From that high point, have and continue to weather many political storms that threaten to undermine our democracy and democratic institutions.
Immediately after independence, the agricultural sector accounted for most of our jobs and export trade. Those glory days for agriculture declined in the 1980s as globalization took root and preferential treatment was lost. To compound matters, agriculture has been consistently neglected by the NNP since 1995.
The NDC acknowledges the need to diversify our economy to allow for varied sources of revenue, but the abandonment of agriculture without investment in other productive, stable and sustainable sectors, has contributed to the increased levels of poverty and dependency among our people. We must return hope and prosperity to our people, without the risk of reputational and environmental damage to our country.
Unemployment was the number one problem facing Grenada in 1974. Unemployment remains our number one problem today and is particularly alarming among the nation’s young people. The Covid 19 pandemic has only worsened the situation.
Even with the increased number of doctors, our health sector is still in crisis today as it was in 1974. This is compounded by the Covid 19 pandemic. Our nurses today have no job security as those of 1974 and many are leaving for better opportunities in England and the US.
We have made some strides in education, but it remains poorly serviced. There are more schools, but the physical plant of many is in a state of disrepair. Our teachers are underpaid and overworked. Recently, the government prioritized spending on a 26-year old GRENLEC vendetta, rather than on our teachers and public workers, in making temporary workers permanent, investing in workers’ pension rights, and paying the 4% increase that is contractually due.
Today, we face a changing world that requires new approaches. We cannot expect these fresh approaches to come from those who have had many years and countless opportunities to chart a new national path but have failed to do so. Fresh new approaches will only be possible if there are new approaches to governance and inclusiveness. We must give life to Flying Turkey’s words: ‘Grenada still belongs to we.’
This new approach will not happen unless we unleash the energy and creativity of our people, particularly our youth. Young people are more open to identifying and making use of opportunities with transformative potential. Let us equip them with the skills to do so. Our young people must not be used just to amass votes every five years. They must be seen and treated as integral to our long term development goals.
As we approach our 50th anniversary as a nation, we must face the matter of our national consciousness. We must answer questions that speak to our identity as a people and what we must do to reach our fullest potential. An NDC government will seek to raise and nurture world-class citizens of whom we can all be proud. We have done it before, in Jennifer Hosten, Alleyne Francique, Kirani James, Mr. Killa, Anderson Peters, and many more.
NDC says congratulations and happy Independence to all Grenadians at home and overseas. Let us recommit ourselves to serving and building our country!
May God bless our Grenada.