Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow citizens,
I address you this evening on important national matters.
I want to thank the almighty for the many blessings we have enjoyed. As we reflect on the calamities of our Caribbean neighbours and our vulnerability to natural disasters, we are indeed grateful that we were not affected this year. The experience of any social and economic dislocation at this time of deep economic recession would have been quite traumatic.
So as a people we should give thanks and recognition for our fortunate circumstances.
Cognizant of the tight economic situation facing the nation; in September of this year I announced a package of relief measures aimed at alleviating the hardship being faced and stimulating the economy.
The implementation of these measures has been fairly successful. The road maintenance and farm labour support programmes continue to provide employment to thousands of people.
The Cocoa processing project at Diamond St. Marks is a glimmer of hope for our cocoa farmers whilst the Cocoa Association has reported increased production and a higher purchasing price.
Work has commenced on the Gouyave Fisheries Project which promises to be the source of a number of jobs for our people.
Additionally we have seen improved activities in the construction sector lead by Governments intervention in the Concrete Roads Project and Community Development projects. I am pleased to note that over four (4) million dollars have been spent on over one hundred small projects by the Ministry of Works resulting in employment for over 0ne thousand persons. I am also heartened by the developments on a number of small projects in the various communities where a number of persons have found gainful employment.
During this year so far, we have been able to stabilize our economic ship. Our fiscal position is improving as the VAT is settling down and we are beginning to see the fruits of our sound economic management.
This performance so far is recognized by international organizations such as the European Union and the International Finance Corporation. They have been publicly applauding us for our efforts thus far.
This performance has enabled access to soft financing which we will receive before the end of the year. Our achievements in the area of economic management have also set the stage for our 2011 budget.
It is my hope that the momentum in the economy which has emanated from the stimulus package mentioned earlier will continue into Christmas and the New Year and we can build on the positive approach taken towards economic management, poverty reduction and growth.
In the area of tourism, Caribbean Airlines have begun to serve Grenada, a welcome addition to Grenada as a tourist destination. We applaud the efforts of all those involved in ensuring this became a reality.
I am also pleased to see the start of the winter cruise season and the number of visitors that have already come to our shores. On Wednesday alone there were four ships in our harbour, a welcome sign for the industry.
We are also happy that some of our hotels are projecting some improvement in bookings.
Output in the agriculture and agro processing sectors are growing and providing increased comfort to our farmers. This will be further complemented when another local food processor, Nature Cool Products is launched on Tuesday.
We congratulate Mr. Mapson and his endeavours in the use of our local fruits. Our government will give him and other local processors every support in developing a viable sector.
We have been able to make improvements in the health sector with the most recent being the acquisition of equipment which will enhance our capacity to improve our level of eye care and performance of the operating theatre.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I also applaud the Ministry of Youth on its hosting of youth month. I was very impressed with the participants in Wednesday’s Youth Parliament and I encourage our youths to become more involved in the discussion and debates that shape our democracy.
Despite these achievements, many challenges remain. Challenges which required us to make changes. Changes that will improve our level of efficiency and effectiveness.
Changes that will enable us to meet your needs and fulfill our commitments to adequately provide for all Grenadians.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I regret to note that work has not progressed on the Agricultural Feeder Roads and the Grenville Market Development as speedily as I anticipated. Notwithstanding assurances from the Manager of CCC that work will commence in October to date work has not commenced. I wish to assure you that the non commencement of work by CCC was no fault of my Government. My government has met ALL its commitments to ensure that the project get off the ground. I have therefore requested that I be provided with a detailed synopsis on the Agricultural Feeder Roads Project. I have done same for the Grenville Market square Project and all other projects earmarked for commencement in 2010.
As you are aware I have re-allocated some ministerial portfolios that will help us to achieve the desired results.
These changes in responsibility among members of my cabinet were designed to better utilize their strengths, capacity, available resources and most importantly our rate of implementation.
I believe that as Parliamentarians we are called to be the servants of democracy. As Cabinet Ministers we are all servants of the people.
Those of us who have the privilege to play both roles have a responsibility to build democracy, NOT to test its strength or to weaken its foundation. Our duty is to promote the welfare of the citizens and to protect the national interest. We cannot fulfill these high ideals if we lack sincerity, or if we lose sight of the true owners of POWER, the ordinary people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The recent events which surround my decision to make certain changes in the Cabinet, have exposed grave misconceptions regarding the respective roles and responsibilities of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers and the dangers that lie within such misconceptions.
Fellow Grenadians, Ladies and Gentlemen.
My decision to make changes to my Cabinet is not an exercise in dictatorship or arbitrariness. It was not an ill-advised move to provoke political problems. And it certainly was not a scheme to squander and betray the trust of the people.
Throughout the recent period of suspense and suspicion, the message from you the people was decisively against conduct that was disrespectful, and selfish. The vast majority of our people stood in favour of stable government, respect for the Office of the Governor General, the Office of the Prime Minister and dedication to the service of the Nation.
You reminded us that we are not in office in order to advance our personal goals, whether political or financial. You reminded us that we promised Good Governance.
I stand tonight, as always, in resolute obedience to the people.
I will not let you down!!!.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Grenadians.
A Cabinet reshuffle may be due to numerous factors and considerations.
On occasions, the Prime Minister may be desirous of broadening the experience base of the Ministers. In other cases, the Prime Minister may be driven by the desire to achieve more effective performance. But this is not all that must be considered.
It is a popular misconception for us to think that a Minister is moved only when his or her performance falls short.
The performance in Ministerial Office, and occupation of that Office, must be underpinned by a set of important values. Values such as – honour and dignity, integrity and respect for democratic, cultural and lawful institutions.
In taking action, the Prime Minister must be mindful of the national interests. His prime concern must be protecting the integrity of his administration.
Any action taken may be designed to send a message that certain behaviours cannot and will not be tolerated. To do otherwise or to turn a blind eye would be to compromise the very trust of leadership.
You have given me the responsibility and granted me the honour of leading our Nation at this time. As would be expected, I bring to the Office of Prime Minister, certain values, social principles and an enduring love for this country of ours. I offer you mature and principled leadership. I also offer you an enterprising vision of balanced economic and social development for all.
My sole interest as Prime Minister is to work as a true patriot and in the best interest of Grenada. Working alongside all those who are willing to serve their country. My stewardship has never been about myself. It has never been about the position I hold. I took an oath to SERVE Grenada and I will continue to do so diligently and within the limits of my authority given to me y the constitution which is the supreme law of this tri-island state.
My Dear People,
The immediate period ahead will be used to shape and sharpen the economic and political agenda for 2011. We have much work to do. You the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique need us to be at work creating jobs and improving the welfare of all our citizens. I am determined that our Government will chart and steer a course with two broad primary objectives in mind.
Firstly, our Government will do all it can to help encourage small and medium size businesses to grow and to do well thereby creating employment and wealth.
Secondly, we will aim to provide real opportunities for the development of our young people. Ours must be a legacy of real and lasting social and economic development.
Every Minister of Government must play his or her part. We must move forward as a team, working hard, maintaining high standards of personal conduct and delivering tangible results for the people. We must all learn the ‘lessons of November 2010’ and renew our pledge to be servants of our people, first and foremost.
As Ministers of Government, we must not fail the people. We have a choice. We can either work diligently to bring about positive benefits for the good of the country or we can get consumed by petty and distracting considerations and produce nothing of value for the people.
I have accepted the resignation of Parliamentary Representative for St. John, Hon. Michael Church from the Cabinet and I reiterate my expression of best wishes to him.
Tonight I want to publicly thank you the people for your kind words of encouragement and for all your outpouring of prayers, comfort and pledge of support. I am reassured that patriotism is healthy and strong in this dear land of ours.
I am always accessible to those who wish to engage me on matters of national importance, whether in government or outside of government but ultimately all decision are made internally by the government under my leadership.
Tonight I make a special call for us to renew our pledge of allegiance to Grenada. We must renew our faith in God, the supreme Leader and Master. We must go to Him as a Nation and as a Government, so that peace, good sense and prosperity may favour us all. In this regard I think it is important that we dedicate ourselves to preserving our Christian principles, as a God fearing nation.
It is my hope that we can put this sad chapter behind us. We must now settle down to work with a renewed sense of purpose, a willingness to learn, a commitment to teamwork and an unshakeable determination to serve the people.
I urge you to continue to support your Government in its endeavour to build Grenada for all of us and for future generations.
I thank you most sincerely and may God Bless Our Nation.
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