Remarks by the Hon. Nazim V. Burke, Minister of Finance, Planning, Economy, Energy and Cooperatives at the National Consultation on the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy for Grenada

Thursday, June 2, 2011 10:56 AM

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Ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed a pleasure for me to say a few words at this very important consultation on a Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) for Grenada.

First of all let me join in welcoming each and every one of you and to say thank you for the interest that you have shown and continue to show in our Country’s development.

  This participatory approach to development is something that Government holds in high regard and we shall continue to involve all partners in building this beautiful Country of ours. 

I want to especially thank the civil society groups that are here today, including the private sector, the trade unions, the non Governmental organizations, the churches and other civil society organizations.

I wish to specially recognize the development partners who are here with us today as well as those who are not able to be present but have shared very useful feedback on the Report.  The involvement of the development partners at a very early stage is critical, not only to the successful development of the Strategy but also to its successful implementation.

This is so, precisely because, the funding and technical assistance requirements of the Strategy will exceed domestic public and private resources. 

I want to specially thank the Caribbean Development Bank for funding the development of the Strategy and we look forward to their continued collaboration beyond this phase and to actually funding interventions within the Strategy itself.

Let me also recognize the Consultants who are working alongside Government in developing this Strategy – Cultural and Marketing Communications (Caribbean) Ltd – who will present the main elements of the Strategy in a short while.

Ladies and Gentlemen, before flagging some specific issues in respect of how Government views the development of this important strategic document and so put into perspective our expectations of today’s exercise, I want to share some thoughts on the socio macroeconomic situation in Grenada today.

When we came into Office in July 2008, the poverty situation in Grenada stood at an unacceptable level of 37.7%, representing a deterioration of the situation some ten years earlier.  The 2007/08 CPA Report also revealed that an estimated 14.6% of persons were considered vulnerable or on the brink of falling into a state of destitution. 

There were a number of other social issues associated with this high level of poverty.

Ladies and gentlemen, the global economy, you would recall, plunged into crisis in late 2008 significantly impacting the domestic economy in a negative way notwithstanding serious efforts by this Government to stem the adverse impact of one of the worst economic and financial crisis the world has ever seen. 

Last year, although extremely difficult, the economy showed signs of slowly turning around following a major decline in 2009.  Indications for this year so far, especially in tourism and agriculture, have shown that we are on track to achieve positive rates of growth in 2011. 

There are some worrying signs however, as we are beginning to see a resurgence in inflation on account of rising food and energy prices. 

The Government will continue to put measures in place to address these new challenges.
As Government continues to implement measures to stabilize the economy and mitigate the impact of the crisis on our citizens, we believe that the timing is right to start looking down the road.   

It is in this context that we have undertaken to develop this Strategy. 

This is another demonstration of our commitment to poverty reduction.  In other words, rather than leaving such important economic considerations to chance, we are taking a proactive approach to reducing poverty and improving the standards of living of citizens. 

We have always made the point that we are not here to manage poverty but rather to take appropriate steps to reduce it as far as possible.  And this is precisely our approach to the development of the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Accordingly, we believe that an important pillar of the Strategy has to be high and sustained economic growth while at the same time ensuring that the growth is pro poor.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have said that the future development of Grenada hinges on five transformative sectors.  These are:

  1. Health and Education Services
  2. Tourism and Hospitality Services
  3. Energy Development
  4. Agribusiness; and,
  5. Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

These sectors we believe hold the greatest opportunities for our economic survival and our transformation of Grenada from a high debt-low growth state to a low debt-high growth state and from a Country with unacceptably high levels of poverty to a Country with a much higher standard of living for all its citizens. 

We are taking the first steps by elaborating a Strategy that covers the first five years (Phase I) of what will evolve into a longer term Growth inducement and Poverty Reduction Strategy, the start of which will coincide with the completion of this first phase.  Once Phase 1 is successfully implemented, we would have positioned ourselves to achieve our much longer term vision.

I want to make a few comments on the elements of the Strategy that is being developed so as to shape your thoughts and discussions during the course of today. 

You would recall in my Budget presentation earlier this year, that Government gave a commitment to continue its efforts of vigorously pursuing the development of a growth and poverty reduction strategy (GPRS). 

The GPRS is intended to fulfil two major purposes: (1) To serve as Government’s medium term strategic vision for promoting growth and reducing poverty during the period 2012 – 2016 and (2) To provide a framework for resource mobilization to support the implementation of the Strategy.

Accordingly, the Strategy should stipulate the pillars on which this vision is built, the related strategic objectives, the principal actions to be pursued and the key indicators of performance by which we can judge our progress through an appropriate monitoring and evaluation mechanism. 

The Strategy must also address the resources, both human and financial, that are needed to facilitate its implementation.

Above all, the strategy must reflect the aspirations and priorities of people that it is intended to benefit.  In other words, as a people, we have to see this plan as our road map for taking us to where we want to get in the next 4 – 5 years. 

As simple as this may sound, failure to secure ownership will undoubtedly lead to failure to implement and in the final analysis, the non realization of the goals contained in the Strategy. 

What we may end up with is another document that is placed on a shelf to gather dust. 

Given the time and resources that have been expended in this process thus far – our efforts would be no more than a farce, a joke.

This is something that we cannot afford.

Something that must be avoided at all cost. And so, you have a huge responsibility today to ensure that the Report resonates and has meaning to all of us, is fit for purpose, can be realistically implemented and that  mechanisms are in place to ensure effective implementation including through the allocation of appropriate resources. 

The Strategy as it stands is a work-in-progress and we strongly believe that this consultation today will greatly assist in its refinement and may even point to the need for further ground work. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the development of this Strategy could not have taken place at a more opportune time.  Grenada has an abundance of current useful information with which to shape the Strategy’s development. 

There are a number of sector strategies in key priority areas such as health, education, agriculture and tourism that are in various stages of implementation. 

There are various recent studies including the 2007/08 Country Poverty Assessment, the 2009 Social Safety Net Assessment, the 2010 Assessment of Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, the recent review of the Extended Credit Facility with the IMF and others on Grenada’s macro-socioeconomic conditions.

In other words, there is no shortage of up to date and relevant information to prepare this Strategy.

Indeed, we have arrived at an important juncture in the process of developing the Strategy and it is our expectation that we would have a completed Strategy in the not too distant future.

Today’s exercise is important for many reasons. 

  1. We have continuously encouraged collaboration and consultation in the way we conduct business.  
  2. We are working to ensure that the Strategy reflects the priorities of Grenadians;
  3. That it is fit for purpose, including resource mobilization objective and;
  4. To guide the Consultants in pulling the elements of the Strategy together.

With these few remarks, I would like to once again thank you for coming in support of the GPRS development and we look forward as usual to your valuable input.

I thank you.





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