Independence Day Message By Dr. The Right Honourable Keith Mitchell Prime Minister, Grenada, Carriacou And Petite Martinique, On The Occasion Of Grenada’s 48th Anniversary Of Independence February 7, 2022

PR – Fellow Grenadians, friends of Grenada, sisters and brothers, good morning to all. 

Today represents yet another momentous occasion in our country’s history, as we  celebrate 48 years as an independent nation. 

Notwithstanding the bumps along the road that threatened to derail our progress, our  beloved country has recorded many milestones in the past four decades. There is much  to be proud of as we approach our half century as a nation. Despite the extensive impact  of the COVID-19 pandemic which is intensifying the usual developmental challenges that  small island developing states face, we are indeed well-poised to continue our upward  trajectory of growth and advancement of our people. 

Sisters and brothers, as you are well aware, the developmental gains that we are currently  enjoying, did not come easily; the road has been fraught with trials and tribulations, but  time and time again, we have overcome, rising triumphantly over impediments and  continuing the march forward.  

In the true spirit of our ancestors who fought many battles to lay the foundation on which  we build today, Grenadians have repeatedly proven that we are a resilient people who  have no qualms about showcasing this admirable quality. In fact, the pandemic has forced  us now more than ever, to demonstrate how resilient we truly are.  

Sisters and brothers, our children have been the hardest hit by this pandemic, their young  lives unimaginably usurped by the changes necessary to fight COVID-19.  

The advances in modern technology and the provision of electronic devices by  Government allowed for the option of online learning, but there’s really nothing to  adequately replace valuable face to face instructional times for young, impressionable  minds. 

In addition to the significant learning loss, our young boys and girls have been deprived  of the social interaction that is so necessary to foster good human relations. We just need  to reflect on our own childhood and how we valued meeting our friends at school and  participating in various sporting and leisure activities, to immediately understand how  much of a disadvantage this pandemic has created for them. Today, I ask that you join  me in praying for our young brothers and sisters, that they may recover from this  immeasurable loss. Let us also recommit ourselves, as adults, to being more empathetic,  rather than judgmental.  

My friends, we all face the physical threat of this viral infection, and many have  succumbed to its deadly grasp. Many others have to contend with being stripped of their  livelihood as the severity of the pandemic crippled some sectors of the economy. At the  national level, had it not been for Government’s prudent fiscal management and the  sacrifices of you the people, the impact of the pandemic could have been even more  detrimental. However, almost two years to the date when the pandemic first reached our  shores, we persevere, confident that this too, shall pass. 

Sisters and brothers, for yet another year, COVID-19 has caused our independence  celebrations to be a mere fraction of its usual flambouyance, a bittersweet reality, but an  absolutely necessary one as we adhere to established protocols which discourage mass  gatherings to minimise the spread of infections.  

Although physical distance has become the new norm, we are perpetually united through  our patriotism and unrelenting love for this beautiful country we call home. So today, while  you are not physically present here, showcasing our splendid national colours, I know  that Grenadians far and wide share a palpable love for home, a bond that transcends all  differences, particularly on occasions like these, when the love of country is the language  we all speak. 

Sisters and brothers, despite the dark cloud of the pandemic that continues to hover over  our country and in fact, the world, we look to the future with hope and we embrace the  decisions that will facilitate the best possible outcomes for our people. But at the same  time, we know that this must be underpinned by concrete actions that will help transition  hope from a desire into reality.  

This is why we are concerned about the level of vaccine hesitancy that exists across  Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. We believe in the science and we remain  optimistic that vaccination and achieving herd immunity will help bring an end to this  health crisis.  

We will therefore continue to advocate for vaccination, but ultimately, my fellow  Grenadians, there is only so much the Government can do or say. What we need more  than ever, is a solid partnership, Government and people, working side by side as we  seek to overcome this adversity, safeguard lives and livelihoods and create a legacy for  future generations.

The fallout created by the pandemic has increased the onus on Government to provide  economic relief and social welfare programmes to ease the burden of impact on our  people. Historically, we are a people-centered Government but the reality of the pandemic  has compelled us to demonstrate even more, our genuine love for the people of Grenada,  Carriacou and Petite Martinique.  

Naturally, it is a difficult time for Government to be called upon to do more, particularly as  it faces, at the same time, a reduction in revenue, when compared to pre-pandemic years.  

However, this Government is committed to ensuring that our most vulnerable citizens are  not further marginalised by the impact on this relentless pandemic.  

That is why the Government has embarked on COVID-19 economic stimulus support  programmes which have benefitted thousands of Grenadians, through grant support  payments, unemployment benefits, enhanced social protection initiatives and improved  access to funding for small businesses among other areas. 

The first stimulus package, announced in March 2020, benefitted about 6,000  Grenadians, including 147 businesses. Several categories of workers benefitted from the  measures including bus owners, taxi and tour operators and tour guides, tourist and  market vendors, hairdressers and barbers, small travel agents, members of the marine,  dive and yachting sector, hotel and apartment owners and restaurant and bar owners.  Additionally, direct assistance was provided to 44 LIAT workers, 120 aviation services  employees and 244 Royalton employees. 

In September 2021, recognising the continued economic uncertainty and extended  adverse impact created by the pandemic, Government implemented a second series of  economic stimulus support measures. To date, more than 3,000 Grenadians have  received $13.1 million in benefits through various initiatives including: 

  • Income and payroll support – 1,100 beneficiaries  
  • Unemployment assistance – close to 800 persons 
  • Support for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises – more than 200  beneficiaries 
  • SEED payments – 1,105 beneficiaries  

We are still in the early stages of implementation, with additional initiatives to come on  stream this year including expansion of the youth entrepreneurship programme and the  internet connectivity programme. 

In addition to these economic stimulus measures, Government announced in the 2022  budget, a number of initiatives intended to provide further relief for the people of Grenada,  Carriacou and Petite Martinique.  

  • In December, police officers, frontline health workers and those who faced  the threat of COVID-19 infection by virtue of their job, received an additional month’s pay, while other public officers received an additional half month’s  pay.
  • A cap of $15 has been implemented on the price of gasoline, therefore  Government is absorbing anything in excess of that price. 
  • Government has also taken a decision to zero rate the VAT on domestic  electricity consumption of up to 500 kilowatt hours and also remove the  Environmental Levy for this same category of consumers.  
  • Further, there’s been a 25% reduction in the non-fuel charge per kilowatt  hour.  
  • Effective January this year, Government also removed VAT on five  additional food items. 

Sisters and brothers, these initiatives are deliberately wide-ranging to ensure that they  impact as many Grenadians as possible. These are tough times, but it is important to us,  to demonstrate that we love and care for the beautiful people of Grenada, Carriacou and  Petite Martinique by finding some way, however small, to provide relief or shine a ray of  hope in this otherwise dark period.  

Government is doing a lot but we must also give credit to the value of partnerships which  constitute another important pillar of national development – partnerships among  stakeholders, partnerships among interest groups, partnerships among regional entities,  partnerships with international development organisations.  

Government’s ongoing collaboration with the social partners, the recent signing of a new  five-year sustainable development cooperation framework with the United Nations and  the longstanding relationship with St. George’s University are among the top examples of  meaningful partnerships that now exists.  

It is important for me to highlight the SGU partnership in particular as it is helping to truly  transform our country and our people. Through both employment and education, SGU  continues to play a very meaningful and valuable role in the Grenadian community.  

Specifically, I want to commend SGU for the commitment to further improve access to  tertiary education, by providing more medical and undergraduate scholarships to  Grenadians. As part of its new agreement with the Government of Grenada, SGU will  also provide US $30 million in grant funds based on recent changes to its equity holdings.  

In addition, SGU has been a faithful friend of Grenada throughout the pandemic,  bolstering our medical supplies and collaborating with our health team. Going forward,  SGU will also pay for two clinical and one public health staff to complement the services  provided by our hospitals.

Sisters and brothers, as we look to the future, we must continuously set our sights on  overcoming the adversities that threaten to derail our development agenda; safeguarding  the livelihoods of our people as they seek to empower themselves and protecting our  collective future through conscientious decision-making. 

Government, by virtue of its mandate to lead, commits to doing so in the best interest of  all Grenadians, but seeks the support of everyone, as together, we steer the ship of  development towards the future of a shared vision. Therefore, I urge one and all, to  embrace unity as the beacon that will successfully guide this ship, our beloved nation,  towards sustainable development. 

My friends, our annual independence celebrations provide an opportunity to showcase  our national pride and it is therefore quite fitting that I use this occasion to inform you, that  Government is planning to embark on an initiative that will more accurately reflect and  represent who we are as a people.  

We are considering a proposal from the Grenada National Reparations Committee to  spearhead the research and make recommendations for the renaming of a number of  places in honour of our 50th anniversary of independence in 2024. This initiative will bring  monumental change to the national landscape and give greater recognition to many well 

deserving Grenadians. We anticipate that it will also help engender an even greater  feeling of national pride among Grenadians, and serve as a reminder to our young people  of what can be achieved through hard work and dedication. 

On this note my friends, let me again say happy independence to all. I pray that God  continues to richly bless our people, uniting us in our patriotism to this beautiful land of  ours – Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Remember that I love you all and I  encourage you to be safe and continue adhering to the COVID-19 protocols.  

I thank you.