PR – My Fellow Grenadians, Happy 49th Anniversary of our Independence!
On this day, almost half a century ago, we came together as a nation to claim our right to sovereignty and to chart our own course. As we gather today to celebrate the milestone of our independence, 49 years on, I am filled with a sense of immense pride and gratitude.
Pride in the significant progress we have made in the development of our country and as a people throughout these 49 years; and gratitude to the Almighty for His great blessings and guidance on our path.
Our journey has not always been an easy one. The long march from colonialism to independence, and the multifaceted challenges we continue face as the descendants of slaves, remain a thorn underfoot. Yet still, we push forward, because, like our foreparents, we understand that no one can speak to our causes, or fight our battles for us, better than we can.
As an administration, we are committed to the vision for Grenada that our foreparents held—a progressive society where every individual can enjoy a high-quality of life, with adequate access to quality healthcare and education, peaceful and safe streets, first class housing, green energy and a deeper appreciation for the many benefits of our fertile lands, pristine environment and rich culture.
This is an aspiration that we know all Grenadians share and one that we are confident can be achieved, with the right foundations in place and the will of our people to support the transformative process that will bring these shared goals to fruition.
Reflecting on the Past
The theme for this year’s celebration, “The Journey to 50: Reflecting on the Past, Planning for the Future”, is apt as we approach our golden jubilee. Fifty years is a significant milestone, in many respects, and national reflections may naturally take on
deeper meaning as we seek to understand the lessons learnt during our formative years as nation and ponder the potential of the years ahead.
The history of our people, and the progress that we achieved in these 49 years, commands great pride, nationally, regionally, and internationally, for the many accomplishments realised despite our small size and limited resources.
When our own Kirani James, then an eighteen-year-old from Gouyave, won the Olympic 400 metres in 2012, Grenada became the country with the most medals per capita— a title we held for several years after his win.
When Jennifer Hosten competed in the Miss World Competition in 1970, many people had not even heard of Grenada, yet she became the first black woman to win the title —an accomplishment that was recently featured in a Hollywood film.
The ingenuity and perseverance of the Grenadian people are our superpower, as can be witnessed in the numerous examples of Grenadians who left humble beginnings and continue to rise to the very top of their fields and to greatness here at home and in countries around the world.
As we look back on our history, we take pride in all that we have accomplished but we also recognise that there is still much work to be done.
Planning for the Future
In this season of hope, ripe with potential for a renewed Grenada—a society transformed for and by its people—let us ask ourselves: what is the legacy that we would like to leave behind?
As we embark on this transformative process, let us free our minds to think, plan and move forward. This administration has begun the urgent task to strengthen the foundational pillars that are necessary for sustainable development in all sectors, from universal education, quality healthcare, resilient digital and physical infrastructure, and the environment.
Mindful of the unequaled power of education to lift our society, one of our first orders of business upon assuming office was to ensure free education up to the tertiary level for all students. Plans to transform our approach to education, to focus on the current needs of the Grenadian society, are well underway and include positioning Grenada as a regional
and international hub for hands-on learning, including in the fields of medicine, and technical and vocational education.
Mindful also, that healthcare is a human right that builds the nation’s resilience, we have assigned the highest year-on-year allocation increase to the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Religious Affairs in the 2023 Budget.
And to keep pace with global technological advancements, a Digital Transformation Programme has also been designed to lay the groundwork for a digital society. These foundational structures will be supported by major physical infrastructure projects that include flood reduction initiatives, road stabilisation and improvements to our water systems.
Fellow Grenadians, this administration is committed to refocusing our priorities on our strengths as a small island state, with large ocean space, fertile lands, a pristine natural environment, and a people of incomparable resilience, through political, climatic and health reforms.
As we envision and plan for a future that outpaces our past, we have prioritised agriculture and the marine industry, allocating $54.3 million—by far the largest allocation to these industries in the past 10 years—to ensure that our farmers and fisherfolk receive the training, equipment and facilities that they need to strengthen our food security as a nation, without depleting natural resources.
On the environmental front, we continue to actively explore and engage in discussions on Grenada’s prospects for wind, solar and geothermal energy—cognisant of the fact that we have the potential to achieve 100% in renewable energy generation in the electricity sector.
Exploratory drilling for geothermal energy is currently underway and is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2025. This project will also open significant opportunities for the development of infrastructure works in the parishes of St. John and St. Patrick.
And in our parish of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, an 800 kWh Solar PV plant with battery storage will be commissioned by June of this year, which will displace 60% of the diesel used to generate electricity on Carriacou.
My fellow citizens, these are exciting times for our country! This administration remains committed to providing as many opportunities as possible, especially to our young people, to invest in and develop their ideas for the advancement of our nation.
In our first six months, we have taken decisive steps to bolster the country’s private sector and empower our people through increased funding opportunities for existing and aspiring small business owners. Many Grenadians are already benefitting from these opportunities and we congratulate all applicants for taking the bold step towards entrepreneurship.
We have also noted the massive appetite shown by our people to start their own businesses. Our administration therefore commits to seeking out and supporting initiatives that provide further opportunities to develop the business sector.
In addition, the trends of the future lean towards a lucrative creative industry, poised to become a new engine of growth and development, with increased opportunities for employment and growth right here at home.
The Journey to 50 and Beyond
This administration remains committed to working with all Grenadians to build and develop our homeland. We are inspired by the initiatives shown by so many Grenadians to contribute to building our shared future, whether it be in the form of advice, community development or strengthening families, schools and non-profit agencies.
Small waves of change can already be felt in our various communities, with citizens volunteering their time to clean and beautify their surroundings. These are big acts of care in each community and they contribute to a greater pride and the health of our country, a strengthened tourism product, a cleaner environment and, perhaps most importantly, this behaviour sets an example for our young people, many of whom participate in these initiatives.
As in a family, so in a nation; one generation works hard to ensure a better future for the next. We have made significant progress in these 49 years, and I am confident that if we pool the talent of all, at home and in the Diaspora, our beloved Grenada will continue to march ahead on the path of progress, securing its rightful place in the global community.
As we journey to 50, let us be guided by the words of our national anthem and move forward, as a people, with “heads, hearts, and hands in unity.”
Happy Independence to all.
May God continue to bless this beautiful land of ours.