Prime Minister’s Post Carnival Message

Fellow Grenadians, it is with a deep sense of satisfaction that I address you this evening, just days after our carnival celebrations.

Carnival 2018 was a definite success. Stakeholders and spectators alike share the view that many improvements were visible this year, but of course, we must continuously explore opportunities to improve our carnival product, ensuring that it continues to be representative of our culture and
that it serves as a top attraction to boost visitor arrivals.

The success of our carnival season cannot be attributed to any one particular stakeholder or event; it is the collective result of all stakeholders playing their respective roles and all events adding to the sum total of the Spice Mas experience.

To the winners of the various carnival events, hearty congratulations to all of you. You gave your best and the judges have spoken. From Soca Monarch to Dimanche Gras; from Queen Show to Panorama; from J’ouvert to parade of the bands and Monday Night Mas, the mere fact that you participated, means that you have played an invaluable role in showcasing what Grenada’s Carnival is all about and keeping our culture alive.

Sisters and brothers, thousands of visitors flocked to our shores for the festive season.
The actual data will show that there was an increase in stayover arrivals when compared to the same carnival period last year. Our carnival product provides an invaluable way to market Grenada, encouraging visitors not just for the carnival season but year-round. We therefore, must continue to provide a unique experience.

Immigration officers are the first point of contact for persons arriving in Grenada and from all reports, they are true ambassadors of Grenadian hospitality. Immigration officers must create a fine balance between upholding the law and being welcoming to returning nationals and visitors. I must commend them for the excellent manner in which they execute their duties. The efficiency they demonstrate in the line of duty must be replicated across the public service.

Carnival reached its crescendo over the last few days and I must acknowledge the role of the Royal Grenada Police Force in maintaining law and order. I commend the Acting Police Commissioner, Edvin Martin, for his leadership, and the entire rank and file of the RGPF, for effectively policing all the major shows and keeping incidents to a minimum.
The police recorded no major incidents during the culminating days of carnival and that speaks volumes. Violence has no place in our festivities and we must maintain a no-tolerance approach to crime. I must commend the general public as well, for ensuring that your conduct did not cause any undue disturbance and that your interaction with the police where it became necessary, was respectful and cooperative.
The importance of having a safe and peaceful carnival cannot be over-emphasised as it is absolutely critical in promoting Spice Mas.

In a very astute song some years ago, one of our veteran calypsonians, Black Wizard sang - when the carnival is over, we still need a brighter day. Government is quite cognizant of this reality and is well-poised to ensure we realise that brighter day for all of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

Our immediate focus is preparing the 2019 budget.
The annual budget retreat was held on July 31, weeks earlier than usual, to kickstart preparations. Soon, the Ministry of Finance will begin a series of stakeholder engagements to ensure that the budget put forward is sufficiently reflective of all sectors.
Government is particularly committed to youth development and empowerment and we will initiate a special engagement with them. An innovation this year would be the presentation of Government’s Medium-Term Agenda to our external stakeholders.
Again, this illustrates our ongoing commitment to transparency and the principles of good governance. As preparations continue for the budget, it is important to take stock of where we are, economically. Our Mid-Year Economic Review and Estimated 2018 Performance, compiled by the Ministry of Finance, shows that the Grenada economy will continue along a positive trajectory. The projected growth is 3.5 percent but it could very well exceed that, based on the figures we are already seeing so far this year. Construction for example, has recorded growth of 42.6 percent in the first quarter, and in tourism, stayover arrivals increased by 10.7 percent. In agriculture, nutmeg production increased by 7.1 percent in the first quarter, while cocoa production increased by 17.3 percent. There are several other positive indicators of growth and Government will continue to ensure that Grenada maintains and further solidifies the gains made during our home-grown Structural Adjustment Programme.

Sisters and brothers, in just a few weeks, students will be returning to the classroom for the start of a new academic year. What better way to start than with the encouraging news that Grenada outperformed its Caribbean neighbours in 23 of 30 areas in the 2018 CXC (CSEC) examinations. Chemistry, Physics and Biology are highlighted as three of the areas in which we outdid the rest of the region. It is quite heartening that the pass rate for students sitting the examinations this year increased to 70.5 percent, up from 67.36 percent in 2017. It is also encouraging to see students all over the, tri-island state, at both public and private educational institutions, performing well.

Congratulations to all students, their teachers and principals, parents, education officials and other stakeholders for the collaborative effort it would have taken to achieve such success. We applaud you, but at the same time encourage you to keep striving for even greater success.

The CXC (CSEC) results show that non-traditional subjects such as Industrial Technology, both Mechanical and Electrical, as well as Technical Drawing, recorded either perfect or very high pass rates.
This is certainly quite commendable, particularly as Government provides more skills training opportunities for young people. Promoting youth development as part of Government’s overall agenda continues to be an area of significant focus, and an imperative one, as we seek to secure the future of this nation.

Our investment in youth is also evident through the school books programme. This year, Government invested the sizeable sum of $2.6 million into the purchase of new books.
These have arrived on island and distribution will begin shortly. The onus is on the students who benefit from this programme, their parents and teachers, to help protect this investment and ensure that in subsequent academic years, other students can similarly benefit from the use of these books.

Sisters and brothers, this is an era of renewed hope and invigoration; we have a growing economy and increasing opportunities. As a people, we must continue to be disciplined and industrious, strengthening this foundation, both for ourselves and future generations. Challenges are inevitable but not insurmountable.
We are working diligently to further advance the issue of pension reform. Also, on the horizon, we will be called to reaffirm our country's independence through the adoption of the Caribbean Court of Justice as our final appellate court. These and other matters require our collective action.
Let us, therefore, remain united – standing resolutely together, as we shape this ongoing revitalisation of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. I thank you.