As a Grenadian living abroad with much interest and concern for the level of pain and hardship facing our nation, I am taking the liberty to share my observations to the attention of all Grenadians at home and abroad; but specifically to our leaders and stakeholders in the public, private and charitable sectors.
Leaders and stakeholders, for too long, have been mostly disconnected with the issues resulting with far too little development and implementation of strategic models in the direction of growth, debt management and sustainability. Therefore, we find ourselves in massive debt and still without common-sense solutions; these debts are financial, physical, emotional and spiritual.
In times like these we need miracle solutions to solve our national debt with little or no private investment. Strategic models provide solutions based on stated vision, mission, goals, objectives, tasks, timelines, outcome and impact above self and differences.
The old saying, “failing to plan is planning to fail” is probably the basic lesson we ought to take from what has happened since our independence. We have seen some good, some bad and some ugly outcomes, but not enough good outcomes in nation building, management, sustainability and national pride.
As a matter of fact, there is a lot of blame to go around; but blame by itself won’t relieve our debt nor provide sustainability to our on-going economic dilemma. Therefore, it is required that there must be three strategic master plans in the interest and well being to benefit our nation. These strategic master plans will include one for Grenada’s government, one for the private sector and one for the NGOs sector. Each sector’s leadership must engage their stakeholders in a painful yet necessary process; to learn, to share and to invest.
I personally believe we are at a point when all our citizens, be they public leaders and workers, or the private or charitable sectors must take time to reason, plan better, manage and engage every man, woman and child to better understand the abundant gifts and resources our great God has blessed us with. There are sufficient biblical guidance and lessons we can benefit from.
It comes down to our attitude, aptitude and how we position our intentions. Do we view God as the Creator and view ourselves as made in his image? If we do, then our deeds and our words will reflect just that, as it is said, “We better take warning and do what is good; because whatever we do, they live after us.”
So what happens today, tomorrow, in the months and years ahead will determine the sweet or bitter outcomes. Getting the sweet normally doesn’t appear by accident; it starts with the full awareness built on a solid footing or foundation to include – spiritual, physical, emotional and financial balance. I suggest we are off balance; and when that happens, we end up with a bitter-sweet condition that will never solve our problems. Maturity teaches us many lessons, and one of them is valuing the benefits of solutions.
Our biggest solution lies in spiritual wisdom, understanding and knowledge; the other is cemented in love for all and respect for our constitution. Yes, we have a golden opportunity to live nobly and upright before our fellowmen. Interestingly, there is good in every person, but usually there is not enough; so when understanding and wise leaders and mentors amongst us can find the good that exist and help create a practical, strategic model, it initiates hope for positive living. When a patient is sick and gets the needed prescription(s), it will only benefit the patient when taken as directed, so we need the right prescription(s) and to follow its directions.
Once a thorough study and analysis of strategic models are done of all the facts affecting our current position, we will have to agree that our miracle solution to address our national debt and lack of private sector investment in some ways ought to become the basis for sustainable growth. The most important assets will require more emphasis and should become part of the foundation layer to build short, medium and long-term strategic model are as follows:
• Grenadians abroad should be recruited to create public trading entity(s) with the right incentives in law; proper regulations and implementation may probably prove to be our most valuable asset yet. Imagine 3000 to 5000 Grenadian investors having personal and corporate success, can invest between $250 to $500 million over 2 to 3 years timeline in the sectors mentioned herein, will generate returns to the stakeholders and nation as a whole.
• Quantifying our energy resources beginning with one or two zones and amending our energy law to create an energy sector that’s managed and operated by Grenadian experts so the stakeholder ownership will include the public, private, individual and foreign investors. The government can then draw down on some of its assets which can inject $300-$500 million in revenues to offset the current financial position. The funding agreement should stipulate that 30%-40% of injected funding should be used for training, public education in the subject area and provide small business loans to achieve short, medium and long term growth; and 60% - 70% can be used to pay down on our debt and invest in the infrastructure creating sustainable jobs
• Current income tax model must be reduced from $60,000 base line (now only 1,600 people are paying income tax) to somewhere in the range of $18-$24,000 annually to account for about 10%-15% of taxes collected. At the same time the VAT should be lowered to help stimulate the private sector growth; and of course, the other tough hammer to drop relates to a 5% - 8% reduction in salaries and or jobs.
The current foreign investment structure will be providing very little in tax revenues to the government in the future, as in the last 25 years it has proven to be a major cost to Grenadian taxpayers as foreign investors pay no duties and taxes while we rely solely on a VAT tax structure. The foreign investment structure must be reviewed and some adjustments ought to be made so that there must be time limits on duties and taxes in the range of 10-15 years on investment already in place and each new investment be considered on its merit.
The strategic economic sector growth -- such as energy development, agro-business development, healthcare product and services & tourism products and services: in each sector there should be a minimum of 30%-40% set aside for Grenadians to invest and be employed. In 3-5 years Grenadians will also enjoy returns on their investments. These monies will be re-cycled back in the local economy providing stable jobs and growth.
The biggest piece for such success will be engaging the citizens with all the facts in bad times as well as in good times in order to get their support from across the board. Whatever we develop, some key input must come from stakeholders, other professional analysis, Grenadian funding, control, production, home grown businesses and sustainable markets. These must bring positive impact to the overall increase in the economy of the private and government sectors.
“For love of Grenada and Grenadians Everywhere”