Fellow Grenadians, the celebration of Grenada’s 47th anniversary of independence, comes in the midst of a very challenging period for the global community. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be the predominant focus of our time and energy. The dreaded disease has had an unprecedented impact on life as we know it – it has decimated the tourism industry and slowed the pace of world trade; it has halted and in many cases, reversed economic growth, but most of all, it has claimed the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters. Even as we celebrate this milestone today, we must say a silent prayer for the dearly departed, especially those whose final moments had to be spent away from the precious circle of loved ones. 

My friends, COVID-19 is not just a health issue, it presents an economic challenge and its impact also represents a psychological attack on the psyche of our people. Therefore, even as we adhere to the recommended protocols of physical distance, we must remember to stay connected to our loved ones. 

With the widespread impact of COVID-19, Governments the world over, are required to lead the charge on multiple fronts. Leadership is not an easy job but the challenge of this disease has made it even more difficult. Nevertheless, in partnership with our key stakeholders, we keep pressing on. In Grenada, like most other countries, we have experienced a mixed bag of successes and failures. The fluidity of the pandemic means that we are constantly reviewing our approach as we adapt and learn to survive in this new normal. 

I am confident that we will win this battle, but it requires a collective effort. We must all accept our individual responsibility to help control the spread of the pandemic. As social beings, we thrive on interaction with others and as nationals living overseas, I’m sure visiting Grenada regularly is one of the things many people look forward to, and as usual, we are delighted to welcome you, but we must remember the protocols when we travel – testing, quarantine, physical distance. Let us not put our families and our friends at risk.

Photo courtesy Daniel Sandvik, Unsplash

Sisters and brothers, I am confident that the challenges of today will give way to a brighter tomorrow. Our celebration today is a reminder that good things are still happening despite COVID-19. For much of the past year our attention has been focused on fighting the disease, but at the same time, we were still marching resolutely on to this 47th anniversary of independence, another milestone in the development of our beautiful country. Let us take a moment to appreciate that fact. It is said that gratitude determines altitude, therefore as we push forward with our development agenda, we must pause periodically along the way and reflect on our achievements, using them as motivation to continue the journey. 

Government’s focus in 2021 will be on protecting the health and well-being of our people and fostering economic recovery. Putting our people back to work is an important part of this process. Many private and public sector projects will come on stream this year, providing jobs for hundreds of Grenadians. 

In addition, various initiatives in the health and education sectors will further enhance the well-being of our people. We have equipped all of our secondary school students and teachers with devices to facilitate e-learning and we are now moving to similarly equip students at the primary level. Improvements in healthcare delivery continues to be one of our top priorities and physical and service enhancements continue at the General Hospital and other health facilities. We are also on the verge of opening a modern and well- equipped health facility in Gouyave which will serve people in the western and northern parishes. 

Sisters and brothers, in the continued march towards development, we must work hand in hand. I applaud your ongoing contribution to the development process and I encourage your continued involvement as we chart the way forward. We value your engagement and your support. 

May God continue to bless our beautiful Grenada and our citizens, near and far. Protect yourselves and stay safe. 

I thank you.