This year the NDC turns 32, a milestone of which we are proud as we are certain all Grenadians are. This also marks a historic year. We head into our annual convention where a new leader will be elected as we take our organisation forward.
Our party was founded on 16 October 1987 at its first convention at the St Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School, on the basic principle that a system of parliamentary democracy in which the supremacy of God is in all things recognised, is best suited for the people of Grenada.
Since its founding, the party has formed the government on 2 occasions, 1990 to 1995 and 2008 to 2013. From 2003 onwards, the NDC has enjoyed the support of 40% or more of the electorate in all general elections.
The plentitude of gains and achievements of the NDC in only two terms in office, speak volumes of the quality of men and women who have served our country through this great organisation. Ours is a legacy of which we are justly proud, because the strides made on behalf of our people stand head and shoulders above the efforts of those who have been in office for 25 of the last 36 years.
In government, the NDC has by far, promoted and pursued the best social, economic, educational and cultural programmes that reflect our core principles of: belief in the supremacy of God, patriotism, integrity, self-reliance, economic security, education, putting people first, youth empowerment, protecting the vulnerable, anti-domestic and other violence, valuing the diaspora and creating social partnerships.
The NDC has proved to be a more fiscally responsible party in office than others. Grenadians are well familiar with the true and only home-grown structural adjustment program of 1990-1994, which moved Grenada from being blacklisted under the previous administration, to exceptional creditworthiness and a low national debt by 1995. Again, on assuming office in 2008, it fell to the NDC to stablise and steer a brutalized and distressed economy in the midst of a global economic crisis. Fiscal discipline helped our country secure funding from the World Bank for its single largest project approval ever, in the sum of $70 million.
Then there was the speedy reconstruction of the heritage buildings now housing the Financial Complex after the devastating fire in 1990, just months after the NDC assumed office. Contrast that with the state of our many damaged and destroyed heritage sites since hurricane Ivan in 2004.
Under NDC, there was revival of the Festival of the Arts in 2009-2010 and the establishment of the Spice Word Festival and the Spicemas Corporation in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
By far, the NDC has had the most progressive legislative agenda that now brings direct benefits to the people. It was the NDC in government that introduced the child is a child law, bringing equality in all things, between children born in wedlock with those born out of wedlock. The NDC changed the inheritance law to allow a surviving husband or wife to inherit half of their deceased spouse’s assets, where there is no will. The NDC passed the new companies law in 1994, and in 2011, passed law that reduced the age of majority, opening the path for our youths to enter into legal agreements to become independent entrepreneurs as young as 18 years.
The NDC changed the Criminal Code to make incest a crime and increased the penalties for sexual offences including rape. The NDC substantially revamped and improved on the domestic violence law, giving much-needed protection to the weak and vulnerable. The NDC modernised the adoption law, affording greater protection for our children and revamped and improved the child protection agency. The NDC passed the law to establish a Family Court in 1994, but immediately on assuming office, in 1995, the new administration repealed that law. This is not the entire list of progressive laws passed by the NDC, but a snapshot that demonstrates how the NDC agenda is focused on meaningfully and permanently improving the lives of our people, rather than on empty stunts to score cheap political points.
The NDC’s agenda is always focused on lifting our people up because we believe there is room at the top for everyone. We know too, that education is one sure way to lift people up. Hence, in less than 3 months of assuming office in 2008, the NDC rolled out the new free school books programme, ensuring that every single Grenadian child had the best chance at educational excellence, no matter their socio-economic standing. It was the NDC who established the scholarship desk and expanded scholarship opportunities. The NDC also gave a full refund of exam fees to every Grenadian child who obtained 8 or more CXC passes. This relief was intended to help parents defray costs of their children commencing tertiary education. At the same time, we embarked on a programme to ensure that all secondary school teachers obtained a degree.
The free barrels programme, the energy for the poor, the youth empowerment programme, the tax amnesty, manufacturers’ rebate, and discount on excise duties between 2008-2012 and very many more, were all initiatives that brought tangible benefits to ordinary Grenadians.
Now, the NDC moves forward to its convention this weekend renewed, energised and ready to lead our country out of the current state of hopelessness and apathy. Our vision is for a new Grenada, filled with hope and optimism where equal opportunities exist for all. We invite the people of Grenada to join us on this journey as we walk and work together to save our democracy, our democratic institutions and our livelihoods.