I want to begin by recognising and saluting the tremendous work done by the comrades [unclear] Ministries of Planning, Finance and Trade and in other Ministries, enterprises and departments in the public sector and, in particular, the outstanding work and continuing leadership of the Minister of Finance, Planning and Trade, Cde. Bernard Coard.
We are in a situation today, as a small country in the big world where we find our economy under all kinds of pressures from outside. And it is well know, and Cde. Coard's report has once again confirmed that our economy is severely tied to the capitalist world.
Our economy, therefore, continues to be buffeted and beaten by the deep crisis now gripping the economies of the industrialized West. We have a situation today where between 35 to 40 million people are unemployed in the so-called OECD countries-the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. This obviously has serious implications for us, as they try to find ways to bring back some jobs and see that they can do to boost production in their own economies.
As part of that crisis we also have the situation where a number of developing countries with tremendous resources of their own, like Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, find themselves with unbelievably staggering debts that they have to pay back. Countries with huge oil reserves, yet they have these massive debts to meet.
And this crisis has become so grave that those who control the international financial and monetary system advanced a meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently, by a few months to discuss this crisis, because they were concerned that if a country like Mexico, owning more than $80 billion in debt was not able to pay back that debt, then the whole commercial and financial system could collapse overnight. So their concentration and focus has been on these bigger and more economically powerful developing countries.
But, side by side with the Mexico's of this world, there is a real crisis facing a lot of other developing countries. The most recent estimates that we have seen, for example, indicate that about 40 other developing countries each have debts of over $1 billion, which means $40 billion to be repaid. Such Is the nature of the crisis we face.
In 1981 and 1982, the developing countries lost over $85 billion in purchasing power because of the low prices they receive for what they produce, because of the high interest rates charged by Reagan's United States, and because it has become much more difficult to get credits and loans.
The crisis therefore is deep and serious. It has generated a lot of international discussion and debate about the correct way forward, about the best way to get out of this crisis, how small poor states and developing countries can break out of this cycle of depression.
Those ideologues for the capitalist and imperialist systems have been suggesting that the correct way forward is for the US economy to act like a locomotive, as they put it, to stimulate the world economy. They argue that the correct way forward is for all the countries in the developing world to tie themselves more and more to international capitalism and imperialism, and this debate has reached our corner of the world in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is in the context of this mighty ideological debate that I want to make my remarks today.
Many of you may have seen the recent articles in "Time" magazine, "Business Week," the "Washington Post" and newspapers in this region, where they are looking at Grenada because Grenada clearly represents the possibilities of a new social, economic and political path of development and a new way forward, and they are concerned to see how our experiment works.
And, therefore, listening to Cde. Coard and reading the report on the economy, the first thing that strikes you most forcefully is to what extent this report helps to give us an answer to this debate that's raging in the world.
I wish to suggest several ways in which we can form answers to this debate from today's exercise. The very first thing that is clear and obvious and undeniable to all Is that there has been consistent growth in Grenada's economy over the past four years.
It is equally clear that over the same period of time there has been a consistent rise in the standard of living of our people, a consistent increase in the number of jobs we have been able to provide for our people, and consistent increase in production and consistent growth in the state sector of our economy. All of these are facts and figures that no one can challenge.
But we must never forget the negative growth in the years of the Fairy dictatorship, that whole period in the 1970s when our economy grew backwards, and we must contrast that with what happened from 1979: 2.1 percent growth in that year, three percent growth in 1980, three per cent in 1981 and in 1982, that fantastic growth of 5.5 percent, the highest that we know of in the Western Hemisphere.
This is an extraordinary achievement for our small country and brave people. We know from the figures available that there has been much more construction activity, much more infrastructural development, much more technology introduced, many more jobs created. We know, this in part, from the public expenditure figures which have been dramatic over the past four years.
Consider Gairy's last year, 1978, when $8 million was spent on capital projects compared with the first year of the Revolution when $16 million was spent, $30 million in the second year, $70 million in the third, and last year $101.5 million, making a total of $237 million spent on public programmes since the Revolution.
These facts tell us that we are on the right road. They are definite indicators that the path we have chosen to follow and the experiment we are engaged in is correct. It tells us that the standard of living of our people has risen, that every year the real standards of living have gone up, last year by three per cent.
We know that too, from the continuance of free health care, of free education, of house repair (17,244 people benefited last year), of the free milk programme which distributed [unclear - ?73,000) lbs of milk every month last year and will continue at the same monthly amount this year. So our economic growth and development is real and undeniable.
But we must also pause and reflect on something we have taken for granted, something that only last night Cde. Michael Manley was reminding us of and it is something outside of the material benefits the Revolution has brought; the development of our structures of participation.
It is something we take for granted because we are now in the habit of discussing our economy, of knowing what is happening in our country, of going to zonal and parish councils. We take that for granted. But the outside world does not take that for granted. To them this is a modern-day miracle taking place right here in free, revolutionary Grenada.
Let us never forget, therefore, this extraordinary participation by our people, in these new grassroots organs of popular democracy that we are building and developing.
Consider how this report came to be presented this morning. Let us start with the fact that in all Ministries, state enterprises and Government departments over the last 12 months, many different people have been involved in preparing facts and figures about production, in trying to estimate productivity, in looking at the wage fund, in trying to establish inventories, so that we are able to do the technical and material supplied balance that is so important.
More and more every day, different bureaucrats and technocrats in all of these places are trying to prepare careful, precise and realistic plans for their particular enterprises. Think of the work of the comrades in the Macro-Planning Unit of the Ministry of Planning, comrades who went off two weeks ago and spent 14 days in Carriacou working on the preparation of this morning's report.
Think of the work being done at the level of our Government; in our Cabinet, in the weekly meetings of the Ministers of the economy, the State Sector Monitoring Committee and other critical committees that give us a greater indication and more knowledge of how our economy works and what we can do to build it even further.
Think of the work on the level of the Party; in the Party committees, in the general meetings, in the discussions by every single member of the Party about the economy and budget and plan and about what ways Party structures and committees can ensure that what we plan gets implemented.
Think of the work by our working class, of their production and emulation committees, their monthly meetings, their worker education classes where the economy is discussed on a regular basis. And think, too, of our people's involvement through their zonal councils and parish councils, an involvement that will deepen even more this year as these zonal councils begin to elect their own watchdog committees to monitor the economy and the implementation of the plan.
Think of this second historic conference this morning, as over 1,000 delegates sit here with the greatest amount of discipline in a very hot room follow Cde. Coard carefully, as he reviews the economy for 1982 and sets out the budget and plan proposal for 1983.
Consider what will happen tomorrow and for the weeks after that when we all hit the road and go out to the zonals, to the ordinary masses of our country bringing the good economic news to them, informing them about what happened last year and seeking from them their advice, criticisms, recommendations, suggestions and proposals as to what should go into the budget and plan for 1983.
Dozens more of these zonal councils will be held starting tomorrow, and in each of these councils the ordinary salt o the Grenadian earth will discuss the report, will break up into workshops and will analyse in great detail and depth what they feel is required for his period.
That is real, true, genuine, living participatory democracy of the highest possible order and we must not forget that.
I also want to emphasise the importance of the process of planning that has begun to develop in our country. Virtually nothing is more difficult for any human being to do than to plan.
Most people prefer to get up in the morning, roll out of bed, jump into the shower, eat some breakfast, go to work, come back home, play some dominoes, go back to sleep, get back up next morning and start the same routine all over again. That is how most people live their lives in most parts of the world and, of course, that is not a satisfactory existence.
But after four years of the revolutionary experience in this country, can we not honestly say that our people are beginning more and more to move to workplans, to work-schedules, to keeping diaries, to organising their time and organising their lives.
How many times have we come across an ordinary member of the masses and we ask, "Comrade, what are you doing later this week? And in answering he or she will list out CPE class Tuesday night, militia Wednesday, community work brigade Sunday, in between that an NOW meeting and a worker education class and so on.
Sometimes we even discover that ordinary members of the masses have their own diary with their appointments and schedules listed. So much so that at one point last year all diaries in town were sold out.
That is really a fantastic development and we should reflect on it. The fact is that planning does not come easily and if we have been able in just a short period of rime to encourage our people to plan their lives, that too, is a remarkable achievement.
Let me offer one small illustration of this point. Let us look at the Grenada Farms Corporation (GFC). Before the Revolution these farms which Gairy had grabbed were places where he had small ponds with crayfish and lobster being cultivated for Evening Palace; places where every week trucks would go up and bring down all the fruits and vegetables for Evening Palace and Rock Gardens; places where absolutely no planning existed; places of political patronage. Our farms were rundown, devastated, desolate and unproductive.
What has happened after four years, and in particular in the last few weeks; we have had the most extraordinary experiment taking place on GFC, just in the last two weeks. Cde. George Louison, the Minister of Agriculture, along with Cde. Lt. Colonel Layne as the chairman of the GFC board of directors, have been meeting night and day with the managers of the state farm.
Over the past three weeks they have used every available weekend to work around the clock, to look at questions such as gross production of how much will be produced this year, at the value of production, at the cost of production, at how much capital investment will be spent this year at GFC, and finally, they looked at the critical question of how many workers must be employed and what will be the value of the goods that each worker will produce, the question of labour productivity. These five important questions have been analysed at length by these comrades over the past few days.
They have reached the point now where they have developed a series of plans for the GFC for 1983; plans for each farm; for clusters or groups of farms; and then an overall plan for the GFC enterprise as a whole. By such planning the GFC, for the very first time, will be in a position to have indicators and measurements at the end of the year to determine what progress they have made.
Next year, these comrades will begin to plan out the production on each field on each farm, and in 1985, they will more to reduce that further into sections of fields, so as to determine the section of the field over which each worker has responsibility.
That is what planning is all about, and this has begun to happen at the GFC, and right now these plans are being discussed by the supervisors, the clerks and the foremen, and over the next few weeks, these discussions will involve the agricultural workers themselves, because they are the ones who will implement any plan, and therefore, they must be fully involved in agreeing on the contents of the plan.
That is almost a miraculous development, a remarkable transformation from producing lobster and crayfish for one man, to a place where there is now serious planning, which we have no doubt will produce tremendous results for the country as a whole over the ears to come.
All of this has been possible because of the collective work of our people, our Party and our Government; because of our practice of laying bare the problems of the country and calling on the people to be involved in the solutions to those problems. That is why hard work has been stressed so much by us. That is why we have chosen to name 1983 the Year of Political and Academic Education.
Political education will ensure that our people understand how imperialism operates and how capitalism works and what we can do to break out of the current capitalist crisis.
Academic education will not only make our people dignified, will not only give our people self-fulfillment and personal satisfaction, but will also prepare our people for the new Grenada, for the new economy, for the new technology we will introduce. That academic education will ensure that production and productivity is increased, that our people will participate more and more in the planning of our economy and our country.
And I want to remind you all that there is a link between all this work and the work we have continued to do on the regional and international fronts. The regional and international struggle we is incomparable from the economic struggle we are waging in Grenada.
Let us reflect on the history of our Caribbean, when they enslaved us and made us produce raw materials for them, and later took these raw materials virtually free from us, and made us buy their expensive manufactured items. That was the economic basis of their colonialism.
Today, under imperialism, they continue to control the markets, to keep our goods out of their markets, to hold on to the new and modern methods of production, to control the new technology, to control the international monetary and financial system.
So they set high interest rates and ensure that commercial banks either do not lend to countries like ours, or when they do, it is with these very high interest rates, 17 and 18 per cent, and then virtually ask for our whole country as security.
Through their control of this international system they also make sure we get low prices for what we produce while they make us pay high prices for what we must buy from them. Through this control of the international monetary system, the imperialists have established their big institutions like the IMF and World Bank.
Only a few weeks ago in Washington, Cde. Coard once more had to struggle with the IMF and World Bank, and once again had to hear the World Bank people putting forward their usual case that the reason they don't like to lend to small countries like ours is because the cost of administering loans of $5 or $10 million to a small country like Grenada is the same cost to administer a $60 or $100 million loan to a big country. So they ignore the small loans. They are almost saying it is a curse to be small and to have a small economy.
The IMF, on the other hand, not only discriminates in its lending policies but they set such conditions that make it very difficult for the smallest and poorest states, particularly the progressive ones, to obtain funds from them.
And therefore, one of the major struggles we have been engaged in, and it is one that we must always connect with the local struggles is for reform of the international monetary and financial system.
We have been calling for a Caribbean advisor to be attached to the Canadian, Irish and Caribbean constituency of the IMF and the World Bank. This Caribbean advisor will be there to seek our interest.
We have been involved in the struggle for an increase in commodity prices. Some people shrug their shoulders and give up and say: 'Forget the struggle for a new international economic order, forget the struggle to have them establish a special commodity fund because you can't win that struggle!'
We do not take such a view.
We believe it is very important for Grenada to add its voice to the cry of the developing world in making these demands on the international system which continues to oppress and exploit us. And that is a struggle we have been waging since 1979, and it is a struggle that, with equal force and energy, we will take up again next week in New Delhi at the Non-Aligned Conference, because we believe that the struggle on the regional and international front is critical.
It is very important for us never to underestimate the necessity of that struggle, but to understand the vital need for all developing countries to stand together, to keep their unity. The pressures on Third World economies are so great that the temptation to accept the crumbs thrown off the table is a real one.
Yet, our only real strength is in standing together. Unity on the regional front and on the international front in confronting imperialism is as important as unity on the local front in fighting counter-revolution.
The unity of our workers, our farmers, our women, our youths, the unity of all our people is the biggest guarantee we have of being able to beat back destabilisation and ensure that the march of the Revolution continues to go forward. And that is why General Austin had to speak to us a while ago [about nine people being responsible for rumour-mongering].
What these counter-revolutionary elements recognise clearly is that the unity of the Revolution has continued, that the progress made in four years has continued, that the regional and international prestige of the Revolution has continued. What they see before them is more and more projects coming on stream every month, and another March 13th coming up.
What they understand clearly is that among the masses of the Caribbean, the Grenada experiment is being watched with increasing interest and admiration. They understand that despite their desperate efforts to stop the international airport, this project continues to move ahead and will be completed over the next 12-15 months. There is no doubt that our international airport, our runway to freedom, will open next year.
We have to understand the problems that these elements have when they face Grenada. They see no corruption, so they can't point to corruption in an honest way, but instead make up lies. When they face our Revolution they see no brambling, no 'mamaguying', so they have to face up to the reality of a people who understand the truth about what people with a budget is happening in their country.
When they face our country they have to stand up to the realist of a people who are conscious and are participating in building their own process. When they face up to Grenada they see a leadership that accounts to the people an dis involved from day to day with the people in building the process; they see growth and progress.
Where else among our neighbours can we speak of so many jobs that have been created with the speed with which they have been generated in Grenada? Where else can we speak of the growth of the social wage having increased so dramatically, of the standard of living which has risen, of the people's democracy?
Where else in the region can we speak about a Minister of Finance who does not go to Parliament with a black box containing his secret budget, but who goes to the people with a budget that the people themselves helped to make?
Where else can these elements find such unity at the level of Party, Government and people? No where else! And that is why rumours are all they have. But they need to understand that rumours cannot stop the onward march of this Revolution, cannot stop greater production, greater productivity, greater planning, greater participation, greater profits, greater progress.
When they come with rumours, throw back the sic Ps in their faces: production, productivity, planning, participation, profits and progress. The six Ps will whip them into the ground.
The elements must know, once again, that in Grenada we are united in our struggle to build this new experiment which is destined to establish a new civilization. We are united in our struggle locally, regionally and internationally.
These elements must know that Sparrow, son of the Grenadian soil, when he sang his calypso, "Young and Strong", we took it to heart. The Revolution's young and strong and we're not afraid of any counter in town. The Revolution's young and strong and we're not afraid of any CIA or any rumour-mongers. These elements must understand that this Revolution must be respected.
And let us remind them of the words of another great calypsonian, another son of the soil living in Grenada, the words of Flying Turkey, who said 'No backward reaction can stop this Revolution'.
Tell these elements who want to spread rumours, since that is all they have left, that rumours cannot keep this Revolution from going forward. Tell them as they spread their rumours, and as they hope to use those rumours as the basis for their plots in the future, that they must remember the plot of November 1979, remember April 26, 1980, remember those who killed on June 19, 1980, those who killed on November 17, 1980, remember those in the Gang of 26 who tried to push their newspaper that was masking counter-revolution, remember Ayub and Duck. Tell them to remember all of these elements who tried but failed, and If they try to use rumours to destabilise this Revolution; tell them this Revolution is strong, strong, strong and is moving forward stronger, stronger, stronger, until together we get strongest, strongest, strongest.
Tell them what we have told them before: Rewards for the producers and manners for the counters - heavy, heavy, heavy manners.
So, together, let us go forward, let us spread the word about our budget and plan to our people. Let us more forward to more political education, to more academic education, to more training courses, and seminars. Let us make sure that he Six Ps: production, productivity, planning, participation, profit and progress---continue to go forward.
Let us more forward with seriousness, determination, with full unity, with the energy and vigour of a free and revolutionary people to build our new vision of Grenada.