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Commentary

A mixed bag performance, institutional risk and economic headwinds – Part II

Last week’s article identified that institutional risk will negatively affect the government’s ability to improve on its first year performance. This risk is manifested in the state of disarray that exists in the public service.

The constant erosion of policies and protocols during the previous regime, by young, inexperienced public servants hired on political considerations and given leeway in performance of their functions, have created a negative culture within the public service.

It is this culture that is driving institutional risk. Reforms are therefore needed across the public service. There is an urgent need, at the same time, to identify persons with the capacity and capabilities from the senior management level who are able to proactively lead key ministries to help the government improve on its first year performance.

However, it is very urgent at the senior management level to identify persons with the capacity and capabilities to drive those reforms and help the government to improve its performance in the second year of its tenure.

It is for this reason the senior managers were named in last week’s article. Those are the ones who possess the required experience and skills set to lead the reforms while helping the government to improve on its performance.

Government on its own can’t generate sufficient revenues to finance its development agenda, coupled with an impatient electorate. It is critical for them to be able to leverage sufficient development finance to fill the financing gap.

Having the right institutional arrangement and persons with the capacity and capabilities from senior management who are able to proactively lead key ministries to help the government improve on its first year performance.

This is why it was proposed to merge the Ministries of Economic Development and Climate Resilience into one ministry that would be able to access greater amounts of resources to finance development projects.

The current institutional set up with the Ministry of Climate Resilience responsible for the new multilateral trust funds such as the Global Climate Fund (GCF), and Global Environment Fund (GEF), while the Department of Sustainable, Economic Development and Planning focuses on traditional multilateral donors which includes the World Bank and Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is not effective.

The improved level of coordination and synergies created by the merger would strengthen Grenada’s capacity to access financing from these funding sources.

Similarly, the senior management team at the Ministry of Health appears not to have a clue as to how to undertake a transformative process that would lead to the transformation of the sector.

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Isaac Bhagwan, with his skills set and experience, has led that ministry before and worked closely with the World Health Organisation, and other development partners and could lead the transformative process that should commence well before construction of a teaching hospital.

The point is you have a small group of experienced senior managers with the right skills that can help the government advance its agenda. They should be used more strategically across the public service by putting them in key ministries where they can help to advance the agenda while action is taken to reform the public service.

The global economy is sluggish as China’s economy shows signs of lower than normal growth rates, the war in Ukraine, and its impact on energy and food prices, rising interest rates that increases the cost of borrowing for developing countries, and weak post pandemic recovery in emerging markets.

This would prove challenging for Grenada to achieve its projections on economic growth for this year and in 2024.

The Grenadian economy is open and dependent. Whatever happens in the global economy directly impacts our local economy. As coined in the phrase, “whenever the global economy sneezes, we catch the cold.”

Coupled with this is the continued low level of productivity, high tax burden, high unemployment particularly among the youths and relatively low levels of investment in human capital formation and innovation in the education sector.

The looming attempt by OECD countries to put pressure on citizens by investment programs in developing countries could become an albatross around Grenada’s neck if pre-emptive action is not taken.

The time is right for the government to put together a team of local and regional experts to look at viable options that could replace CBI as a major revenue earner going forward.

The challenges, already too many, from the toxic governance culture of the former regime are beginning to increase further.

The young government must, therefore, rise above petit considerations and be more strategic and deliberate in their thinking to allow them to take bold and decisive actions and mitigate against institutional risk that would enable them to improve on their first year performance and navigate the economic headwinds.

Special Correspondent