Commentary

Transforming the Economy

Resetting the National Sustainable Development Plan

In an earlier article published in April 2020, the lessons to be learnt from the Covid-19 global crisis were outlined as the basis for charting the way forward; and transforming the local economy.

In that article I highlighted that:

(1). Globalization is real, facilitated by the integration of economies through Travel, Investment and Trade (TIT), and technological platforms that allow for instant communication.

(2). Regional integration was left wanting, due to the lack of a common and coherent strategy to address the Covid-19 crisis.

(3). Significant shortcomings in the economic models of development emerged as a result of the heavy reliance on inflows from tourism, financial services, and the Citizen by Investment (CBI) programmes.

(4). The informal sector landed in ‘no man’s land’ as many of the participants in that sector fell through a crack when policies were developed to address the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

(5). Inclusiveness in nation building needed to be more than pronouncements as institutional arrangements were either non-existent, non-operational, or ad hoc.

(6). Technological enhancement must be accompanied with deeper technological penetration to cater for persons without access; and

(7). Preparedness for disaster should be enhanced by adopting an all hazard strategy.

The above identified issues, should in part, now inform the resetting of the National Sustainable Development Plan [(SDP) 2020 to 2035.

That plan must be based on a solid foundation; and the only solid foundation on which to anchor that Plan is good government or good governance.

Good government or effective governance is an imperative. It harmonizes with the constitutional mandate in section 38 of the Constitution of Grenada for Parliament to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Grenada.

The good government agenda is a necessary pre-requisite, because effective policy both in its formulation and implementation, is a major foundation to economic development. At the same time, effective policy formulation and implementation could only be achieved under a system of good governance.

The National Sustainable Development Plan 2020 to 2035 should accordingly be anchored in the tenets of good government or good governance. These principles should guide the interactions among government officials, between government and citizens and among citizens.

The principles of good governance should dictate the institutional environment in which citizens interact with each other and with government agencies.

In anchoring the National Sustainable Development Plan in the good governance agenda, it must be taken into consideration that already, within the economy there is a clearly defined system, with distinct structures, roles and responsibilities. It comprises the political directorate, the public sector, and the private sector.

The political directorate consists of the Legislature or Parliament and the Executive or Cabinet, the composition of which is determined by the political process.

The Executive is supported by a cadre of technical and administrative officers in the public service and a public sector organised with various levels of government agencies.

The public sector relates to established economic agents and civil society, who also form various organized institutions and social groups, including the chambers of industry and commerce, manufacturers associations, trade unions, for profit and not-for-profit organisations.

Additionally, there are independent agencies such as the judiciary and audit to provide checks and balances to the system.

Governance covers the organisation and operation of this integrated system.

Good governance therefore requires adherence to the principles of accountability, transparency, predictability, and openness where:

(1). Systems for accountability will allow citizens to make public officials responsible for government action and responsive to the needs of the citizens.

(2). Transparency requires the availability of information to the general public and clarity of government rules, regulations, and decisions.

(3). Predictability is based on the existence of laws, regulations, and policies to regulate society and their fair and consistent application.

(4). Openness refers to low levels of government control on the flow of commodities, ideas, information, and participation in the economy.

With a solid foundation in good government or good governance, the pillars for the National Sustainable Development Plan 2020 to 2035 would be strong and steady.

The next article will focus on some of the legislative requirements and practical elements related to good government as I continue to provide accurate and creditable information using a new platform. Remember knowledge is power and experience is the greatest teacher.

Laurel Bain is a Grenadian-born former economist with the St. Kitts-based Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.

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