Round Table with Oscar
November 5, 2013
Our national plan

In October 2013, the government launched a 12-year national plan for St Vincent and the Grenadines. This National Economic and Social Development Plan is an important working document to guide our nation’s footsteps through the years and I hope to see a copy of it at least in newspaper format for our general public information. Not many of us will go to the website or take the flash-drive and download and print it for ourselves. It could very well gather cyberdust there!{{more}} The effort to produce the plan should be followed by an effort to disseminate it. A national Plan should not be a document just for the elite few to read, should it?

It was a good idea to have a body of people from different areas of the society and economy working together as a council. That NESDEC – National Economic and Social Development Council – as a new kid on the block, needed support to break out of the sordid and uneven society and political society tug o war in the community. NESDEC needed some “padding” or insulation from the political piper who would DJ its lyrics and melody. It needed its own budget and staff. The good idea of the NESDEC as a citizen forum and activist council never made it become an effective agency. And so, NESDEC did not carry through the process to produce our National Plan. In the end, it did not receive the necessary infrastructure or the resources, and in hindsight, we are led to conclude NESDEC was just a cosmetic product in a shiny package whose job was to waste time prettily. The actual plan was prepared out of the resources and effort of the Finance Ministry’s Planning Department. It is really the ULP’s Plan and the professionals who did the work operated as ULP functionaries.


After 34 years of constitutional independence and renewed nationhood, we in SVG are in a position to refine how we do things nationally. We must stop confusing a national product and a party product. If we say we are going to develop a 10 year plan to guide the nation’s path, make some basic decisions like the following. (1) Set the time frame as 6 months or 1 year. (2) Secure credible technical support from the intergovernmental systems e.g. the United Nations Development Plan Agency. (3) Put in place/ contract or consultant administrator, a Vincentian expert in the field e.g. Justin Robinson, Wendell Samuel, Gillian Nanton, Laura Anthony Browne, and Phillip Nanton. (4) Bring on board a small governing committee from political society and civil society (5) Draw up and seek comment on the Terms of Reference of the Planning Body; (6) Put the case to the leaders and organisations of civil society, seeking their “begin” and nominees; (7) Let the political organisations also discuss the mandate and name their representatives (8) Equip the process with staff logistics and other resources. (9) Begin the planning with a community event; (10) Have primary and social media alerted to follow the process with comments.

Have we not grown as a nation community to be able to design a way of doing things that mobilizes all of us? Ten years ago, we may not have been able to do it, or even 5 years ago. But can we not learn new ways as we go along? Are we too dumb to search out our failings and learn from them? For example, if the political parties fail to work together, as they did with constitutional reform; does the nation have to fail? 2013, going on to 2014 must bring greater maturity into our national life and culture. We must plan to grow, believe that we can grow and cast aside those features that hold us back from growing.


As a maturing community and nation, we should be able to take the new National plan and start a critical conversation about where we want to take our country and region.

Let us present the plan in 100 communities, let us develop a literate Powerpoint / slide show, viewer friendly version of it for wider understanding, undermining, interrogating, shredding and retrofitting. Let us examine the vision it holds out and see to whom it really belongs. Let us project the youth’s aspirations into it, the workers and their trajectory, the environment, the criminal element and our cultural renewals, let us grow the plan. One African writer pointed out to me that Jeremiah has as his objective to build and to plant the faith of his community, but in doing so, he had to break down, pluck up and uproot a whole lot of things. Maybe it’s so we can build over the plan 12 SVG. Do you remember on one occasion, the NDP parliamentarians wanted to introduce a charter for Spiritual Renewal in the House of Assembly? Since then, the spiritual course of our community has not moved upwards, in my view. They saw investment in some civil society institutions like Sunday Schools as eritical. Not a fan removed, PM Gonsalves mooted that investment in “boys on the block” as point for consideration. The two views seem to converge on a path that invokes the moral rearmament of our society and youth. Will the national plan that we reengineer, move more sure footedly in that direction?

You know, it is time for us to move away from one-one tinkering and meddling with our nation and region. In September we hear talk about Reparation, in October, National Plan, before year end will be some other isolated topic. You know we can do better than that. So as we get started to fix our nation plan, let us do it “holistically”. Let us become mature in how we move ahead with our nation.