The Grenada Revolution Online








Chairman of Council and Mrs. Brathwaite, Honourable Prime Ministers, Honourable Chief Justice and Mrs. Nedd, Members of Advisory Council of Grenada, Your Excellencies and other members of the Diplomatic Corps, Reverend Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Today we Grenadians, in the august and distinguished company of our friends and well wishers, gather here as one family, one people, to witness the official opening of our International Airport.

The idea of an airport at Point Salines has been long conceived and long debated, yet for some of us this beautiful airport is like a dream come true. For others it syncretises our hopes and fears of more recent years. But for all of us it is an achievement which we earnestly desired and of which we are justly proud.

It is therefore with a deep sense of joy and satisfaction that I welcome you here on this very auspicious occasion. I extend a warm Grenadian welcome and a hand of friendship to all our visitors.

To my fellow Grenadians I say let us celebrate and give thanks as we with resolve continue our triumphant march towards lasting peace and prosperity.

To those of you who helped in various ways to organise this ceremony I congratulate you and thank you immensely. As Grenadians you have again displayed your ability to organise, and to organise properly. You have displayed your creativity, as well as your concern for the good and welfare of your fellow citizens.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the construction of this airport is a splendid example of international co-operation involving assistance from several countries. On behalf of the Government and people of Grenada I wish to express profound gratitude to all countries which have contributed to its construction.

We also express our appreciation to the contracting firms and international agencies which have provided expertise, training and equipment.

I wish also to thank all the construction workers—Grenadians as well as non-Grenadians—who have laboured on this site.

But this airport belongs to the Grenadian people. It is the biggest single project undertaken by our country since Independence, and it is the one project that Grenadians looked upon as a sign of hope for economic development.

We too have made our contributions. During the construction of the airport, taxes in Grenada soared to an unprecedented level, and even so the construction of the airport was a severe strain on the country's revenue and we still have to repay loans in the sum of E.C.$50 million which were secured for the building of this airport.

In the context of the outstanding loan debts which the Grenadian people have to pay one can better appreciate the grants made by the Governments of the United States of America and Canada, one of our Commonwealth partners, towards completion of this project. These generous grants have reduced the burden which the Grenadian people might otherwise have had to bear towards the cost of completion.

The International Airport Levy which was introduced in 1982 and which none of us can escape has so far brought in $10 million to our Treasury. Grenadians at home and abroad have contributed through the purchase of airport bonds in the sum of $3.4 million and a sum of $12.6 million out of our general revenue has already been used for the airport construction.

At this juncture I should like to pay tribute to the Airport Development Committee, a voluntary organisation started in November 1980, which has been raising funds towards the airport project. This group of women led by Mrs. Theresa Simeon must be commended on their patriotic zeal and fervour. Their fund raising activities have already realised $60,000 for this airport, and only two days ago they handed over a cheque for $10,000 in this regard.

There is one further category of Grenadians whom I would like to salute for their patience and understanding. I refer to those whose lands were acquired for this airport site. They are still to receive compensation, and I hope that everything possible will be done to ensure that a settlement of this matter be reached within a reasonable time.

Ladies and Gentlemen, every schoolboy knows of the teething troubles with which newly independent countries are afflicted. Grenada has been no exception. Our difficulties, our fears, our anxieties are too well known to repeat here.

But we believe in God, in one God, and by our faith and courage, by our determination, we shall come out of the dark and turbulent first decade of independence a better people, and a people more appreciative of the value of human dignity and individual liberty.

At this time, that old Grenadian motto 'Clarior e tenebris' which translates "Brighter out of darkness," touches our very hearts and we have the confidence that for us brighter days will shine.

Integrity, efficiency and discipline in public affairs must replace unnecessary and unconstructive rhetoric which fans the flames of hatred and hinders economic growth. If ever there was a time when every Grenadian man and woman should sink their differences and make a sacrifice to help their country, that time is now.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have now entered on the second decade of independence. We are now restoring our democratic processes and institutions. These have been with us for a very long time. There can be no alternatives. We have to defend them and jealously guard them.

It is my hope that this decade will be one of peace and prosperity for Grenada. The realization of peace and prosperity is within our grasp. By our common sense, hard work, discipline and tolerance, we can regain our peace; we can achieve prosperity.

Let this Point Salines International Airport be symbolic of the fundamental unity of all Grenadians. Let it be symbolic of our new take-off towards peace, freedom, democracy and economic progress. Let is contribute towards the healing of petty divisions.

The airport belongs not to any section of Grenada nor to any political party, nor to any political leader but to the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique. We are the ones who have to make the sacrifice to pay for this airport, and by God's grace we shall do it.

Thank you for your continued co-operation and vigilance as we strive to rebuild our country, and to make it more secure. Continue to be watchful.

Earlier I referred to the tax burden which we have had to endure. I am pleased to announce that the Interim Government has approved the abolition of Estate Duties or what is more popularly called Death Duties; and I hope soon to sign the necessary Ordinance to that effect.

Also Government pensioners will be relieved of tax on the first $7,200 of their pension annually. I give you the assurance that the Interim Government is now studying an IMF Report on our fiscal system, as well as a report by a local Working Party comprising public and private sector officials, with a view to seeing how and if it can further ease the tax burden within the next few weeks.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as important as the opening of this Airport is, let us not forget that on the first Monday in December [1984] we have another but more important event which will determine the future of our country, the future of our children—an event which will decide whether we shall have the economic progress that we all hope for, whether we shall really attract the investors who are so willing to come to Grenada.

Last Friday I issued Elections Writs to Returning Officers, and you will be notified according to law in the next few days in the Government Gazette and in the newspapers. Nomination Day is fixed for Wednesday 14th November and Polling Day will be on 3rd December when I hope all registered voters will go out and vote. Remember your country expects you to do your duty.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you again for coming here today in such large numbers. I wish you a safe and happy journey back to your various homes.

I now have great pleasure in declaring the Point Salines International Airport open, and may Almighty God be the constant companion of all those who travel to and from this Airport.

28th October, 1984

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