Last week Friday (29th June) was celebrated as always, as our Fishermen Birthday – based on the longstanding tradition dating back to the Disciples “Peter and Andrew”, who were Fishermen when Jesus called them to leave their boats and nets and become “Fishers of Men”.
And as always the biggest celebration was held in the Town of Gouyave – which is the fishing capital of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
The Governor General, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Member of Parliament for St. John’s parish – were all present for the R.C Church Service which traditionally begins the celebration.
As is well known – that for many months now, the modern fishing facility built by the Japanese on the Lance in Gouyave, for Fishermen and vendors to store and sell their fish in top of the line conditions – that building and surroundings have been locked up since the handing over ceremony late last year.
The reasons coming from the Ministry, are lack of funds from the Government to install a Petrol Tank and pumps to service the Fishing boats to go out Fishing.
At the end of the Church Celebrations, the Minister, the local M.P. and the Governor General, were each given the opportunity to address the congregation – as it is customary every Fishermen Birthday.
The Minister briefly explained the reasons – for the delay in having the Fishing facility open after all those months – and advised that a company has now been found to provide the petrol facilities in the coming months.
The M.P., on the other hand, used the opportunity to criticise the ministry, for the delay in bringing the facilities into operation, and thereby denying the fisher-folks the use of the project.
The Governor General, very diplomatically, put the matter into its proper context, and suggested that in many such cases, sound advice and encouragement are far more worthwhile than outright criticisms; those were not his exact words, but my own and many others understanding – who were present and expressed their approval of the sentiments that came from the Head of State.
The Prime Minister was not at the Church Mass, but came on the Lance where the boats were Blessed by the Priest; and he too explained the reasons for the project delay, and supported the Minister’s explanation for bringing same on stream in the near future.
I suppose that the political stress and strain are becoming so acute, and touchy as the local parlance would describe it – that the comments and criticisms can be heard from all manner of persons and in the most unlikely places.
And the Fishermen Birthday Celebrations in Gouyave this year, had more visitors from all over the Island than I had ever seen before – so what better occasion to let one’s voice and public opinion be heard, by whoever wants to listen and care to respond.
But over the weekend, the Information Minister also gave out the news that on Sunday 8th July, the NDC Party and Government will be celebrating its fourth year Anniversary in Gouyave – of that victory for change on July Eighth 2008, when the party won Eleven of the Fifteen seats in the Lower House of Parliament, to take over the control of government from the NNP of Dr. Keith Mitchell, who had been at the controls for thirteen years.
So much dirty water has passed under that shaky bridge of government control, since that victory – that there is a whole lot more to mourn and regret over, than to celebrate and make merry about.
With four or five of that winning team back in 2008, not expected to be running in the same colours come the next election day – the 2013 Billion dollars question is hanging in mid-air in two parts; who will be replacing the rebels in the NDC colours, and in what colours will those rebels be appearing, to try and unseat the remainder of the political marriage of convenience that failed.
With that level of uncertainty hanging over our party politics in these struggling Isles, one can very well understand the eager expectations of the NNP losers in 2008, who are now seeing the then winners handing back the victory to them, almost on a political plate after one term.
But while our people are watching and waiting for whichever card to play from either side – the business of the nation is at a standstill, in terms of movement to provide jobs or any positive improvement in the daily lives of those struggling to make ends meet.
In the midst of the celebration last weekend for fishermen Birthday – the news was sort of hush-hush, that a whole lot of public servants went to their Banks to get their salaries on the Friday, and no monies were deposited in their Accounts by the Government Treasury, for their end of month pay day.
Of course it is well known, that the flow of cash has slowed down in all quarters almost to zero – and that is not only on the Government side, but also on the side of those many thousands who are unemployed and have no other source of income.
And the natural result from that state of affairs – is that a whole lot of householders are not able to pay their taxes, and therefore the Government Treasury is itself in dire straights.
As the old saying goes – one hand cannot clap – but in our politically charged situation, where one side is looking for every opportunity to try and score points against the other side, too many forget conveniently.
But now that the Court in New York has ruled in our Government favour, to have the monies deposited in the Escrow Account, on Behalf of the Taiwanese Exim Bank in New York, paid back to Grenada for the Airport and Seaport authorities – this should help to ease the pressure on the Treasury, that must have gone up considerably during the months the said sums were not paid at the two ports.
In any case, this salary payment delay for June must be a wake up call for those in authority – because the financial struggle is not going away so easily, and to-date there are no visible signs of any improvement anytime soon – in the current state of the nation’s affairs.
And that is precisely why those in the driving seats, who must be very well aware of the foregoing – they have a duty and solemn responsibility to take action in the people’s interest – before the situation reaches the last level and breaking point.