It appears that Grenadians are responding very positively to the plea made for assistance to Dominica which was badly affected in recent days by the passage of Tropical Storm Erica.
Our local National Disaster Agency, acting on behalf of the entire country, has been spearheading the effort from Grenada to collect supplies like foodstuff, water, clothing and monetary contributions to send to the distressed people of a fellow Windward Island State.
Just over a decade ago, the people of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique were in dire need of assistance when Hurricane Ivan created havoc in the Spice Isle and left many buildings without roofs as it tore through some parts of the island.
Grenada was the beneficiary of much needed assistance from not only neighbouring Caribbean islands especially Trinidad & Tobago but the wider world as relief items amounting to millions were rushed to the island.
It is our time to reciprocate and demonstrate that we are a generous people and are willing to help our Brothers and Sisters in any part of the world who are in need of assistance.
THE NEW TODAY notes the call made by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell for those persons in the region who are beneficiaries of the Citizenship By Investment programmes in the various islands or simple put – passport selling schemes – to give generously to the Dominica Relief effort.
There is nothing wrong with the call but this newspaper would like to extend it to include all those in the region who have the means at their disposal to give as much as possible to Dominica.
Anyone who can boast of assets in the region of EC$19 million is in a far much better position to put some smiles on the people of Dominica faces than the ordinary John Public.
People must not always talk and talk and beg others to rise to the occasion and give contributions but must also be equally prepared to walk the talk and put up their hands to be counted as generous givers.
This newspaper is fully aware that Grenadians have their own financial problems due to the ongoing Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) but this must be put aside for the time being in order to contribute to a most worthy cause.
It cannot be disputed that in our part of the world, all of the islands become vulnerable to natural disasters especially the likes of Hurricanes in the June to November period, as well as earthquakes that can happen at any given time.
On the Structural Adjustment Programme itself, a team from the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) came to assess the situation and gave the government another pass mark in implementing some of the programmes that have to be put in place to address the bad fiscal situation that Grenada found itself in the last few years.
The government is now collecting more revenue due to the sleuth of taxes that were imposed on the Working Class as part of the so-called self-imposed programme.
Despite the glowing tribute, the IMF once again expressed concerns about the high level of unemployment in the country and the debt situation.
Both the ruling New National Party of PM Mitchell and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) will continue to banter with each other on what was the real unemployment figure in the country at the time of the February 2013 general elections.
However, it appears that the Technocrats in the Ministry of Finance informed the incoming Dr. Mitchell who took over as Minister of Finance from Nazim Burke that the unemployment figure in the country at the time was approximately 39 % while Dr. Mitchell on the campaign trail was putting it as high as 45%.
It is our understanding that a surprised Dr. Mitchell asked the question at the meeting – what do you expect me to go and tell the people when I have been saying all along that it was 45% based on our (NNP) estimation?
That apart, the fact of the matter is that the current rulers have to grapple with a serious high unemployment situation in the country, as well as high prices faced by the consumers on a daily basis.
The promises made to the electorate about investors waiting to flood the country once the NNP was back in power have never materialised.
Most of the steady employment created in the past 30 months came from the government itself through the Imani programme and that is impacting on the coffers of the Treasury.
And there will always be debate as to how to categorise the Imanis – persons with real jobs or persons who are being prepared with some sort of skills to get a real job later on in life.
The PS Finance, Timothy Antoine recently pointed to jobs that were created since the new government came into office and jobs that are in the pipeline from projects that are expected to come on stream shortly.
After 30 months in office, it is now questionable whether under the NNP watch the country would see construction work start on the promised three (3) five-star hotels.
And Grenadians are not even sure how many of the new passport holders through the Economic Citizenship programme will soon be rolling out their projects to make a dent on the unemployment situation in the country.
If things continue as they are at the moment, it will not surprise THE NEW TODAY that 10 years later the IMF reports will still be dominated by concerns about Grenada’s debt stock and its high unemployment situation.