The New Today extends warmest congratulations to one of the sons of the soil, Dr. Brian Francis on his recent appointment to a top position in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission based in St. Lucia as the Director of Economic Affairs and Regional Integration.
Dr. Francis is due to take up the post on September 1 on secondment for two years from his employer, the University of the West Indies (UWI).
At UWI, he serves as a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the Cave Hill Campus in Barbados which is now his adopted home.
His elevation to what is virtually the No.2 job in the OECS comes at a time when the sub-regional grouping is facing a myriad of social and economic problems affecting virtually all the governments.
This newspaper is looking forward to see what Dr. Francis can bring to the table and to use his own words “to reconfigure the economic architecture of the Member Countries of the OECS to redound to the benefit of the people of the sub-region who are so desperately in need of some urgent relief, economically and financially”.
This is the truth of the matter. None of the governments are immune from high unemployment, high taxes on the population and structural deficiencies in their economies that have them staring the International Monetary Fund (IMF) straight in the face.
It is unfortunate that governments in Grenada over the years have not fully utilised the talent of Dr. Francis as an economist who could help along with others in the shaping of a serious new economy for our beleaguered island.
A previous New National Party (NNP) government of current Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell tried to belittle him to the point that he was forced out from the most senior public service job in the Ministry of Finance as Permanent Secretary and Director-General of Finance.
Dr. Francis took the government to court, using eminent Queen’s Counsel, Dr. Francis Alexis as his attorney and virtually won the case and had to be compensated handsomely by the State.
He had to be re-instated to the position in the ministry but was soon set upon by Prime Minister Mitchell who wanted nothing to do with him after enticing him to come back to Grenada from his secure job at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in St. Kitts.
A new position was hurriedly created by the then NNP Government and offered to Dr. Francis that had nothing to do with his qualification and training as an economist.
It was all aimed at frustrating him and getting him out of the service. A very shrewd individual, Dr. Francis used the “free time” given to him by government to pursue his studies and obtained a Doctorate in Economics at a University in Florida.
Soon a man who was being treated as persona non-grata in the Grenada civil service moved to Barbados and was immediately taken in and embraced by the government of then Prime Minister Owen Arthur who utilised his skills to help in the area of tourism.
A former island scholar, Dr. Francis was then recruited by the University of the West Indies, where he had graduated with First Class Honours in Economics to join the Faculty and lecture students on his pet subject of Economics.
The 2008-13 National Democratic Congress of Tillman Thomas lost an opportunity to tap into Dr. Francis’ knowledge and expertise to help the administration tackle some of the most burning issues of the day especially the high debt situation that it inherited on assuming office from Mitchell’s NNP.
It was an opportune time for Grenada to try and assemble some of its best sons and daughters in the area of finance and economics and accounting to chart a more constructive way in fashioning a new economy for the island aimed at bringing betterment for its people.
Many persons do not know of the work done by Dr. Francis as an economist at both the local, regional and international level.
There are some in our midst who have the political connection to get lucrative contracts from government and the private sector but have to turn to Dr. Francis very often to do most of the work for them.
These people only claim to fame is that they present the findings of the work done by Dr. Francis to those who hired them as if the job was personally done by them as they utilise technology including Power-point an others to make these fancy presentations.
Dr. Francis does not go around the place boasting about the work he has done for these high priced folks. He does it quietly and very unassuming. Very few people would know that he can claim authorship to many of the work.
It is our sincere hope that in Dr. Francis’ new position that Grenada and the rest of the region would be able to benefit from the work done at the commission by he and his team at the OECS level.
The region has the pool talent to diagnose its economic and financial problems and to come up with home grown solutions to our problems.
Our leaders have failed us in not utilising many of our qualified and knowledgeable sons and daughters and in the end are forced to run to the IMF and others for the harsh medicines that are needed to arrest the bad fiscal situations that result from their own maladministration.
We wish Dr. Francis all the best in his new journey and endeavour to make a meaningful contribution to the growth and development of all the peoples of the sub-region.