Two years ago many Grenadians believed the NNP was the answer, voters certainly believed that the NNP had the magic, that “PAPA” could fix all our problems.
However, today most are not so sure and almost all are still hoping that something miraculous will happen, but it is becoming more and more clear that the NNP is not up to the task.
It is also becoming abundantly clear each passing day that the NNP is not really a government for the small man of this country, in spite of the fact that the NNP leader frequently pledge his commitment to die for the poor and vulnerable and the youth of this country.
His actions simply do not match his words. Today 24 months after he so ably campaigned for less taxes, more jobs, better living standards, a new economy, major investments, better health care, better roads and the rest of the whole nine yards, we are worse off as a nation.
I want to take this opportunity to say to fellow Grenadians that development is not only about concrete roads and structures, or is it about enabling a handful of Grenadians to become rich and powerful, it’s also about bringing lasting, equitable development that will benefit all of the people of our tri-island state.
And to that end, it is quite clear for anyone who lived in Grenada over the post-independence years to realise which Governments really brought meaningful development to our Spice Isle.
Every Government since independence promised to bring investments and to expand our economy, but the record is clear as to who brought the investors and kinds of income generating projects that stand today on their own and contributing to the national GDP.
Unlike the kinds of projects like the Caribbean Agro Industries flour mill and the St George’s University or the Rex Grenadian, Sandals/La Source hotel, Barron Foods and many others that have been proven to be sound investment projects by bonafide investors under either the GULP or NDC administrations, it is now abundantly clear that the majority of investors and investment projects embarked upon during the 15 ½ years of this NNP have been nothing much more than a long list of either pipe dreams, failed investments or scams by smart men that have either brought us shame or financial pain of some sort.
It is true to say that more investment projects were embarked upon and therefore it could be rightly said that more investors have come around during the 15 ½ years under NNP, but what is important to note is the success rate for investments under the NNP.
What we need now in Grenada is legitimate investment projects and investors who seem willing to invest in the kinds of projects that will help to develop the pillars that we have identified as transformational to our economy.
What we have been getting from the NNP is a continuous push for investors and investments that has attracted the shady and most questionable and controversial figures.
The projects and investors that this NNP is famous for attracting over the years and continue to promote today has not brought us any much relief economically. We are still waiting to see those that exist today turn a profit and pay their fair share to the Government coffers as they were supposed to do.
I am talking about projects like the Zublin Downtown Mall complex, the National stadium at Queen’s Park and others.
It must be noted that while it cannot be said that these projects are by themselves bad ideas, the deals that were struck with investors is what seem to be bad all the time by NNP.
Today we see the same trend being continued by this current NNP administration under the guise of foreign direct investment. Today we see this NNP talking about casino hotels, and sale of passports and shady oil deals with Russians of questionable background.
Today we hear of investors coming in to look for opportunities, when at the very same time the NNP is refusing to take seriously many of the investment projects under consideration by the previous NDC administration – projects like the St George’s University new Teaching Hospital, the University of the West Indies Campus in Hope, St Andrew, the Brazilian Free Port industrial project in Carriacou, the Trinidad and Tobago oil exploration project, and the OFID energy for the poor project (with grant funding) not loans.
These five projects all being at different stages of development by the previous administration, would have brought the thousands of jobs we now need and in addition these projects would have had the ability to on their own transform the sectors they represent.
The SGU teaching hospital and UWI campus would have brought with them, better health care, more of our skilled persons in the diaspora returning home, more medical students and doctors, more small business opportunities for apartment owners, more boutiques and barber shops and taxis and buses, more supermarkets and stores, more rental services for cars, more scuba dive business, more night club business, more restaurants and eating places.
The Trinidad oil project would have provided opportunities for training of our young people in oil exploration and refining, we would by now be well on our way to realising hundreds if not billions of dollars in revenues from oil royalties, trading links and tourism between our two countries would have been strengthened and a whole lot more.
The Brazillian Free port project whether it was finally done in Carriacou or in part on the mainland of Grenada would have created thousands of Jobs, greater trading links between our country and Brazil, brought millions of dollars in business to our shores not to mention the $450US million the project itself was estimated to cost.
The OFID energy for the poor project being the least in cost would have greatly improved our housing stock by providing new and repaired homes free of cost to hundreds of poverty stricken families.
It would have provided pipe borne water, electricity and cooking gas to thousands of persons who now do not have them, it would have provided employment though temporary and training for hundreds of persons in the affected households who qualified for such assistance, hundreds of construction workers and small contractors would have been contracted, trucks, rent a tool shops, food vendors, and material suppliers would all have played a part.
Had the NNP continue to follow through on just these five projects that were being developed, some of which were in their advanced stages, we would not have been still fishing for investors 24 months into the NNP’S term.
We can also add to the list other projects like the new Parliament building, the National Sports stadium, the St John’s (River Road) river project, the CCC farm roads project, the St Patrick’s road project, the St Mark’s and St John’s river projects.
If the NNP had focused on getting most of these projects started within its first 18 months in office, almost all the jobs in the construction industry would have been filled, when these jobs are filled, when construction is booming, all the other sectors do well, small people sell food, tool rental people rent equipment, shops and clothes merchants sell their goods, buses make money.
So we have to ask ourselves if the NNP is really interested in truly developing this country or are they more interested in bringing in the kinds of investors and investment projects that best satisfy their own pockets?
We all know that most of the projects spoken of above are funded by international agencies and banks. We also know that it is harder if not impossible for the NNP to manipulate the procurement process of these projects – they can’t put their unqualified cronies as engineers and project managers, they can’t plant their brothers as contractors and middle men, they can’t get kickbacks and bribes and finder’s fees.
So it is not and will never be in the interest of this NNP to make any such projects a national priority. These projects will not afford them the level of freedom to use them for political gains and their cronies and political advisors will always advise them against making such projects a priority.
It is time for Grenadians to see that NNP is all about NNP, they claim to be the party of the poor and vulnerable but in reality they create more poverty and vulnerability through their policies and approach to governance.
When you have a government that prefers to tax the poor man 25 dollars who can’t afford to buy new tires for his car and is forced to buy used tires against 5 dollars on the rich and elite who can afford to change cars rather than tires.
We will never solve our crisis when the NNP continues to place more and more taxes on the backs of the ordinary citizens while they continue to give huge tax breaks to shady business tycoons who won’t even wear a button bearing our national flag.
We can’t solve this crisis when the NNP continues to run this country like a mafia family where you have to take out membership to make a living in Grenada, when we have a Prime Minister who believes that once you don’t agree with him you against him.
I want to state loud and clear to all Grenadians that no three year structural adjustment plan, or no amount of five star hotels or casinos, or aviation club in Pearls can take us out of this mess created in large part by the NNP over the years.
If we are to come out of this CRISIS we need all hands on deck, we need total national unity and patriotism, we need a government that is willing to think beyond the next election five year cycle, and sad to say neither Dr Mitchell, Peter David or anyone within the NNP is capable of thinking that far at this point in our history given their style of politics.
Theirs is a survival of the fittest politics, and while this may be good for winning elections it is not the answer for governing a nation, nor is it good for economic recovery.
I am directing this article specifically to the business community, clergy, NGO’s and the many Grenadians who know what I am saying here is true, but cannot find the conviction or will to stand up for what is right.
I want them to remember that whenever this country ends up in political or social turmoil they are the ones who always get the first and hardest hits.
Remember you just not only have a responsibility to your business profits, but to your children and grand children.