The New National Party has sent out a word to foreign investors that its victory at the polls in national elections held February 19 means that “we are open for business” and the party intends to keep to its election slogan of “We will Deliver” on the promises made to the electorate.
These were among some of the key statements made by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell who on Sunday finally presented an eleven-member Cabinet of Ministers with the only surprise being economist Anthony Boatswain who has been given the job of Minister of Education.
The Prime Minister took the key post of Finance for himself and gave the newly created post of Minister of Economic Planning, Trade and Finance to rookie politician, Oliver Joseph.
Boatswain who has served in Finance and Economic Planning in past NNP government was this time around put at the head of the island’s Education system.
During a ceremony held at the National Sports stadium at Queen’s Park on Sunday, the Prime Minister selected only elected Members of Parliament to sit in the Cabinet that will preside over the nation’s affairs.
Mitchell’s NNP swept the polls on February winning all fifteen seats against the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) of former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.
The Prime Minister disclosed that the three other Senators to be selected by government will be done during the course of the week.
One of the Senators will most likely hold the prestigious post of President of the Senate and to act as Governor-General whenever Sir Carlyle Glean is out of State.
In an address lasting just under one hour, the new Grenadian leader hinted that his government will be looking more towards countries in the Southern hemisphere to help the island which has been struggling economically and financially in light of the global recession.
The Congress government was often dogged by bitter internal feuding and difficulties to pay civil servants on time due to the island’s high debt situation.
Dr. Mitchell told a large gathering of mainly party members and supporters assembled at the stadium that the NNP has been given “a huge task” to restore faith and confidence in the Grenadian economy following years of decline.
In making reference to the massive youth vote that the NNP received in the election to defeat Congress, the Prime Minister admitted that his party would have to deliver on its many promises made or face a backlash in the years ahead.
Prime Minister Mitchell also extended an olive branch to his political enemies in the interest of nation building.
He called for a wiping out of past battles and suggested that people need to talk to each other and not against each other and to put away the green and yellow T-shirts of the two leading parties.
He said he was committed to offering “an open hand” to his old political enemies and “not a closed fist” to any one of them.
The Prime Minister urged his supporters not to interpret the February 19 victory at the polls as signaling “our time now” but one for all the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
In looking at the economic and financial task ahead, Dr. Mitchell said that the NNP administration would place emphasis on South-South co-operation and developing greater ties with Asian and African countries without diminishing relations with traditional countries like the United States, Canada and Britain.
The task of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International business to globe trek around the world for financial assistance and to lure foreign investment was given to another political newcomer, businessman, Nickolas Steele.
According to Dr. Mitchell, he has decided to present to the country a government that is comprised of experienced persons and new faces who are success stories in their own rights.
He described the move as one aimed at taking an advantage to bring “freshness” to the leadership of the country.
Among the old-stagers who have been given positions to serve in the government are Elvin Nimrod, Clarice Modeste-Curwen, Gregory Bowen, Senator Kenny Lalsingh, a foundation ember of NNP and Senator Brenda Hood, a former Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation.
The newcomers who will enter government service for the first time include Delma Charles-Thomas, Alvin Da Breo, Alexandra Otway-Noel, Sheldon Scott and Pastor Winston Garraway.
Three of the victorious MP’s were not included in the government – Tobias Clement (St. George North-east), Yolande Bain-Horsford (St. Andrew South-west and Clifton Paul (St. Patrick East).
Speculation is rife that only of the trio will have to serve as Deputy speaker of the house of Representatives while the others might be assigned roles as members of the Public Account Committee (PAC) of the houses of Representatives given the decision taken by the electorate to place all 15 seats in the hands of NNP to run the island.
Prime Minister Mitchell spoke of being at “great pains” in having to exclude the three MP’s from the team and warned them to be wary of attempts by the party’s own supporters to complain about the decision that was taken to leave them out at this stage.
He hinted that Clement, Bain-Horsford and Paul will be given additional financial resources as non-members of the Cabinet to look after their constituencies.
In addition, a special select committee of the Cabinet will meet and brief them on decisions taken at the level of Cabinet.
Dr. Mitchell disclosed that in light of the clean sweep of NNP at the polls and no formal opposition voice in Parliament, a decision was taken to engage the people in greater governance of the island.
He said that the winning MP’s have been mandated to hold monthly Village and Parish Council meetings in order to account ob their stewardships and to subject themselves to scrutiny by the people.
“Don’t play with the people otherwise we would face the weight of the people next time around”, he told his elected MP’s.
The NNP had seen its 15-0 drubbing of the opposition in the 1999 general elections dwindle to a slim 8-7 majority as NDC came within 6 votes in 2003 of capturing the seat of power in St. George’s.
The NNP showcasing of its new government was witnessed by only one Caribbean leader, Prime Minister Roosvelt Skerrit of Dominica and former Vincentian leader, Sir James Mitchell, a close friend of Dr. Mitchell.
Among the regional political figures who attended were those of some of the sister parties of the NNP in St. Lucia, Antigua and St. Kitts/Nevis.
Following is a full list of the NNP government members as announced at Sunday’s event:
Dr. Keith Mitchell: Prime Minister, Minister for Finance, Energy, National Security, Disaster Management, Home Affairs, Implementation, and Information.
Elvin Nimrod: Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Legal Affairs, Labour, Local Government and Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs.
Gregory Bowen: Minister of Communications and Works, Physical Development, Public Utilities and ICT
Anthony Boatswain: Minister of Education and Human Resource
Claris Modeste: Minister of Health and Social Security (NIS)
Roland Bhola: Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment
Nicholas Steele: Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Business
Emmalin Pierre: Minister of Youth, Sports, and Ecclesiastical Relations
Alexandria Otway-Noel: Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, and Culture
Oliver Joseph: Minister of Economic Development, Trade, Planning and Cooperatives
Delma Thomas: Minister of Social Development, Housing, and Community Development
Alvin Dabreo: Minister of State in the Ministry of Communications and Works, Physical Development, Public Utilities and ICT, with special responsibility for ICT.
Senator Kenny Lalsingh: Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Energy, National Security, National Disaster, Home Affairs, Implementation, and Information, with special responsibility for Implementation.
Senator Winston Garraway: Ministry of Finance, Energy, National Security, National Disaster, Home Affairs, Implementation, and Information with responsibility for Information.
Senator Sheldon Scott: Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Ecclesiastical Relations.
Senator Brenda Hood: Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Civil Aviation with responsibility for Culture.