The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has said that Grenadians have “little, if anything” to celebrate since the New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell took over leadership of the country three years ago.
According to newly elected Party Chairman, Vincent Roberts, the Mitchell-led regime, which celebrated its third anniversary last week Friday (February 19), has forsaken the interests of the people of Grenada for “big money, foreign investors and personal interest.”
“This administration is claiming to love the poor and the marginalised…yet they are prepared to fight tooth and nail against the very people to give away our assets, Roberts told reporters last week Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters at the weekly press briefing held at NDC headquarters in St. George’s, Roberts touched several controversial issues facing the people of the country due to pronouncements by the NNP administration that are viewed as threatening to the rights of Grenadians.
These include, he said includes Camerhogne Park, in which over 14, 000 Grenadians signed onto a petition against “the disposal of the park” for a hotel developer and the evolving “Constitution reform” process.
The NDC official made mention of the party’s decision to engage in a “no-vote” campaign in the upcoming referendum to change the island’s 1974 independence constitution.
He chided the NNP administration for its approach in handling the issue, charging that it amounted to “one party feels they know all, they are all, they speak for all and they can act on behalf of all.”
He alluded to the “litany of failed projects,” under Mitchell’s government, saying he could not name them as they were “too numerous to mention”.
He cited lands belonging to the state that were “transferred to foreigners (including lands) at Levera, Mt. Hartman, Hog Island, Grand Beach (and) Riviera,” among others.
Roberts noted that “In the last three years, our leader has become a ruler and the transparency, which was once the hallmark of the NDC administration, has faded away and secrecy, (among other things) has become the order of the day”.
“We all know that democracy has been described as government of the people by the people and for the people and we cannot honestly say that this is what is being practiced in Grenada today,” he said.
Roberts criticised government’s claim that the economy has grown in recent years and expressed the view that “for too long we have been burdened by a series of taxes as a yoke around our necks, breaking the backs of the Grenadian people…the very poor and downtrodden that they claim to love.”
He said that “while they (government) claim that the economy is growing the people of Grenada are not seeing it on their plate or feeling it in their pocket.”
The “local economy is expected to grow by at least 5% in 2016 on the back of a 3.5% expansion in 2014,” according to the Keith Mitchell Government.
Prime Minister Mitchell was quoted as saying Grenada has “the fastest growing economy in the Caribbean at this time (while) in a period of a structural adjustment.”
However, Roberts contends that while government continues to preach economic growth “the poor are getting poorer.”
He pointed out that “despite the oil prices being at a rock bottom low, the lowest it has been in 15 years, the administration sees it fit to continue ripping off the pockets of the Grenadian people by keeping the price at the pumps artificially high, taking $5. 50 per gallon in the case of gasoline.”
According to Roberts, “Grenadians (are) paying the highest for gasoline, diesel and what we call the poor man cylinder (20lb cooking gas) within the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) region, specifically the Windward Islands.”
The NDC Chairman called on government “to review their methods and let the people retain some of the monies being spent as disposable income so that they can decide how best to spend their money.”
Additionally, he pointed out that “the NNP has been in power for 16 of the last 20 years and it is laughable that they are seeking to present themselves now as a party with responsibility and honesty…when they have presided over the greatest transfer and wealth and national assets from the people of Grenada to foreigners, since slavery.”
Speculation is rife that Prime Minister Mitchell is putting plans in place for early general elections.