Roberts: TAMCC should be excluded

Trade Union Representative in the Senate, Raymond Roberts is calling on the Keith Mitchell-led administration to rescind its decision to reduce exemptions and concessions to the island’s lone tertiary institution.

The T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) is one of the statutory bodies in the country that will be affected by a 50%  cut in exemptions and concessions from Custom duties and taxes, as part of the New National Party’s Homegrown Programme in attempt to cut cost and raise revenue.

The Act, which is expected to be fully implemented on August 1 was passed in the Senate and the House of Representatives last week Tuesday and Thursday respectfully.

“Where a statutory body now enjoys any percentage of exemption or concession from the payment of custom duties and taxes, any such percentage is now reduced by 50%,” the Act says.

Some of Government Statutory bodies which will be affected by this new measure includes the Cruise Ship Complex, National Insurance Scheme (NIS), National Water and Sewage Authority (NAWASA), Grenada Ports Authority, Grenada Development Bank (GDB), Grenada Hospital Authority, Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), Grenada National Stadium Authority, Grenada Solid Waste Management Authority, TA. Marryshow Community College, Gravel Concrete and Emulsion Corporation, Grenada Tourism Authority, National Lottery Authority (NLA) and Spice Mas Corporation.

In his contribution to the debate in the Senate last week Thursday, Roberts strongly opposed the reduction saying that the drastic cut in tax and the short period for implementation could seriously affect students.

The trade union representative said he expected government to present an analysis of the respective state-owned companies giving a true picture of their financial situation but nothing of the sort came before the Senate.

“Instead here is Senator (Winston) Garraway (Parliamentary Secretary for Information) coming to the Parliament with absolutely no data and you want me to support an amendment without a logical analysis”, Sen. Roberts told the Upper House.

Under the TAMM budget, 95% of the monies from government are used to pay salary while the other five percent is earmarked to meet the cost of equipment and student activities.

Sen. Roberts stated that a significant number of TAMCC students come from poor families in the countryside and the financial reductions will affect them.

“…The new cost to the College has to be passed on to the students – and it is their mothers and fathers to pay the bill – the same people the government has imposed more than a dozen new taxes and fees on. Where will they get the money? This government isn’t demonstrating any love for poor working people! It is taxing them to death!”

The long-standing trade unionist feared that the move by the Mitchell regime against TAMCC could make College education more expensive in Grenada.

“We in the TUC call upon the government not to proceed with this cut in concession to TAMCC by 50 %. It sends the wrong message – in fact it demonstrates the government’s lack of seriousness for education. The Government cannot be talking about a 21st century Educated Grenada and yet creating hurdles for quality education,” Sen. Roberts told the Senate session.

According to the TUC representative, “what is most unfortunate about these revenue measures is that they all come like a thief in the dark of the night”

He said TUC is deeply concerned that the affected state bodies were given very little time to develop and institute alternative moneymaking measures and suggested that the change should be planned and implement over a 12-month period.

“…If this is the brilliance and creativity you so magnificently credited this government of Dr, Keith Mitchell with – I strongly suspect all is not well with you. As a private sector man that’s not how you go about constructing a successful business.

“You criticize the former Finance Minister – you blame him for just about everything wrong with the economy – and lacking creativity – But this is all to confuse people. Let me tell you I have worked with government for 38 years from 1975 to 2013 and I have not seen any previous government operate like yours – slapping taxes upon taxes on ordinary people.

Sen. Roberts accused the Mitchell regime of “undermining and destabilising TAMCC” especially the students and Lecturers.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nicholas Steel presented the bill in the House of Representatives in which he justified the reduction in exemptions and concessions by saying that state bodies too must find cost-cutting measures to become competitive in the business environment.

He said that despite the decision being a difficult one for government to take at this point in time, it was the right decision.

“We are not casting out statutory bodies into the wilderness – just asking them to take a 50% cut in concessions in support they get from the State …. It is a bitter pill but one that must be administered to stop the free-fall of the economy”, he added.

The Foreign Affairs minister accused the former government of taking advantage of statutory bodies such as NIS and “using it like a bank, draining it of its finances.”

Legal Affairs Minister, Elvin Nimrod, supported the change citing the need for government to enhance revenue.

“The actions are painful but necessary if we have to emerge victorious from this crisis,” he said.

The deputy prime minister credited his administration for introducing more taxes rather than selling its way out of the country’s financial crisis.

“Mr. Speaker, I heard people saying this government is taxing its way out of this crisis, but Mr. Speaker I know this government is not trying to sell its way out of this crisis”, he added.

“Mr. Speaker, I heard people saying this government is taxing its way out of this crisis, but Mr. Speaker I know this government is not trying to sell its way out of this crisis,” he said.

Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Dr Keith Mitchell expressed concern that statutory bodies have been guilty of creating jobs for the “boys and girls” who are receiving massive salaries.

The Grenadian leader believes that measures such as this one should have been implemented a long time ago and should not have waited for a structural programme.

Minister for Economic Development, Trade, Planning and Cooperatives, Oliver Joseph, agrees that the measure should have been already implemented.

He believes that these bodies will never be able to support itself if they continue to receive the kind of Government support as seen in the past.

Open letter to Dr. Keith Mitchell

I commend you for asking for unity.  But who do you want to unite?  Do you want everyone to unite with NNP supporters, or do you want GULP, NUF, NNP AND NDC supporters to unite for the sake of Nation Building?

Well this is not what I am seeing from your NNP supporters, from St.David especially from the Laura/Beaton area.
I am a parent of a child who attends a Primary School in the Laura area, and my child is also a member of the Community Library which has been operating for almost  years.

Sir, do you know that there is a functioning Community Library in Beaton which is well stock with every catergory of books you think about. The idea of this Library came from a very patriotic person who although she is from the area is not living there, and none of her children are living in Grenada.

There was a Fair organised by the Management Team of the Library to assist in the development of that facility on May 31st.

One of your strongest supporters, who is a prominent person in the community, who was a Teacher and past Principal of that school, who goes on the Altar every Sunday to give Communion, refuse to give a donation towards that Fair, on advice from his son who is a contractor, because one of the member of the Management Team was the President of the NDC women’s Arm.

The son said he will not give any donation because it’s an NDC library, and he tells his Father not to give.  This is someone who has young children.

BY THE WAY, THE FAIR WAS VERY SUCCESSFUL.  IT WAS WELL SUPPORTED BY THE COMMUNITY.
Dr.Mitchell, I will ask again, “WHO DO YOU WANT UNITE? I guess everyone should join NNP.
I, as a parent, am so grateful for such facility in our poor community where most of us do not have computers in our homes, and there is no Public Library in Grenada where school children could do their research.

YOUR SUPPORTERS DO NOT WANT UNITY.  THEY ARE A BUNCH OF BITTER PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST ANGRY.

THE COUNTRY IS IN A MESS AND YOU WANT HELP TO GET OUT OF IT SO YOU ARE CALLING FOR UNITY, BUT TWO MALE CRABS CANNOT LIVE IN A HOLE.

IF YOU WANT UNITY LET’S CHANGE THE PARTY NAME TO NEW UNITED CONGRESS.

 Grateful Parent

Grouping of Civil Society Organisation

Civil Society Organizations takes the opportunity to present to the general public a summary of its actions and engagement with the Government of Grenada over the period April 2013-May 2014:

1. Post election 2013 – Letter to the Prime Minister to offer congratulations on his victory at the polls and to express willingness to promote greater civic awareness and good governance in the country.

2. Committee of Social Partners: CSO accepted government’s invitation to engage on the Committee of Social partners a member. Ms. Judy Williams representing the CSO signed the Social Protocol signaling the intent of the CSO Grouping to participate in the development of a Social Compact.

Members of CSO participated in all public national fora organised by the Committee which addressed issues of: –

– National debt highlighting issues of poor management/governance.

– Livelihoods and sustainable development highlighting issues of inclusion/support for rural producers

Productivity and Competitiveness

The proposed Structural Adjustment Programme

3. Social Compact: The CSO Grouping made significant input to the development of the Social Compact to ensure its adherence to international obligations and conventions including commitment to the achievements of Millenium Development Goals, Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

The CSO focus was on:-

– People centered development

– Sustainable livelihood and sustainable development.

4. Engagement with IMF Mission: CSO engaged the IMF delegations to Grenada on at least three (3) of their visits and raised concerns about Grenada’s debt crisis and structural adjustment. Based on prior experience with structural adjustment CSO presented their concerns on issues of governance, accountability and monitoring mechanisms.

CSO also presented recommendations to the social partners regarding governance and monitoring mechanism for what is termed “Homegrown Structural Adjustment Programme”.

5. Recommendations for a National Development Plan: CSO made recommendations to government and Social Partners for a national development plan which should involve the entire country as the 3 year structural adjustment programme is a short term fix which will not address real issues.

6. Response to the 2008 Country Poverty Assessment Report: CSOs’ response to the 2008 Country Poverty Assessment report was – the development of an Alternative Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy and Management Action Plan: whose core values are:

Equity and social justice

Gender Equity

Increase self reliance and reduce independence

Inclusiveness and participation

Good governance and accountability

Sustainable development

7. Advocacy re the Tyrell Bay Marina Development: The Carriacou Mangrove Oyster Bed Protection Committee approached the CSOs for advocacy support in relation to the Tyrell Bay Marina Development and its intrusion into the marine protected area.

CSOs raised the issue at the level of the social partners, met with the Prime Minister and the Minister with responsibility for Carriacou and Petit Martinique affairs and raised issues relating to the negative impact of the project on Sustainable livelihoods of the community

The marine protected area

Implications for Grenada for technical and funding support from international agencies.

8. Concerns re Conflict of Interests: CSO articulated its concerns in respect of conflict of interest and holders of public office with particular reference to

Integrity Commission

Citizenship by investment programme including inward investment Ambassadors

Financial Intelligence Unit

9. Meeting with MESICIC Team: CSO met with OAS team during their first assessment visit to Grenada on matters relating to Grenada’s implementation of the Convention on the Prevention of Corruption.

The assessment focused on:-

the oversight body for prevention, detecting and punishing acts of corruption from a civil society perspective.

Mechanisms for the participation of civil society access of the public to information

10. Constitution Reform: CSO was invited to have a representative on the constitution reform advisory committee. Through its representative, CSO took responsibility to – organise and support the holding of community public fora.

CSO also submitted the following issues for inclusion on the constitution reform agenda

Elections – campaign financing and fixed date for general elections.

Gender – main streaming of gender in the constitution

Protection of the Natural Environment – constitutional guarantees for ecological sustainability, right to sustainable future, protection of the commons and right to the commons

Governance: – a cut off date, once elections are announced about decisions that can be taken in respect of the country’s assets.

Public Accounts Committee – addressing the delay and lag in the work of the PAC.

Accountability and Liability of Ministers of government and other public officers –

Separation of Powers – more clarity required

Public debt ceiling – a ceiling for the public debt.

Stop cursing CARICOM as darkness; it is a light not yet fully turned-on

SAUNDERSDr Franklin Johnston, a strategist, project manager and advisor to the Jamaica Minister of Education, wrote a column in the Jamaica Observer of May 30 in which he basically contended that the Caribbean Common Market and Community (CARICOM) and the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) are the constructs of “Anglophone black people” and not in the interest of Jamaica.

Rooting his contentions in anti-colonialist sentiment, he stated without evidence that CSME is a “clever fiction inspired by the Brits, aided by Cabinets, and sustained by well-paid, unaccountable regional civil servants”.  He sets-up both CARICOM and CSME as hostile to the economic well-being of Jamaica. Further, he claims that “CSME zealots” all come to live in Jamaica; “we (Jamaica) are the big name brand”; “CSME disrespects us” (Jamaicans); and “we (Jamaicans) are small with a big brand and balls to match and need no union to prosper, but CSME controls us by making the arcane and distant familiar; “the phrase English-speaking Caribbean means zilch as CSME does not work”; and “Jamaica is the largest nation in CSME, so we are its backbone – finance, market, innovation, brand value, yet we are the poorest member”.

Dr Franklin is a welcome voice to the discussion of CARICOM and CSME – the exchange of views is imperative as all sections of the Caribbean Community work to improve and enhance the benefits of CARICOM for the people of all member states. But, welcome should not be misconstrued as acceptance of the legitimacy of the arguments.

It is regrettable, for instance, that among the “Anglophone black people” who are accused of keeping “a colonial legacy alive” by constructing CARICOM and CSME would be radical Caribbean thinkers and leaders such as Michael Manley, P J Patterson, Norman Girvan, Louise Bennett, Arthur Lewis, Vaughan Lewis, William Demas, Eric Williams, Errol Barrow, Owen Arthur, C Y Thomas, Havelock Brewster, Shridath Ramphal, Alister McIntyre, T A Marryshaw and Ralph Gonsalves.

The resistance of all these men, who were at the centre of the creation of CARICOM and CSME, to colonialism in all its forms, is well-known. It is a terrible slur to denigrate their magnificent efforts on behalf of the entire Caribbean. It has to be assumed that ardour for his argument temporarily blinded Dr Franklin to veracity.

As for CARICOM and CSME being “clever fictions inspired by the Brits”, Dr Franklin denies a long history of agitation and advocacy for unity in the Caribbean by Caribbean people stretching back to the 1930s when their basic objective was to be rid of the British in an arrangement of independence by a unified Caribbean.

While, after the 1961 referendum in Jamaica, the West Indian goal of joint independence was shattered, the reality that none of the countries could survive alone remained and inspired the creation of CARICOM and CSME by Caribbean development economists, political scientists and historians.

While Britain regards greater economic integration of the Caribbean as important to the well-being of the people of the region, it is not alone in this view – the United States, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Russia, India and China also hold this view based on the small size of the economies of the region and the benefits that could flow from integrated production and joint financial strategies and negotiations.

It is most unfortunate that Dr Franklin, who advises the Jamaica Minister of Education, attempts to create a divide between Jamaicans and the people of other Caribbean countries by promulgating a false doctrine of Jamaican superiority as reflected in his remarks: “we (Jamaica) are the big name brand”; “CSME disrespects us” (Jamaicans); and “we (Jamaicans) are small with a big brand and balls to match and need no union to prosper, but CSME controls us by making the arcane and distant familiar.

The people of other Caribbean countries greatly admire the accomplishments of Jamaican musicians, athletes and thinkers.  Indeed, when Jamaicans compete in international spheres in all endeavours, Caribbean people root for them as one of their own.  But, Dr Franklin should recall that little St Lucia with a population ten times smaller than Jamaica’s has produced two of the Caribbean’s three Nobel Prize winners in Arthur Lewis and Derek Walcott – the other being V.S. Naipaul of Trinidad and Tobago; Brian Lara of Trinidad and Tobago (with a population half that of Jamaica’s),  remains the cricketer with the highest number of runs in test cricket; and the leadership roles played in the international community by persons such as Guyana’s Shridath Ramphal and Grenada’s Alister McIntyre are cause for pride by Caribbean people as a whole.

Dr Franklin also asserts that “CSME zealots” all come to live in Jamaica”.  Quite what he means by this statement is not clear, but if he is stating that Caribbean persons are migrating to Jamaica, the facts do not support him.  While there are nationals of CARICOM countries who work in Jamaica under the skilled nationals certification programme, the number is miniscule in comparison with the number of Jamaicans who have migrated to countries such as Antigua and Barbuda.

Further, in contradiction to the inference that Jamaicans play little role in Caribbean integration, the heads of several important Caribbean institutions are Jamaicans committed to the regional ideal. These institutions include the Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Export Development Agency, the Caribbean Development Fund and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

As for the trade relations of Jamaica in CARICOM, while the unfavourable balance of trade surplus with one country – Trinidad and Tobago – is often cited as detrimental to Jamaica, the largest portion of the cost of Jamaica’s imports is oil and gas which Jamaica needs in any event and would have to purchase elsewhere.

Jamaica enjoyed a large trade surplus with 7 of the 13 CSME countries in 2012.  And, while Jamaica should be doing better in the export of goods and services, it is not because CSME does not provide the opening; it is because the private sector there has not taken sufficient advantage of the opportunities, including integrating its production with resources from other CARICOM countries.

Further, Jamaica is the largest importer of CARICOM products because it has the largest population at 2.7 million people – twice the size of Trinidad and Tobago, and larger than Guyana, Belize, Barbados and seven countries of the Eastern Caribbean.  And, contrary to Dr Franklin’s claim, Jamaica is not the poorest country in CARICOM in per capita income, and it is one of the richest in natural resources.

Little is achieved by blindly cursing CARICOM for any of the woes that Jamaica faces – some of them could have been alleviated by active participation in making CARICOM and the CSME work more effectively; a fault which Jamaica shares with all CARICOM countries.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant, Senior Fellow at London University and former Caribbean diplomat)

Lucky Customer wins twice

Having won a $500 shopping spree at The Country Cold Store Ltd (CCS), Zilla Loraney journeyed to the CCS Mini Mart to redeem her voucher on June 9.

The lucky winner was selected randomly by LIME as part of the Company’s “Structural Adjustment” promotion.

This year-long promotion allows customers to win basic essentials for everyday living.

When CCS was approached to be a partner, the Company eagerly responded, giving two five- hundred dollar ($500 dollars) vouchers to be presented to winners in the LIME promotion.

CCS and LIME have partnered in several promotions over the last four (4) years.

CCS winner

CCS winner

According to General Manager of CCS, Cisley Gabriel, “We understand the challenges faced by our people and are happy to assist whereever we can”.

An excited Zilla thoroughly enjoyed her shopping spree at the Country Cold Store Mini Mart, where she found everything she needed and more.

“I enjoyed shopping at the Country Cold Store and I will be back”, said the winner, who also added, “I am really lucky with Country Cold Store”.

Zilla won a turkey from the CCS two years ago during a LIME Christmas promotion.

In addition to being Grenada’s leading frozen and chilled goods supplier; CCS carries a wide range of dry goods and also has a fully stocked Mini Mart at Perdmontemps, St. David.

PROJECT GRENADA: LET’S ALL CHIP IN

With these words, “It is our view that every Grenadian is a shareholder in what we call Project Grenada,” Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell invited full participation of Grenadians in all walks of life as he seeks to transform the economy.

Vision for PROJECT GRENADA: working together to lift the standard of living especially of the most vulnerable among us – better health care – raising the bar in education – better and more affordable housing.

We must eat better and change to healthier lifestyles warding off diseases caused by a poor diet – PREVENTABLE DISEASES – that weigh heavily on health services and burden tax dollars that may be used for more productive purposes.

Together we must sacrifice to achieve the goal of eradicating poverty – it will not be easy, but if we are to survive and prosper as a nation we must all “chip in” – put our hands and hearts to the plough and reap a bountiful harvest.

We are a nation of proud people who stand tall – proud of who we are and what we are – but we must never let pride get in the way of progress.

We must use education to our best advantage and not be blighted by a sense of false pride. Our forefathers laboured long and tiresome hours in the fields with their hands – digging, cutting and weeding with torn and tattered clothes – sleeping in thatched houses and mud floors to break the chains of poverty.

Pride did not get in the way of the boundless sacrifices they made to get us where we are today – they saw pride in hard work and sacrifice – and so must we.

We must carry on the legacy of our forefathers and not forget – especially in the new realities of the 21st century with the convenience of computer technology and robotics – that we rode on the backs of hard work, dedication and sacrifice.

Today, all of us – the entire nation – young and old – are called upon to stand up and be counted as patriotic Grenadians – be the architects of that great sacrifice from which we all benefited.

With determination and patience – in time – abundance will follow.

We see tragic results in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Libya – maimed and suffering innocent families with children caught in a conflict with which they had no making – the consequences of divisiveness.

After all the fighting, all the bombing, all the killing, the utter mayhem, destruction of entire cities and displacement of thousands of families – ultimately, enemies must dialog – sit around a table, face to face, and talk to each other in a civil manner to resolve their differences.

We have lessons from which we must learn – not repeat. We are one people with a common goal: sustainable economic growth in harmony with democracy.

Different paths may lead to the same destination, but if we all stick together – plan together – we will find that elusive route – that common pathway which can move Grenada – all of us – to a friendlier course of social justice and economic progress.

We must not be discouraged because the road is long and narrow – the path slippery and steep – each step holds the promise of a better day.

The lessons of the past tell us that sacrifice, patience and perseverance are the virtues that we need – qualities that must be nurtured if this nation must find its rightful place among the nations of the world.

I say to the youth among us that the time is neither too late nor too early to start the task ahead – the time is now! It is your time to prepare today for leadership tomorrow!

You are the masters of a new craft – in a new age. At your fingertips is a world of advanced science and technology that can propel you far beyond the wildest dreams of our forefathers.

Be the vanguards of a smarter, milder, more welcoming and tolerant generation. Along that road you will be tested – your commitment will be questioned – believe in yourself, but be open to new and fresh ideas – listen to those who dare to be different – dare to be different!

In the face of adversity hold strong to your beliefs, but never lose sight of the democratic principles – the principles of inclusion – that form the cornerstone of this nation. Recognize that compromise can be strength.

Let us all join hands – young and old – and stand against discrimination in all its forms – champion the cause of the weak and the infirm – the blind, the deaf, the mentally challenged, the economically disadvantaged – those who work from day to day and cannot make ends meet.

We cannot progress as a caring nation leaving our weakest on the wayside – too many of our youth have been left behind labelled as rebellious and outcasts – we must rescue them and bring them back into the fold.

This is not a time to relax – this is a time to check our lives and put an end to careless living – tighten belts, conserve our resources, use less water, less electricity, less gasoline, car pool and walk more for better health.

These are but some of the small steps, put together, are huge lifestyle changes that can drastically boost the economic and physical health of the nation.

Our government may then put those savings to productive use: in the agricultural sector, in tourism, improving infrastructure for the efficient movement of goods and services, in health and in education – especially early education where children of poor families lag behind.

It is a crime against humanity that poor families remain poor because their children lack the educational opportunities of rich kids. That must change!

Equal opportunity in the workplace and the cycle of poverty cannot be changed without equal access to quality education.

This is a priority and must be a key component of “Grenada Project” that within the next fifteen years, skilfully managed, must begin the transition from institutional poverty to a relatively more comfortable place in Grenadian society.

Governance is more than just carefully and professionally presented detailed plans. Leaders must have the backbone – the political will – to follow through. Our government’s plans for economic and social reforms are backed by a mandate – trust – the clean sweep of all fifteen seats in parliament on July 19th 2013 – in free and fair elections.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has demonstrated by the hard decisions but crucial measures already in place – that he has the political will to follow through.

At this decisive moment – when we are called upon to make difficult choices for the economic survival of Grenada, we cannot afford to duck away and withdraw from that responsibility.

Grenada has been backed into a corner by circumstances beyond our control and must endure the bitter taste of painful taxes – but these are temporary and will disappear as conditions improve. Better days are ahead!

Project Grenada’s vision of a stable economy will only be realized if we all chip in to make the burden lighter – to succeed, we must all chip in. Openness in governance is not an option – it is a duty.

The people on July 8th 2013, were not bamboozled by the cowardly act of proroguing parliament when hard decisions had to be made. They spoke loudly and told us that the weak at heart who shy away from their commitment to accountability and transparency – a fundamental guiding principle in democratic governance – must surrender to strong leadership.

Nevertheless, we must continue to be vigil and to be prepared for changing tides.

Prime Minister Mitchell’s vision of inclusion has unhinged the doors of partisanship allowing free access to ride the NNP’s liberty train to the grand halls of “Grenada Project.”

Everyone will have the red carpet VIP treatment – (not green or yellow) – the sceptics, the critics, the destabilisers – confident that as patriotic Grenadians, while they may speak in many tongues, they will in time raise ONE voice and proudly stand for ONE Grenada lending their talents to the “Grenada Project.”

For the success of Grenada Project, our government must take bold steps to curb the excesses and addictive habits we have taken for granted as good living.

The new taxes on alcohol and tobacco products – that have for years contributed to the high cost of health care – and deprived us of the full potential and productive capacity of our workers – must now be managed in sustainable ways that keep more money in our country – lower consumption – reduce foreign debt – and spare future generations of children pain and suffering from the debilitating effects of preventable cancers, alcoholism, and other fatal diseases.

The financial cost to the nation – in hours lost at work alone – is worth the sacrifice.

The taxes on unproductive agricultural lands must steer us back to agriculture – the agriculture from which our forefathers fed the nation, educated sons and daughters, paid the taxes that met the nation’s financial needs, but still had enough to please the “colonial master” – a time of plenty.

I say, reverse the clock on agriculture – it’s time that we reduce our dependence on imported foods – produce local – buy local – eat local. Let’s all chip in.

We must all make the supreme sacrifice – face the hardships head on – if we must escape and break the fall from the economic cliff.

We recognize that no country can progress without jobs – Grenada is no exception.

Our government has created incentives to attract not only foreign direct investments, but also local investments that have begun to create jobs releasing the social pressures that induce crime, disorderly conduct and deviant behaviour.

Sandals, a five star resort hotel, in the south of the island, has created more than three hundred new jobs. We are confident that with ongoing negotiations more hotels and more jobs will follow.

Locally owned five star, Spice Inn, and other home grown hotels and guest houses are upgrading in anticipation of the successful implementation of Project Grenada.

In the sister isle, Carriacou, work on the extension and upgrading of Lauriston Airport is in progress, the Tyrell Bay Marina is progressing well, local entrepreneurship has kicked in with the renovation of the Carriacou landmark, Mermaid Hotel, the dive shops are having a bonanza, the up-scaled Moringa Restaurant/Creperie was recently opened in anticipation of the serge and in Petite Martinique work on the Sanchez playing field and tidal erosion has been completed. More jobs are on the way as these and other projects come on full stream.

Tourism is on the move, but we also understand that the biggest hindrance to development is the high cost of electricity. Our government cannot rest – can leave no stone unturned – in finding an equitable solution to the high cost of energy in Grenada.

Exploring alternative sources of energy – wind – solar – thermal must be an imperative. Talks with Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago continue as we push hard to safeguard Grenada’s offshore gas and oil reserves.

While we are proud of the accomplishments of St. George’s University and the positive educational and financial impact especially in the south – the urban economy – our government is in the process of negotiating to bring to Hope, St. Andrew’s, the prestigious and world renown University of the West Indies, and potentially thousands of students and jobs to strengthen the rural economy.

This must pave the way for a new private sector economic block – business opportunities – strategically located in the centre of the island – “step up and chip in.”

It must be our goal to bring sustainable jobs closer to our communities, homes and children’s schools reducing our monthly transportation bill – putting more take home pay in our pockets, affording more time at home with our families and children, reducing domestic conflict, strengthening failing families and restoring traditional family values.

Project Grenada is on a mission to eradicate the roots of systemic poverty and the causes of social discord. Grenada’s reputation as a friendly and welcoming people must rise above all else.

We have been spoilt as a nation of consumers of expensive unnecessary and extravagant foreign goods. Managing our foreign exchange will be an impossible task if we continue on the present course. We must change that course. Let’s all chip in.

The Government’s hard decision to raise taxes on homes and other properties scores low on political popularity, but high on fiscally accountability. How can we maintain the services of our policemen and women, firemen, coast guard, ambulances, our nurses and doctors, our free clinics, our teachers and schools and other essential services in the face of declining treasury revenues?

We must continue to liaise with and seek advice from the business community from whom we collect most of our taxes – they understand the dire consequences of high unemployment and are holding the line – as far as possible – on laying off employees.

Government has also asked our trade unions for a temporary hold on wage increases – they too understand the delicate fiscal balance facing the country and are cooperating. They are working with us – they have chipped in. Let’s all chip in.

In the coming months and years as Project Grenada kicks in with the necessary structural adjustments – all departments of government – starting “AT THE TOP” – will feel the pressure.

However, we must make sure that programmes and projects for the most vulnerable – the weakest among us – provide safety nets. The structural adjustments introduced to stabilizs the economy must give them “first bite of the apple.”

Implementation of projects and programmes will not be perfect and will need to be monitored and fine-tuned along the way. This will be our opportunity to get involved and “chip in.”

I call upon the patriotism of Grenadians, Carriacouans and Petite Martiniquans in the diaspora with the knowledge and experience to move our country forward – come home – get involved – chip in.

We in Grenada have recognized your invaluable contribution to the development of your country over the years abroad, and must give you – veterans in the development of Grenada – special consideration when you return home, but at this time of national hardship we ask you to sacrifice – better days are ahead.

I cannot promise that we will change the world, but together we can respond to a changing world, and with “Project Grenada” – hand in hand – put the spice back in the Spice Isle.

For that I say – let’s all chip in!

Kit Stonewalling

Calabash to undergo multi-million dollar upgrade

Calabash Grenada will be closing during August and September to extensively upgrade the resort.

A release from the hotel said the multi-million dollar project will bring the standards at the five-star resort to an increased level of luxury and improve its quality of service.

The all-suite resort, which also features five top end villas, attracts high-end travellers due to its reputation for combining five star service and luxury within a relaxed and intimate environment.

“We understand that our competition are luxury resorts worldwide, and with standards so high, we want to make sure that Calabash is constantly pushing forward to stand with the best in the world. We strongly believe in the importance of upgrading the resort during our closure periods each year”, said Adele Garbutt of the owning family and also one of the resort’s Directors.

Over the past 20 years we have invested an average of $1M per year, however this year we are undertaking our largest and most exciting project”, he added.

Calabash will close from August 2 to October 4 in order to renovate several areas around the 27-acre property, including their One Bedroom Pool Suites which each feature a private pool and sunbathing deck.

The entire suite category will be completely redesigned with the finished product exuding elegance and style.

Rhodes Restaurant will also benefit from new furniture and a new design, offering diners a new level of comfort and style.

The boutique resort’s beach furniture will also be upgraded giving the entire location a new, sophisticated look.

Calabash is the only hotel in the Caribbean to feature the unique and gracious service of breakfast in-suite.

CalabashCalabash has always considered the environment in all decision-making processes, and this upgrade project is no exception.

Throughout the property energy efficient air conditioning units will be fitted and there are plans the complete the resorts existing solar power project.

“Visitors come to Grenada because if its pure and beautiful surroundings, so it is our duty to constantly find ways to reduce our impact on the environment and to preserve our island’s natural beauty.” said Garbutt.

The resort will also redesign its “Heart of House” to streamline the staff working areas in an effort to increase productivity and efficiency.

This project also covers extensive staff training for the 90 employees at Calabash.

Graduation ceremony for Junior Achievement

Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade presents trophy to champion school

Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade presents trophy to champion school

The eagerly awaited graduation and awards ceremony of the Junior Achievers 2014 took place on May 29t at the Charter Hall, St. George’s University.

The graduation and awards ceremony was the climax of an intense period of competition as twelve schools throughout Grenada created their own businesses and competed against each other to earn the coveted title of Junior Achiever, Company of the Year 2014.

Among the attendees were Governor General, Dame Cecile La Grenade, Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation & Culture, Alexandria Otway-Noel, Minister for Sports, Youth and Religious Affairs, Emmalin Pierre and Guest Speaker, Afi Ventour.

Chairman of the Junior Achievement (JA) Committee, Bernard Antoine, congratulated the students who took part and underscored the significance of the undertaking.

“These young people are the reason why everyone has made the time and commitment to be at this year’s award ceremony. Your presence is testimony that all participating in the JA program have completed something significant and which deserves to be recognized by their peers and others in the business community”, he told the gathering.

Champion St Rose Modern Secondary school with awards

Champion St Rose Modern Secondary school with awards

Antoine also made special mention of the consultants whose expert guidance was pivotal in facilitating the outstanding accomplishments of each participating company.

Minister Otway-Noel, representing the Prime Minister said, “I share with you the thoughts and sentiments of the Prime Minister that our youth are the country’s most valuable resource”.

“There is no other option but to assist them to succeed. Neither they or us should dim the light in our nation’s youth but should rather provide a sustainable environment and prospects that allow for realisation of the vision, whereby we create entrepreneurs one child at a time”, she added.

She further stated that the JA provides an invaluable partnership to Government in forging a path for the future of the nation and that all should be proud that participants have embraced the opportunity to move forward in a positive way.

Second place St Joseph's Convent Grenville

Second place St Joseph’s Convent Grenville

The female government minister concluded by encouraging all participants to continue to aim high and reach for the stars.

Guest speaker, attorney-at-law Afi Ventour of Afi Ventour & Co formally congratulated and recognized every graduate in the programme.

In an inspiring and motivating speech, she challenged students to aim to become employers and not employees; to not be content to sit and wait on hand outs but to do whatever was necessary to become capable business persons.

Ventour stressed that as an employer, she was on the lookout to employ young people who were driven and brilliant.

Citing her own case, she shared her experiences of starting her own company four years ago.

Highlighting her blueprint for success she urged the following, “Do get a good and sound education. Form good and lasting friendships. Begin now to think about being your own boss. Don’t be afraid and don’t give up when the going gets tough. Don’t blame anyone else if a venture fails and certainly, refuse to be distracted by those who may try and discourage you”.

The winner of the Junior Achievement award, Company of the Year 2014 is St Rose Modern Secondary School.

In what was one of the outstanding achievements of the exciting Junior Achievement programme in Grenada, St Rose’s ‘Tropical Madness’ company, swept the board by also being adjudged winner in four other categories including; Most Outstanding Business Plan, Trade Fair Winner, Most Outstanding Booth and Best Customer Service Company.

Their outstanding achievement, coinciding with them winning for the first time ever, deposed the previously undefeated St. Joseph’s Convent School, (St Andrews) whose ‘RecycleMania’ nevertheless achieved an amazing second in three of this year’s categories.

Governor General, Dame Cecile presented Grenada Boys Secondary School Design Tech Company, with the prestigious Sales Company of the Year award.

In recognition of St Rose Modern Secondary School’s outstanding achievement, they will represent Grenada in Cancun, Mexico, to compete in the Junior Achievement Championships.

CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank, sponsor of the business ‘RecycleMania’’ only recently signed a three -year memorandum in support of JA across the Caribbean with St. George’s University as the platinum sponsor for Grenada.

The award category of Most Outstanding Teacher went to Martin Alexander of Grenada Boys Secondary School.

The winner of Outstanding Consultant Award was Max Harleman of MacDonald College sponsored by the United States Peace Corp.

Most Outstanding Business Plan
– Winner Tropical Madness, St Rose Modern Secondary School

– 2nd RecycleMania, St Joseph’s Convent, St Andrew

– 3rd NewGen Crafts, St Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School

Most Outstanding Booth
– Winner Tropical Madness, St Rose Modern Secondary School

– 2nd Reinkarnation, Presentation Brother’s College

– 2nd RecycleMania, St Joseph’s Convent, St Andrew

– 3rd Design Tech – Grenada Boys Secondary School

Overall Winner – Trade Fair Winner 2014
– Winner Tropical Madness, St Rose Modern Secondary School

– 2nd RecycleMania, St Joseph’s Convent, St Andrew

– 3rd Reinkarnation, Presentation Brother’s College

Best Customer Service
– Winner Tropical Madness, St Rose Modern Secondary School

– 2nd Styles Unlock, St Joseph’s Convent, St George’s

– 3rd Design Tech – Grenada Boys Secondary School

IMF has Mitchell by the throat

When the former NDC government implemented the VAT, only one tax, Keith Mitchell went loco, today he has implemented 19 different taxes on the poor people of Grenada; is Mitchell for real? Where does he expect the people to get the monies to pay taxes? There are no employment in Grenada, except for Mitchell’s friends and their families.

This is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg, while this tax situation under his watch worsens. It is about time the people of Grenada stand up to this dictatorial NNP regime.

Taxation in Grenada under the Mitchell NNP regime is perceived as oppressive.

This is a culture of corruption; if you are as fed up with this sorry state of affairs as I am, you’ll understand why I couldn’t stand to sit on the sidelines anymore. We have to remind Mitchell that his government is supposed to represent all the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, not just his pals.

He could implement, but not enforce this mess of 19 different taxes. The people of Grenada, by refusing to accept the NNP offer of representation, can avoid giving the Mitchell regime a pretence for taxing them.

It’s the people’s right to challenge any unnecessary and unreasonable taxes. Grenadians don’t have to settle for Mitchell and his nonsense. Enough is enough, people, come on, stand up once and for all against this corrupted regime.

Mitchell is too deceptive and wicked. I hope he is paying his taxes. Why are the people of Grenada accepting Mitchell’s disgusting and ridiculous behaviour? Take a stand.

Mitchell had promised during his electoral campaign speeches, over and over, that he would not raise taxes. He lied. He implemented 19 different taxes on this poor population of people. This is unprecedented in Grenada’s political history.

This is making Grenadians disgusted; talk about a double standard. This is outrageous; Grenadians must organize themselves, and get rid of this worse than communist regime. Fight for positive change. Is this the best our people can do? The exorbitant (very excessive) tax increase from $19 to $285; and from $385 to $1,500 in one year is unacceptable.

The people of Grenada have to look at this from a new perspective. It has been proven in history over and over again. This humongous increase in taxes is too much, this cannot be allowed to continue, and it is unacceptable for a country with no employment.

Some governments have always struggled with tax noncompliance and resistance. Tax resistance has played a significant role in the collapse of several empires, including Egyptian, Roman, Spanish and Aztec. Tax resistance is the refusal to pay tax, because of opposition to the government that is imposing the tax or to the government policies or as opposition to the concept of taxation in itself.

Tax resisters come from a wide range of background with diverse ideologies and aims. For example, Henry David Thoreau and William Lloyd Garrison drew inspiration from the American Revolution. Some tax resisters refuse to pay tax because their conscience will not allow them to enrich politicians, while others resist as part of a campaign to overthrow the government.

A resister may lower their tax payments by using legal tax avoidance techniques. The most dramatic and characteristic method of tax resistance is to refuse to pay a tax — either by quietly ignoring the tax bill or by openly declaring the refusal to pay.

The IMF has Keith Mitchell by the throat; now the people of Grenada must unite and come together and resist; let the IMF choke him. Take a stand, Grenadians, a united people could never be defeated. Why should the people have to pay for Mitchell’s mistakes and recklessness?

Mitchell has never invested, not even a one cent in Grenada in all the years that he’s been in politics. He is burdening the poor people, who can’t even afford to buy food to feed their children, while Mitchell lives in luxury
Why do the people of Grenada have to keep suffering because of Mitchell’s greed and recklessness and carelessness? Time to take a united stand against this regime.

Helen Grenade

“Fuel Up Your Summer”

Rubis Gas customers can win in excess of $100,000.00, as the company launched its 2014 Promotion called “Fuel Up Your Summer”.

The promotion, which began last week Friday morning and concludes on August 17, gives every customer who purchases fuel or lubricants valued at $40 a coupon to qualify to win prizes.

A customer who spends at least $85 on gasoline will receive two entry forms.

The entry form must be validated with the service station stamp on the back of every entry form.

In addition, the forms must be completed with personal details and the correct answers to some questions.
There are four grand prizes to be won – $12,000.00 cash, Hussar 125 Motor Scooter, Samsung Smart Phone, and a Staycation for three nights at Raddison Grenada Beach Resort for two.

Customers will also be able to win weekly prizes such as Rubis fuel $50 vouchers and Total Lubricants $40 vouchers, Soca/Groovy Monarch, Dimanche Gras tickets, LIME Monday Night Mas Pack, Back to School vouchers, Rubis Exercise Books, Samsung Smart Flat Screen TV, Samsung Tablet, Beats by Dr Dre Headphone, Playstation, Starter Bank Accounts ($150.00), Gym Memberships (three months) and Movie Palace tickets.

Speaking at the official launch, Rubis Country Manager, Charles Archer said the venture to be undertaken with a variety of corporate partners, is geared at keeping customers interested in Rubi Gas products and to maintain the Rubis Gas brand and products in their hearts as the number one choice.

This is the company’s second promotion since it entered the Grenadian market in 2012. The first promotion was called “Spice Up Your Life.”

One of the participating companies is Grenville Co-operative Credit Union Limited whose Marketing Manager, Francis St Hillaire, said that promotions of the kind are what is really needed in these financially challenging times.

He said the giving back to those who patronage one’s business is always a noble initiative and a demonstration of “how much we care as corporate citizens”.

St Hillaire stressed that GCCUL is proud to partner with Rubis Gas in this initiative.

LIME’s Corporate Communications Manager, Zoe Hagley who represented the telecommunications giant said this is the second time that the company is partnering with Rubis and was looking forward to working with them again in the future.

Manager of the Computer Store at Grand Anse, George Blaize noted that his enterprise partnered with Rubis last year and was satisfied with the outcome and is once again happy to be involved in the latest promotion.

Hubbard’s Chris Dowden said there was no hesitation on their part to partner with the Rubis and described the promotion as timely in light of the fact that Grenadians now face a barrage of tax increases.

The “Fuel Up Your Summer” Promotion Grand Prize Draw will be held on August 19.