LIME/FLOW DEAL: A major threat to competition

The decision by Cable & Wireless (which trades under Lime in the Caribbean) to purchase Columbus International (which trades under the name Flow) for approximately USD$3bn poses a major threat to competition in Barbados and throughout the Caribbean region.

The Barbados Government and others around the region should block the deal until it has secured guarantees open to public scrutiny and monitoring.

The deal will be a major blow to attempts to improve quality and access to telecommunication connectivity, a critical factor in the region’s economic future.

Broad band connectivity has become the critical factor in economic production around the world in recent years, an opportunity for the region to leap frog the obstacles of small local markets and distant international ones.

Broad band has reduced the previously overriding roles played by land, labour and capital, factors the region has in short supply.

Despite the region’s need for economic salvation and its importance to the region’s economic future, broad band in the region is more expensive, less broad and less reliable than in markets the region needs to be competitive with. This deal will widen the gap with those competitors, not close it.

The enormous price that Cable & Wireless is paying – USD$1.9bn for the Barbados-based Flow, plus assuming USD$1.2bn in net debt from Flow’s balance sheet, is a clear measure of the super-profits Lime expects to make from the region.

A more competitive business with concern that regulators would scrutinise and limit future profits would fetch a far lower price. But another measure of the super-profits expected is that at no point were the two companies at all bothered about the reaction of governments in the region.

In their announcement to shareholders, Cable & Wireless did not warn that the deal would be subject to regulatory scrutiny and approval. They took the sad, but perhaps correct view, that the region’s Governments were irrelevant to this decision, even though the value in this deal to shareholders comes directly from how the market for telecoms is regulated.

Just a few years ago, Barbadian residential customers could choose between Lime, and TeleBarbados for broadband and with the prospect of a new comer, Flow, helping to expand choice and lower costs.

Then Flow took over TeleBarbados and Lime has now taken over Flow, effectively leaving Barbadians with no choice but to use a provider where service frequently drops, responsiveness to customers is weak and costs are internationally uncompetitive. The same could be said in most other countries in the region.

If such a deal was merely proposed in the US or Europe it would attract the attention of the competition authorities who would have placed a stay on the deal until they were sure it would not compromise quality and price or until they had received guarantees on both issues from the company.

Governments in the region often reasonably complain about the difficulties of operating with limited tax revenues and high social costs, but many of the critical decisions for our economic future  – such as the structure of the market for broad band that lowers costs, improves access and reliability – does not require any funding from Government.

It does require a Government that is wise to the issues, has a vision as to what is critical and the courage to get the critical done, and is vigilant and active in the protection of the citizen’s interests.

Monopolists protect their monopolistic profits by being cozy with regulators, sponsoring major charities and socially progressive initiatives and a few politicians.

A measure of whether the region’s economic funk is irretrievable will be how many Governments in the region willingly or evenly after some public cajoling, stand up for the future interests of their citizens and the capacity for economic development.

Professor Avinash D. Persaud
(Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics)

Arley Gill was too young to understand!!!

I don’t see any letters to the editor in Caribupdate so I hope you will publish this letter in response to Arley Gill’s suggestion in Caribupdate that we bring positive out of negative. He claims that he condemns the “abuses” of the revolution but we should nevertheless consider Maurice Bishop to be a hero because of his achievements.

What were those achievements?  According to Gill, the fact that he led a revolution, the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean. Is that an achievement?To take away by the power of the gun our democratic freedoms?

Second, the fact that Washington was embarrassed.  Is that an achievement? Third it was “an affront to the Western world”.  Another achievement? Fourth, the fact that Bishop had Grenada being discussed in Washington and Moscow. Puh-lease !.

Yes progress was made in education, agreed. As for the international airport, the way Bishop put it to us (and Gill would have been too young to remember this) was that he himself had had the brilliant idea of constructing it, and the “fraternal” love of the Cubans was going to make it possible. But Bishop was a master of deceit, as Teddy Victor’s book “Deception on Conception” makes us aware.

The fact is that the Soviet Union wanted the airport built, ostensibly for civilian use, but also having the capacity for military use, giving the Soviets control over the shipping lanes carrying petroleum from the Middle East to the West Coast of the USA, through the Panama Canal.

So the Soviets financed the construction and Cuba provided the manpower and building skills. There were plenty of Grenadians who were opposed to the renaming of the airport after Maurice Bishop, but remember that the majority of Grenadians were too young at the time of renaming to know or even care about Bishop.

Gill suggests that since George Washington is an American hero who nevertheless owned slaves, we should copy the Americans and name people heroes who were responsible for atrocities.

What needs to be borne in mind is that in Washington’s time slavery was accepted as OK, whereas the crimes of Gairy and Bishop were not in their time.

We are not fooled by Gill’s assertion that October 19th marked Grenada’s return to democracy. The 19th was a bloodbath, but the return to democracy took place on the 25th when the Americans liberated us and crushed the remnants of the communist regime.

Gregory Thomas

Stop the betrayal Nazim Burke

In one of his appearance on the weekly current affairs program Beyond the Headlines, former minister of finance and political leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Nazim Burke was strongly condemning the Keith Mitchell-led government for its management of the economy.

While Burke has his rights to criticize the economic policies of the government, political observers are calling his performance disingenuous and a betrayal of the people’s confidence.

When the New National Party swept the polls on February 19, 2013, winning all 15 available seats leaving the incumbent NDC in disarray, the electorate perfectly understood the message of the NNP. One such message is found in the party’s manifesto on page ten, which carried excerpts of the IMF article four consultations report (June 2012). It painted a dire picture of Grenada’s economy of a low to negative growth rate and very high unemployment.

Under the caption (manifesto) “An urgent call to action: The NNP appreciates the reality of the situation now facing Grenada. There can be no denying that our economy was on the edge of a dangerous fiscal precipice. Now, only decisive, prudent and expert management can avert a looming disaster arising from almost five dismal years of an economically inept NDC administration.”

Guided by these promises, Prime Minister Mitchell in March 2013 informed Grenada’s international creditors of his government’s intention to restructure the country’s debts. This decision got the approval of the IMF, the World Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.

In a nationally-televised address, the prime minister, who is also the minister of finance, told the nation that Grenada’s fiscal situation is untenable. With a fiscal gap of EC$18 million monthly there is little or no room to develop the productive sector. This means, government collects monthly revenue of EC$35 million and spends EC$53 million.

He also disclosed that 70 cents of every dollar collected in revenue goes to pay salaries, wages and pensions and 30 cents goes to pay debts. Therefore, contrary to what was presented to the nation by Nazim Burke, the former minister of finance under the NDC, that the debt is government’s biggest headache is grossly false. In actual fact the wage bill is two and a half times bigger than the government’s debt repayments.

To date, the economic policies of the Keith Mitchell-led government start to bear fruits. Already, its Home Grown Structural Adjustment Program has gained the approval of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which opened the door to the country receiving concessionary loans and grant funding from the IMF, the World Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank and the European Union.

The government has met its commitment of a 6 percent wage increase and back pay to all current and former public sector employees, which was agreed to by the previous administration; in fact this agreement was finalized a few months prior to the last general elections to the tune of EC$52 million.

That was accomplished by the Keith Mitchell-led administration to the dismay of Nazim Burke, who predicted that the government was stillborn and would not be able to meet all the financial commitments he had saddled the new government with. In addition to paying monthly salaries on time and without having to sell government assets as was the case with the NDC.

The Fiscal Gap has been reduced by half, moving from EC$18 million monthly to around EC$9 million. The unpaid claims in the Treasury which stood at EC$110 million when the NNP came into office February 19, 2013, has been decreased to EC$77 million in October 2014… a reduction of EC$33 million.

A monitoring committee for the Home Grown Structural Adjustment Program made up of members of the Committee of Social Partners has been meeting monthly to review the performance of the program and to advise government. Also in this period, the IMF held its first review of the program and has reported that the government has surpassed all its targets.

The IMF and the other developmental partners have commended the government highly for its prudent management of the economy for the 20 months since taking office. Only Nazim Burke alone is singing a negative tune. Is this a question that he is yet to come to terms with the massive election defeat by Hon. Tobias Clement?

It is very revealing that Mr Burke’s disapproval of the government’s performance is disingenuous and an attempt to mislead the nation which political pundits are saying will not work for the evidence of the Keith Mitchell-led government’s success is there for all to see.

Julius Gabriel

Chess – the game player!!!

Every time I think about Chester Humphrey these days, I remember my old pal in the GULP, Derek Knight.

Brother Chess and Derek have a lot in common. Derek did not believe in God – so too Chess. These two were atheists and enjoyed a rather close friendship.

Sir Eric once told me that Derek boasted to him that as the first well-known communist on the island, he introduced a few young fellahs including Bro. Chess to the communist doctrine.

Derek was a union leader in his days and Bro. Chess is the President-General of the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU).

Derek was a longstanding Senator in Parliament – just like Chess is now the longest ever serving Senator in the history of our Parliament.

And you know Bro. Chess likes to boast of that feat every time he opens his mouth to speak these days. So Brothers Rae and Naz – please look out because Bro. Chess coming to manners both of you as part of Project Grenada.

How many of you know that Derek Knight wanted to run badly as a candidate for GULP but Uncle did not trust him and never put him up to contest elections.

Bro. Chess tried to get the NDC to put him up as a candidate in two elections- first for St. George Town in 2003 and then in St. George South-east in 2008.  At least the NDC guys were smart enough not to bother with Bro. Chess.

The workers of the country used to have respect for the Brother as a militant trade union leader but they were not prepared to go the extra mile with him whenever it came to politics.

But the most striking things about both Bro. Chess and the deceased Derek Knight is the path they both took to get into the mainstream of the political power play in the country.

Derek started off as a GNP back in those days. Sir Eric was beating the GNP folks any time elections was held so Derek got fed-up. Derek then used the phrase, “if you can’t beat him then join him”. So Derek decided to join Uncle in order to get a taste of the power. But Uncle was a real smart man. He never trusted Derek so he would only appoint him as a Senator to keep him in line. If Derek gave any trouble then all Sir Eric had to do was take away the Senatorial appointment and in effect the rug was pulled from under his feet.

If Sir Eric had run Derek as a candidate and the smart man lawyer won a seat then he could work from on the inside to undermine Sir Eric and make a bid for leadership. Gairy was only interested in Derek Knight’s legal brains and nothing more. So Derek was never ever allowed to run as a candidate for GULP.

Let’s fast forward to 2013/14. Bro. Chess is now fed-up that Papa is beating him every time at the polls. Licks in 1995, 1999, 2003 and again in 2013. So Brother Chess is now joining Papa in very much the same way Derek joined up with Uncle.

Papa is a smart man too. Even if he falls asleep on the job, he would still keep one eye open because he knows that a leopard cannot change the colour of its skin.
Uncle Tilly denied them old RMC boys their greatest desire of using him as a ladder to parachute into the Office of the Prime Minister.

Anytime the opportunity presents itself, these leopards will spring for it inside NNP.

Ah had a dream last night and Bro. Bishop tell me the curse of October 19, 1983 cannot be swept away and the folks will still make a play for power.

Remember that H.A. Blaize told us what goes around comes around. Bro. Chess used to boast after the 2003 election when Papa managed to hold onto power by one-seat that the boss man was holding onto power in Parliament with a piece of thread and that it could burst anytime.

The table has now turned around – Bro. Chess’s political career is now on a piece of thread and Papa is only holding the little piece of string.

If Papa gets up one morning and he feels something strange is happening around him and he ain’t trust what he hearing then it is time up for Bro. Chess and his front man, Pedro.

The mercenary journalist will only go with them if a couple thousands of dollars is pushed in his face on a regular basis. The NNP is feeding the mercenary right now and as long as things good, he would stay put. If NDC gets back in power tomorrow morning and the price is right, the mercenary will join them.

So let’s wait and see as the game continues to be played out with Bro. Chess. Ah have a feeling that some people might get a heart attack soon and go and join Derek wherever he is. Don’t forget that no atheist will be going to heaven. All of them going to hell and the house ain’t burning down with them inside it.

Papa already tell his supporters he knows what he is doing and don’t worry about him – he is in charge.

The Gate Keeper

Avenues available to deal with lawyers

President of the Grenada Bar Association (GBA), Ruggles Ferguson has outlined the steps to be followed by the public for disciplinary action to be taken against any delinquent lawyer operatig in the country.

Ferguson outlined the procedures during an address delivered to mark Law Week 2014  which ran from November 2-7.

He said that the complaints will have to be channelled through the General Legal Council (GLC) which is believed to be non-functional at the moment.

According to the GBA boss, efforts are currently underway to get the body functioning.

Following is the full text of Ferguson’s address:

Law Week 2014 runs from November 2nd to 7th under the theme, “Professional Conduct: Counsel’s Duty of Care”.

The week, which began on Sunday (Nov.2nd) with a Church Service at the St. George’s Presbyterian Church followed by a totally local breakfast for lawyers, features radio and television programmes;  a pro bono day (free legal consultation) in St. John’s; an essay competition for secondary students focusing on the pros and cons of constitutional reform; visits to the Magistrate’s and High Courts by students of sixteen (16) secondary schools throughout the country; school visits by lawyers to secondary schools in Carriacou; a monetary donation to the Lupus Donation; and a moot competition (mock trial) among T.A.Marryshow Community College law students featuring the Caribbean Court Of Justice (CCJ).

The week ends with a lawyers get-together at the Grenada Yacht Club on Friday (Nov 7th).

Law Week aims to promote public legal education and provides an ideal opportunity for lawyers to extend a helping hand to the public in an organised and structured manner.

UNDERSTANDING THE LEGAL PROFESSION ACT

Consistent with the theme, much focus will be given in media programmes this week on informing, educating and sensitising the public, and indeed our own members, on the provisions of the Legal Profession Act (LPA), which was assented to by the Governor-General on November 15th, 2011.

The LPA provides for the regulation of the legal profession. It lays down the rules of practice, sets out standards of professional conduct, opens avenues to receive complaints of clients and the public, establishes a structure for disciplinary action, and imposes penalties for breaches of professional conduct.

Section 3 of the LPA recognizes the GBA. It mandates the GBA to maintain and improve the standards of conduct of its members; to represent and protect the interests of the legal profession; and to promote good relations within the profession. It requires the GBA to promote, support and maintain the administration of justice and the rule of law.

To better serve and protect the public, lawyers are required to engage in continuing legal education, secure professional indemnity insurance, separate clients’ and operating accounts, and adhere to the standards of professional conduct enshrined in the Code of Ethics.

CREATING A GENERAL LEGAL COUNCIL

An important creation of the LPA is the General Legal Council (GLC) which is charged with regulating and upholding standards of professional conduct within the legal profession.

The GLC comprises seven (7) members, including nominees of the Chief Justice, the Conference of Churches, the Governor-General and the GBA.

The Attorney-General, or the Solicitor-General in his absence, also sits on the GLC which is chaired by the nominee of the Chief Justice (a sitting or retired Judge).

Of significance is the opportunity given for at least three lay persons (non-lawyers) to sit on the committee by means of nominations from the Grenada Conference of Churches and the Governor-General.

Efforts are now being made to reconstitute the GLC whose first Chairman (Justice Monica Joseph) resigned to take up other duties. In more recent times, one member migrated and another passed away. The GBA continues its efforts to have the GLC reconstituted soonest.

CHANNELLING CLIENT COMPLAINTS

Client complaints are to be channeled to the GLC.  A client claiming to be aggrieved by an act of professional misconduct by an Attorney-at-Law may make an application to the GLC requiring the offending Attorney-at-Law to answer the allegations.

An affidavit of facts must accompany the application. Someone other than a client who feels aggrieved must first obtain leave of the GLC to pursue a complaint. Further, the GLC, on its own motion, may initiate an investigation with respect to the conduct of an Attorney-at-Law. A Judge too may refer a matter to the GLC if, in dealing with a matter before the court, he considers that an act of professional misconduct has been committed.

Time limits are imposed for bringing a complaint to the GLC. No complaint may be brought after three (3) years from the date of occurrence of the facts giving rise to the complaint or from the date of knowledge of the facts giving rise to the complaint.

The LPA sets out clear procedures for making complaints. The facts giving rise to the allegations against the Attorney-at-Law must be contained in a sworn affidavit. Further, the application to the GLC requiring the Attorney-at-Law to answer the allegations contained in the affidavit must be in writing.

POWERS OF THE GENERAL LEGAL COUNCIL

What are the options open to the GLC upon the receipt of applications?

Where no prima facie case is made out against the Attorney-at-Law (no case established on the face of the documents), the GLC may dismiss the application.  It may do so without requiring the Attorney-at-Law to answer the allegations.

In those circumstances, within seven (7) days of the application being made, both the applicant and the Attorney-at-Law must be notified of its dismissal.

Where a prima facie case is shown, the GLC fixes a date for hearing the application. No less than forty-two (42) days before the hearing of the application the Attorney-at-Law complained against must be served with a copy of the application and affidavit.

Responsibility for service of those documents rests with the Secretary of the GLC, being the Registrar of the Supreme Court. No less than fourteen (14) days before the hearing both parties are required to furnish the GLC,  and to exchange with each other, a list of documents intended to be relied upon.

Upon hearing an application, the GLC may exercise a range of powers.
It may dismiss the application if not satisfied that the allegations constitute professional misconduct.

If satisfied that the allegations constitute professional misconduct, penalties range from reprimanding the Attorney-at-Law; ordering payment of compensation or reimbursement of monies to aggrieved persons; making costs orders; and suspending the Practising Certificate of the Attorney-at-Law.

The power to disbar or strike an Attorney-at-Law from the roll rests only with the High Court presided over by two (2) judges, following an application by the GLC.

If not satisfied with the decision of the GLC, a party has a right of appeal directly to the Court of Appeal.

INCORPORATING CODE OF ETHICS

A critical feature of the LPA is its incorporation of a Code of Ethics (‘the Code’)  which spells out the standards of professional conduct expected of an Attorney-at-Law.

The Code imposes duties and obligations upon an Attorney–at-Law in relation to the State and himself; in relation to the State and the public; in relation to clients; in relation to the courts and the administration of justice; and in relation to his fellow Attorneys-at-Law.

The Code speaks to Attorneys preserving their independence of judgment in the discharge of professional responsibilities; always acting in the best interest of clients; maintaining the ‘supreme traditions’ of the profession by being persons of ‘integrity and dignity;  scrupulously guarding clients confidentiality; avoiding conflicts of interests; refraining from conduct which is detrimental to the profession; and representing clients honestly, honourably, competently and zealously.

SHOULDERING HEAVY BURDEN

An Attorney-at-Law shoulders a heavy burden in the discharge of his professional responsibilities.  The Code mandates him to defend the interest of his client ‘without fear of judicial disfavour or public unpopularity and without regard to any unpleasant consequences to himself or to any other person’.

He is duty bound to undertake the defence of a person accused of a crime, regardless of his own personal opinion as to the person’s guilt. Having undertaken such defence, an Attorney is bound by all fair and honourable means, to present every appropriate defence that the law of the land permits, so that no person may be deprived of life or liberty ‘except by due process of the law’.

WORKING TOGETHER WITH CLIENTS

Attorneys are urged to familiarise themselves with the provisions of the LPA. Work together with and in the best interests of your clients. Communication minimizes conflict.

For members of the public who are unable to resolve conflicts with their Attorneys, complaints may be channeled, as aforementioned,  to the GLC via its Secretary whose address is the Supreme Court Registry (St. George’s).

The GBA shall continue to promote public legal education to empower citizens through Law Week and other fora; and to design and promote Continuing Legal Education programmes for our members in order to consistently improve the quality of legal service available to the public.

We look forward to reduced complaints and greater harmony between Attorney and client.

LIME upgrades Camerhogne Park

LIMEGrenada’s most popular park in the south of the island receives an upgrade from telecommunication provider, LIME.

The company has installed twelve signs across the park that covers an array of necessary messages to patrons such as,  “Do not litter”,“Welcome to Camerhogne Park”, “Keep Grenada Clean” among others.

After noting the need for general restoration, the initiative began in 2012 when LIME and the Government of Grenada agreed to collaborate on the refurbishment project.

Since then, LIME has installed a WiFi solution providing high speed internet access and installed the necessary signage in the park.

“We’re happy that we were able to provide this public gift, said LIME’s Marketing Manager, Kelly Rawlston Mitchell.

According to Mitchell, the installation of the signs “is just one of the ways in which our company displays our commitment to ensuring we give back to the general public in as many ways as possible”.

“Our $19 million upgrade does not only apply to our line of products and services, but also for upgrading our level of corporate social responsibility”, he added.

Attempt to Hack Chime FM Boss

GRANT COMMUNICATIONS LIMITED
P.O. Box 553
Woolwich Road
St. George, Grenada
TEL: 473 440 7746 CEL: 473 415 0631
grantcom@spiceisle.com

November 16, 2014

Mr. Rawle Titus
Director
GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICE
Government of Grenada
Botanical Gardens
St. George’s
Grenada

Dear Mr. Titus:

I write to confirm our telephone conversation on Thursday of last week.

At that time, I advised you that numerous attempts had been made by a computer at the GIS to install a malicious code on one of my computers. In fact, I would not be surprised if the number of attempts was over 100 over a three day period (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this past week).

This was done by dropping a file titled “NNP Files.exe” into my Dropbox. In order to have a witness to this activity, I brought in an IT company which confirmed that the file was originating at the GIS.

With some effort, they were able to isolate it, examine it and discovered that it was, indeed, a malicious code. Hence the reason why I called you.

Thank you for the promise to investigate this activity, and I look forward to learning of your findings in short order.

With every good wish,

George Grant
President/CEO

Adjustment in non-fuel charges from November

On Thursday 25 June 2014, GRENLEC announced that a 3.2% reduction in the non-fuel component of its electricity rates for the coming year would become effective 1 January 2015.  The announced rate reduction is in accordance with the rate-setting provisions set forth in the Electricity Supply Act, 1994.

As a result of recent discussions with the Government of Grenada, GRENLEC is pleased to announce an acceleration of the upcoming rate reduction, which will now also apply to electricity service from 1 November 2014.

Given this timing change, customers will see the impact of this rate reduction commencing with their December 2014 billing statements (two months earlier than had previously been announced).

(The above was submitted by GRENLEC)

The Cabinet reshuffle

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has effected a major shake-up of his Cabinet of Ministers in which he demoted the two well-to-do Candidates that ran with his party in the 2013 general elections.

Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister, Alexandra Otway-Noel has been relegated to a job as Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister while Nickolas Steele has lost the prestigious position of Minister of Foreign Affairs to become the new man in charge of the problematic Ministry of Health.

The reshuffle was the first to be done by PM Mitchell since returning to power in the February 2013 general elections with a crushing 15-0 victory over the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Otway-Noel, the elected Member of Parliament for South St. George and who lives in the upscale Lance Aux Epines area in the south of the island will no longer be in charge of a full ministry.

According to PM Mitchell, the female government minister will now have special responsibility for Implementation and will also be tapped “to carry out special assignments for my office”.

Steele has replaced Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen who has been under fire as Minister of Health over the handling of the portfolio in recent months.

Two other significant changes would be in the Senate with the replacements of veterans Dr. Lawrence Joseph and Kenny Lalsingh with former Congress members, Peter David and Chester Humphrey.

NNP insiders have told THE NEW TODAY that David is being considered as a possible candidate for the St. George North-east seat in the next general elections against Congress leader, Nazim Burke.

PM Mitchell is alleged to have told David over a year ago that a vacancy exist in the St. George North-east constituency won in the last elections by Tobias Clement and he should look at it.

Clement is said to have fallen out of grace after he addressed Parliament shortly after the NNP victory at the polls and pointed an accusing finger at some persons who were sitting in the highest decision making body in the country and owing thousands of dollars to government in outstanding taxes.

Clement was obviously making reference to Senator Lalsingh (Minister of State with responsibility for Implementation) whose wholesale and retail business was owing close to quarter million E.C dollars in taxes to the State.

As a public service, THE NEW TODAY reproduces the portion of PM Mitchell’s national address last Thursday night in which he announced the changes to the NNP line-up in the Cabinet and Parliament:

As I said during the swearing in of ministers in February 2013, the ministerial appointments are not meant to be permanent – and that there may be need to adjust the configurations from time to time.

Those adjustments will be made for a number of reasons – including giving members of our multi-talented team different experiences; to be sensitive to the twin demands of being an MP and a member of Cabinet; and to seek to use skill sets and experiences  in a way that will be most beneficial and fitting for the new challenges that we will confront at each stage.

As we get ready for a new budgetary period and a new year; and as we move into our third year – we believe that this presents us with a unique opportunity to enact some change in the arrangement for the reasons just stated.

And so we are moving with immediate effect to make changes to both the ministerial portfolios, as well as the configuration in the Senate.

We have decided to give some of our new constituency representatives who have been Cabinet members more opportunities to be able to consolidate their work as MPs, understanding that we are well into our five year cycle.

When we came into the office, we leaned heavily on our freshmen MPs – with their boundless enthusiasm and their youthful energies – to do a lot of the heavy lifting. In all of their areas they have done a remarkable job up to this point.

The successes of the likes of Alvin Dabreo, Oliver Joseph, Nikolas Steele, Delma Thomas, Alexandra-Otway Noel and Emmalin Pierre – all in their first tenure as MPs – have taught all of us – especially the more experienced among us –what is possible.
I am confident that we have begun to build a new cadre of politicians from which the next generation of leaders can emerge.

We were very conscious from the very beginning of the role these young politicians have to play in party and governance. And the adjustments we are going to make will offer different spheres of responsibilities to help broaden their horizons for future leadership of this country.

And we the older, more seasoned politicians must be ready and willing to provide advice and support.

In the first year and nine months, we have put a heavier burden on some of the Ministers because of the very nature of their portfolios.

They have hardly had time to build their profiles as constituency representatives, while in service to the nation in all parts of the world.

Our Foreign Minister, Hon Steele has led the foreign affairs team from the very beginning.

We have expanded our diplomatic connections in Latin America, the Gulf and the Far East, while keeping our traditionally strong ties with North America and Europe.

But this has come at a cost to our Minister, who, from the time he assumed office, has been leading the charge in our new efforts to positively engage the world.

Minister Steele however, in his own words, has stated that his most important job next to being a husband and father, is as the MP for the Town of St George.

Minister Steele came into government with a successful history as a business manager, and we also want to take more advantage of that going forward – particularly in this current environment.

In light of these considerations, I will be offering Minister Steele the new portfolio of Minister of Health.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will therefore now be headed by Honourable Dr Clarice Modeste, one of the most experienced and seasoned MPs among us.

Dr Modeste is into her fourth term as an MP – who through her plethora of experiences, has developed connections and a support structure in her constituency of St Mark’s that will allow her to undertake the dual role of Foreign Minister.

Our foreign partners can rest assured that while the personalities may change, our foreign policy will remain the same – open and innovative.

Minister Steele will have his hands full as the Minister of Health – and so the other part of his previous portfolio – International Business will now be undertaken by Minister Oliver Joseph.

Minister Joseph is already Minister of Economic Development, and we believe that adding International Business to it is a more natural synergy.

In the changes that will take effect, Sister Alexandra Otway-Noel will be a full Minister in the Prime Minister’s office, with special responsibility for Implementation.

Minister Otway-Noel will also be tapped to carry out special assignments for my office, while at the same time being able to learn firsthand from my experience.

We have also given consideration of her wanting to be more available to directly oversee some of the extended work we will do in South St George in the coming period.

Sister Alexandra Otway-Noel has capably and energetically shaped the Tourism and Civil Aviation industries in the last two years; and Pure Grenada has proven to be a worthwhile brand that is now attracting more visitors.

Tourism is on the rise, with all the industry’s numbers heading in the right direction. We have a new governing authority and a new marketing approach. The foundation has been truly laid for even more growth and development in the future.

And now that she has done the heavy lifting, it makes it relatively easier for someone else to take up the mantle.

We are grateful to Sister Otway-Noel for a job well done, as we welcome Yolande Bain-Horsford to the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation.

Sister Yolande has been patient and continued to be a valuable team player even when she was left out of the Cabinet last year.

Her introduction now is in keeping with the promise to give members of the team different opportunities from time to time.

We have confidence in Sister Yolande’s ability to continue to guide the upper trajectory of the tourism industry.

Continuity and development are also assured because of the team Minister Otway-Noel has put together in the Authority – which will continue to manage the industry in a direct way on a day-to-day basis.

Under the adjustments in portfolios – the National Lottery Authority will now come under the Ministry of Culture headed by Senator Brenda Hood.

Minister Emmalin, our Minister of Youth, Sports and Religious Affairs, had herself requested that she be relieved of responsibility for the national lottery. We were more than pleased to accommodate her request.

The National Lottery, as it so ably has done, will continue to play its part in the support of sports and culture.

We are also pleased to announce that we are making changes in the configuration of the Senate.

The decision on the changes was made before the untimely passing of
brother Emmons. No replacement will be named for Brother Emmons at this time. Out of respect, we believe that it is only fitting to continue to mourn him, and give him a fitting farewell before we address the matter.

Among the changes we will be making in the Senate is the replacement
of the retiring President Dr the Hon. Lawrence Joseph. A long serving member of parliament, we will be fortunate however not to lose his experience and wisdom altogether.

Dr Joseph has agreed to be an advisor to the parliament and the members of our cabinet. Dr Joseph will continue to serve as Deputy to the Governor General. We look forward to his continued wise counsel.

Also leaving the Senate will be our party Vice Chairman Brother Kenny
Lalsingh, who since 1984 has served as MP, Minister and Senator on various occasions.

Brother Lalsingh will continue to serve as the Party Vice Chairman, and has offered to continue to be of service to the government and people of Grenada through special assignments, even while he takes the time to pursue other interests.

As a consequence, Hon Simon Stiell will be elevated to Leader of Government Business in the Senate, spearheading the government’s work in this new legislative period.

Senator Stiell has a solid team to work with – new and vibrant senators such as Sheldon Scott and Winston Garraway – as well as more experienced veterans.

That team will be joined by Brother Peter David, who we are happy and proud to welcome into the fold of the Senate. Peter David is an experienced politician, having served two terms as MP and as a very successful foreign minister.

In recent months, he has also been a very useful new member of our party, and he has shown the ability to help government articulate its objectives and its policies going forward.

The other new member of the Senate will be Brother Chester Humphrey – our most experienced senator since independence.

Mr. Humphrey served for over 20 years as the labor representative in the Senate, and has acted as President on previous occasions. He knows the workings of the body as good as anyone.

The appointment of Brother Humphrey is consistent to a long held policy of this government that one does not have to be a member of our party to be given such a position. We had set that precedent a few years ago when we had nominated Leslie-Ann Seon to that post.

More importantly, the addition of both Mr David and Mr Humphrey in the Senate, shows our commitment not only to talk the talk, but walk the walk of inclusion.

Our shared history as political combatants are well known. Now we share the reality that there are redemptive qualities in Grenadian politics, if we are to ever fulfill our mandate of people first politics.

It was instructive that the homily at my church service on Sunday was about unity and people working together. We are indeed committed to that unity more than ever.

Tonight is not meant to be a moment in time that is frozen in the politics of this country. Instead, it is a developing journey that is steeped in what is in the best interest of the Grenadian populace.

We have dropped the baggage of the past; and our forward movement is fuelled by hope and an understanding that tomorrow will be better than yesterday.

New date for Referendum

Grenadians will have to wait a little while longer before they go to the polls to vote for changes to the 1974 Constitution document.

Officials of the Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s had first given the date of February 10t, 2015 for the holding of the referendum in order to get a two-thirds majority of the electorate to effect the change.

However, during a sitting of the House of Representative last week Thursday, Minister of Legal Affairs, Elven Nimrod told the Lower House that  the Constitutional Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC) which is working assiduously to make sure the process for constitutional reform is concluded believes more consultations are

Minister Nimrod said although there are a few detractors that are trying “to throw some ink in the water” it would not deter constitutional reform from taking place in Grenada.

Minister Nimrod who is the Deputy Political Leader of the governing New National Party (NNP) told the House it is the State of Grenada that is deserving constitutional reform and it is not an NNP nor NDC (National Democratic Congress) system.

He also announced that CRAC will be engage in a donors’ conference in Barbados, at which the United Nations, the Organisation of American States (OAS), and the Caribbean Court of Justice will participate.

He said these groups have given a commitment to provide financial assistance to the island for the process of constitutional reform.

Earlier this year, CRAC presented government with 12 items to be put before the people in a referendum.

These included replacing the Privy Council in London by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the island’s final appellate court, putting the name of Carriacou & Petite Martinique on the passport and removing the letter “E” from Petite in the name of the small sister isle.

However, the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) reacted by suggesting that most of those items were not of substance, and that some other recommendations that were previously identified by past Constitutional Reform committees should instead be put on the referendum ballot.

Congress initiated a petition to press forward with its case and was able to get 4,001 signatures to present to CRAC that is headed by Dr. Francis Alexis during the national consultation on Constitutional Reform that was held on October 15 at the Grenada Trade Center.

The petition asked persons to support the inclusion on the referendum ballot  term limits for the Prime Minister, a fixed date for holding general elections, Proportional Representation in Parliament, single parliamentary Chamber, an official Opposition Leader at all times, and for the Members of Parliament to select the
Governor-General.

NDC’s Political Leader, Senator Nazim Burke continues to insists that constitutional reform is not about changing letters or names in the
constitution but the overriding objective is to improve the operation of the democratic system.

Speculation is rife that Congress will push for a “no vote” when Grenadians are called upon to go to the polls to vote on the proposed changes to be made to the Constitution.