Garvey Louison WINs Keith Mitchell Again

Attorneys representing Keith Mitchell in Civil Appeal No. 19 of 2014, found themselves in a fine pickle before the Court of Appeal at its sitting in St. George on Monday.

Lawyers Subrita Khan and Vanessa Francis-Banfield filed two applications before the court in the ongoing saga to have Garvey Louison FCCA, Chartered Certified Accountant and CEO of Louison Consulting, removed as liquidator of the now DEFUNCT Grenada Today newspaper.

The first application was for a stay of execution on the payment of EC $2,000 as costs in the substantive matter completed before the High Court earlier this year and the second application was with regard to the granting of leave to appeal the decision of the High Court.

The panel of three judges including Chief Justice, Madame Janice M. Pereira, herself suggested that the Attorneys had a first hurdle to overcome albeit that the learned Judge at the High Court, Margaret Mohammed, had stated in her judgment that the person whose affidavit was filed before the court had no “locus-standi” to move the court.

At that point the attorneys sought permission of the court to file two additional affidavits. The court recessed and studied the affidavits during its recess.

Returning to the bench, the panel signaled that they had read the additional documents and that attorney Khan should proceed with her oral submissions. At that point Ms. Khan rose to seek leave of the court to withdraw her applications. Why did Ms. Khan withdraw? In this position Khan was unable to cross the first hurdle before the Court of Appeal. She described the task before her as an “uphill battle” and she withdrew her applications.

People who have followed this matter from its inception are still flabbergasted at the relentless manner in which a sitting Prime Minister has used his power to hound an ordinary citizen even to the point of refusing to pay cost of EC $2,000 awarded by the court.

In the matter before the Court of Appeal, cost of another EC $1,500 was awarded to Louison.

It is not clear whether Prime Minister Mitchell will now take the matter to the next stage – the British Priy Council in London.

HISTORY MAKING IN THE SENATE …First Atheist Elected As President

Sen Chester Humphrey takes the President’s oath without the bible in his right Hand

Sen Chester Humphrey takes the President’s oath without the bible in his right Hand

Although he did not acknowledge the existence and presence of the Almighty God in taking his oath, the avowed atheist Chester Humphrey was officially sworn in on Wednesday as President of the Senate .

Humphrey, the President-General of the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU), took over from Dr. Lawrence Joseph, his former Literature teacher at the Grenada Boys Secondary School (GBSS).

Also sworn in Wednesday at the Senate were former Foreign Affairs Minister under the Congress government of 2008-13, Peter David now a member of the ruling New National Party (NNP) and Nolan Cox from the sister isle of Carriacou.

Sen. Cox is replacing Senator Jester Emmons who died weeks ago to leave vacant the post of Parliamentary Secretary for Carriacou & Petite Martinique Affairs.

Sen. Humphrey addressed the Senate for the first time in his capacity as President and indicated that this was a milestone for him since it marked 24th years of service in the Upper House.

Sen Nolan Cox stands next to Clerk of Parliament Wilan Thompson as he is about to sign his name in the official Senate book

Sen Nolan Cox stands next to Clerk of Parliament Wilan Thompson as he is about to sign his name in the official Senate book

He reiterated that the only other person who has had a longer stint in the local Parliament than him is current Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell who recently marked 30 years of unbroken service as the elected Member of Parliament for St. George North-west.

The new President of the Senate assured the house that he intends to be true to the oath of allegiance to be free and fair in the discharge of his duties in keeping with the requirements of the Constitution.

He quoted the oath which specifically states that he has to faithfully execute the office of President without fear or favour, affection or ill-will and reassured the house that this is what he intends to do.

“These are the elements of conduct and expected standards which the country anticipates of me and correctly so, I shall do no less,” he said.

A major player in the creation of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution, Sen. Humphrey, linked his rise to the post of President of the Senate to his experience in fighting for the rights of workers over the last 23 years.

Senator Peter David can now give a meaningful  contribution in the Senate

Senator Peter David can now give a meaningful
contribution in the Senate

“… For that I am eternally grateful to the workers of this country who first resided their confidence in me when I made my debut in 1990. Today this honour belongs to the thousands of ordinary working men and women…” he told the session.

The new President praised Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell for his decision to include him as one of persons who can help to make a contribution to Grenada’s development given the nation’s financial and economic status.

“Our beloved country and this sub-region is facing a great economic difficulty and the working people indeed through all classes and strata…retrenching workers, small businesses are going under, several construction companies are closing and dozens of workers without work,” he said.

This, Humphrey said was the context in which Prime Minister Mitchell made a plea for he along with TUC President, Madonna Harford to help in the rebuilding process that is so badly needed in Grenada.

According to Humphrey, the call by the Grenadian leader after his clean 15-sweep at the polls in February 2013 was the first clear indicative statement of a new approach that was needed in tackling the island’s huge problems.

He acknowledged that his position as President would be one of a challenge but he was up to it.

Sen. Humphrey assured all the members of the Senate that he intends to work with them in the pursuit of deepening and strengthening the country’s parliamentary democracy.

He urged all to maintain the high decorum of the house and to engage in lively and spirited debates on all issues, that concern the country’s development.

Speculation is rife that the decision of PM Mitchell to appoint Humphrey and David to positions in the Senate is aimed at nullifying any potential threat from Congress members especially its leader, Nazim Burke.

THOUSANDS MISSING IN CREDIT UNION

THE NEW TODAY has been told that close to $275, 000.00 is reported missing from the River Sallee Co-operative Credit Union in St. Patrick’s.

A usually reliable source told this newspaper that fingers are pointing in the direction of a senior employee who is believed to have since left the island for the United States.

When this newspaper called to speak to the manager of the credit union on Wednesday morning, a female person who took the call said that he wanted to know what was the subject matter.

“ I told her it was private and I needed to speak to the manager alone on the issue. She took my name and telephone contact numbers and said that he would call in due course. Up to the time of going to press, the manager did not call”, said the senior journalist at THE NEW TODAY.

According to reports reaching our News Desk, the Board of Directors of the credit union has been very tight-lipped on the alleged missing money in order not to create panic among its shareholders.

A source said that a close relative of his is very concerned at the allegation, due to the fact that he had entrusted certain monies with the individual to deposit with the credit union.

He spoke of the relative giving the senior employee about $2,500.00 in recent months to deposit on his account and is suspicious that all the monies cannot be properly accounted for.

“ I personally gave the woman $2,000.00 to put on my account in order to pay back on a loan that I took out from the credit union. I trusted her so I gave her the money in cash. I also gave one of my relatives another $500.00 to deposit on the account. He was given a receipt for the $500.00 but no receipt was given for the $2,000.00. I need to know what is happening”, he remarked.

The source said that the shareholder intends to seek a meeting with management at the Credit Union to raise his concerns.

The suspect is known to be a leading member of a family that is considered as strong supporters of the ruling New National Party (NNP) in the St. Mark’s constituency.

In recent years, moves were afoot to merge the River Sallee Credit Union with two others in close proximity – the Tivoli Co-operative Credit Union and the Hermitage Co-operative Credit Union in order to cut cost and make them more viable for shareholders.

Cable & Wireless vs Digicel

Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) chief executive, Phil Bentley, has given a commitment to Caribbean governments and regulators that if the company’s US$3 billion acquisition of Columbus International is approved, the enlarged CWC will not negatively impact competition in the cable and broadband markets.

Bentley made the point in an address on Friday to CWC shareholders at a general meeting held at the Hilton hotel above the Paddington train station in London, to get the approval of the company’s owners.

Six resolutions aimed at getting shareholder approval of the acquisition received over 84 per cent approval of the CWC shareholders.

The shareholders meeting was covered exclusively by Guardian Media Ltd, which fully underwrote the cost of airline ticket, hotel accommodation and per diem for coverage of the meeting.

On the issue of competition, Bentley said: “In the Caribbean countries in which CWC and Columbus overlap – Jamaica, Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent and Grenada – we know that we have to work closely with governments and regulators to ensure that our customers benefit and competition is not compromised.

“And that’s a commitment we happily make to all our stakeholders. “I know that we have got a member of the Caribbean media here today, so I will repeat my commitment for your benefit: this is a transaction that will benefit all our customers and will not compromise competition.
After all, our biggest competitor in the Caribbean will still be bigger than us after this deal.”

Digicel, CWC’s biggest competitor in the Caribbean, has repeatedly stressed that approval of the transaction will provide CWC with market dominance in fixed broadband and in cable.

In a statement on November 27- responding to comments by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) expressing concern that the acquisition could reverse the gains in telecommunication as a result of liberalisation – Digicel said: “We welcome the fact that the CTU recognises, correctly, that the real concern in this proposed deal is not the mobile market, but rather this blatant attempt to establish virtual monopolies right across the region in the markets for fixed
broadband access, fixed line services, international connectivity/submarine fibre access and subscription cable TV services. “It is the consolidation of the specific markets in which LIME and FLOW used to compete which is of clear concern to the CTU.”

In the statement, Digicel group CEO, Colm Delves said: “We are very pleased that the CTU has taken such a proactive stance in terms of seeking to assess properly the potential impact of this hugely significant deal on the telecommunications industry and wider economy right across the Caribbean region.

“Whatever may happen, no one can argue against the proposition that the creation of monopolies and the elimination of competition in the markets for fixed broadband access, international connectivity, subscription cable TV and fixed line services would be a massive backwards step for the Caribbean region.”

Documents provided to the Business Guardian after the meeting paint a picture of CWC/Columbus having market dominance – but not a virtual monopoly – in the broadband and cable markets in Jamaica.

One document indicates that if the transaction is approved, the combined revenue of CWC/Columbus in Jamaica will be US$281 million as compared with US$430 million for Digicel.

The CWC document indicates that the combination of CWC and Columbus would have 153,000 broadband subscribers Jamaica, while Digicel would have an estimated 40,000.

In the Jamaican cable market, the combination would have 130,000 customers compared with CWC’s estimate that Digicel would have 21,000 customers.

The CWC document also indicates that the combination will have 743,000 mobile customers in Jamaica compared with Digicel’s 2.2 million mobile subscribers.

In terms of the fixed voice market, the enlarged CWC is likely to control 253,000  subscribers in Jamaica, compared with Digicel with an estimated 10,000, if the transaction is approved.

In the fixed voice, broadband and the cable markets, the estimated size of the Jamaican market, according to the CWC document, is 850,000 potential subscribers.

Bentley said in an interview after the meeting that the size of the fixed-line, cable and broadband markets in Jamaica was an indication that both an enlarged CWC and Digicel have growth potential in those markets.

The CWC chief executive said: “Digicel’s argument is that we dominate the fixed-line market. But CWC only has 253,000 fixed-line accounts in Jamaica versus mobile in which Digicel has 2.2 million subscribers.

“On the issue of their claim of fixed-line dominance in Jamaica, it’s like we would say that there is market dominance in the slide-rule market. It does not mean anything. That’s not where the action is because that’s old fashioned. “They have broadband in Jamaica.

The Jamaica Gleaner in September quoted Digicel’s Jamaica CEO as saying the company was planning a massive rollout of fibre to create a national service.
They say we have a monopoly on broadband in Jamaica. It’s just not true. Even if we have more customers than they have, the fact is there is a great deal of potential growth in the cable and broadband markets in Jamaica. We can both go after it.”

Approval by the CWC shareholders is only the first regulatory approval that the transaction faces. It is a condition precedent of the transaction that it receive regulatory approval in T&T, Jamaica and Barbados as well as the approval of the US anti-trust authorities and that country’s telecommunications regulator.

In discussing the risks relating to the acquisition, the 171-page shareholder circular that was given to the shareholders attending the meeting, states: “Completion of the acquisition is not conditional on the obtaining of regulatory approvals in jurisdictions outside the US, Barbados, Jamaica and T&T. However, there are a number of jurisdictions in respect of which regulatory notifications and/or approvals may be required.”

The fact that the approval of Eastern Caribbean states is not a condition precedent of the transaction’s approval has not been well received among the five member nations of the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (Ectel) – Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

On November 13, following a meeting of its constituent members, Ectel put out a statement noting “with deep concern that this development can potentially result in a negative impact on competition. It can also reduce choice by consumers, of both services and service providers. “Since the advent of liberalisation, the prices of all telecommunications and ICT services have been significantly reduced due to competition in the region.

“Ectel is mindful that over the past 15 years there has been major development in the telecommunications sector under the guidance of independent regulators in the Eastern Caribbean.

“Increased monopolisation therefore can erode the gains made by liberalisation, and create challenges for the entrance of new service providers.”

The regulator for the five Eastern Caribbean member states said that both CWC and Columbus may be in breach of their licences, if they engage in activities which can have the effect of unfairly preventing, restricting or distorting competition.

Bentley said Flow, the name under which Columbus trades in the Eastern Caribbean, has revenues of US$25 million in the region, with St Vincent- whose Prime Minister Ralph Gonzales has expressed concern about the impact of the acquisition – generating US$5 million.

“The reason why the approval of the Ectel countries is not a condition precedent of the transaction…is that it is not material to the deal.

It does not mean that we won’t talk to them as we have met all the Prime Ministers and regulators. “But if we could not get an agreement in St Vincent, does that mean the whole deal is off? No. St Vincent not approving is not a reason to hold back a US$3 billion deal.

“All we said was, we would just have to park it. Of course, we want an agreement, of course we want to move forward. But if the worse came to the worse, we would say: ‘Fine. Leave it.’ Don’t have that as part of the deal.’ “But it’s just not material for it to be a condition precedent for the completion of the deal.”

Trafficker Murdered in Trinidad

Sammy Cadet

Sammy Cadet

Less than 12 hours after stepping foot on Trinidad soil from one of the schooners plying the Grenada/Trinidad trafficking route, Carenage resident Sammy Cadet, 37 was gunned down by assassins in the twin island oil republic.

Sammy succumbed last week Wednesday around 6.00 p.m. to multiple gun shot wounds at a house in Clifton Hill, East Dry River, Port-of-Spain.

According to police reports in Trinidad, 37-year old man who was often seen on a bicycle on the Carenage was in the house with his common-law wife, Jacqueline Job, and her four sons, who are all autistic, when five masked gunmen ran into their yard.

Two of the gunmen forced their way into the house while three stood guard outside.

Cadet was shot several times by the gunmen and died at the scene.

Police said the shooting was apparently linked to an argument between Cadet and a relative of a deceased gang leader in Grenada earlier this year.

Speaking with the media at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, Job said Cadet returned to the island hours before he was killed having been gone for just over a month.

She said the two had already discussed marriage and Cadet had bought their wedding rings and was planning to repair her home, which was firebombed sometime ago.

“He liked to clean, always cleaning and washing. All I had to do was cook. We were together since 2011 but like I am not to have anyone in my life because something always happening,” a distraught Job said.

Cadet’s common law wife, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said she would miss her husband greatly as he was a kind and loving man who took care of her and her three children.

“We might not have had children together, but I have three autis­tic sons on my own and he was always helping. He was cooking, cleaning, washing, he would even groom them. He didn’t like me to do any­thing. He truly treated me like a queen; only thing he might allow me to do is cook once in a while,” she said.

“He simply just loved helping around the household. That’s what I am going to remember most about him.”

The shooting to death of Cadet sent shock waves throughout the Grenadian traffickers that visit Trinidad and Tobago on a weekly business to engage in trading.

The gun and the gown

Ignoring classical definitions of the term “legacy”, as may be found in any good English dictionary, one thinks of it as something which stands out as a distinguishing testimonial of an actor’s work over a period of time in the life of a family, a nation, a business, an industry or mankind as a whole. The particular thing is held up, and enjoys longevity due to its unique impact on and value.

By way of example, people of faith will maintain that Jesus’ legacy is the salvation or redemption of sinful man. Of course, Jesus did many other good and miraculous things during his ministry on earth. So we are looking for evidence showing that what has occurred has shifted things so beneficially or detrimentally, that it ought to be recognised, marked and credited as an actor’s legacy. This article will briefly examine certain ‘legacy’ issues in modern Grenada.

Furthering context and scope, the actor may be an innovator/inventor, a sportsman, a leader, a scientist, a government, the church or any entity that interfaces with and contributes to or otherwise affects people’s lives in various fields and in highly significant and extraordinary ways.

Usually, for a leader or government, the evaluation takes place primarily in relation to such things as economic transformation, social justice and human rights, the enlargement of democracy, good governance and constitutional reform.

Here, the leader does not get to re-write his record. Neither is he on good ground to contemplate that if he were to demonstrate a ‘change of heart’ then only the results or consequences that ‘new dispensation’ will be credited to him as having legacy value. Being so mistaken, he will come to realise that his true legacy is all his good and bad dealings which have impacted the society so profoundly as to lastingly affect the welfare, attitudes and thinking of the people one way or another.

Making Mr Chester Arlington Humphrey, an avowed atheist, the President of the Senate in the Parliament of Grenada, may well achieve legacy status of a certain kind on the part of the Prime Minister (effected by way of instructions to the Government–appointed members of the Senate)! In making his selection to one of the highest offices in the land, the PM had before him a set of tangible, historical and reputational facts. He has not complained, neither has there been any suggestion, that he was under any form of coercion or duress in making his decision.

Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that he did so in his own deliberate judgment. To this extent, he cannot be said to have acted in error, even though others may regard his decision-making on this point as a serious error in judgment, mildly put. It is also clear that he has chosen to ignore representations made to him not to proceed with his intended course of action before it became reality in early December, 2014.  Many Grenadians will regard this as a dark mark against our nation!

Settling our thinking on this matter, it should be noted that the
political, economic, social and spiritual foundations of this nation have found expression in the Grenada Constitution and the National Anthem. The very preamble of the Grenada Constitution states, “Whereas the people of Grenada – (a) have affirmed that their nation is founded upon principles that acknowledge the fatherhood and supremacy of God…

(f) desire that their constitution should reflect the above principles and beliefs which represent those high ideals upon which their nation is founded….” Things cannot be more plainly put.

While the Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience (religion/worship), it does not guarantee the Office of President of the Senate to all citizens, including atheists. Importantly, this matter is governed by ‘convention’ of the Constitution, steered by settled practice and conditioned by the spiritual pillars of our nation. Secondly, being a member of the Senate representing the Labour Movement is a far cry from being “appointed by Government” as President of the Senate.

The Presidency is a seat of higher level national honour. So, quite unexpectedly, we have stumbled upon one of the classic tensions between party and State. Some things that are advantageous for a political party may be harmful to the State. Do you think that Grenadians will vote an atheist to be the Prime Minister, or accept as Governor General one who does not believe in God?

King David could not build a temple to Almighty God because he was declared to have shed too much blood. Moses could not enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience. So there are clear grounds of disqualification from favour. Unless we are a nation of non-believers, which we certainly are not, these interventions by God himself must speak loudly and clearly to us in Grenada at this time.

Chester Arlington Humphrey knows that Grenada is a nation that has been dedicated to God. In the past, he has refused the President’s invitation to pray at the commencement of proceedings in the Senate.

He must also be taken as one who neither believes in nor participates in the singing of our National Anthem. How could he when the Anthem declares, “Ever conscious of God, being proud of our heritage, may we with faith and courage…”  And ends, “God bless our Nation”?

Neither Chester Arlington Humphrey nor the Prime Minister is likely to be told anything directly by God as was the case with King David and Moses; their audience will be at another time and place. For the time being, they can most certainly be spoken to by the people of Grenada. Chester Arlington Humphrey, like the PM, is a well-read intellectual. They both know what the Constitution declares and what the Anthem trumpets. They both understand what indignity to a nation is. Dominant control of state power does not change that.

Reflecting on our modern history, Grenadians will describe the legacy
of Sir Eric Matthew Gairy, on the positive side, as social revolution, political independence and St. George’s University. The Revolution’s legacy may be identified as the international airport, human resource development and patriotism. The two NDC regimes (1990-95, 2008-12) will be remembered for restoring creditworthiness and Sandals, respectively.  When we get to the NNP (1995-2008), we recognize the physical expansion of the capital city, new cruise terminal, concrete roads and IMANI.

Viewed dispassionately, some may contend that these are not of the order of the legacies of Sir Eric Gairy and the Grenada Revolution.

However, the NNP has looming opportunities to create legacy values in the areas of constitutional reform, enlargement of our democracy and economic transformation. Judging from the use of the National Transformation Fund in the 2015 budget, they seem not to be interested in the latter.

There will be no legacy regarding the notion of “inclusion”, nor will
there be any legacy attaching to the so-called ‘Project Grenada’.

These two have been without a cogent narrative and heavily contaminated by party political interests. An atheist as President of the Senate will create history, and cry out as a situation needing correcting, but its legacy value falls on the negative side.

Imagine Kirani James is motoring through his customary 400 meter sprint event, but when he turns the bend discovers that it has been turned into a sprint and hurdles race by someone to suit the gambling bets that he has placed. Big problem! The rules are different! The skill requirements are different! Kirani is entirely unfamiliar with and unprepared for this type of race! The result will be different! He will lose the race and all Grenada will bow in disbelief and sadness.

This is the nature of what confronts us now as a nation while Chester Arlington Humphrey puts on his newly-customised gown and wig, imported specially from London. But beware that the road from the gun to the gown is circular!

Yesterday, the gun’s role was to overthrow a duly-elected Government! Today, the gown’s role is to enthrone a duly-elected Government! Tomorrow might just be right for the gun tohave its say again regarding Government!

Things have changed but time has nothing to do with it! Constitution?
Who cares about the supreme law? National Anthem? Who cares about singing

Oh Papa! Rain fall in the mountain and now the river coming down!

Concerned Grenadian

The great Private Sector sell-out

Advocacy bodies for the Grenada private sector are in alliance with the New National Party and this has been the case for some time now.

This is certainly true in the case of the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The evidence of this was the placement of leadership of this body in the hands of individuals like Nikolas Steele, Simon Stiell, the current president Ruel Edwards and other known NNP sympathisers.

Both Nikki and Simon removed their masks and moved into full blown politics just before the 2013 elections after they had used the Chamber to mount assault after assault on the NDC administration.

Ruel Edwards emerged as President. We are talking about a man whose affiliation with the NNP is well known and whose job as manager of the MNIB puts him at the mercy of the Prime Minister. Had he been a private sector business owner or manager like former Chamber Presidents, this would not have been the case.

Legitimate questions must therefore be asked about his ability to act independently and represent the interests of the hundreds of businesses that form the membership of the Chamber, pay their dues and expect that organisation to be true to its mandate.

Other high profile private sector officials have acted as virtualspokespersons for the NNP, both in opposition and in government.

So, who will stand up and speak up for Grenada’s private sector? Who will put things in a private sector perspective now that the Estimates for 2015 have been presented?

Here are some of the issues that require advocacy:

Manufacturers Rebate

The manufacturers enjoyed a very generous 10% of sales rebate on their non-VAT tax obligations under the NDC administration. The arrangement cost the then government more than 10 million dollars in revenue foregone in 2012.

This, however, was considered inadequate and under the leadership of Mr. Chris DeAllie, this sector pressed for the arrangement to extend into letting the manufacturers retain two thirds of the 15% VAT they collected from the public. When this request was rejected by the technical staff of the Ministry of Finance on the grounds that it would undermine public finances, the manufacturing lobby went to war against the NDC administration. They played their part in securing a regime change in February 2013. But what do they have now?

The 10% rebate has been reduced to a 5% rebate, and all this will end by 2016 in keeping with the government’s existing commitment to the IMF! So, who is talking up for the manufacturers now? Where is Chris DeAllie? Where is Ruel Edwards?

Small Business Tax

Small businesses turning over between 30,000 and 120,000 will soon be paying a gross sales tax of 5%. The Prime Minister did not choose to speak of this in his theatrical speech, but this is yet another commitment made under the existing agreement with the IMF.

In the current economic climate in which businesses, including banks, are closing down or shedding staff, can small businesses bear this additional burden on top of all the taxes and fees they have been saddled with since the NNP took office?

How come the Chamber is not asking this question? Why has Mr. DeAllie not gone to bat for the small businesses on this matter, some of whom are in fact agro-processors or small manufacturers?

Grenada’s Doing Business Ranking

Grenada’s Doing Business ranking has taken a nose dive, dropping a whopping 19 points from 107 to 126. The NNP administration has abandoned Doing Business reform. Instead of maintaining the task force which operated with private sector involvement, and drove the reform process under the NDC government, they put together a committee of three politicians and one technician and told them to see what they could do. No administrative back up, no work plan! Naturally, nothing happened.

It was an approach that ignored international best practice and the success of the work of the task force that led Doing Business Reform during the tenure of Finance Minister Burke.

Now then, given the importance of a country’s Doing Business Ranking, as a measure of how easy or difficult it is for business to be conducted, and as an indicator of the attractiveness of a country to foreign investment, one would expect the oldest and largest private sector body to have something to say about this. True to its new Modus Operandi not a peep has been heard from the Chamber. The conspiracy of silence reigns!

Genuine Advocacy and Not Cover Up

There are many other matters pertaining to Grenada’s development in which there is need for rigorous and thorough interventions by interest groups that are prepared to faithfully carry their briefs.

Advocacy bodies like the Chamber should not be intimidated into silence and reduced to becoming mere rubber stamps for government policy and they should be consistent in defending the interest of their constituents. That is how lobbies grow strong and survive.

Sad to say, this stilling of the tongue is not restricted to private sector groups, but has spread like Ebola into would you believe it the Trade Union movement, where a Judas like sell-out is unfolding. The nation is looking on with bated breathe to see where this obscenity will lead.

In the final analysis, advocacy groups can enter into compacts for national development, but this should not result in their emasculation or muzzling. The individuals who are leading this sell-out should know that by their actions they are engaged in self-marginalization and loss of respect, ultimately undermining themselves.

This is a time for genuine advocacy and not cover up.

GCIC Member

Grenada’s Proposed Constitutional Coupe d’état

By John A. Rullow

Within the State of Grenada much stir is being made at certain levels for a “Constitutional Reform” whereas in effect what is occurring is a proposed superficial alteration in the form of amendments to an already “illegal” and mal-functioning, neocolonialist, bourgeois, bureaucratic and parasitic privilege protection system established in the current constitution of the State.

It is therefore extremely important that all Grenadians and even beyond at a regional level understand, be aware and cautious of what is being planned. It is the hope of  “Project Grenada” to “Pimp” on the existing constitution to further entrench themselves in their privileged positions to continue to abuse the citizenry, violate their rights, continue their nepotism, their secrecy and their victimisation while shrouding themselves in the impunity provided for under the current system.

Grenada has to move to the stage of truly reforming the constitution of the nation for many reasons too many to mention here; we know them all and therefore any reform of the constitution has to be integral, profound and with the total involvement of the “people.”

When we look at our history we see that in 1973-1974 a merger between the then political elite, the remnants of the plantocracy and the colonial masters conspiratively compromised to produce a document which was handed down to us. The people of the country had no say.

Today the same mentality exists but the only factor excluded is that of the “White Man.”

A privileged few, trained in the “white man’s law with the same “superiority complex is now usurping authority which they do not have to produce a replica of the 1973-1974 document, spitting in the face of the dignity of the people and jeering and mocking the genuine aspirations and ambition of the “other” citizens of this country who own the sovereign and constituent power.

They have hand-picked a team of “selected people from special interest groups” to write a constitution with what they want to put in it and to do it how they want to do it. This, Grenadians can never be democratic and certainly sits within “anti-democracy” because in this nation all men are equal and none are more equal than any other; no man nor woman in this country has more privileges than another as a citizen of the nation; therefore all and sundry have rights to decide who they want to write their constitution and to decide what they want to put in it; and this is why a Constituent Assembly is most appropriate and most democratic so that the people have the opportunity to exercise their rights and to fulfill their will.

We have to understand that if there is no “demos”, no “populi” and no “plebe” in other words if the people in their masses are not involve there is no DEMOCRACY. Make no mistake about it. In true democracy there are no privileges.

If we were to take the most democratic path to constitutional reform meaning the elimination, curing and abolishing of all abuses and mal-practices we shall guarantee many things. We shall guarantee full independence, we shall guarantee the practice of true protagonic and participatory democracy, we shall guarantee a major bond between the people and their constitution, we shall guarantee and inform citizenry, we shall guarantee that patriotic and nationalistic commitment to uphold and to guarantee the upholding of the new constitution, but last and by no means least it shall guarantee a yes vote at the referendum of ratification.

It is important therefore Grenadians that you think well of the “Referendum of 2015”. Project Grenada has its plan – they have decided what they want and they have the “heavy roller” of 15 seats in the Parliament to make it law, but we have the key.

It is true to say that if they win the referendum, they win; if they lose the referendum, they still win because the “melee” will continue, and this is why the voice of the people in rejection of the plans of Project Grenada has to be elevated.

A plebiscital “no” vote with a huge majority will send the message to the conspirators and thus abort the constitutional Coup d’état that is proposed. “They” shall never have “their” way “we” shall have “our” way because Grenada belongs to us.

Making a constitution work

At the above ‘Consultation,’ attorney Ruggles Ferguson presented on ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’. He made the observation that a constitution is a living document and that people should not sit back and groan and complain. It is the people who must take action to ensure that it works (my wording). In short, the constitution is just a confluence of words on paper, unless people have the will, purity of purpose and the strength of character to implement it.

A very widespread remark is that Prime Ministers have too much power. This may be so, but in instances of the powers to make recommendations for appointments to certain positions or Offices to the Governor General (somebody has to do it), invariably, these persons shall, ‘in the exercise of their functions under the Constitution, not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority’.

They who are weak, weakens the constitution when they fail to make fair and reasonable decisions, independently.

The Constitution provides many checks and balances, if persons who occupy positions of authority are willing to obey and implement the rules. Is the failure to set up Local Government in Carriacou, over the last forty years, a demonstration of mismanagement and disrespect for the Constitution?

If it is true that our present constitution was disrespected and not implemented to our detriment, why should one believe that another with a plethora of amendments and additions will make any difference? Can we imagine how different our state could have been if these seemingly helpful rules were implemented?

All of the above leads me to the conclusion that a Constitution in a democracy works only where the following pillars of support are entrenched:

(i) Leaders who are willing to obey and implement its edicts

(ii) A fiercely independent, enquiring press (independent content)

(iii) A very strong, vigilant people

(iv) Mechanisms to hold those in authorities, responsible

It is not enough to say that the fact that this constitution is forty years old is reason enough to change it. To me, this statement is like saying that the pyramids of Egypt and other Wonders and Heritage of the world, or people of a certain age should be terminated.

To say also that ‘if we are the first to be called (whatever), ‘so be it’ is to show either extreme ignorance or a lack of appreciation for our very tumultuous past, our history. Many of our firsts have been very unsavory.

It has been argued that that the Parliamentary system of government coupled with copious powers of a Prime Minister are major obstacles. Again, the observation is made that a similar system has worked relatively well in Canada, Australia, Barbados among others, over the years; why not in Grenada?

I go back to Ruggles Ferguson,’ It is people who must make a constitution work’ for them.

I commend the strategists of this GCR for putting forth a very smart strategy that is certain to elicit the required amount of ‘YES’ votes and a win for all items on these referenda.

GCR may also be the ‘first’ to contain items in line with new world trends. To some, this is chance at making history or a legacy opportunity. Be reminded that constitutions are not changed every day. You do not get another chance to revert that easily, if you are later dissatisfied with the changes already made.

Whatever the outcome, every effort must be made to demonstrate that nothing was done flippantly; to demonstrate that this exercise was based in sobriety, maturity, deep thought, been well informed and clarity.

It must transcend selfishness, personality and other emotive issues. As Dr. Joseph said, ‘May God help us!

Smith Roberts

AIRPORT NURSES AT RISK!!!

The Ministry of Health will be putting the 4 Nurses who work at the Airport at risk if a case of Ebola arrives in Grenada and if the nurses do not stand up for their protection.

The Ministry of Health is taking the easiest way out of protecting Grenadians by hoping that the other countries ban everyone they suspect of carrying the virus from getting on an Airplane and that way everyone could fold their arms and chill out.

I must admit that they are doing a lot of “TRAINING” because all it takes for the relevant personnel in the Ministry is to look at CNN and copy what’s on the News, write them down and then go and repeat them in a “TRAINING” session.

There is NO QUARANTINE ROOM anywhere in Grenada. There is NO PPE (PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT) in the Airport.

Even though there is an Epidemiology Department in the Ministry, the Specialists in Infection Control are taking a back seat and putting the Regular Nurses in the Airport to be responsible for PROTECTING THE COUNTRY, which we know will never work.

So the Ministry of Health is putting the Nurses at the Airport in the frontline while the WHOLE OF GRENADA, CARRIACOU AND PETIT MARTINIQUE WILL BE AT RISK.

I am asking the News media when the Ministry of Health is having their press briefings, to ask them to show the people of Grenada the Quarantine Room and the Personal Protective Equipment together with the ISOLATION TEAM. Then and only then we all will be satisfied that something was done.

CHRISTMAS IS COMING THEN TRINIDAD AND CARRIACOU CARNIVALS.

Concerned Citizen