CIBC FirstCaribbean launches Visa Business Debit Card

CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank business clients now have the opportunity to conduct financial transactions with ease.

Country Manager, Nigel Ollivierre and William Wright, Director of Business Banking

Country Manager, Nigel Ollivierre and William Wright, Director of Business Banking

The bank, on Tuesday, launched its Visa Business Debit Card, which will now provide small and medium-sized business people with a low-cost alternative payment solution for their business expenses locally, overseas or online.

The card will give the bank’s business clientele an additional channel to better manage their business funds with more convenience, control, and at a lower cost.

Director, Business Banking of CIBC FirstCaribbean William Wright who launched the new service at the Conference Room of the Church Street, St. George’s Branch spoke of the bank’s business achievement.

Wright said over the past three years the bank’s business banking segment has recorded strong growth.

He disclosed that there has been double-digit increases in sales volumes, which has translated into strong growth in the bank’s commercial and personal loan balances attributed to its business clients.

According to the Director, the introduction of the bizline Visa Business Debit Card demonstrates that the bank continues to appreciate the interest of its clients.

He disclosed that there is no credit approval needed to get a card.

“Once a client has a business banking account with CIBC FirstCaribbean they can request the card,” he said.

The card will be able to conveniently pay for purchases using funds deducted from their linked business bank account at CIBC FirstCaribbean.

Wright said it makes provisions for a daily purchase limit of $10,000, and a cash withdrawal of $2,000 each day.

CIBC’s Country Manager for Grenada, Nigel Ollivierre believes the launch of the new service signals an exciting time for the entire FirstCaribbean Family.

Ollivierre said the Business Debit Card is not only the first of its kind in the market, but is also among the very first available within the Dutch and English-speaking Caribbean.

The Country Manager is confident that the card will make it easier
for the bank’s clients to manage their spending as business professionals.

The new product features a higher daily purchase limit than a personal debit card, carries no transaction fees charged on purchases, and provides users with the ability to make easier and faster payments to international suppliers.

The product is being launched in all of the islands of the region where CIBC FirstCaribbean operates and targets its commercial clients.

Burke: Government lacks moral authority in Constitutional Reform

Grenada has moved closer to Constitutional reform with the passage of seven bills in the Senate last week Wednesday.

However, there is uncertainty over support for the move from the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) as its leader Nazim Burke has shot down Constitutional Reform at this point in time.

During the sitting, Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Simon Stiell described the day as “another historic moment” for the country but Sen. Burke questioned whether the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration has the moral authority to come to the people with the talk of Constitutional reform.

The bills related to the Establishment of an Elections and Boundaries Commission, Caribbean Court of Justice to replace the Privy Council in London, Name of State Amendment, Fixed Terms for Elections, Term of Office for the Prime Minister, and Appointment of Leader of the Opposition.

According to Sen. Stiell the Constitution reform bills is yet another act of courage on the part of the government in its three years in office since the 1974 Constitution was handed down on the attainment of Independence in 1974 from Great Britain does not speak to what Grenada is all about.

“When we reflect on where we were back on 1994 and where we are now those core values that make us who we are …. we should do all we can to protect that and that is what the Constitution is there for to make sure that those things that you want to nurture are there, are reflected within that and those things you want to protect us against or give us the teeth to address must also be there”, he said.

“…The current Constitution was handed down to us by the Colonial authorities of that day, few Grenadians if any Grenadians had any say into the construct of the Constitution. Where is the true Grenadian-ness? Where is that reflected in the spirit of the Constitution, where – our fingerprints are nowhere to be found on that document”, he added.

Sen. Stiell, the Minister of State for Education contended that the 1974 Constitution is not reflective of who Grenada really is.

However, Sen. Burke doubts if NNP regime of Dr. Mitchell understands the true essence of the Constitution and what it stands for.

“As I reflect on sections of the constitutions that I’ve read, I am forced to ask myself Mr. President, whether in the last three and half years, considering all that the government has done in last three and a half years, whether this government has the moral authority to come to the people of Grenada Carriacou and Petite Martinique proposing constitutional change”, he told the Upper House.

Sen. Burke recalled a number of issues involving the government that points to its lack of moral authority to push ahead with reformation of the constitution.

He cited the manner in which the NNP on taking in office in February 2013 removed the Commissioner of Police, Willan Thompson, Supervisor of Elections, Judy Benoit and Cabinet Secretary, Gemma Bain-Thomas from their posts in the civil service.

“In the last three and a half years, the Prime Minister removed the Commissioner of Police (COP) appointed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) as Commissioner of Police (COP), section 84-1 of the Constitution speaks to that.

“The Prime Minister removed the Commissioner of Prisons, appointed by the Public Service Commission (PSC), Section 84 of the Constitution speaks to that. The Prime Minister removed the Cabinet Secretary appointed by the PSC, appointing her to a non-established position in the Public Service – Executive Director of the Money Laundering Commission, answerable to the Attorney General.

According to the Congress leader, these decisions of the administration raises questions as to whether the current leaders understand the Constitution.

Sen. Burke was also critical of the Mitchell’s government introduction in Parliament of a number of controversial legislation including the Electronic Crimes Bill, Terrorism Bill, and the bugging of phones among others.

He said: “The government enacted sections 6, 16 and 25 of a law called the Electronic Crimes Act, criminalising the transmission of electronic information considered offensive by any person, even where the information is true.

“Thanks to the valiant efforts of the International Press Institute, thanks (to) the valiant efforts of the local forces including the NDC, thanks to the efforts of a Sister in St Vincent, who fought so valiantly and we were able to push the government back on that provision.

“The government enacted the Terrorism Amendment Law, giving to the State, to the Attorney General the authority to declare any Grenadian person a terrorist, any Grenadian organisation, a terrorist organisation. The United Nations Security Council basically has a list of all the organisations in the world that are considered terrorist organisations, that is shared by all nations and made available to them. Countries don’t just arbitrarily get up and say you know what – I declaring NDC a terrorist organisation.

“If the Attorney General is basically just given the authority to declare what can happen, the Attorney General can get  today and say you know what Nazim Burke is a terrorist, NDC is a terrorist and then when I try to go down to Trinidad, Trinidad says to me your country declared you a terrorist, we don’t want no terrorist in our country…so even my right to travel in other Caribbean Islands can be constrained by this kinda behaviour.

The NDC Political Leader also referred to a law called The Interception of Wire Communication Amendment Bill that completely goes against certain inclusions in the Constitution.

“…In an attempt to secure the legal authority to bug phones of all persons who are believed to be acting “contrary to the economic interest of the state” without defining in that law what it means when you say contrary to the economic interest of the state. Let us say for example, the government considers the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) to be important and in the economic interest of the state and then I get up and unknowingly make some comments that are in disagreement with the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and the government considers that to be contrary to the economic interest of the state by making these comments against the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), that forms the basis upon which the government can bug my phone.

“Now, is that freedom of conscience? Is that freedom of expression?

Is that freedom of opinion? I say no and it’s only because we fought valiantly that we were able to kill that provision (in) the bill…”, Sen. Burke said.

The NDC leader touched on the manner in which Benoit was removed as Supervisor of Elections after resisting moves for the Office of the Prime Minister to have direct Internet access to the Parliamentary Elections Office.

“How did the Cabinet respond to that measure? The Cabinet fired the woman, the Cabinet fired the Supervisor of Elections…this is the government that is coming to you to say I want to change the Constitution…” he said.

The Mitchell government has given commitment to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that is helping to fund the proposed referendum that the electorate will be given an opportunity soon to vote on the seven bills.

Sen. Burke: Victory will be ours

Political Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Senator Nazim Burke said his party is ready to face the polls whenever the next General Election which is constitutionally due in 2018 is called.

During the recent General Council of the ruling New National Party (NNP), Prime Minister and Political Leader, Dr. Keith Mitchell joked at a July 2017 date to coincide with the CARICOM Heads of government meeting in Grenada.

Sen. Burke told a public meeting at Woburn last week Wednesday night that while Congress is ready for any date, the party will continue to focus on the things that are of importance such as ensuring that every single person eligible to vote and likely to support the NDC be registered.

Sources close to Burke told THE NEW TODAY that he has not ruled out a snap poll between September and December.

The NDC Boss said that over the last three years Congress has been trying to build a competent team of individuals following its humiliating defeat in the February 2013 General Elections.

He spoke of Congress trying to build an organisation with the right committed and talented people who are determined to make Grenada a place to be proud of once again.

“Our party is made up of people who are prepared to work for a living. Our people are prepared to sacrifice for a living, to work for a living,” he said.

Burke told the gathering that the current rulers in the country are trying to make the people of Grenada believe that Congress’ main interest is only about gaining State power.

The NDC Political Leader stressed that it is necessary for the people to be aware of the difference between Congress and NNP.

He said that since its formation in 1987, Congress has been an organisation founded on the principles of good governance, transparency, accountability in public office, and respect for the laws, constitution and institutions of the country.

Sen. Burke admonished party faithfuls to continue providing support to the various Constituency Caretakers, and to do the political work in the different villages.

“Victory will be ours if we do what we suppose to do,” he said.

Deputy Chairman of Congress, Jenny Simon who also addressed the public meeting accused the NNP of not being able to deliver on its election promises.

She said the NNP is operating on failed policies and plans, and that it has no means of taking Grenada forward.

Simon who has been NDC’s spokesperson on Health issues once again chided the Keith Mitchell-led government on not making use of the nation’s scarce resources.

She made reference to the recent death of River Road resident, Greg Morgan as a result of Guillaian-Barre Syndrome (GBS).

The senior NDC official charged that while government was only able to source one dose of the treatment at a cost $23,000 for GBS for the two patients, the administration continues to hire retirees at high salaries.

“Two months of Mr. (Lawrence) Joseph’s salary… would have saved the life of this young gentleman,” she said.

This is reference to the salary paid to attorney-at-law, Lawrence Joseph, a former Chairman and Government Minister with the government who has been retained to offer advice to Parliament on Constitutional Reform.

Anglican Church Faculty Approved

Archdeacon of the St. George’s Anglican Church, Christian Glasgow has received a favourable response from Bishop Leopold Friday for additional upgrades to the main church building in St. George’s that is now under construction.

The Church Committee with its sub-Church Councils of St. George, St. Alban, St. Luke, St. Peters and St. Vincent had applied to Bishop Friday for a Faculty as part of the restoration of the main Parish church building on Church Street, St. George’s to include a media booth, an additional stair to the loft, a concrete roof, chapel and toilet facility, toilet facilities in the vestry, and an upgrade of present toilet facilities.

In presenting the recent application for the Faculty, Archdeacon Glasgow informed Bishop Friday that some of the funds for the additional upgrades are at hand, and the remainder will be sourced through fund raising activities.

The media room with accessed steps and rails from the loft is estimated at $20,000,  another $30,000 for vestry and toilet extension, reinforced concrete roof for chapel and bathroom facilities at a cost of $40,000, stairs to the choir loft and media room estimated at $35,000.

The weekly Service from the St. George’s Anglican Church is often carried live on audio.

However, the Archdeacon is seeking to have the Service carried live by both audio and visual when the celebration of the Eucharist returns to the refurbished church through a well equipped media booth.

The St. George’s Anglican Church on Church Street suffered major structural damage during the passage of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.

Archdeacon Glasgow is confident that none of the upgrades will affect the heritage nature of the building.

“It does not distort it, it does not remove its heritage, and so I do not expect to have objections on those grounds,” he said.

Head of the building committee, Lana McPhail who made the announcement during last Sunday’s worship said work can now continue on the church in terms of getting the upgrades done.

McPhail urged the congregation to view for themselves the work that is taking place at present.

She said they are still working on having the restoration work completed by October in time for the Anglican Mass of the Synod.

Sen. Hood: Keep it clean for Spicemas 2016

Culture Minister, Senator Brenda Hood is generally pleased with the activities for Spicemas 2016 but expressed concerns over some of the lyrical contents of calypsonians and the costumes on display for this year’s celebration.

Speaking at a sitting of the Upper House of Parliament last Wednesday at the Trade Centre, Sen. Hood said that while Spicemas is a time for people to let loose, the masqueraders and calypsonians have to still be mindful that Grenada is a Christian nation.

“I just want to make an appeal to the artistes, calypsonians, soca artistes…this is a Christian society, a lot of times we have to think about the negative impacts that it (what is done in the artform) will have on the society”, she said.

According to the female government minister, the various participants need to understand that whatever is depicted in song or costume, the fact of the matter is that “what we display on the streets we need to be very conscious of it…”.

“…I am saying all this to say that I have been receiving letters and calls from persons who have listened to some of the lyrics and they are not happy”, she said.

“…A lot of it has to do about women…this is something that if they are produced in the music or you are on the streets…we have a lot of children that come out to these events and as adults we have to lead by example,” she added.

According to Sen. Hood as Minister of Culture, she has a responsibility to ensure that immoral acts are not present in the society.

“… We are not saying to the police to arrest everyone but what I am saying is that we need to be conscious of whatever comes out of our mouths because whatever comes out of our mouths we cannot take it back”, she told fellow legislators.

The Culture Minister spoke of a drop in the quality of the product produced by the band leaders.

“…I feel over the years they (costumes) have been losing expressions and these are things that we do not support here in Grenada and I want to ask everyone that is involved that they need to become more conscious,” she said.

The minister acknowledged that some people use carnival to have “a good time” but warned that it should not be “at the expense of one’s dignity”.

“I know Spicemas is a time that people let down their guard and they want to have a great time but at the end of the day, you have to think about days after Spicemas what happens – the country still exists, the children are there and the world is very small.

“I know we have one of the best J’ouvert in the world, (we) have a nice time but at the same time think about the other person…am I doing or saying something that will hurt the other person and I think this is how the artform will grow from strength to strength.

Sen. Hood told Parliament that the August festival should see nine (9) fancy bands on parade, which is an increase over that of last year.

“I have looked at the programme for all of the activities that are taking place. I am impressed with what I have seen. I know as Grenadians we all would be proud of what is coming forward,” she said.

Spicemas 2016 culminates on August 8 and 9 with the traditional street activities, which includes J’ouvert, Monday Night mas and the parade of the costume bands on the Tuesday.

Referendum Day Drawing Close

Dr. Francis Alexis – the noted constitutional lawyers

Dr. Francis Alexis – the noted constitutional lawyers

Grenadians are still waiting on government to give a date for the holding of the long promised Referendum on Constitutional Changes.

Chairman of the Grenada Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC), Dr. Francis Alexis dropped hints last week Thursday that within the next 48-hours he expected the date to be given by the relevant authority.

Dr. Alexis told reporters at a media briefing the most likely date is sometime in October based on a briefing he had with the Supervisor of Elections, Alex Phillip, the Principal of the Grenada Boys Secondary School (GBSS).

He spoke of Phillip telling him that the Electoral Office is ready to conduct a referendum sometime in October.

However, the CRAC Chairman said that the date will have to be chosen by the government in consultation with the Supervisor of Elections.

Prime Minister Dr, Keith Mitchell has already gone on record as saying that he would like to see the referendum take place long in advance of a general election.

Mitchell’s ruling New National Party (NNP) has only  19 months before its current term in office expires.

Briefing the media on the passage of the seven Constitutional Bills that were approved by the Upper House of Parliament last week Wednesday that were first voted on by the House of Representatives, Dr. Alexis felt it was an historic day for Grenada as, for the first time ever, Bills to reform the constitution were debated and voted upon in the Senate.

One of the Bills passed by the Senate related to the conduct of Constitutional Referendum.

Dr. Alexis explained that this Bill provides for there to be a single ballot paper where all eligible voters will be able to vote for whatever number of items put forward for the referendum.

“The point is that you will not have several pieces of paper to deal with. There will be one ballot paper, and you don’t have to vote for all the Bills on that ballot paper,” he said.

At least two-thirds of the valid votes cast for any of the Bills will carry through the changes to the constitution.

Unlike there being agents of the political candidates at the various polling stations, there will instead be monitors for the referendum being chosen by community organisations including Civil Society, the Churches, and Political Parties.

Dr. Alexis who specialises in Constitutional law noted that Grenada has been going after constitution reform for the past 31 years with several reports coming in from since 1985, 2006, 2010-2012, and 2014-2016.

In giving an indication of what are some of the privileges the Bills are offering citizens, Dr. Alexis said “this will be a modern Constitution,” not to be compared with most Constitutions in the world.

He said he looked at most of the proceedings in the Senate, and praised the contributions coming from Senators Christopher DeAllie and Raymond Roberts who represent the private sector and labour, respectively.

The CRAC Chairman gave credit to Sen. DeAllie for “lifting the debate,” by making the point that there is no need for political partisanship in a debate on reforming the constitution.

He said one does not have to be a rocket scientist to be able to have ideas, but at the end of the day the challenge is to be mature enough to recognise that one cannot get everything he wants in constitutional reform.

He also pointed out that CRAC did not get all that it wanted, “but we are mature enough to refrain from calling other names.”

“At least you’re making a start in constitution reform, and that is what was historic about (it)… because never before was there a debate in the Senate, so you don’t storm out of the Chamber just because all of your brilliant ideas are not being accommodated,” he said.

The CRAC Chairman was clearly referring to the Senators aligned to the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) who left the Senate during the debate of the Bills.

Alexis was a founding member of Congress along with ex-Prime Ministers George Brizan, Tillman Thomas and ex-government ministers Phinsley St. Louis, and Kenny Lalsingh.

Last year, NDC also pulled out its membership on CRAC.

Dr. Alexis also made a plea to Grenadians to take part in the referendum when the Mitchell-led government gives the date.

“We’re calling upon all Grenadians, Carriacouans and Petit Martiniquans, steer the course down to referendum day, vote according to your conscience, be part of this historic moment,” he said.

Education investment bearing fruit

Executive member of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Randal Robinson believes that the results now being seen in the various school exams at all levels is due to the investment of the former Tillman Thomas-led government in the nation’s teachers.

Robinson, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Congress made the statement while addressing a public meeting held at Woburn, St. George’s last week Wednesday night.

He said that a number of teachers got an opportunity to obtain a First Degree during the rule of Congress between 2008 and 2013.

He stated that when Thomas’ NDC took office only nineteen percent of the teaching population had a First Degree, and by the time the party lost the election in February 2013 the number grew to fifty percent.

“The NDC recognised… that the only way we could get this country up and going is to educate our people,” he said.

According to the NDC PRO, the fruits of the investment made in the teachers are reflective in the results of the 2016 Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA) results.

Robinson also pointed to the free school books programme started by NDC as another fillip to the growth of the education system on the island.

He said the programme resulted in parents making huge savings in purchasing books especially those who might have as many as three children attending school at the same time.

Deputy Political Leader of Congress, Joseph Andall who also addressed the public meeting accused the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell of discriminating against him.

Andall who has been engaged in teaching for all of his working life made mention of an incident in which he was approached to do some translation and interpreting of the Spanish Language for the Government of Grenada and private citizens.

He said he noticed that in recent years people were hardly bringing documents to him for translation.

According to Andall, about two months ago he was approached by a young man to get some documents translated from English into Spanish.

He said arrangements were made for the person to deliver the document to him, and he (Andall) received a message from the individual informing him that the Scholarship Desk in the Ministry of Education instructed him that Cabinet has appointed only two persons on the island to do its translation.

“So you understand the wicked and vindictive nature of Keith Mitchell and his Cabinet who believe that if you are a political opponent you have no right to earn a living in this country legally,” he told the gathering.

THE NEW TODAY understands that one of the persons retained to do translation is the principal of a major learning institution on the island while the other is a government employee.

Senators welcome Pamela Moses to Upper House

Former secondary school principal, Pamela Moses is now officially a member of the Upper House in Parliament.

Sen. Moses took the oath last week Wednesday during a sitting of the Senate at the Trade Centre in Morne Rouge, Grand Anse, St. George’s.

Pamela Moses – Newest government Senator in parliament

Pamela Moses – Newest government Senator in parliament

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell announced her entry into politics earlier in the month in a national address when he said that the former Principal of the St. Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School (SAASS) would be replacing the outgoing Sen. Sheldon Scott in Parliament.

In her maiden speech in the Upper House, Sen. Moses said that she loved teaching but it was always her desire to do more for the country.

“It (teaching) was a wonderful and very rewarding experience and folks might be wondering why would one give that up, why would someone who is at the top of their career in education give up that opportunity and move into choppy waters because I know this position here would not be without its challenges”, she said.

The new Senator was welcomed to Parliament by members from both sides of the political divide including Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Simon Stiell and Political Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Nazim Burke.

Sen. Stiell described the new Senator as someone who served with distinction in education for 22 years as a teacher, an active community worker, and one who cares about people and the welfare of her community.

He said that her elevation into Parliament as a Senator and her appointment as Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for Youth, Sports and Religious Affairs now means that Sen. Moses will now be able to elevate her contribution from the community level to “the national level to make a national contribution”.

Sen. Nazim Burke referred to the new government member to the Senate as a “new and shining light.”

“I do not know Sen. Moses very well. We have met on a couple of occasions.  I happened to have gone to SAASS on a couple of occasions to meet with the students concerning the annual debates and I watched very carefully her interaction with the students there and what I think comes through without any doubt is her love for children and her love for teaching. So I believe that Sen. Moses we have found in the Senate a new and shining light,” he said.

Trade union representative in the Senate, Raymond Roberts also extended best wishes to the island’s newest member of the Senate.

He said:  “Best wishes to Sen. Moses. She certainly comes from part of our family, which is the Trade Union family. Having been a teacher, I’m sure she would have been part of the GUT (Grenada Union of Teachers) and made a solid contribution to this proud union.

‘I have the greatest respect for the institution from which she came from, SAASS…I’m sure she will lend a tremendous depth to our debate and our discussion on national issues here in this parliament,” he added.

President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey noted that Sen. Moses is following in the footsteps of a number of former educators who made significant contributions to the nation’s business ex-Governors-General, Sir Paul Scoon, Sir Reginald Palmer, and Sir Carlyle Glean, and former Prime Minister, Sir Nicholas Brathwaite, who all served at one time as school teachers.

Political observers regard the appointment of Sen. Moses to the Upper House as a clear sign that the NNP is preparing for the next general election.

Sen. Moses is tipped to contest the rural St. Patrick East for the ruling party instead of the incumbent, Clifton Paul who has apparently fallen out of grace.

In the case of Sen. Scott, he will now be hired by the NNP to do political work for the party in the area of public relations.

While in government, Scott came in for tremendous criticisms for using some of his time to run his political talk show programme.

Congress is said to be convinced that a snap election could be called sometime between September and December by Prime Minister Mitchell.

NNP to go into retreat

The ruling New National Party (NNP) is putting structures in place to contest the next General Election that is constitutionally due in 2018.

Prime Minister and Political Leader of the party, Dr. Keith Mitchell told party supporters during last week’s General Council at the Gouyave Anglican School in St. John’s that the hierarchy of the party will be going into a retreat on July 29th.

Dr. Mitchell said the retreat will have the “key leadership” of the NNP assessing the state of the party, and the way forward.

He believes NNP still has a lot of work to do in order to  convince the people of Grenada to return it to Office for another five-year term, and as such they should take no chance.

“We have to do serious house-to-house work. For those of us who are doing it already, we need more to double it, and those who have not done it yet must start,” he said.

The NNP Political Leader indicated that a General Election is open and that that they cannot take chances with the future of the country.

He reminded the delegates of the 2003 poll when NNP narrowly held onto power 8-7 after winning all 15 seats in the 1999 poll.

“We got away by the skin of our teeth,” he interjected.

According to Dr. Mitchell, the people at the time were telling them that some Representatives were not doing their work and that the party needed to do more work in certain areas and nothing was done about it.

Party insiders have told this newspaper that the ruling party expect stiff challenges from the main opposition in the two St. Patrick constituencies, along with St. David’s, St. George North-east and two in St. Andrew.

Dr. Mitchell dropped hints that not all of the NNP Parliamentarians will once again be contesting the next General Election.

“There is nothing in the law that says because I was the Representative (I must run) because that’s what caused us the problem in ’99, because you win you must run next time. That ain’t so. You must only run if the people in the constituency are saying that you have represented me well, and you need to go back for a second time around,” he said.

Speculation is rife that newly appointed Government Senator Pamela Moses will replace Clifton Paul as the NNP Candidate for St. Patrick’s East.

In addition, Sen. Peter David, the former Foreign Minister in Congress is said to have his eyes set on running in the Town of St. George’s for NNP instead of the incumbent Minister of Health, Nickolas Steele. Prime Minister Mitchell accused some of the Representatives of becoming complacent, and only believing in a few people around them.

“We cannot take anything for granted in politics. This thing about we win already is nonsense. I don’t want to hear that word at all because that is a medicine for disaster,” he remarked.

Party insiders have said that the Grenadian leader was not happy with the leadership given to the Youth by St. Andrew South-east MP, Emmalin Pierre and decided to replace her with Agriculture Minister, Roland Bhola.

According to a well-placed source, PM Mitchell is fearful that if the youth vote shifted significantly from his party the NNP would be hard-pressed to pull off the upcoming general election.

The NNP Boss also chided party supporters for engaging in behaviour that can affect the NNP chances at the polls.

PM Mitchell said some supporters who claim they like the party and Parliamentary Representative are the most difficult thing for the NNP.

“We go out there and we say a lot of foolish things to hurt the party because it pushes our ego,” he said as he admonished those guilty of this conduct.

The Prime Minister singled out the distribution of the ongoing road work as one area where it is not shared equally, and advised delegates to inform them of places where the work is not being distributed properly.

The NNP has often been accused of utilising mainly party supporters and loyalists in debushing gangs at the expense of persons associated with the main opposition party.

Dr. Mitchell stated that the first period of the debushing programme which has just ended would cost government $8M, and that an additional $8M will be pumped into the second period which is expected to run from October to the end of November.

He announced at the General Council that Grenada will host the CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting in July 2017.

The NNP Political Leader observed that few of the young people were attracted to the General Council.

“I looked at it today, and one thing I noticed we did not have too much young people in the audience,” he said.

The Prime Minister admonished the supporters to organise the young people and have them registered to participate in the elections.

Dr. Mitchell who serves as the country’s Minister of Finance reported that his government has been successful in stabilising the economy.

He described the Grenadian economy as one of the most robust presently in the region, adding that good signs are being seen in employment opportunities in the country.

Dr. Mitchell accused the opposition of doing things to make sure that there is little employment in the country.

He spoke of the opposition to the relocation of Camerhogne Park, which will facilitate the construction of a hotel.

Dr. Mitchell said before the issue of the development of Camerhogne Park came to the fore there hardly was anyone there, but as soon as the development was about to take place people started to go there.

“You go down there now, you ain’t seeing nobody in Camerhogne Park now because the thing (opposition to building a hotel on the site) appear to die down… Let me tell you something, we are going to bring jobs to the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, no matter how much noise they make,” he told delegates at the General Council.

“Camerhogne Park had to do with no work must come under NNP. That is what it’s all about, we must stop every opportunity to create jobs,” he said.

However, the NNP Boss said the public relations team has been doing a good job in presenting a number of documents on the development of the country through every forum held by the party.

He admonished his party supporters “to protect” what has been gained by his administration over the past three years, and to also “protect our democracy.”

PM Mitchell who said he is now concerned about his legacy is expected to lead NNP into the next poll to seek a historic fifth term in office.

Haiti: Time is running out

Saunders (New)Luis Almagro, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of American states (OAS), has told political stakeholders in Haiti, including the interim government and parliamentarians, that it is imperative that they fully assume their responsibilities towards the nation”.

The Secretary-General’s summons to the politicians comes after weeks of parliamentary filibustering and a failure either to extend the tenure of the interim president, Jocelerme Privert, or elect someone in his place.

Privert’s interim presidency effectively ran-out on June 14, a date set in a February 5 Agreement between the then Haitian President, Michel Martelly, and members of the Senate and lower house of parliament. At the time, Mr. Privert was the President of the Senate.

He was a signatory to the Agreement that laid out a time frame for an interim government, and for second round elections to be held to choose a new President to replace Martelly, as well as to fill vacant seats in Parliament.

As leader of a special OAS mission to Haiti that witnessed events leading up to the February 5 Agreement and its signing, I know the terms of the compact very well.

The interim government and the National Assembly have both played fast and loose with the Agreement, causing datelines to be missed and leading to yet another constitutional impasse. It had been argued, with justification, by the Haitian Provisional Electoral Commission that the suspicion and claims of fraud over the first round elections on October 24, 2015 were so great that election plans could not proceed without verification of the results.

An Elections Verification Commission (Cieve), in an audit of 25 percent of almost 13,000 tally sheets from polling stations, found that there were 628,000 untraceable or “Zombie” votes among other major irregularities. Consequently, the Provisional Electoral Commission scrapped the first-round elections and decided that a fresh poll would be held.

I concurred with that position on the basis that no President, elected on what would be perceived as a fraud, would be able to govern effectively. Better that doubt be removed, as far as it is possible, in new elections.

The Electoral Council set out clear timetables for fresh elections for the President, the remaining representatives for the National Assembly and municipal elections.  Elections are to be held on October 9, 2016, and January 8, 2017.

In a commentary, published on 9 June and entitled “Let the voices of the Haitian people be heard”, I joined Mr. Almagro in welcoming the publication of the Haitian electoral calendar, and in stating that, “it is essential for Haiti to return to elected governance”.  I warned
then that there was “a further and immediate problem”.

The February 5th agreement set June 14 as an end date for an interim President, elected by the National Assembly, and I stated that the National Assembly must waste no time in either extending Privert’s term or electing a new interim President.

A month has passed and the matter remains unresolved. Meeting after meeting has either been abandoned for a deliberate lack of a quorum or decisions have been put off. In all this, the Haitian politicians are running out of time.

The vast majority of member countries of the OAS want to see Haiti return to elected government. Further delays by the Haitian political stakeholders will result in losing their tolerance and support. The wider international community, especially the European Union, is also losing patience.  More importantly, if the current political logjam is not unlocked, tensions within Haiti itself will intensify, leading to political agitation, violence and greater deterioration of the already fragile economy.

In a real sense, Haiti is back to where it was on February 5 when the departure of President Martelly was necessary to remove the blockage to an agreed process that would take the country back to elected rule and constitutionality.

Martelly was sensible enough not to make himself the problem, but instead to become part of the solution by settling the terms of the February 5 Agreement and withdrawing.  The time has come for similar action by others.

Mr. Almagro is right to tell the Haitian politicians – on all sides of the political divide – that they have to stop their political jockeying for power and put the interests of the nation first. To the Secretary-General’s credit, he did not jump to this public warning.

Earlier this year, despite the view of the US, Canadian and European Union (EU) governments, he opted to give the Haitian interim government and national assembly time to implement all the terms of the February 5 Agreement. He recognised the process “as an inclusive effort by all political parties, institutions and civil society in Haiti to overcome the political impasse”.

Haitian politicians also have to recall that their country is a member of international and inter-governmental treaty organisations, and that it has committed itself to upholding democratic principles, including elected government and the rule of law.

Haiti’s special historical circumstances and the natural disasters that have befallen it, have persuaded other nations to be more flexible and lenient in dealing with it. But, it could well be argued that the Haitian politicians have been given enough time and more than sufficient resources to put in place the structures of proper governance that the country requires.

The worse thing that could happen to Haiti now is for it to be isolated from the international community because of the actions of politicians who place their narrow interests over those of the Haitian people. The international community could reluctantly decide to walk away if it is forced to do so.

Time is running out. The members of the Haitian National Assembly should act with urgency to resolve the issue of the interim government, leading up to the elections. The future of Haiti and the well-being of the Haitian people depend upon it.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States and the Organisation of American States.  The views expressed are his own)