Rallies are over – Now the reality

The build up to February Nineteenth was fun and fete and liming – and with the very clear decision later on the same night, from all the Fifteen Constituencies – our people and the winning party are now faced with the reality in the years ahead.

The responses from around the Islands are varied, as far as the size of the victory is concerned – but most people are in agreement that the NNP was the expected winner, although they thought the NDC would have picked up a couple seats.

We were all proved to be very wrong, and for the second time in these Isles and the first in the Caribbean, and maybe the entire Commonwealth of Nations – the same party and Prime Minister have done it again, with no one in Opposition in Parliament to reject anything.

How good, bad or indifferent, that state of affairs will turn out to be for our people – only time and the unfolding events in Parliament and the country as a whole, will reveal in due course.

We could have three Senators in the Upper House, courtesy the Governor General – who will provide a contrary Opinion on matters that must go through Parliament; but the Government will still have its way because it also controls the majority in the Senate or Upper House.

Towards the end of this Article I should have the number of ministers – if they are named at the swearing Ceremony in the Stadium on Sunday 3rd March.

The Prime Minister has been saying that he is keeping the Cabinet positions at Eleven or Twelve, to control the Government business operations – but I also heard a statement, that ALL the M.Ps will be receiving the same salaries, and I find that very strange if they are not all Ministers.

I also heard the Prime Minister making some remarks pertaining to the Commissioner of Police, Willan Thompson, and it all seems to indicate that the Commissioner of Police is not on the Prime Minister’s approval list for remaining in that position.

I can only wait to hear and see how that position plays out – but I do hope that the control of absolute power the Prime Minister and his party now enjoy, as the winners of all the seats in Parliament, that power does not become a tool of repression and revenge for settling longstanding grievances.

Goodness knows – that as a people we have gone through and suffered more than our fair share of trials and tribulations, from too many of those who were supposed to use their powers to help the people.

Now that the returning Prime Minister and his party, have again achieved this unique position – of being in control of every seat in our Parliament, for the second time in our short history – those so endowed should go all the way, in showing that they do have something special to offer the people, and do not be bogged down with the same old-fashioned behaviour of taking revenge, and scoring cheap political points.

After Forty years of being an Independent nation state, we have seen and experienced enough ups and downs and underground, to be able to chart a reasonable and responsible pattern of behaviour in the best interest of all our people – regardless of their political attitudes or affiliation.

The Prime Minister has said as much, and now that he has proven by that landslide victory, that the people are on his side as their Leader, I very strongly hope and look forward to him rising above the old fashioned pettiness and showing that he deserves their trust and confidence.

As for the NDC and the defeated Ex-Prime Minister who also lost his seat – the talk around town is that he is not interested in holding unto the Leadership of the Party, so I guess that situation will be dealt with at their upcoming national Convention.

If the Karl Hood case that was adjourned late last year, is not finalised before the Convention, then it would mean that he and the others who were expelled last year, but the Court held the expulsion invalid pending the full hearing of the Case – they too could take part in the Convention..

The Prime Minister on Sunday appointed himself and Eleven other M.Ps – to Ministerial and Parliamentary Secretary positions in the new Government. Three M.P’s were not given any other duties in the Administration.

The appointment of Senators to sit in the Upper House should be completed this week – so that the Parliament can be fully constituted to deal with the Nation’s business.

In the Ring – a Commonwealth Secretary-General’s memoir

(On 26 February, Sir Ronald Sanders was invited to launch, “In the Ring”, a Commonwealth Memoir written by Sir Donald McKinnon, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth (2000-2008), at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.

This article is adapted from Sanders’ remarks.)

 

No Secretary-General of the Commonwealth has an easy time. Building consensus among countries large and small, rich and poor, black and white is extremely challenging, and, in the course of it, Secretaries-General are not only referees, sometimes they become the punching bag. In this context, Sir Don McKinnon’s Commonwealth Memoir is appropriately titled: “In the Ring”.

The book is remarkable for its frank account of the events that led-up to Robert Mugabe’s withdrawal of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth in 2003. Mugabe took that action when it was evident that Commonwealth Heads of Government would make the decision to suspend Zimbabwe following seriously flawed elections. Inevitably, the Secretary-General was made the villain of the peace.

However, as Don relates in the book, his own reflection over Zimbabwe was more “in sorrow than in anger”. No Secretary-General relishes the suspension, expulsion or withdrawal of a member-state under his watch. And, Don bent over backwards to encourage President Mugabe to remain faithful to the Commonwealth’s Harare Principles – principles that were agreed by all Commonwealth Heads at a Meeting chaired by Mugabe himself.

No one is the more accountable custodian of the Commonwealth’s collective values than the Secretary-General. His primary touchstone is the values and principles to which all Commonwealth governments subscribe not only as a condition of their entry to the organisation but as a sina qua non for keeping such membership. As Don rightly observes in his book, “the Commonwealth and its institutions had to be protected”.

Don’s account of his efforts to engage Mugabe even after he had withdrawn Zimbabwe is an untold story which deserves to be known. And, Don has told it with clarity but also with a sense of disappointment and frustration. He has also not deprived his readers of an appreciation of the tensions that develop among Heads of Government in their decision-making on thorny issues.

That tension makes the Secretary-General’s job a lot harder, particularly when it occurs among the Troika – the three Heads of government – the past Chair, the present Chair and the incoming Chair.

The Secretary-General has to look to them for guidance over how to deal with another Head of Government such as Mugabe who rode roughshod over Commonwealth values in pursuit of his own narrow political agenda. This Memoir gives a full account of the tensions, the differences and even the vexations that occurred within the Troika.

It is a frank insight into the contest between efforts to preserve the Commonwealth’s shared values and the desire by a small number of Heads of Government to protect a fellow Head of Government who had thrown those values to the wind.

Of particular interest is Don’s account of the remarkable role played by P J Patterson, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, a small Commonwealth state, in the Heads of Government reaching a unanimous decision to continue the suspension of Zimbabwe. Don describes Patterson’s intervention as a “tour de force”.

“We are dealing with two almost irreconcilable positions and we have a consensus”, Don reports Patterson as saying. “Certainly not everybody is happy, but we must not now show a split”.

Patterson’s legal and political skills impressed the room and Commonwealth agreement was preserved. So was its commitment to its declared values.

If Don’s candid account of the tribulations that surrounded Zimbabwe is not a sufficiently compelling story of the Secretary-General’s challenging role in the Commonwealth ring, then his experience over suspended Pakistan under President Musharraf completes the tale.

As Secretary-General he was invited by the British government to the Lord Chancellor’s dinner for President Musharraf who was visiting Britain officially. This was in the wake of the 9/11 atrocities in the United States when Pakistan had overnight become the new “best friend” of the governments of Britain and the United States.

But, at the time Pakistan was suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth over very doubtful democratic institutions. Don did not regard Musharraf’s visit to London as a good thing. As he said in his well-known forthright manner, it would not have happened to Fiji, Nigeria or Zimbabwe while they were suspended.

It was, as he said, an example of one policy for the Commonwealth and another policy for bilateral relations. He was then promptly ‘uninvited’ from the dinner, before being ‘re-invited’ by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but placed at a table out of sight. Quite rightly Don declined the re-invitation. He had “no intention of being a pawn in their game”.

This was not the only occasion when a government expected the Secretary-General to act in its interest. But, as he pointed out to another government, the Secretary-General “has to work for the collective Commonwealth good, not just advance the view of one country”.

Indeed, every Secretary-General, however deeply involved he was in the affairs of his own country and its interests in the Commonwealth and the international community, has to leave that baggage at the entrance door of Marlborough House. He must become de-nationalised, colour blind, non-aligned religiously, and re-constructed as a Commonwealth being – whole and entire. Don McKinnon became that body as every Secretary-General has had to do.

When a senior British Foreign Office official, who insisted that Britain, as the biggest contributor to the Secretariat’s funding, should always hold the post of deputy-Secretary-General, Don told him that not only was Britain not getting the post, it also would not permanently be on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group.

Thirty-two of the Commonwealth’s 54 members are small states with problems and challenges that are peculiar to their vulnerabilities and lack of capacity to stand-up to powerful organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

When Commonwealth small states were being pummelled by the OECD over ‘harmful tax competition’, Don in his full Commonwealth regalia – his OECD membership card as former foreign minister of New Zealand firmly put away – championed the cause of the Commonwealth’s constituency of small states and curtailed bullying and an uneven playing field.

As a chronicle that is as frank in its content as it is wide in its telling of the inner workings of life in the ring of the Commonwealth, Don McKinnon’s memoir is compulsory reading.

 

NB: In the Ring by Don McKinnon is published by Elliott and Thompson, London

 

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

Building economic confidence

In an era of increasing globalisation, the financial and economic performances and prospects of economies throughout the world will forever be closely connected. This is particularly true in relation to countries’ main trading partners.

A cursory look back at the effects of the 2007/2008 global recession proves that point without ambiguity. Hence, when the global economy is booming, the potential for rapid expansion in the flow of goods, services and other financial assets increases dramatically and many countries are likely to experience higher economic growth rates and lower levels of poverty, consistent with theoretical expectations.

In times of recession, the opposite effects occur. That is precisely what has been happening not only in the Caribbean but also in various other countries across the globe. Why? The reasoning here is simple.

A glance at the national income identity would suggest that economic growth is the result of a combination of domestic spending (broadly defined as the sum of private consumption, investment and government expenditure) and net exports (the difference between total exports and imports of goods and services).

Taken together, these two components represent the internal and external factors that drive economic growth and development.

In times of a global recession, net exports are severely affected and downward pressure is brought to bear on a country’s growth prospects. Hence, more and more energy has to be directed at stimulating domestic economic activity if the country stands any real chance of growing.

It is within this context that building economic confidence locally takes on greatest meaning. Government’s intervention aside, stimulating economic growth and development during a global recession can only result from increasing consumer and investor confidence in the local economy.

Failure in that regard can only redound to more and more economic turmoil. The European experience is a good living example of this. From all available reports, the growth prospects for Europe as a whole in 2013 are extremely weak.

Given all of the developments taking place in many of the economies, consumer and investor confidence are low. It is for that reason that many businesses continue to stockpile inventories to the staggering level of $475 billion in 2012, according to Bloomberg.

Clearly, then, if domestic economic activity in Europe declines in an environment that is not being assisted by external factors, where would economic growth come from?

We in Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean should look toward Europe, learn from those countries’ experiences, and be determined to put mechanisms in place to avoid a similar pitfall.

The Chamber of Industry and Commerce is calling on the government to hold discussions on the way forward in respect of many of the pressing problems confronting the economy.

Such an initiative could only serve to boost economic confidence because if the private sector is allowed to have an input into major policies, then, businesses are more likely to respond positively by way of investment and that will stimulate economic activity locally.

In the absence of any real global economic recovery on the horizon, stimulus for growth and development in Barbados can only come from the domestic side. And that is the simple reality facing us as a people and nation!

 

(Dr. Brian Francis, the former Permanent Secretary in the local Ministry of Finance, is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics at the Cave Hill Campus in Bridgetown, Barbados of the University of the West Indies)

LESSONS FROM THE GLOBAL RECESSION

By Dr. Brian Francis

Since the 2007/2008 global financial and economic recession, countries all around the world – irrespective of how big or small their economies are – have been struggling to return to the growth and development path which they enjoyed prior to the downturn in the international economy.

One of the more crucial challenges all nations face is coming up with the right mix of policies that can potentially reverse the current downward trends in many of their major macro-economic variables.

Equally important is the recognition that countries have to determine what, if any, economic paradigm can be followed to bring about the kind of relief their citizens have been waiting for over several years.

For example, there have been widespread debates over the suitability of Keynesian-style economic measures that suggest deeper government’s involvement in the management of the economy particularly as it relates to increasing spending to boost economic growth and development.

The supporters of this strategy argue that in the absence of booming private sector activities (a phenomenon consistent with economies in recession) the only hope for increased economic activity lies in higher government’s expenditure.

The critics often point to the huge fiscal deficit likely to arise from such higher spending and question how this deficit can be financed and sustained going forward.

Another major issue that has occupied the economic literature is the debate over stimulus versus austerity as the preferred strategic option to respond to the state of depression that currently exists in many countries.

In the United States, for example, the Federal government clearly favours stimulus, consistent with the policy-prescriptions of Keynesian economics.

In Europe, however, many of the ailing economies have attempted to stabilise their situations by turning to austerity measures which essentially dictate massive cuts in expenditure and higher taxes in some cases.

To date, there is no real consensus as to which strategy or paradigm a country should adopt in order to address its financial and economic problems.

That is so because there is little by way of empirical evidence in the United States and Europe in particular to generate any comfort that stimulus or austerity in general provides the foundation for “take off” as far as economic growth and development are concerned.

What this suggests, therefore, is that these countries may very well not have found the correct medicine for their current economic ailments and should consequently seek alternative remedies that are consistent with the characteristics of their respective economies.

Against that backdrop, there are two critical lessons that Barbados and other small, open Caribbean economies should take away from the most recent global recession and the policy options pursued by countries all around the world: First, that when it comes to finding solutions to financial and economic problems, one size does not fit all.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, that unless policy makers understand precisely how their respective economies work, it would be extremely difficult to craft policies that can remedy the problems faced.

If as a people we are able to accept and appreciate these two fundamental issues, then, we would have found the right keys to open the doors to our future financial and economic successes. And that is as simple as it gets!

 

(Dr. Brian Francis, the former Permanent Secretary in the local Ministry of Finance, is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics at the Cave Hill Campus in Bridgetown, Barbados of the University of the West Indies)

Attracting Foreign Investment to Grenada: Numbers and Issues

By Brian Samuel

 

On Tuesday, 19th February, Grenadians go to the polls to elect a new government – or re-elect an old one. Regardless of which political party emerges triumphant on morning of the 20th, its first priority will be to take steps to immediately stimulate the flagging Grenadian economy.

Unemployment, high prices and economic stagnation have consistently topped the issues of concern to Grenadians – along with the associated crime that goes with persistent poverty.

For 20 years I worked with the World Bank in Washington DC, the Caribbean and Africa, doing what Grenada and most other emerging economies have as a major policy objective: attracting foreign investment.

In 20 years I participated in just about every type of financing scheme imaginable: commercial bank lending, equity investments, privatizations, concessions and Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).

Being a Grenadian, my all-time favourite project was arranging the initial financing for La Source hotel back in 1992-3. Having mobilised over US$240 million in investment proceeds of one sort or another, I can say with some degree of confidence that I know what it takes to attract and retain foreign investors.

If I had to put the lessons of my 20-year World Bank experience into a nutshell; that would be: Simply put: it is not easy to convince foreign investors to invest millions of dollars into small, fragile economies like Grenada – especially “good” investors.

In the increasingly globalised economy, Grenada faces competition from virtually every other emerging economy for scarce international investment dollars. The simple truth is that, contrary to local legend; Grenada is NOT unique.

There are many, many other equally beautiful, friendly, crime-free niche destinations as Grenada – “we are not alone”. When international investors such as Sandals and Clear Harbour are considering new investments outside their home base, they perform exhaustive country surveys of the available investment destinations and take informed, calculated decisions.

Very few investors “must” invest in Grenada – we are up against the entire world as competition.

It is not a political statement to say that the Grenadian economy has been in a virtually continuous state of crisis since the current National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration took over – their timing could not have been worse!

Much of this is not Grenada’s fault; we are but one tiny microcosm in the global economy, which has been enduring one of the most serious global recessions since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In today’s highly interconnected economic systems, it is no surprise that Grenada has seen drastic falls in the level of its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) – when the world catches a cold; we get pneumonia.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is a measure of how much international capital a country is attracting. FDI is direct investment into a business in one country by a company domiciled in another country, either by buying the company, or by expanding operations of an existing business.

In the Grenadian context, FDI is the gasoline that runs our economic engine. Let us face facts: Grenada does not possess the amount of investment funds needed to quickly and materially stimulate the economy.

Grenada’s largest companies are ranked as “Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises” according to international benchmarks; nor is Grenada blessed with an abundance of high net worth individuals who could invest the millions needed to start any new business of significant size in Grenada.

Foreign investment into Grenada rose steadily until 2007, when it reached a high of US$157 million; before falling precipitously in the subsequent years, reaching a low of US$40 million in 2011 before “recovering” to an estimated US$66 million in 2012.

This is nothing new; virtually any Grenadian can attest to the simple truism that over the past four or five years: “money scarce”.

In the four years from 2004 to 2007, Grenada’s average rate of economic growth was 3.64% per annum. Over the next four years, from 2008 to 2011, the average rate of economic growth declined to negative 1.16% per annum. So we can see a clear linkage: less foreign investment equals lower economic growth. Period.

It is pertinent to look at how Grenada has fared in relation to our competitors: our sister Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries. Geographically, culturally, politically and economically, these are the countries that Grenada can realistically benchmark itself against; given that we are, almost literally, “all in the same boat”.

In the FDI stakes, Antigua has been the clear leader over the past ten years, attracting US$1.64 billion in net FDI inflows, compared to second-placed St. Lucia with US$1.3 billion and St. Kitts/Nevis with US$1.1 billion.

Grenada has fared badly, ranking fifth out of six with US$0.9 million, and Dominica in last place with only US$0.3 million in net FDI inflows.

These results are not particularly surprising; for many years Antigua was riding a wave of inward investment, largely fuelled by the “Stanford factor” – plus all the murky money that followed suit. St. Lucia enjoyed a prolonged hotel building boom, which has only recently abated.

So much for recent history, how is Grenada performing now? Given that all OECS economies are broadly similar in size and structure, and all have been negatively impacted by the global recession, we need to look at how much foreign investment Grenada is currently attracting, compared to our neighbours.

Compared to the longer-term trend, we can see that there have been changes at the top of the FDI rankings but sadly, no changes at the bottom. St. Vincent & the Grenadines has replaced Antigua at the top of the list, followed by St. Lucia then St. Kitts/Nevis.

Again this is backed up by anecdotal evidence: St. Vincent has been experiencing investments in tourism projects in the Grenadines, plus the construction of an international airport. The same “Stanford factor” that attracted so much money to Antigua over the past decade turned negative, and resulted in a capital flight after the bubble burst over Stanford’s illegal activities.

At the bottom of the list, Grenada still occupies fifth place in the FDI rankings, once again with Dominica in last place.

Within recent years, great store has been placed in the World Bank’s annual Doing Business Rankings – a quantitative assessment of how easy it is to, literally, do business in a particular country.

The World Bank invests millions of staff-hours in the production of this annual tome, and announces the results with much fanfare.

The Bank’s client governments also place great stock in the annual Doing Business Rankings – provided, of course, that their rankings are moving in the right (upward) direction.

In some areas, like dealing with construction permits, protecting investors and getting electricity (never mind the cost), Grenada ranks quite highly. But in others, like registering property and enforcing contracts, Grenada’s ranking is shockingly low.

These are the areas that bring down our overall Doing Business Ranking, and any incoming administration must urgently address these glaring shortcomings.

As regards the six main economies of the OECS, there is no clear correlation between FDI inflows and Doing Business Rankings. St. Vincent has almost the same Ranking as Grenada, yet attracts twice the amount of investment.

International perceptions on corruption are an important influence on the level of foreign investment into a country.

Regardless of national laws, regulations and institutions governing foreign investments into a country, the reality is that big projects are handled on a case-by-case basis, as happens all over the world.

Big boys get better treatment. Global investors play hardball to get the best package of fiscal incentives available. That is how business is done.

In November 2012, Finance Minister Nazim Burke announced that “something special” had been awarded to the Sandals Group on the La Source deal, including:

 

* 29-year waiver of corporate taxes

 

* 25-year waiver of property taxes

 

* 25-year waiver of customs duties on capital goods

 

* 25-year waiver of customs duty on consumables

 

* 15 year waiver of Value Added Tax

 

One may well ask: what else is there? In truth there is a lot; the large bulk of the economic benefit of deals like Sandals is derived after the deal is done – and continue for a long time thereafter (barring any disasters!).

Corporate and property taxes are tiny, in comparison to the total of the wages and salaries of 500 staff, the electricity consumed, NIS payments, food and supplies purchased and local services bought – this is the economic gold at the end of the rainbow, not the taxes foregone.

When La Source was originally built in 1993, it was given a package of incentives that some people at the time considered generous. However, La Source subsequently went on to become an extremely successful hotel and Grenada’s largest single hotel employer; this would not have been possible without its incentives package.

And let us remember: taxes on nothing equal nothing; when global investors threaten not to invest unless they are given seemingly over-generous fiscal incentives – they are not entirely bluffing. In these hard times, investors with deep pockets are becoming increasingly hard to find, and what one country won’t give, another would be glad to offer.

Grenada pays lip service to developing its Renewable Energy (RE) sources; it is now time to stop talking and do something about it. In November 2012, legislative changes were made to Grenada’s electricity sector that, although far from perfect, go a long way towards creating a conducive environment for Renewable Energy.

There are several potential Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects for the exploitation of Grenada’s RE resources, all of which are languishing with one delay after another:

 

(1). Exploration of geothermal resources and construction of a geothermal power plant; studies suggest that Grenada’s total geothermal potential could equal 100% of installed capacity.

 

(2). Wind farm for Carriacou: Grenada will be launching a wind energy project in partnership with the European Union and GRENLEC.

 

(3). Petite Martinique offers similar wind potential on its uninhabited windy eastern shore.

 

(4). Solid waste to energy: The Grenada Solid Waste Management Authority (GSWMA) has started a tender for the construction of a waste to energy plant at Perseverance.

 

(5). Solar generation systems for car parks, hotels and office buildings.

 

In addition to these projects, there is a long list of delayed, dying or dead tourism projects that show few signs of revival. Yes, there has been a severe global recession, but must we continue to blame the recession for our own lack of performance?

In the past 20 years, how many world-class new hotels have been opened in Grenada, compared to St. Lucia? I can count them on one hand and still have fingers left.

In the past two years St. Kitts, St. Lucia and St. Vincent have each attracted more than double the amount of foreign investment that Grenada has – how did they do that? Maybe we should ask them.

In conclusion, any incoming political administration in Grenada must pay urgent attention to the immediate need for significant injections of foreign investment.

Action is needed on five fronts:

 

*Unblock the plethora of stalled tourism projects: urgently look at each project and perform economic triage to determine which are fixable, versus those that are fatally flawed.

 

*Resolve outstanding high-visibility disputes with investors and/or potential investors: why wait for the lawyers to have a field day? Appoint arbitrators if necessary.

 

*Re-engage with investors – old and new.

 

*Re-start with a clean sheet; accept that attracting foreign investment must be the country’s number one economic priority. And finally;

 

*Change the laws, regulations and practices that need changing, to correct deficiencies.

 

This requires a lot of resources, effort, thought and some painful decisions. Like I said at the outset, the road is not easy; but the long-term economic rewards are eminently worth the effort.

 

 

 

The decision is final – Now what?

By the time you are reading this – whether on the Caribbean Net News by Wednesday 20th February, or on New Today by Thursday 21st February – the die would have been cast, and the new Government of the Tri-Island State would be well known, and the Election Campaign of 2013 would be history.

What that decision would be, I am not precisely certain – as far as the actual numbers of M.P.’s on either side would be – but from all appearances, and the grapevine news coming through the various Constituencies Island wide, the only result I can foresee is a decisive victory for the New National Party (NNP).

If my foresight turns out to be wrong – and the NDC is re-elected to form the Government for a second term in office – I would most certainly be just another mis-interpreter and grossly mis-guided calculator of the crowds’ behaviour patterns and statements, during the last four to six months.

But sticking to my prediction and expectation – I would be very, very surprised if I am proven wrong, and the NDC is returned to power for another term in control of the Nation’s affairs.

And the reasons or the rationale for my very firm conviction, are that the NDC has outlived its credibility and reliability to service the needs of our people, and bring forth needed national development and social amenities for the people.

I do not think that fingers can be pointed at any one of the NDC Ministers, as far as honesty and reliability when dealing with the people’s finances and properties are concerned – at least not from my information to-date.

So it is a straight case of non-performance of the promises made, when they very successfully persuaded the people to vote for change in July, 2008, and won a clear victory at the Polls back then.

If my above prediction turns out to be wrong, I can only say very good luck to the unexpected winners, and the very best wishes for greater success in the years ahead.

Whoever the winners maybe as members of Parliament, and the Party having the majority to form the next Government to take control of our nation’s affairs for the next five years – they certainly have a very formidable task on their hands, to bring about the necessary changes to satisfy the needs of our people in these trying times.

And whoever they maybe – the people must not expect miracles overnight, so as to see concrete changes taking place in the next week or two, that will make so much difference to their life styles by next month end.

It is very well known and I trust fully understood, that the economic situations regionally and worldwide are in desperate straits, and therefore we in these small Isles who have to depend on outside sources to aid our recovery, in the job creation exercise as well as other development for the longer term benefits to our people – we have to be very careful in the selection of those we allow to come on the Islands and provide investments.

It must never be a case – that because we are in the on-going very serious economic recession, and a lot of our people are in need and crying out for job opportunities, to support and take care of their families – then our Leaders in Government must stoop to any level in satisfying that need, regardless of the negative resulting consequences that may flow therefrom.

Those in control, and now have the power to decide who they allow to come on the Islands and drop their anchors as it were – they have a duty and very serious responsibility, to come to that decision after very careful consideration and enquiry, to ensure that the newcomers have clean hands and good reputations.

For such a tiny-tot state as Grenada, surely is – we have gone through and suffered, much more than our fair share of trials and tribulations over the decades. And it is very sincerely hoped, that this new beginning can truly and fully lead our people to a more peaceful and beneficial future than the recent past.

Those now in charge of the Nation’s affairs have been campaigning and making all sorts of nice-sounding promises of what they plan to do if and when they were successful at the Polls.

The people must have taken them seriously and relied on those promises – so now the time has come to begin the process of bringing those promises into reality.

No one expects things to happen overnight, but at least people will be watching and listening very carefully at the happenings – as the days turn into weeks, and the latter into months and beyond.

For the benefit of our people who have been neglected and suffered many hardships over the years – I do hope relief is not too very long in coming their way, now that they have relied on the promises and responded in the majority.

My very best wishes to the winners, and good luck and God speed in everything they tackle – in the interest and for the benefit of our people.

Democracy is alive!!!

By The Stone Crusher

The Grenadian people have spoken and the mood among the victors in the country is one of celebration, and rightly so!

The swing away from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Tillman Thomas could not have been anticipated to the point of putting them totally out of commission – for the time being at least.

The honking of horns, firing off of flairs, playing of loud party songs and the queuing of vehicles coming from all over converging on the Tanteen playing field marked the aftermath of the smooth delivery of the results of this free and fair general elections.

The strength with which the people have spoken must be listened to and taken seriously since this is all part of the democratic process.

Congratulations to all the winners – all fifteen candidates of the New National Party (NNP) for a job well done! While the NNP will be reveling in their well deserved victory, it must be noted here that remnants of the rabid left have succeeded yet again to mash up a third government in Grenada.

They smashed Sir Eric Gairy’s of 1979, then they smashed their very own in 1983 and to a great extent, they’ve stood in the way of their chances to be part of something truly inclusive and democratic in the form of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

This is a wonderful opportunity for “Brother Peter”, affectionately referred to by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, to go into the National United Front (NUF) and help Sister Glynis build that political entity.

After all, Sister Glynis showed herself up as the only one of the renegades who remained consistent and positioned herself where she belonged – outside of the two established political organisations.

There is an old adage that in politics, there are no permanent enemies or friends. Is “Brother Peter” still eyeing a comeback inside NDC now that Uncle Tilly and Naz have lost their seats? Will the NDC supporters ever forget and forgive him for his transgressions against the party?

The other important question to be answered by “Brother Peter himself is this: If offered a role with the new administration will he accept it? Only time alone will tell.

After the leadership of the NDC complete licking their wounds, supporters and members must join them to conduct some serious introspection to see where they went wrong so that they can regroup and come again.

One sure thing is that they (NDC) were able to get 20,000 plus persons to support the party, although that was not enough to combat the power and might of the over 11,000 floating voters who supported the NNP on their promises of jobs and more jobs.

There were another 10,000 registered voters who seemed not to be bothered to participate at all in the election process. What would have caused such a high number to display this level of indifference? Was it that they were confused or just could not elevate either party to the bracket of qualified to get their votes?

Whatever the reasons – Stone Crusher is the first to admonish one and all to leave the NNP to govern and deliver on the hefty promises made since the people have spoken.

It is quite clear that people voted along economic lines with a promise of jobs for the future.

It is questionable as to whether people were mindful that the reality of today’s economics are in no way similar to the 1995-2008 period and that they must not expect a similar economic atmosphere to prevail.

Even the NNP’s New Economy promised, will take time to be formulated and to take root. The new government will need some kind of a honeymoon period but is the electorate prepared to wait and for how long?

The floating voters who are responsible for this resounding victory of the NNP must be watched carefully as when the rubber hits the road and reality comes home to roost, they are likely to be the first to be disenchanted.

Stone Crusher advises patience in the circumstances. Rome was not built in a day and so the new government must not be harassed within the next week or month to start delivering on its promises of jobs and more jobs.

It is quite clear that members of the Public Workers swung to the side of the New National Party (NNP) without realising that structural adjustment may become necessary in order for government to meet its out of control monthly wage bill.

The civil servants are likely to be among the first group to enter a tango with the new administration if they do not appreciate that government in these trying times cannot afford their monthly wage bill.

The local business community – many of whom are looking for bail out, are going to most likely see there is absolutely no possibility for the government to pardon them by way of taxes – as this is their only means of raising revenues to take care of government’s business.

The future calls for great sacrifice and all concerned must adhere to the call for national unity. Do not rush into judgement. Give Dr. Mitchell the benefit of the doubt on the genuineness of his call for national unity despite reports from Carriacou about threats made that a certain person like the young lady looking after the toilet facilities there, and others will be out of work following a change of government.

Stone Crusher awaits the appointment of the Opposition Senators as the signal of the commencement of the national unity called for by Dr. Mitchell himself throughout the campaign.

After all, one must never forget that 20,000 people are not represented in the Parliament anymore – reason enough for some careful thought to be put into the composition of Senators on the other side.

The Stone Crusher will take the lead in giving the new Mitchell government the opportunity to deliver on its many promises.

Relegate them to the dustbin of our history

By Stone Crusher

 

This is the last weekend before D-day – the mother of all election battles between the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Tillman Thomas and the main opposition – New National Party (NNP) of veteran politician – Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Mitchell is inarguably the most astute politician in Grenada today whose style of politics might just fail him on February 19th, as people move away from the old way of choosing a government through party favours and start focusing on the morality of those who offer themselves for public life.

In a race based on morality – a chief plank of good governance – Dr. Mitchell’s NNP will fail miserably!

Should our people put the high value they are expected to put on the truly good quality of leadership they deserve, the New National Party under the challenged leadership of Dr. Keith Mitchell cannot and must not return to power.

Grenadians need to allow the world to continue to look on us kindly and not with the scorn they did during 1995 to 2008 under the rule of the said NNP of Dr. Mitchell.

In a race based on morality no one would take seriously any political party that puts on Showtime in place of meaningful political rallies attracting thousands of the nation’s youth “wining and grin’ing” to the several Soca artists.

No wonder when they get revved up they take to copulating at random. Ask members of the clean-up crew of any of the grounds the NNP stages its mass rallies, and they will tell you how many condoms and other evidence of wanton sex they find! Are you surprised? You ought not!

The “substanceless” among our mostly young people are easily swayed to and enticed by low-grade entertainment, which the NNP meetings provide. It is quite obvious that when the sweetness takes some of them whose hormones are somewhat “out of whack”, evidence of debased behaviour must result.

Put that together with a horny pastor making an appearance on the platform. Importantly – all the nastiness(es) have gravitated to the den of iniquity – the NNP is known as. Our people need to remember that every organisation, group, company, et al – take their cue from their leadership.

If the leadership is focused and values-centered, the organisation follows an orderly path. If the organisation is not, then you don’t have to look too far for the type of organisation, group, company or entity. That is an important law of reciprocity!

If you ask anyone at random how they felt to see “karl hood” (common letter deliberate to symbolise his commonness) on an NNP platform – you would hear one common refrain : “That’s where he belongs!”

Funny enough, for several God-fearing people from the St. Paul’s area, “karl hood” was never held in high esteem.

He continues to prove them right.

Stone Crusher has been reliably informed by one of his church attendants in North-west that he is being watched with “Hawk’s eyes” and if he thinks he could get away with what he used to get away with in St. Paul’s, is joke he making. This is something this married Pastor ought to be curious about.

This is the same karl hood who got up in Parliament in April of 2012 and spoke against his government’s budget presentation by his Ministerial colleague and every right thinking Grenadian thought he ought to have been pelted out of the government.

That did not happen and he continued to make a fool of himself by talking rubbish at every opportunity he got. This is the same man who wants people to think of him as a man of God and who has been seeking revenge and vengeance as if he were “the Lord”, himself to whom vengeance belongs.

Karl is so enwrapped in his own ego that he cannot see daylight. Anyone who is so egotistic cannot be truly of the God we serve.

There are many NNP supporters who consider it a sad day for “karl hood” to

appear on their political platform when he was the same man who vilified and maligned their political leader on another platform just four and one half years ago.

Stone Crusher can tell you that both NNP supporters (with sense) and many among the so-called “undecideds” are not amused.

Talk on the ground is that it is now more than ever that the silent majority are moved to retain Uncle Tilly and give him the chance – according to Patrick Simmons that he never got to govern this country’s affairs.

Some are already speculating who will be next among the Rebels to jump in the open onto the NNP platform. Is it Brother Peter – as he was recently referred to by Comrade Keith at a recent NNP pocket meeting on the Carenage?

“Brother Peter”, the horny pastor, the career drunkard, the irrelevant union man, the bus kite from St. John, and the box head casino man – have proved the “frock ooman” to be the only one among them with some modicum of sense. Shame on them!

Imagine this woman is where she is supposed to be, outside of the two main

political parties trying the utmost to make a political life for herself, while they have resorted to playing “mange puppot” with themselves.

Stone Crusher has been totally vindicated on this one: “The gang man is a ‘red

nastiness’, indeed!”

The NNP seems to know how to stretch the $300 its leader said they had in

their bank account when he was all over the place accusing Uncle Tilly of receiving

$150,000 from a Saudi Arabian businessman – when it turned out to be

$50,000, which passed through the correct local financial, channel and was

never questioned by the FIU.

How could such little bit of money buy so much for the glitz and glamour of

the NNP campaign? The only thing, which seems to be missing is fireworks at

each meeting.

Stone Crusher invites one and all to wonder if what we are seeing is the residue of the US$600,000 which the Russians said they gave to a certain senior operative of that group for which they threatened to take that individual to court to recover.

Look at how the NNP has tried to hide Gregory throughout the campaign, attempting to hoodwink us with others such as the highly skilled consultant from the south, and others?

What do you read through this? They obviously did not want him to attract

too much attention so as to exacerbate the “Russian discussion”.

Notwithstanding their efforts, the issue still raised its ugly head in all

its dimensions. And what an ugly picture! Can you imagine the NNP losing

the next general elections what they will tell the Russians about the up-front investment of $2.5 million?

Word on the ground is that the Russians are acting as front men for other faces in Moscow. Things could get real nasty if the NNP fail to win the elections.

And if they win, Grenadians would see the real give away time of our natural resources while certain individuals benefit at the expense of the nation while the whole country is raped. We can avoid that – and we must!

The word on the ground is that several Permanent Secretaries are down to be sent packing should the NNP come back into office.

The blue print has already been drawn up for the demise of especially the following: Cab Sec – Gemma Bain-Thomas, the Isaac lady, Sandra Thomas, and Allison Miller.

The loyal stalwarts to NNP during the tenure of Uncle Tilly whose efforts were spent on sabotaging the efforts of his administration will be rewarded for carrying out their assignments faithfully during the period 2008-2013.

The husband of one of the NNP operatives in the service who has been boasting of becoming a millionaire under NNP, is so confident of Mitchell’s return that he has already bought a truck in anticipation of a resumption of nepotism.

The announcement of 50 million dollars in construction activities within the first 100 days of an NNP administration has resulted in the palm of his hand starting to scratch him.

Imagine this man boasting of building an apartment building in the south with cash money and not having to borrow one single cent from the bank. Would our nation stand by and allow a resumption of this one-sidedness to resume, far less continue? Hell No!

Stone Crusher is reliably informed by certain NNP insiders that privately they are running scared due to the composition of their crowds at the various mass meetings.

Many seem to think that there is a common thread running through the 1999 election and this one of 2013. Do you recall when GULP formed an alliance of sorts with the NDC to catapult Mitchell out of office what happened?

Similarly the expelled elements of the NDC having joined forces with the NNP against Uncle Tilly. This development could have similar detrimental consequences for the NNP thus proving Herbert Blaize correct with his popular refrain – “what goes around comes around”.

In closing, the Stone Crusher nearly forgot to mention the precarious position the

irrelevant union man has found himself in as a result of his viperous stand

which saw the political demise of “Brother Peter”.

Word within the corridors of the labour movement is that the “irrelevant

union man” is about to be challenged for the leadership of what he has been

behaving as if it was “his” union and not that of the working class.

The man has upset so many of his members that some of them are right now prepared to thrown their support behind his challenger who works with LIME.

If a poll is done at SGU, MBIA, LIAT, Ports Authority, The Breweries, Caribbean Agro, LIME, this irrelevant angry element will see just how popular he is. And this man from the past is bad-mouthing Uncle Tilly as not a popular leader because his loyalty is to “Brother Peter”.

Some of the workers in LIAT are openly accusing him of “selling out” their cause to his friends like the “Comrade” in St. Vincent and Baldwin in Antigua.

The Comrade in Vincy land is no fool. He made himself unavailable when he was called on the telephone to accept an invitation to come to Grenada to address the NUF convention. Union man, who was the person that placed that call to the “Comrade” in St. Vincent?

Even if the irrelevant union man holds onto the post of President-General-for-life, one thing for sure is that his days in the law-making assembly have come to an end, as he is not likely to be the nominee for a movement, which has lost all confidence in his representation.

The TUC has a new Senator in the wings and intends to submit his name about two to three weeks after the February 19 poll.

In as much as the irrelevant man wants to be the President of the Trades Union Council (TUC), he is not likely to get that either since the support of the Teachers’, Public Workers & Bank and General (and don’t talk about the Seamen & Waterfront) are not assured this time around.

It is interesting how his colleague unionists are fed up with him. Just as how the “red nastiness” is dead because of him, is so he is dead too because of his self-seeking interests.

The Revo must have collapsed with these people in the forefront. The philosophy is that it is nothing but my way or throw it out the window and onto the highway to be run over by a vehicle.

The NDC got rid of them just in the nick of time.

Stone Crusher begs for the consciousness of all Grenadians to choose wisely

On election Day and do not allow the promised two bedroom houses in Carriacou and Petite Martinique, nor the promise that NNP will deliver to fool you.

The only things they have proved they can and will continue to deliver are – crooks, conmen, lies, shady deals, bribes, tribalism, spite, hate, and

victimisation among others.

The leader is now singing a song: “I will do anything for you”. When he started the Call Centre and gave away millions to his family members – did he do it for you?

When the same leader allowed Miller to run away with the millions from the promised hotel at Mt. Hartman – did he do it for you?

When the man guaranteed millions for the failed projects like the small hotels in the south (No Problem, Cedars Inn, Maffiken Apts, etc, etc – which resulted in more millions to be added onto the national debt – did he do it for you?

What the NNP Man did for the people is to leave a national debt of EC$1.8 million, which is now a millstone around the necks of every man, woman and child in Grenada.

People, go to the polls with a clean mind and a reverend heart and vote against a resumption of a scandal-plagued Grenada under an NNP administration.

Please, relegate them to the dustbin of our history – right where they belong. Most of our people are smart and know what is good and what is bad for them.

 

 

 

azim Burke today, but tomorrow could be Mitchell, Bowen and Boatswain

By Hudson George

 

I think I am the most honest Grenadian who writes articles about the political situation in Grenada, even though supporters of the NDC party accuse me of being a pro NNP sympathiser. However, I will continue to analyse and expose the political tribalism in Grenada politics and the role some of our journalists play to promote divisions and hatred.

I read Hamlet Mark’s article (Grenada ruling party’s election campaign may be in trouble (February 1, 2013), and it is no hidden secret that the editor and owner of Caribupdate news is a supporter of Peter David’s breakaway faction that lost the power struggle to take over the NDC party and government.

Mr. Mark wants Nazim Burke to lose his seat in this upcoming general election, so that Peter David will resurrect from the political grave and take full control of the newly formed NUF party.

People who read Mr. Mark’s article and are not aware of the political situation in Grenada might think that he is a supporter of the opposition NNP but he is not. However, all Grenadians who are interested in politics know that Mr. Mark is not a supporter of the NNP party and he has no political interest in joining the NNP organisation. Therefore, he is just playing media politics by saying that Nazim Burke is facing stiff competition from the NNP candidate.

Basically, I think it is time for all this petty political tribalism to stop and journalists who are sympathisers of political factions should try and use their journalistic skills for more important issues that need to be addressed.

If the NNP wins the election on February 19, 2013, it is expected that Mr. Mark will start attacking Keith Mitchell, Gregory Bowen and Anthony Boatswain, as he did in the past when the NNP was governing the country.

In addition, the Grenadian people know that Mr. Burke and Mr. David are lawyers by profession and they can always make a decent living without participating in politics. And, as a matter of fact, Mr. Burke is also an economist. Therefore, he can practice law and teach students at St George’s University if he chooses to.

The personal conflict between Mr. Burke and Mr. David is not a national issue and it should not be highlighted by media persons as a national issue.

The NDC party that won the July 8, 2008, general election was not united from the beginning and all the top political figures that are involved in the present political conflict had an idea of what they were involving themselves in, when they chose to get into frontline politics.

It is no hidden secret that Nazim Burke and Peter David have the same,political ambition to become a Prime Minister of Grenada in the future, and it does not make any sense for the ordinary citizens and journalists, who are looking for something in the political scheme of things, to promote the divisions and create more political tribalism.

Grenada is a small country, with too many wannabe political leaders promoting their personal agenda while unemployment is very high and the people want jobs.

In addition, political conflict between two gentlemen is nothing new to Grenada’s political culture. The original NNP that was formed after the US invasion of Grenada in 1983 had three other potential leaders, even though Herbert Belize was the political leader presented to the Grenadian people. And soon after the NNP won the election and Blaize became the Prime Minister, there was a split in the party.

Grenadians can remember fully well, when George Brizan, Francis Alexis and Tillman Thomas defected from the NNP party and formed the NDC party. Keith Mitchell stayed in the party and sometime after he then challenged Mr. Blaize for the leadership in a convention and won.

Therefore, the best thing for Hamlet Mark to do is advise Peter David to come out from hiding and declare himself leader of the NUF, rather than staying in the shadow of Glynis Roberts and using her like a robot machine.

It will be very difficult for Peter David to attract nationwide support, even if Nazim Burke loses his seat in this upcoming election.

Presently, Mr. Burke is in a better political position than Mr. David and the only person that can defeat Mr. Burke has to be a member of his own party, if there is a vacuum for leadership in the NDC party and someone decides to challenge him at the party convention.

Presently, I think that Peter David is taking advice from persons who do not have any political idea of western style democracy. And after the votes are counted on February 19, 2013, I hope that our journalists will stop inciting political divisions.

I think it is time to end the political tribalism.

Unfortunately, the tribalism will continue and it will not be a big surprise if the NNP wins the election and Mr. Mark diverts his attention towards Keith Mitchell, Gregory Bowen and Anthony Boatswain, as he did in the past, because his main interest is to promote Peter David.

Eyeing the case before the Caribbean Court of Justice

The judgment in a case now proceeding through the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) could prove to be a landmark in the movement of West Indians through each other’s countries.

Shanique Myrie, a Jamaican, alleges that on 14 March 2011, (then 22 years old), she was originally allowed entry into Barbados at Grantley Adams International Airport for a month when her passport was stamped, and that two hours later she was taken by a female immigration officer to a bathroom where she was allegedly “finger raped”, abused with foul language, threatened and then denied entry.

The government of Barbados is the defendant in the case. It has been accused of violating its obligations under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (the CARICOM Treaty) and a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government decision in 2007.

According to Myrie’s lawyers, denial of her right of entry was “unjustifiable, arbitrary and thus led to discrimination.” The full trial will begin next month pitting the Barbados government, as defendant, against both Myrie and the Government of Jamaica which has intervened alongside her in the case.

Three other Jamaican women have offered themselves as witnesses, saying that they too have been victims of improper treatment by Barbados immigration officials.

The Jamaican government’s argument is that its substantial legal interests in the case lies in the circumstance that any judgment rendered will establish a binding precedent for all CARICOM member states. In a preliminary hearing, in October 2012, the CCJ agreed.

Prior to the case going before the CCJ in April 2012, the Barbados government said that it had conducted its own inquiry and it upheld the position of the Immigration authorities that its officers had acted in accordance with the law and regulations. However, the Barbados government’s lawyers admitted to the CCJ hearing that the case was “arguable”. Hence, it is proceeding.

Since the establishment of CARICOM in 1973, tens of thousands of CARICOM nationals have travelled in its member states with no difficulty. However, a significant number have complained of discrimination by immigration officials at the point of entry of several Caribbean countries – some, even when they are travelling on Canadian, US and European Union passports.

All of this has raised questions about the value and relevance of CARICOM to the citizens of its 15 member countries. Indeed, these events have created resentment and an inclination to dismiss CARICOM as nothing but a government ‘talking shop’.

The governments themselves have not done enough to address the problem, which if a solution is not found, will undermine the worth of CARICOM to many of its citizens.

Just recently, on 28 January, the highly-regarded, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, P J Patterson, publicly asked at a meeting of the Rotary Club in Guyana: “What purpose does the CARICOM Passport serve if travelling within the Region is still like an obstacle race”?

The CARICOM passport was introduced by many member governments in 2009 although the Bahamas and Haiti have not done so, and Monsterrat is prohibited from doing so because it remains a British colony. However, the passport itself does not ease entry into the countries of CARICOM.

While the word ‘Caricom’ is emblazoned on its cover, it is still a passport of the nation that issued it; it does not relieve the holder of the rigorous attention of immigration officers at CARICOM ports, nor does it, by itself, facilitate ease of entry.

The problem, of course, goes far beyond a CARICOM passport. It really strikes at the heart of what a ‘Community’ is about. In the European Union (EU) the 27 member states of the Community have EU passports but they also have, entrenched in their community law, freedom of their peoples to move to, and reside, work and study in, each other’s countries.

CARICOM governments will not overcome the problem of how nationals are treated at ports of entry until they deal with the more fundamental issue of perfecting the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) which provides for the free movement of goods, services and capital throughout the signatory member states (Bahamas is not a signatory).

Once all the legislative provisions are put in place, the free movement of people will be a natural consequence – just as it is in the EU, the Federation of the United States of America, and the Federation of Canada.

Rights of establishment, and arrangements for transfer of social security and medical benefits between CARICOM countries – all these have to be put in place before complete freedom of movement can occur, because without them the people of the host state would have to bear the cost of new migrants.

The problem is that little or no progress has been made by governments in recent years to perfect the CSME.

The majority of CARICOM citizens would understand the need for the legislative and other requirements before there can be full freedom of movement. What they will not understand, however, is why their place of birth in a CARICOM country should, by itself, elicit unfriendliness and hostility.

Further, despite the fact that business people and other professionals traverse the region everyday to transact business, CARICOM governments have not devised a way for them to apply for a stamp in their passports that would establish their bona fides and allow them access to a special line at Airports such as the ones reserved for diplomats and airline staff.

Yet these business people are the ones who keep alive CARICOM trade in goods and services, and investment.

The Shanique Myrie case before the CCJ will help to determine the obligations of CARICOM member governments to the people of CARICOM countries who travel to – or through – other CARICOM States.

The case is being watched by interested eyes and the judgment cautiously awaited.

 

(Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant, former senior Caribbean Ambassador and now Visiting Fellow, London University)