The Case for Debt Forgiveness

The Congress party doctrine of playing the game of brinkmanship with serious issues proved to be disastrous. The harsh reality now is that we have a national debt we will never be able to repay, and we dare not play games with it.

Chief Economic Advisor, Dr Patrick Antoine, and the Conference of Churches raised the idea of debt forgiveness, not as wishful thinking, but as a mechanism that is already working for dozens of debt-stressed, underdeveloped countries like Grenada around the world.

As debt forgiveness movements gain momentum it is imperative that we get on board. This discourse advocates debt forgiveness as a critical priority that should inform the conversation in Parliament and the public domain.

A brief economic assessment reveals a national debt of U$2,300’000’000 with debt-to-GDP ratio over 100 percent. For every dollar of national income 60¢ finances the debt and 30¢ administration obligations, leaving 10¢ for social and capital infrastructure and a counterpart funding deficit.

The 2013 budgetary estimates for administration alone was 65% current expenditure. Resources available for debt servicing are minimal. We lack revenue streams from inflows of real and financial asset investments, mineral resources, and hydrocarbon deposits of natural gas and oil.

The trade deficit is a massive net import, tourism is volatile and unpredictable, and increasing the tax burden to repay the debt burden is not an option.

Moreover, begging is not an economic activity, only a crutch propping up the debilitating dependency syndrome. Hence, with the debt overhang spiraling dangerously out of control, our administrations keep “kicking the can down the road” constantly refinancing, rescheduling, restructuring, calling for “haircuts”, all desperate attempts to avoid the inevitable liquidity crisis and default.

We cannot grow an economy with all that baggage. Debt forgiveness is not a cure-it-all panacea; however, it would eliminate the fiscal/liquidity crisis, default risks, rating agency downgrades, and give the nation a fresh start.

The 60% allocated to service the debt would translate into socio-economic welfare, poverty reduction, and human capital development.

Debt forgiveness has precedents as old as the Bible. In Leviticus 25, God commanded Moses to give debt relief in the Year of the Jubilee, and today the Jubilee tradition is global, its basic principle: debts do not always have to be repaid.

Beginning 1996, HIPC initiatives for heavily indebted countries launched by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund began debt relief for 66 African countries, and the Caribbean and Latin America.

But Washington-based multilateral institutions imposed tough conditionalities and eligibility criteria on beneficiaries. Since 2006, U.K Multilateral Debt Relief Initiatives (MDRI) have been forgiving private, commercial, and bilateral debts of Asian countries, examples, Vietnam, Mongolia, and Sri Lanka.

In 2007, hemispheric initiatives were implemented by the Inter-American Development Bank. Notwithstanding its considerable resources of gold, diamond, bauxite, hydropower, and vast timberland, Guyana received a U$800 million WB/IMF/IDB package liquidating 100% debts. And last year Russia cancelled Guyana’s U$280, 000 bilateral debt.

The U.S. 2008 Jubilee Act provides relief for 24 HIPCs that do not support militarisation, terrorism, and narcotics trafficking. And in June 2013 Brazil announced writing off U$900 million debt for a dozen African countries.

Notwithstanding its moral imperative, making the case for debt forgiveness faces technical, institutional, and logistical challenges, and three issues stand out. Initially HIPC/MDRI initiatives targeted countries with per capita income under US$380, revised to U$1.409 PPP by 2011.

The WB 2012 indicator disqualified Grenada classifying our U$7.10 GDP per capita in the upper middle income category of Brazil and South Africa. But per capita income would be a flawed indicator of Grenada’s economic health because it ignores two important factors: one, our income distribution disparities and two, the World Bank’s own 2011 findings that 53% of Grenadians live under the poverty line.

Clearly, this eligibility criteria needs revisiting with realistic proxies like the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Gini Coefficient.

Next is the classical argument that debt forgiveness encourages moral hazard and bad behaviour. But multilateral relief is provided in small tranches overtime with regular institutional monitoring ensuring that recipients introduce systemic structural transformation to their economies. Countries are compelled to do the right thing to obviate the need for future relief.

Thirdly, IMF/WB detractors argue that debt forgiveness would undermine global aid and lending from wealthy creditors. However, granting any country debt forgiveness equates to a massive aid package and studies show that multilateral loans have not diminished due to HIPC vulnerabilities to global exogenous shocks and natural disaster.

Jay Bruno

 

 

Financial failures

I, Brian Pitt, a survivor of hurricane IVAN of 2004, and a victim of NALGICO’s collapse, still await the settlement of outstanding insurance claim and default judgment, in the amount of $273,296.41, plus interest.

This letter is a gentle reminder to the following persons of interest:

 

*The Minister of Finance in 2004;

*The Permanent Secretary, Finance and Supervisor of Insurance in 2004;

*The Acting Permanent Secretary and Supervisor of Insurance 2005;

*The Directors of NALGICO 2004: David S. Phillip, Jerome Joseph, Sherron Mc Leish

*The Shareholders of NALGICO 2004: David S. Phillip, David Neckles, Grenville Vale Estates.

 

I am informed that over the last 10 years, approximately $500m have been lost to this economy, through the financial failure of Cap Bank, NALGICO, SGL, Clico and British American.

The unbelievable thing is that the people of Grenada are not aware of the status of any investigation.

It is instructive to note that to date we do not know if any laws were broken or if this financial failure could happen again.

Because of the internet and television we are all familiar with the success of the USA Department of Justice in prosecuting cases of financial crime and the forfeiture of assets from financial crimes, and the use of acquired assets to compensate victims.

Brian Pitt

Aggrieved Victim

Carriacou in Turmoil!!!

“Your services are no longer required”, the reason given to over 20 young people by the Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs for the termination of their jobs.

But is this in keeping with the message of “the politics of spite and hate is over and no victimisation, just do the people’s job” by Prime Minister the Right Hon. Dr. Keith Mitchell?

Well, the actions by the Minister for Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs along with the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs, Gertrude Niles have definitely shown otherwise.

From since assuming office in May 2013, her main task seems to be the dismissal of government employees and disrespecting senior heads.

What is even more appalling is that when asked the reason/s for the dismissal, her answers vary from government is seeking to reduce its wage bill to she is only following instructions.

How ludicrous, as a former educator who helped to shape so many young minds and the mother of two young girls not yet teenagers, the question asked to the PS is; are you satisfied that you are disrupting so many young lives?

Please explain the dismissal of three (3) young mothers with immediate effect, the dismissal of young Nazim Gay after the Environmental Wardens’ programme was closed and he was transferred to the Public Works Division, only to be given a dismissal letter less than two (2) months after.

We can even go further, the recall of Patricia Charles and Kevin Stanislaus to the Public Works Division and within 24 hours given a second dismissal letter.

We the people need the answers. There are even more cases where other workers were transferred, made to feel comfortable on the job, then later dismissed – receptionist Nicole Clement to Resource Centre and Community Development Officer and Roxanne Cox – Limlair Farm.

What about the geriatric workers, ladies employed at the Paradise Beach Washroom Facility, Environmental Wardens, as well as workers at the Windward Fish Centre – all dismissed and no reason/s given.

While these people are sent home, known political activists are being hired to do the said jobs. Are we serious about national development? A bad precedence is being set. Are we asking our young people whenever seeking employment with government that they need to list their political affiliation on their resume.

This is a total abuse of the system. How can our Parliamentary Secretary and Senator the Hon. Jester Emmons sit and accept such, he should be one to bridge that gap.

Before the 2008 elections he was the Personal Assistant to the then Minister, Hon. Elvin Nimrod but gained employment with the Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs as Senior Coach with the NDC Administration.

We are on a revengeful path – hope this does not spell disaster for our beloved island.

The level of disrespect and courtesy for Public Service Commission appointed staff has become overbearing. Imagine the Executive Officer for Petite Martinique was in Carriacou for a meeting and upon returning to office, his office material was waiting for him outside.

All efforts are being made to frustrate these workers, take for instance the Public Relations Officer was sent to Grenada for two weeks of training which never occurred, and while she was out, her office was occupied by the political appointed Director of Public Relations.

Upon her return she was sent to another office, not suitable for work, the sun hits directly in the office, rusty chair, no computer or internet lines. How many more would be made to suffer all in the name of politics?

Are our present leaders contented with the present state of affairs? Why are people being treated along political lines?

Now is the time to pull our brightest and creative minds together especially when the world is facing an economic crisis. Imagine Barbados, one the Caribbean’s most robust economies is having fiscal problems as announced by their Central Bank.

We are calling on our regional and international friends to please take a look at what is happening on the 13 square miles island of Carriacou, you are being fooled by our leaders when they attend those overseas conferences.

With a population of over 7,000 imagine how many mouths are being affected when close to 40 persons already lost their jobs with the majority being young people.

For a party that says they care about young people they are doing the opposite. Are we saying to the young people after you fire them to apply under the Imani programme (training) and still no guarantee as even that is politicised.

 

Kayak Lover

Open letter to Hon. Anthony Boatswain

Hon. Anthony Boatswain

Minister of Education

Ministry of Education

St Georges.

 

Sir,

 

Just before the 2008 general election the St. Patrick Multi Purpose Training Centre was transferred to the T. A. Marryshow Community College. You were the M.P. for the constituency then. That was regrettable a tragic mistake. Technical education St Patrick then took a nose dive and has since been going downwards.

This noble Institution (SPMTS) from its inception catered for both students who were academically inclined and those who were more skills oriented. This included the students who did not enter secondary schools, those who dropped out of secondary schools and those who completed secondary school with their CXC.

The programme was so successful that the Institution received enviable eyes. It was alleged that students from this school were not second to other more reputable institutions in Grenada with reference particular to skills. When the school was offered to TAMCC it seems as though it got the opportunity it wanted to simply, “get rid of an opponent.”

TAMCC received an institution that was well regarded nationally and instead of building on what was already there to bring quality education (academics and skills) to rural Grenada they simply made a fool of themselves and at the same time exposed their inability to manage.

Multipurpose as it is affectionately called offered approximately eight different skills and was about to introduce more skills when the transfer was made. Presently only four skills are offered at the institution. The students who graduated from the SPMTC were very well respected and sought out by employers. The situation is reverse today. During the period of the SPMTC the school was filled to capacity. Presently it is virtually empty.

The fee under the SPMTC was $75.00 per semester. ($225.00 yearly) It gave everyone- poor, vulnerable and marginalised the opportunity to obtain a skill at a reasonable cost; thereby assisting to eradicate poverty in the rural economy.

Under the TAMCC the fees escalated to over$600.00 yearly eliminating the poor and vulnerable from learning a skill. SPMTC also teamed up with other social partners to provide evening classes for adults who wanted to learn a skill. This no longer exist.

Under SPMTC the school was not a financial burden to government. There was regular fun raising activities. Presently the school is a financial burden to government. Management depends on school fees and government subvention to operate the school.

When you were assigned to the Ministry of Education it was not Hon. Keith Mitchell who sent you there. It was God who gave you the opportunity to fulfill a promise you made during your election campaign and to correct the mistake that was made in 2008 but like many other persons I am very disappointed that you did not return the institution to the SPMTC in the first one hundred days in office.

This is not difficult to do because the salaries for staff are paid by government and the building is owned by the Government of Grenada. It is the hope of the residents of St Patrick that when the new school year arrives in September 2013 that will become a reality.

 

Cherry Lewis

LIES, LIES AND MORE LIES

For a party that promised all kinds of pie in the sky deals during its past thirteen years, most of which never materialised, and to be allowed back in the driver’s seat now fooling us again sure is stupid on our part, but it takes only an immature and impatient section of our population to have been fooled so easily once again.

During the last election campaign, the NNP in its vintage form promised the sky and to bring water in a basket to Grenadians, particularly our youths who fell for it again.

Some of us who studied the NNP leader over the years would have known that this man speaks with a forked tongue – he has a history of saying whatever he thinks must be said to suit the occasion, but saying and doing the opposite when facing the reality of the situation.

Let us examine some of the things the man said that we now can identify as lies.

 

LIE # 1 — NNP TO THE RESCUE – The man said the NNP had a rescue plan and was waiting to take us out of the mess he and Boatswain put us in. They said borrowing was not the problem as long as you could pay back, now he saying we can’t pay back, and the problem is worse than he thought.

He also said that the NNP made a mistake of borrowing too much, and tried to solve all their problems by borrowing, that the country has still not recovered from Ivan and Emily when he himself took praise for what he said was a complete recovery during the past NNP rule, that we must talk with the IMF.

All the time he was saying is NDC mis-management, now is the international world crisis and the hurricanes that cause us not to recover.

Where is the so-called rescue plan since he is now claiming that he did not know how bad things were? A proper plan would have taken into account worst-case scenarios, if he ever had one.

This is no different from throwing a man into the Carenage waters then jumping in to pretend you saving his life. How laughable when the NNP is the one who put this country in the financial mess it is in now?

How then could they be the ones to come to the rescue in the true sense, but in a way it’s poetic justice that they are the ones who have to bathe in the same muddy mess they made.

 

LIE # 2 — OVER 1000 JOBS IN 100 DAYS – This one is so laughable that it’s not funny – it makes you cry. After promising that NNP will deliver over 1000 jobs in the first 100 days, the man still has the guts to try to hoodwink us with this sham of CCC road project.

They run and launch the CCC Road Project and the St Mark’s Mitigation project just before the 100 days count and no work start yet. Now they saying actual work will commence soon. What work will really start in any serious way, and there are no surveyors, engineers, and most important the construction equipment, on island to date?

What real work could start on the roads if the asphalt plant was sabotaged and must be repaired to produce asphalt? What work could start if the quarry at Mt Hartman is out of order and has to be repaired before stones could be crushed?

 

LIE # 3 — INVESTORS LINED UP TO INVEST— During the past four years the NNP boss claimed that he had it all tied up as far as investors go. He mentioned the many investors he met on his overseas trips who were all committed and waiting to come in and invest as soon as the NNP wins, even the Russians were said to be lurking around all during the campaign.

Now after the NNP star economist and investment advisor declared Grenada open for business once again, and investors should come with their cheque books, to date not one investment project is being truly put forward.

The so-called land purchasers from neighboring oil-rich T&T seem skeptical, the only investments mentioned so far is the same package of projects initiated, and for which funding was secured by the past NDC government; even the crooks and conmen like Van Brink seem hard to find this time around.

The NNP kept their appointment with the IMF because they had no choice even though they knew it would hurt their chances of attracting investors to the country; and no matter what ole talk the man gives us about securing any good deal that won’t hurt us, that will not be his call to make, since it will be the creditors and the IMF who will be in the driver’s seat and will be the ones calling the shots.

 

LIE # 4 — NO VICTIMIZATION THIS TIME AROUND— The man said big and bold in the budget speech and on other occasions even before then, he wants all Grenadians on board once they are willing to do the Government’s work, and that his government will be a government of inclusion.

The man says the NNP will respect contractual workers yet still so many people on contract got instant notices to go home, not even being properly compensated and having no job to go to.

Check what the man did to the Commissioner of Police hours after his fork-tongued speech in Parliament; check what he did to the Commissioner of Prisons, the Chief of Immigration, the Cabinet Secretary and many other public servants including policemen like the head of FIU, the head of the Sauteurs police station.

Even the very young people who manned the outreach offices across the island were suddenly not young enough because they were hired by NDC – and he talk about feeling it for the youths.

Is that how he’s really feeling it for the youths?

 

Patriotic Grenadian

 

 

Too much firing!!!

Grenada is slowly being destroyed by the Keith Mitchell-led NNP in their quest to deliver. This government has made so many promises that they are now finding it hard to fulfill. But what is happening now is just a continuation of the NNP’s first thirteen years in office.

Once more the Royal Grenada Police Force is their toy. NNP has employed a retired police officer to run the force while Commissioner Thompson is on leave. Mr. James has proven to be ineffective and just following the dictates of his political masters just as he did while in office for the first thirteen years of NNP.

The NNP has quickly began to put loyal supporters in place so the sending home on leave of two senior officers is a well thought out plan.

These two officers have given more than sixty years of service between them. The government wants to send them home unceremoniously. My understanding is that they were called in and given a letter to sign accepting early retirement. They were told that room is being made for younger persons and their upward mobility.

Yet, Mr. James is past sixty, retired, and rehired. Why couldn’t Mr. Redhead a younger man, the current deputy be given the job? It seems as though once a policeman reaches fifty-five he will be offered early retirement to make way for younger NNP officers.

The police force is slowly being destroyed. Officers’ morale is beginning to wane, tensions are mounting and there is a high level of mistrust among members of the force. NNP’s decision to interfere in the running of the force will only ensure square pegs are placed in round holes.

The placing of Ashley Folkes in the prison as Commissioner is a slap in the face of the dedicated officers who have been serving for years. Like the police force, the prison is slowly being destroyed.  How can one talk of upward mobility when retired, aging men are being rehired to fill vacant positions. The prison is slowly being destroyed.

It is a known fact that NNP never really supported the resurgence of the Cadets. Now, NNP wants to pull support from the Cadets because of Nigel Noel. How absolutely absurd! Nigel Noel is Grenadian and has rights as well. How can you talk of loving young people and still destroy an entire organisation because you hate one man?

So many people are being sent home from their jobs. The NNP High Priest was bold enough to say it is because they were not productive. How long have they been unproductive? Who determined that they were unproductive? Were they really unproductive or are they being sent home to make place for party loyalists?.

Has the right to work given by the Constitution to these people taken away by Keith and NNP. Where are the union leaders who were so vocal a few months ago?

Grenada is slowly being dragged into a dictatorial state again. How can respectable men and women in the NNP support all the firings that are taking place? Are the people being fired from the constituency of these ministers? Do these ministers have the guts to stand up and show their disagreements with what is happening?

Is the silence of these honourable men and women suggesting that they are too dependent on the High Priest for the job and that they are afraid to speak out?

Grenada is slowly being destroyed.

 

Peaceful Soul

 

There are no two sides

It was rather unfortunate the manner in which a genuine caller had to be short stopped in her tracks when she aired her opinion on me not being on the “Sundays With George Grant” programme on June 30, 2013 along with the President of the Grenada Olympic Committee, Mr. Royston La Hee.

There must have been a communication problem between George and myself. Hence I was very shocked and embarrassed when I listened to the rebroadcast and heard him say he invited me to be on the programme and I refused to show up or call.

I will like to set the record straight to the many listeners who were disappointed in my seemingly coward act after writing an article that has caught the attention of so many at home and abroad.

I had a telephone conversation with Mr. Grant on Thursday, June 20, 2013 when he referred to my article and the NEW TODAY editorial of June 21, 2013.

He said that he held discussions with Mr. La Hee who confirmed that he will be on his programme, Sunday, June 30, 2013. I did indicate that I was willing to be on his programme anytime, but I did not commit to being there last Sunday.

As far as I am concerned our conversation was more than a week prior to the interview and if George did not see it fit to call me to confirm that I would appear and at what time. He really should not have made such statements.

Mr. La Hee in his interview had a field day on the editorial and my article which he described as, “A PACK OF NONSENSE” and “FOOLISHNESS” with nothing to substantiate my claim that the elections were shady, corrupt and unconstitutional.

He also made reference to my pre-elections TV interviews where I forecasted that Saturday May 25, 2013 will be recorded as the darkest day in the history of Sports Administration in Grenada.

He repeatedly stated that the elections were properly conducted with no discord or dissent from any of the ten council members who attended and voted.

Hence, he can’t understand how Mr. Robinson who was not at the meeting, who is not a member of any of the affiliated associations, who have not been involved in Sports Administration for over fifteen years, could make such accusations.

Is Mr. La Hee implying that I or anyone else with concerns are not qualified to speak on matters related to the affairs of the GOC? Is he not aware that GOC business is the business of all Grenadians and that the Executive and Council are just voluntary stewards empowered to manage and conduct the business of the GOC in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and not as they see fit?

Mr. La Hee and his team in their preparation for his interview were so focused on portraying me as a trouble and confusion maker with the seemingly ulterior motive of discrediting the GOC leadership; they failed to reasonably accept that my comments may have some kind of credibility and that their actions may have been flawed.

Instead he chose to chastise me for not giving reasons to substantiate my accusations and the nonsense I wrote between the first and last paragraphs which had no relevance to my condemning and challenging the conduct of the AQGM.

I wish to advise the GOC Executive and Council that my ulterior motive was to simply find a way outside the box to bring to the attention of stakeholders (which includes all Grenadians) that despite our athlete’s achievement between 2002 and 2012, the leadership of the GOC has performed way below par and that Council’s ignorance of their constitutional responsibilities need to be addressed.

Both Ray Roberts and Michael Bascombe alluded to this in their post-election commentary but they have the right to speak. I do not.

A quote from my article posted after the 2009 GOC AGM when the last General Elections were held will indicate that this is not the first time I have commented but this is the first time the GOC has responded.

Thanks to THE NEW TODAY’s editorial, the President was forced to respond and he chose not to discuss the constitutional breaches that Ray Roberts the outgoing 2nd Vice President outlined in the said editorial. Why? Maybe the President does not know if Ray was right or wrong.

To those who were disappointed and disturbed by me not giving references re paragraph one in my post-election article the time had to be right for me to do so.

Hence, I will refer to at least two constitutional breaches.

 

ARTICLES 13 (4) which relates to the order and conduct of the Special Quadrennial Meeting for Elections (SQGM) were not observed.

The constitution stipulates the agenda for the meetings. In fact the notices sent out on May 6, 2013 had a six (6) item agenda instead of a five (5) item agenda.

The President in the interview said that Article 13 (4-3) was breached by one day. I will like to see a copy of those notices because I have one in my possession dated May 6, 2013 and the meeting was held on May 25, 2013.

Experience is the best teacher, but with all his experience Bro. Ray refused to learn. Ray was the ring leader and a La Hee supporter when I challenged him for the Presidency in 1994 and I was white-washed.

He also was party to the manipulated demise of deceased Margaret Payne and Derick Steele in 2001-2005 when they challenged La Hee and suffered a less humiliating fate. May be Ray thought he was the chosen one to break the shackles.

My post-election comments in 2009 and 2013 say the same thing. This time eyebrows were raised.

Hereunder I quote the first three paragraphs of my 2009 comments.

 

TAKING THE GRENADA OLYMPIC ASSOCIATION TO TASK

 

For quite a while, I have been restraining myself from criticizing the Administration and Management of the G.O.A. and G.A.A.A — mainly due to my past experience of holding executive office in both associations.

However, there comes a time when enough is enough and the silence has to be broken. The Grenadian Voice column, “The Inside Moves,” by Ray Roberts in its issue dated May 15, 2009 headlined, “What a surprise!”

He described the manner in which the Grenada Olympic Association General Elections were once again disappointedly conducted. What a shame. Same old story.

The affiliated associations being represented by delegates with their own selfish agendas, supported by the derelict constitution, giving executive members voting power.

This undemocratic policy that has been talked about and not acted on since the mid 90’s, has only served to create opportunities for persons wishing to remain in office to manipulate the General Elections to do so.

There are no two sides to a story. The GOC should do it right! Observe Article (13-3) (Annual General Meeting) before Article 13-4 (Special Quadrennial General Meeting for Elections) because I am of the opinion that the constitution was so designed to give the outgoing executive an opportunity to account for their stewardship at the Eleven (11) item agenda AGM.

A very important reference for re-election at the Five (5) item Agenda SQGM.

George Robinson

 

 

Going forward with Agriculture

Enough talking – it’s time for action.

It is a well-known fact that we in Grenada, for far too long have failed to recognise the tremendous potential of the Agricultural Industry on our lives.

We have concentrated almost exclusively on export crops Nutmeg, Cocoa and Bananas. We have mouthed time and again about doing something with our fruits and vegetables, but sadly, that is only old talk.

The growing global food crises must awaken us to the concern voiced by the United Nations General Secretary, that most small developing states (such as Grenada) will fall deeper into poverty which will have social and security implications.

We also note that as food prices climb to dizzying heights only a minority of farmers will benefit. Many of us are now food buyers who make ends meet by working off the farm and suffer along with the urban poor and landless when food price rises.

The time has come, it may probably already past, that we must take steps to feed ourselves. We are blessed with fertile soil and relatively large tracts of fruitful lands that remain uncultivated. Most of these lands are however government owned. With a young population that equates agricultural work with the lowest stratum of society still the situation remain hopeless.

The global food crisis is worsening and not likely to disappear overnight. It is therefore imperative that we take urgent, decisive and prudent steps to set in motion policies that would minimise the wrath to come and put on the path to sustained developments in the industry.

We must let down our buckets where we are; utilise what we have, increase the current level of productivity, and most of all, educate our people to the fact that those who till the soil are no lower in the social scale than the rest of us. On the contrary they are the blessed of the earth.

 

THE WAY FORWARD

 

The way forward, all seems to agree calls for the following:

 

(a) An intensive programme to boost the use of local produce,

(b) Increased productivity through:

 

(i) Improved methods of cultivation

(ii) Bringing unused arable lands into production

(iii) Easy access to planting materials

(iv) Crop protection

 

(c) Distribution of arable government owned lands to young interested farmers.

 

(d) Nation-wide training for young farmers: The courses of training must be crop specific and time to merge with the seasonal nature of crop production.

 

(e) Scientific approach to agriculture: The St. George’s University should be encouraged to establish an Agricultural Faculty to train local farmers to the Diploma level.

 

(f) Food Preservation: Young men and women to be trained in methods of preservation to take care of surplus that will be available and for which there will be a demand during the off season.

 

AGRO INDUSTRIES:

 

Year after year we talk developing an egro-segment to the agricultural industry. Unfortunately it has remained just that. We continue to see our mangoes, soursop, breadnuts, grapefruit and orange even the peel of those fruits and many more, go to waste. Jams, jellies and fruit juices that could bring us reasonable earnings remain untapped.

We have not tried to take advantage of the craze for herbals teas in today’s global market. We boast of being the ‘Spice Island’ of the west, but our fame as such is limited to shipping out nutmeg and cocoa to foreign countries. Cinnamon, Saput (phonetic spelling), Cloves, Cola nuts etc. we do nothing with.

We need to explore to what uses some of our waste products can be put e.g. nutmeg shell can be used as a source of fuel instead of charcoal.

 

PLAYERS IN THE GAME:

 

It is obvious that to resuscitate agriculture in Grenada, and to make it profitable to pursue; is to elevate it from the misguided social classification, and to apply a new and scientific method of production. All of us should be players in the game.

 

We would need:

 

(a) Agricultural extension field officers with true knowledge of agriculture.

(b) The Bureau of Standards

(c) Quality Control Inspectors

(d) Marketing Consultants

(e) Health Officers

(f) National Organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Hotel Association, Restaurants, Credit Unions, Clubs and Other NGO’s.

 

We need their input to place our Spice Island on the world as Moth Green saw it for the Cocoa Industry.

 

Dennis Canning

 

Robberies on the rise

I will like to bring to the attention of the general public the amount of robberies that are taking place on this island and causing fear for our local and foreigners, alike that are not being reported to the police for fear of retaliation and the court’s bureaucracies.

This issue must be addressed urgently as we are preparing to welcome home returning nationals and visitors for carnival. They need to be extra vigilant of the surroundings where they live.

What I have seen is village bars being used as disguise to sell drinks etc. put engage in selling illegal stuff and I also saw a sign posted, “No Smoking”. Who are they trying to fool?

They are sitting and monitoring you at your property late into the night and early hour of the morning and thinking about how to make their attack.

So I want people to be on their guard especially with the new strange faces seen in their area and look closely at where they hang out because you can be their next intruder.

 

Careful Watcher

 

NTRC should step in

I want to jump in the discussion which LIME’s drastic reduction move has started as it relates to benefits that can be derived from open competition in the market place to us consumers.

I humbly call on all fellow Grenadians to join in to call on the National Telecoms Regulatory Commission (NTRC) to act in the interest of us consumers. It is instructive to note that this is a call made by LIME’s Country Manager who has been doing a great job to enlighten us on this issue.

Who would have ever thought that the telecommunications industry would have reached to the point where it would have experienced deregulation to the ultimate benefit of consumers?  Of course with Cable & Wireless being in the vanguard for years on end, we got accustomed to how things functioned then. Then came deregulation and other carriers came into the market and customers started to see a difference in mobile rates.

Alas, a little competition has been easing in the land line market as FLOW has recently started it offerings there. Customers should have no objection to that because a capitalist market offers everyone choices in services and rates.

The recent big move of LIME to offer one low rate across the region in the respective CARICOM member states, is one such benefit to consumers across the English speaking Caribbean.

This development has brought with it some controversy with LIME pulling out all the stops to reverse the trend of loss of market share. The following is a robust well researched contribution sent in by a citizen versed on the issue whose intention is to share information for the edification of all.

“Jamaica is leading the Caribbean market in what should be a trend to be followed by Grenada’s regulator and ECTEL. The Office of Utilities Regulations took the decision to sharply reduce the cost of calling between operators in Jamaica.

Mobile operators charge each other a Mobile Termination Rate (MTR) when calls are passed between them. That fee is passed on to retail customers in their bills and is the primary reason why calling between operators is often more expensive than calls made to users on the same network.

Mobile Termination rates in the International market is as low as EC$0.05 when compared to rates in Grenada of EC$0.251 per minute or around US$0.09.

Customers around the world and more recently Jamaica have been realising some significant benefits as their providers agreed to pass the savings from the rate reductions to their customers. This is where our regulator, the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) should aim to be.  The role of the regulator should be to look after the interest of Consumers.

The decision by Jamaica’s Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) to slash MTRs beg the question, why are Grenadian consumers still paying such high mobile rates?

According to LIME Grenada’s Country Manager – Mr. Angus Steele, Why are ECTEL and the local NTRC not doing more to impose cost-based pricing in the interest of consumers, especially in these hard economic times? If they did, it would be virtual blessing, particularly for consumers who want to call between networks.

With lower cross network calling rates, no longer will Grenadians have to constantly worry about which network their friends are on before calling them.

NTRC and ECTEL have both fallen behind international best practice as MTRs have been reduced the world over in recent years; yet in Grenada they remain stubbornly high.

In the OECD countries, rates have decreased significantly and there is currently ongoing debate among OECD regulators about reducing rates further, and even phasing out MTRs completely, thereby allowing greater savings to be passed on to consumers.

Dr. James Fletcher Chairman of ECTEL recently expressed the view that telecommunications rates in the region (alluding to the five ECTEL Member States, including Grenada) are too high, particularly for mobile phone services – now the region’s primary mode of communication.

Given the extreme economic difficulties that Grenadians currently face, ECTEL/NTRC needs to do more than raise concerns – they need to review current MTRs as a matter of urgency.

Consumers and the business community need to make their voices heard and demand that steps be taken to further lower mobile termination rates.

It’s about time our Regulators focus on what should be their main objective and look after the interest of consumers.

I humbly submit that our NTRC should act and act now!

 

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