The New Economy

With four days to go before Grenadians go to the polls to elect a new government to run the affairs of the island for the next five years, only two of the political parties can be considered by the electorate.

The choice is clear in Election 2013 – it is either the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas or the main opposition New National Party (NNP) of former Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

The NNP is making a serious bid to return to power after its defeat at the polls in 2008 in which it managed to take home only four of the fifteen seats.

Its platform is based on the building of a New Economy for Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique to take the country up to the year 2025 and possible beyond.

THE NEW TODAY finds it extremely interesting that the so-called New Economy being advanced by the NNP is being done by its Strategic Trade Advisor in the last NNP administration, Dr. Patrick Antoine and not being put forward to the people by either Dr. Mitchell or the former Finance Minister, Anthony Boatswain.

Dr. Antoine is not running for public office in the country – his name is not on the ballot paper – but the NNP is using him as the point man to sell the New Economy concept to the Grenadian people.

Is the NNP quietly admitting that Mr. Boatswain had failed in the management of the economy and that a new messiah is now needed to sell the “New Economy” idea?

The electorate would also have to ask themselves whether the NNP is admitting that the economy that it presided over between 1995 and 2008 was left in a coma hence the need for a New Economy in 2013.

In light of the above, what this newspaper is advancing to the people is that if Dr. Antoine and NNP are soliciting the votes of the people to get back into office to take charge and to build this New Economy then some checks must be done on their track record with the “Old Economy”.

It is a straight case of show “the houses that you have built” in the past so that one can be sure that they were well constructed in order to get more houses to build.

As the ordinary layman would say: Ah will only give him the house to build because he built a good one for so and so… and another good one for so and so and it was well done and looking good.

The NNP leader has been asking for forgiveness for the wrongs that were committed in the past but is very reluctant – even four days before the next elections – to point out to the people the many wrongs that were committed. Is he asking for forgiveness for the “old economy” that was left behind after 13 years of NNP rule?

The economy that was built by the Mitchell administration left the country with a massive debt of EC$1.8 billion – with funds mainly borrowed to engage in projects that were not only unsustainable but mainly in the non-productive sectors of the economy.

The “old economy” of the NNP is clear in the minds of many of our people – a flirtation with all kinds of shady characters through the

sale of Grenadian passports, the giveaways of millions in guarantees to questionable investors like E.J Miller and the Ritz Carlton/Four Seasons hotel project at Mt. Hartman, and a poultry farm at St. Mark’s that is yet to produce one pound of meat.

Other components of the “old economy” which the NNP is now seemingly abandoning relates to the $EC280 million wasted on three projects – the Garden Group of Hotels in the south (No Problem Apt, Village Hotel, Maffiken Apt, Cedars Inn and others), as well as the Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB) on the Lagoon Road and the Call Centre involving family members of the former Prime Minister.

The NNP was given a run of 13-years to build an economy that should have been sustainable for growth and development but this never happened.

But who really is this Dr. Patrick Antoine who is now the official spokesman for NNP on economic matters for Campaign 2013?

Is this the same gentleman who along with his father, Alphonsus “Crotie” Antoine and Lennox “Toes” Andrew was engaged in secret meetings with members of the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) and former Opposition Leader, Michael Baptiste about three years ago?

Is this the same man who told Mr. Baptiste and others in secrecy that Dr. Mitchell is a spent force in the country and had nothing new to offer since his polices (Old Economy) had failed because it was based primarily on borrowing money and just spending?

Is this the real Patrick Antoine or another one who is a business partner in Barbados with one of the country’s top lawyers, Dr. Richard Cheltenham – the man who was brought in to conduct the Commission of Inquiry that cleared Dr. Mitchell of any wrong-doing in the Switzerland Briefcase issue?

Is this the same Patrick Antoine who along with Dr. Cheltenham is involved in a court case in Barbados as it relates to a private sector initiative that went sour with anther partner?

The NDC of Prime Minister Thomas has been in office for only

four-and-a-half years and was affected from Day One by a hostile world economic climate that is comparable to the Great Depression of the 1930’s as the United States, Britain, France and others moved frequently into and out and back into recession.

Prime Minister Thomas was also forced to deal with a rebellious group and was never given a fair chance to run the affairs of the country.

Four-and-a-half years is not enough time to cast judgment on any administration. Even NNP’s Roland Bhola admitted in an interview with Lew Smith on a GBN programme that five years is not enough for any government.

The electorate need to give the Prime Minister the chance that he never got because of misguided political madmen who did not learn anything from the collapse of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution.

Let him put to work the new team that has been assembled with persons who are steeped in good character and have given a commitment to run the country with a good governance agenda.

The clear choice facing the electorate on Tuesday is either to stick with the peace and tranquility now existing in the country under Uncle Tilly’s leadership or return to the old construct of “Ah just want to eat a food” and the promise of building a so-called “New Economy” in which the architects are not putting on the table the source of their funds and the faces of their investors.

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