“Long Live CARICOM”!!!

Many educated and conscientious Grenadians have come to expect very little from our sitting Prime Minister, Dr. Rt. Hon. Keith Claudius Mitchell, but the broadside, naked attack against WRB Enterprise, the majority shareholders of GRENLEC.

Last weekend, at a Political Rally held in Plains, St. Patrick, it was another new low for Grenada as the Prime Minister tore into WRB in a similar manner in which the leftist leaders of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution often attacked the private sector and big business in the country.

In his rambling address, Dr. Mitchell told us that he has “a serious problem with WRB…”.

The Prime Minister said among other things: “You hear what’s going on in America right now, the interference of a particular Country in the electoral process in the United States, is a big issue…my friends I want to issue a warning to WRB. You are here, but you must respect the people of this Country. You cannot come in this Country and disrespect the leadership chosen by the People of this Country. You are out of Place!!

He went on: “WRB, Sisters and Brothers, has seen it fit to put out releases literally attacking the Government (on) a fundamental policy that the Parliament of the Country has passed. They out of Place!!! They are ‘guests to our Country’ and they must respect the rights of the People of our Country. WRB behave!!

And PM Mitchell ended the assault on the company this way: “I have already signaled to my friends in the American Government that I will be writing them officially about the behaviour of WRB and their attempting to interfere with the electoral process in this Country”.

THE NEW TODAY cannot help but observe that the contents of the Speech from Dr. Mitchell would have Grenadians believe that WRB and GRENLEC is a foreign entity.

However, checks made by this newspaper with knowledgeable experts in the region reveal a number of troubling inconsistencies with the statement of the Prime Minister on the Political platform, which borders on a dangerous threat to the rights of GRENLEC and WRB.

To begin with, while Dr. Mitchell has conveniently singled out WRB, as his “Jumbie”, strictly speaking it is GRENLEC, not WRB, that is purportedly the sponsor of the advertisements appearing in the local media. WRB is only the majority owner of the company.

This issue aside, the aggressive utterances of Dr. Mitchell would have us believe that WRB, is a foreign entity and hence have no rights in Grenada. Such a posture by Dr. Mitchell who is the Outgoing Chairman of CARICOM’ flies in the face of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

An experienced leader as Dr. Mitchell ought to be aware that the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishes that entities such as WRB have standing in the Community. WRB, as legitimate shareholders of GRENLEC, has rights which redound to their benefit such as the right of establishment, the right to move capital and personnel etc.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), has several times pronounced on these matters, and one would have thought that Dr. Mitchell as the longest serving Prime Minister in CARICOM would have been seized of these Decisions by the Court.

It is the understanding of THE NEW TODAY that WRB has rights in the Community and in Grenada, as a Company which benefits from the protection of the Community Law, which makes them no different from any Grenadian national or entity in Grenada.

And to pronounce as Prime Minister Mitchell did that they are Foreigners and hence have a separate package of rights, directly contradicts the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, and could be seen as a threat to the sanctity of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

To be clear, the position of this newspaper from our reading of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas is that WRB is a Community national with rights under Grenada law and Community Law.

This shameful and baseless grandstanding by Prime Minister Mitchell, wherein he threatens to and commands WRB ‘to behave” and reminds them that they are guests here in Grenada represents a fundamental threat to the rights of private entities in the Community, of which Grenada is one small part.

The showboating by Dr. Mitchell about calling his friends in the United States about the conduct by GRENLEC/WRB to legitimately engage in the democratic process, by openly expressing their perspective on the policy stance by the NNP regime is therefore hollow.

Indeed, any entity which stands to be affected by Government Policy has a Constitutional and Treaty Right to be heard and to voice their concerns.

Of far greater concern, ought to be the significant amounts of money which is being spent on this election campaign by the NNP, which unlike the paltry amount spent by GRENLEC and WRB, cannot be traced and hence cannot be monitored to gauge their true motives.

The Statements by WRB and GRENEC are clearly and reasonably aimed at carrying out the Decisions of the Board of Directors.

In his broadside attack against WRB, Prime Minister Mitchell in one unfortunate utterance would have undone much of the good he would have achieved as Chairman of CARICOM, and raised alarming “Red Flags” about the security of the Revised Treaty for Investors, domestic and foreign alike.

Surely, one would have expected a far more guided approach by Prime Minister Mitchell. But, who will guide him?

The word on the ground is that Dr. Mitchell appears to have distanced himself from Dr. Patrick Antoine, who is considered as the leading expert from the Spice Isle in such matters. Or put another way, Dr. Antoine might now be wise enough to distance himself from the Prime Minister and NNP.

Regardless of what one might think of Dr. Antoine, he is one of the region’s foremost experts on Economic and Trade matters.

Is Dr. Mitchell now taking advice on these matters from his new political friends in “Project Grenada – Comrades Chester Humphrey and Peter David?

On the eve of the CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting in Haiti, this shameful attack on the political platform by Dr. Mitchell, on a Company which benefits from the protection of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and the Constitution of Grenada, in circumstances where they could not respond or defend themselves, may be his true lasting legacy.

It is this that Dr. Mitchell’s friends in the United States should respond to him, when and if he does write them on the flawed grounds that he advanced to the Party faithful at the Plains rally.

His American friends should end their response to him, with words to the effect that “the private sector is the engine of economic growth’ and “Long Live CARICOM”!!!

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