In Victoria, there is a billboard erected some years ago, close to the Health Centre, by the Agency for Rural Transformation and a group calling itself, The Association of Domestic Science Teachers of Grenada.
This billboard exhorts us to eat local. Observing it a few days ago, I was reminded that recently another top Barbadian economist, Dr. Delisle Worrel, was calling upon Barbadians in particular and Caribbean people in general to grow more of what we eat and drink, and eat and drink what we grow.
One great advantage of this according to him was that this allows more money to circulate in our economies. So I remain amazed that at the moment we in Grenada have not initiated a widespread campaign to convince Grenadians of the importance of producing more locally and to eat and drink what we grow.
In my mind, our politicians and other society leaders should feature in this campaign. And when I talk our politicians, I am not referring only to those in power. I include those in opposition who have an equal responsibility to spread the message.
At the moment, the country’s import bill is too high compared to our income from exports, such that for every dollar we earn or borrow 65-70 cents go out to pay for our imports. And indications are that this figure is due to rise if we do not do something urgently about it. So what is preventing our politicians from waking up from their sleep and spreading this message throughout the length and breadth of the nation.
Our political parties, by and large, are always quick to create and spread propaganda to further their interest or to deal with negative criticisms, which they deem politically harmful to them. Undoubtedly, eating more local produce is key to our social and economic resuscitation. So why are we continuing to sell ourselves short?
Without producing more substantially and growing what we eat and drink, IMF loans, reducing the income tax threshold, and debt forgiveness, though very important, will not deliver us from our present economic malaise.
Another thing is this. Since I was a primary school student, I learnt that the use if voting symbols is a thing necessary, in backward illiterate societies, because by and large, in these societies, people are not capable of reading the candidate’s name on the ballot paper.
So how long are we in Grenada prepared to continue to use these symbols, and quarrel and war over party colours? In Barbados, more than half a century ago, they got rid of these symbols. So again, I ask the question: Why are we in Grenada continuing to sell ourselves short. When are we going to set a timeframe for abolishing the use of voting symbols, which continue to identify us as one of the more backward societies in the world.
In Grenada too, when are we going to stop taxing the destitute and indigent? For that is what the present tax regime does. There are some people, for instance, who receive a measly $200 as public assistance. And under the VAT regime, their spending is taxed at the same rate as the spending of people far better off. Really this is a shame. Under a Pay as You earn (PAYE) income tax system, these people would pay no tax, which is right and just.
There will be a tax threshold under which the poor and destitute pay no tax. If they do, they are entitled to a tax rebate. I suggest that the poor and indigent people who pay tax in Grenada, whether directly or indirectly, urgently need tax relief and restitution.
Devonson La Mothe