I waited patiently for the presentation of the 2015 budget on Wednesday 26th November, thinking (correctly) that it was going to be the echo of the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on the eve of the last general elections. I must admit I was right on the mark; that is promises of more foreign investors, more jobs and more jobs.
I went to New York on the 5th of November, returning on the 22nd November specifically to attend the “Budget Speech Show” and what a performance it was! The actors on the stage were parliamentarians, men and women (charlatans) dressed to the hilt, sitting uncomfortably, thumping the tables and applauding the main character (the Prime Minister) every time he announced an imaginary project with more job creation.
The scene was surreal. I sat in the first row of the visitor’s gallery looking directly at the actors. I swear I was looking at a scene from “The Wizard of Oz”. The thumping on the tables continued as the stature of the main character began to dwindle with the announcement of new projects and more jobs. As he spoke he got smaller and smaller to me. I think if he had continued for another fifteen (15) minutes I might have heard his voice but seen no one, he simple would have disappeared. His lies would have swallowed him up whole or he would have been buried under the flood of the millions of dollars and jobs in the budget.
The purpose of the budget he says is maintaining fiscal discipline, creating jobs and protecting the vulnerable”. Unfortunately, those are the vulnerable he helps create and whose ranks he is increasing, but Thump! Thump! Good sounding phrase. Great budget, billion dollar plus. Nonsense, mush! A package of make believe.
If you believe anything in this budget, brother and sisters, please come to me (I live in Chantimelle/Mt.Craven) and I have haven for sale. Well, enough of this comic strip. Seriously I would like to examine and comment on every topic of the budget statement (10 plus) but too many to be treated sensibly here; time and space will not permit.
However, being a concerned old farmer whose field produces organically certified produce-wholesome fruits and vegetables, I shall address the topic of agriculture in some detail.
Whether you believe or agree with me or not, brothers and sisters, I am making a statement of fact here; agriculture is the backbone of our economy and the most dependable backbone any nation can have. God so loved us he provided us with a copy of the Garden of Eden; a land which fertility of soil is second to none on his planet; a topography so enchanting it creates its own music – I hear it night and day.
Are you listening brothers and sisters? If not, shame on you! Wake up and hear the harmony. Look at the jewel we are given, a land with a lake at its summit, irrigating the entire nation with what was once pure, pristine rivers and spring water; A land that can feed us totally, if tended properly.
A blesssed land that can make us totally independent with surplus food to assist others within the Caribbean and elsewhere.
Agriculture could bring us solid foreign exchange that will assist us in reducing our crippling debt. But with the lack of visionary leadership; submission to laziness, fear and greed have paralyzed us and turned us into beggars and prostitutes. We have lost our sense of shame. Begging has now been incorporated into our culture along with ugliness and filth.
When the Imani Programme (Hand-outs to the kids), De’bushing (hand-outs to the vulnerable) at Christmas and Carnival seasons, Ministerial appointments and Sports – all non-productive activities is given more attention and currency in the budget than agriculture, the foundation of our nation, I think we are walking on our heads.
MAY GOD HELP US! But that is what happens, brothers and sisters, when we put our faith and trust in nincompoops. Men and women whose greed and ego have blindfolded them. The budget allocation for Agriculture is minimal. It says $39.1 million, this included $29.7 million in capital projects (wishful thinking); that leaves $9.4 million in real terms to farmers and fishermen.
Brothers and sisters, when you realise that Agriculture and Fisheries is the only topic in the budget that is SURE to bring in foreign exchange which is so badly needed to help lessen our foreign debts under which we are literally drowning and forced us to submit to the directive of the IMF (added burden) to protect us from becoming a failed state, (bankrupt nation, then our leaders’ brain must be like scrambled eggs. However, one realises that these are desperate godless people who are always prone to do stupid things.
With the current demand for Cocoa beans, a commodity which supply could not satisfy demand up to the year 2050, and the ever soaring demand for sour sop that there would have been provision in the budget for massive cultivation of these crops on government-owned estates and follow private lands to ensure we take advantage of the growing international market.
Also programmes that will help the MNIB obtain expert marketing agents to find foreign markets for all our agricultural products. Compulsory skills and craft training programmes for the Imanis and “vulnerable” whereby they can become entrepreneurs doing their own local business – juicing, preserving, dehydrating, weaving, knitting, basket making, broom and mat and fans from bamboo, wild pine and Roseau – endless skills.
For God’s sake train those persons to become independent and not depend on government’s hand-outs. But total silence in the budget regarding the above endeavour. There is little or nothing about agriculture feeder roads which are absolutely necessary for the farmers, especially the aged ones as I am.
Nothing regarding, composting which should be a must in Grenada if we are to consider organic farming and lessen the importation of chemical manure which, in addition to poisoning our soil and ground water is also a drain on farmers pocket.
Also the re-organisation of the cocoa and nutmeg Associations which, for decades and at present are monkeys on the backs of the growers is absolutely necessary. Both associations are bedevilled by embezzlement and waste and some members should be in Richmond Hill right now contemplating their villainy.
But the boards are merely extension of government bureaucracy. Usually buddies of the Minister of Agriculture sit on them – good stipend, free lunch – some don’t even attend the meetings of the board but are first to collect their monthly stipend.
Believe me I am cognizant of what I write; I was a member of the Cocoa Board once. I could not stand the company of zombies. Is overtime that the farmers be freed to do as he pleases with his cocoa and nutmeg; to sell to whomever on the free market. But my brothers and sisters farmers don’t expect freedom from the Keith Mitchell government. Keith is drunk with desire to control. He has to be the boss to hand out largesse to those he has impoverished.
Just remember government produces nothing. The giveaway to his minions comes from our taxes. Taxing us to keep us poor. Praedial larceny at the moment is farmer’s greatest threat to survival. Yet nothing that makes any sense is being done by those in Authority to stem the scourge. Put the farmer out of business; make him poor so he can beg. Let him be at the mercy of evil men.
Remember private business enhances and drives the economy. The government consume the economy. The government is best that governs least. An unstructured government as the one we are now experiencing is a burden and a danger to its citizens.
A hero of mine, the late President Ronald Reagan said it best: “Man is not free unless government is limited”. I am happy to add that when godless men assume control of your government, then Hell becomes your destination.