A few weeks ago I commented on PM Mitchell’s visit to North America and the UK and suggested on his return from such trips abroad the success or benefits in terms of the costs of these overseas trips to the Exchequer should be judged on trade advantages and investment opportunities he as Prime Minister is able to announce in a broadcast to the Nation. Little did I know at the time the PM was holding an ace up his sleeve.
It is now common knowledge that the British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Grenada on the 30th September – ‘Mitchell’s quiet coup’ and what a coup for any Prime Minister in the region. The fact that Cameron did not travel all that way to the Southern Caribbean for a hand shake made the occasion even sweeter for Dr. Mitchell and I sense the PM is laughing all the way to another five years at the helm. The occasion has got to go down as one of his greatest moment (if not the greatest) in his political career.
The Cameron visit brought with it a pledge of US$550 million of aid for the region over the next five years. My understanding is that eight countries will receive a proportion of this money made available through our (UK) Overseas Development Ministry and I have to say it is about time too. For far too long Britain has neglected its former Caribbean Colonies.
This is a Ministry that has been spending all of its Overseas Aid budget for many years on African and Asian countries at the expense of former British Caribbean Colonies; I am extremely pleased to see at least a small sum from our UK Overseas Aid budget this time round will benefit the people of these Caribbean Islands with at least 300 years of British historical links. God knows the people of these islands deserve every penny.
Following the two devastating hurricanes in as many years Grenada has experienced a number of roads which are partly in a collapsed state; bridges are without safety barriers and flooding from surface and run-off water is common place in low land areas – PM Mitchell was right when he said: “we have a number of infrastructural projects that are already written up and are ready to go.” My only hope is that main roads will be given priority and Grenada will be told very soon how much of the funds will be made available to the country.
David Cameron did not come to Grenada alone – he had a team of political as well as professional officers (Civil Servants) accompanying him as part of his party and I noticed PM Mitchell took full advantage of the opportunity to take the party around the Island so they saw first hand the country’s need which no doubt will help in deciding the funding arrangement for Grenada.
While the visit to Grenada and the offer of no strings financial support by a British Prime Minister will not silence critics of the Mitchell NNP government; I am in no doubt that such a visit will give Dr. Mitchell and his government a big boost in popularity.
What I would like to see happen now is similar offers of financial support from the old Commonwealth countries and the Obama administration in the USA to help Grenada in the restoration of some of its historical buildings and Heritage Sites that lay in ruins as a direct result of the hurricanes in 2004/05.
The USA should at least have the decency to offer to restore or better still rebuild Fort Matthew which their warplanes accidentally bombed and almost demolished during their Grenada conflict.