PM Mitchell comment on Local Government is staggering!

Having read an article in one of Grenada’s weeklies on the very important issue of the country returning to some form of local government, I find the comments attributed to our Prime Minister on the subject staggering to say the least.

When the question of local government was put to the PM at a meeting is St Patrick’s, the PM is quoted as saying: “We may not have a formal law on local government, but in fact, we are practicing a lot of local government in the country.”

“I hear you; you want to see a formal system of Local Government. Certainly, if you have a good proposal, we’ll look at it, but I don’t want to sit here and tell you we are going to have a formal Local Government system.”

The PM’s comments highlight the problem we see every day with countries that gained independence since 1947 – their leaders go bunkers with the powers bestowed upon them and they get to a stage were they cannot see further than their noses regardless of how intelligent they are. One of the biggest problems that is holding Grenada as a country and its citizens back is the lack of autonomy in our large towns, parishes and communities.

As a people we are unable to participate in the decision-making of things that affect us all; things that would make a genuine difference to our quality of life including the environment we live in.

People want to enjoy the powers of having the ability to have not just a local choice but a local say in what happens in their Parishes; towns; communities as well as themselves and their families.

What we have got is a Mitchell led-government that is blatantly telling us to go to hell; government knows best, and he (the Prime Minister) is quite happy to continue administering over our country with a system in place similar to a communist state. He is quite comfortable governing Grenada backwards into a nanny state. One for which all the powers are in the hands of the few (fifteen MPs) in St George’s and in Parliament.

In 2015 we find ourselves enslaved again; we live in a country where there is no local government, no local politics, no community spirit and no sense of belonging; the exception being paying our taxes and do as we are told; shut up and show respect.

What did Dr Mitchell mean when he said: “we are practicing a lot of local government in the country.” Who are the WE and where in the country is this happening? Are the WE’s NNP and/or NDC activists? And if so, what happens to the rest of us (Joe Public) and how could the majority of the country tap into WE to get local issues resolved?

What are the WE social media contacts do should the river in Nan’s back garden starts flooding our streets? Also, who do us as stakeholders lobby to get action/deliveries on local services without having to involve ourselves in national politics? My MP doesn’t give a toss about St George’s North East as long as he continues to get his salary.

Dr Mitchell is quoted as saying: “The constituency makes the decision on special projects, they make the decision on house repairs, and they make the decisions on many other services.”

This is where the PM has lost me and many others like me completely. Because, we believe that the people who make the decisions the PM spoke about should be democratically accountable not only to the community they serve or represent but accountable to the taxpayers and ratepayers for how they spend our public money. Hence, a democratically elected system should be in place. Where Councillors are elected by the people for the people, and govern independent of national government.

Local issues should be resolved by local people and I dare say the NNP will in future pay a hefty price if they don’t bring in local government. The party is a powerhouse and no one doubts the political stranglehold in terms of power it has on the country but look at what happened to GULP also West Indies Cricket!

In response to comments made by the Government Works Minister Gregory Bowen on derelict buildings in the nation’s capital; the Willie Redhead Foundation issued a statement part of which states: “The situation which we now inherit is not a today issue, but could be regarded as a consequence of the post-independence governance, which had its genesis when local government was dissolved by Gairy Government in the 1960’s and the coming of parliamentary representation for the Town of St George’s at the independence in 1974, which ushered in a period of consistent urban neglect and poor decision making up to 2015.”

This is a damning indictment of failings of the current centralisation of our political system since the 1960’s. This system is crippling our country and the ability of our people to empower themselves. Therefore, it is time for some kind of devolved government.

The deterioration of our Heritage/Historical buildings and landscape is only a small part of the decline our political system is festering. We need change! Grenada is crying out for change.

Dr Mitchell made reference to paltry allocation of funds EC$250,000 to EC$350,000 for which he said Parliament has issued for special projects in constituencies. Frankly, this clearly shows the PM has completely lost it. With the greatest respect Prime Minister you are either not on the same planet as the rest of the country you govern when it comes to devolved powers or you are not listening and I think you are making a grave mistake. Please think again. Empowering the few in a constituency has nothing whatsoever to do with local government and devolved powers.

Mr. Prime Minister you are head of the Government that runs our country; it is the responsibility of the government you lead that need to produce a white paper on local government; stop ducking the subject by telling us to come up with proposals. This is nonsense and you very well know it.

Winston Strachan

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