For decades Keith, Bowen and elements within the NNP saw Grenlec as a major enemy. They continuously attacked the lone electricity company having lost their control over the operation of the company following its privatisation under the Nicholas Braithwaite NDC administration.
As Minister of Communication and Works under Herbert Baize, Mitchell allegedly skillfully used the electricity company to advance his own personal political agenda.
Bowen who was a former manager of the company continues to fight a personal battle and vendetta against the company after he was fired .
For all their political life Mitchell and Bowen fought to break the monopoly status of Grenlec. They had many opportunities to do so but was scared of the repercussions, industrial actions and political fallout, with Chester Humphrey and the powerful Technical and Allied Workers Unions (TAWU).
The million dollar question is this, why now this unilateral move by Keith, Bowen and the NNP to liberalise the energy sector even if the potential for renewable energy is nil.
In my point of view there are a host of political reasons for the move against Grenlec/WRB by Keith and his NNP.
Firstly, Mitchell has skillfully tied up Chester Humphrey in his back pocket. With a weakened TAWU, Mitchell and Bowen are much more confident that the leadership of TAWU won’t put up a fight to protect the interest of the company and the hundreds of workers that they represent.
The leadership of TAWU doesn’t mind at this time if the hundreds of workers they represent become the ‘sacrificial lambs’ in this whole debacle.
Chester Humphrey is more concerned about remaining President of the Senate than the workers’ defender he claimed to be over the years. He won’t rock the sinking ship any further, since doing so would have some very negative implications and reduce the possibility of Peter David emerging as political leader of the NNP.
The current battle between Keith, Bowen and WRB is deliberate and a calculated political move by the powers-that-be to consolidate political power. Such a move however has the potential of blowing up in their faces.
Despite the economic challenges faced by the company, Grenlec continues to employ hundreds of workers with excellent salaries and benefits. The benefits enjoyed by the employees of Grenlec are the envy of many employees at other companies in Grenada.
Apart from that the company in my view stands out as the BEST co-operative company in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Grenlec has invested heavily in education, sports and culture throughout the tri-island state. The Grenlec Knowledge debate is a case in point. The company has also financed many computer labs at various secondary schools.
The hundreds of workers still employed by Grenlec should stand firm in support of the management team of the company. They need to take matters in their own hands and support the company 100%.
Secondly, Keith Mitchell and the NNP, having failed to deliver on the many promises made to the electorate in the last general election, are now attempting to make Grenlec the ‘scapegoat’ for their own failures.
Understanding the sensitivities and importance of electricity, Mitchell is making every attempt to manipulate the masses, thriving on their vulnerabilities and emotions as it relates to the cost of electricity. He knows that thousands of Grenadians can’t see beyond the bottle of rum in their hands and so he is attempting to exploit this weakness.
Sensible citizens would understand that, even with the high cost in electricity since taking office, Mitchell and his NNP administration imposed a litany of taxes on the people of Grenada. He however knows very well that these taxes affect primarily the middle class and not his political base. His political base is much more affected by the cost of electricity and so the move against Grenlec is also an attempt to rally his base in preparation for the upcoming general elections.
The modus operandi of Mitchell and his NNP over the years is one of attack and propaganda against those who are seen as an enemy of his political base. It is no secret that the majority of his political base are those persons from the lowest economic strata of the society. In recent time he has been able to entice a number of businessmen and other professionals. Having failed his base, he has to engineer some issue to energise them for the elections, which may be called sometime this year.
Thirdly, Keith Mitchell and the NNP are trying to deflect attention from the serious economic problems facing the country. Only recently a report by a US based organisation listed Grenada as the country with the highest unemployment rate in the Caribbean and possibly the entire world.
The report must be looked at in the context that, even after the liberalisation of the telecom industry, Grenada has not benefited substantially from this process. While there was a drop in telecom rates, hundreds of workers lost their jobs from Cable and Wireless. Fixed line, cellular and Internet rates remain extremely high. Internet penetration in Grenada remains very low.
The NNP administration in the last general election promised the nation’s students laptops. Three years later not a single laptop or tablet has been delivered. The lame excuse made by the NNP is that the infrastructure is not yet ready. This was a known fact when this ‘pie in the sky’ promise was made.
The irony in all of this is that there is electricity in all schools but no internet access in most of them for the student body. Even if there is internet, the rates are high and the service very unreliable.
On the other hand, Grenlec has improved the electricity network and supply tenfold. The company has invested heavily in its generation, transmission and distribution capacity, Gone are the days of the ‘blackouts’ and ‘load shedding’ when Mitchell was Minister of Communication and Works. Grenadians take this supply of electricity for granted.
Finally, Keith Mitchell, Bowen and the NNP, knowing full well that the NDC remains a strong political force and alternative, are making every effort to stamp the NDC brand ahead of the next general elections.
Given their own dirty track record with a host of failed ventures such as the Call Center fiasco, Mt. Hartman, Levera, Briefcase issue, Grand Beach, Lagoon, and more recently Camerhogne Park and Grand Etang, Keith and the NNP are looking to create a political bogeyman. Their relentless attack on Nazim Burke isn’t working as they hoped it would, with the masses realising their lies after the last elections.
The NDC should not shy away from standing behind and rallying support for Grenlec. Grenlec remains the brightest spot in Grenada after the Maurice Bishop International Airport.
The company is highly efficient, incorruptible and managed properly. Keith Mitchell, Bowen and the NNP, instead of battling with the company, should learn a thing or two from the management of Grenlec.
Liberalisation of electricity won’t result in the reduction of electricity costs. The new providers like Grenlec would have to ensure a profitable return on their investment. With Grenlec as the incumbent they would find it very difficult to compete and we may once again see a scenario with mergers like that of Cable and Wireless and Flow.
Grenadians shouldn’t allow Mitchell, Bowen and the NNP to gamble with their future. The island has already lost millions of dollars from their gross mismanagement. Fool me once, blame you! Fool me twice, blame me.
Let us hope that the section of the Grenadian masses who seem to be intoxicated and politically blind may soon have the wool removed from over their green eyes and that their vision becomes clear before the next elections so that they can see the light.
Grenlec is good for Grenada. Keith Mitchell and NNP have proven that they are bad for Grenada.
Keith Mitchell and Bowen are of the past. Our young people who are supported by Grenlec are the future.
Forward ever! Backward never!