Tax the polluters to pay for Healthcare

I know of no political Party that likes to be in opposition or enjoy their role as the opposition unless the government of the day is in serious trouble politically as well as economically and as the main Opposition the Party sees itself as the government in waiting.

Following the disaster of the last NDC government in Grenada – I stress the word disaster because the elected members/ministers ran our country like a bunch of no good revolutionists having no regards for democracy or the hard-working members of their party who helped them to get elected and the people who gave up their valuable time to vote for them. Not surprisingly the electorate at their first opportunity kicked all of them out.

Three years and some months on and as I suspect following a thorough review the Party under the Leadership of Senator Nazim Burke (the former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister) has been trying (quite rightly) to re-establish itself.

The problem as I see it for Senator Burke is he is having difficulty shaking off the poor image and historical reputation of his previous government and don’t care how hard he tries; the people of Grenada are either not listening or they don’t believe him. It would seem the trust people had in him and his Party has all but gone.

I have said this before and I will say it again. Grenada needs a good hard working Opposition Political Party headed by a Leadership with vision who sees themselves as crusaders; people with a mission.

We need a Party to hold this government to account and as we are so often reminded 40 percent of the electorate that voted last time voted NDC. It must be heartache for most of that 40 percent of NDC supporters to see the Party they believe in turned into a media frenzy opportunist Party. A Party whose leaders continually dwell in Grenada’s political past rather than its future.

It is time these politicians realise that if Grenadians need a history lesson on our politics of yesteryears they can go on line and get a much better balance view.

Please tell us about 2016 to 2020 and beyond not about 1985. Our children that were born in 1985 are 31 years old. Some are mothers and fathers having children of their own and most likely struggling to make a living; they need you (NDC) to tell them how you plan to improve their quality of lives should they support you at the next general election. Tell them how you plan to do things better or different to this current government; with what resources and how soon following the election.

When I was in St George’s last year with the country in the middle of an industrial dispute with the medical profession (the dispute appears to be still on). The Opposition quite rightly supported the workers but in doing so demanded high wages, better working conditions and an increase in staff at every level of the profession but without telling the country how such demand will be paid for.

Considering the mess they (NDC) left the country in when they were kicked out of office, this was grossly irresponsible and opportunistic because it would seem that no one pays much notice to what Senator Burke or his political friends say or write.

The Senator appears to become rather frustrated and is not making much sense when raising political issues; he also appears not to learn anything from past mistakes.

Last year he was very critical of the government for increasing the tax on petroleum; the government hit back by asking him if he did rather see them put up domestic (household) rates. This year he has again attacked the government for adding the 90 cents tax on a gallon of petroleum quoting the cost of a gallon of petrol in other OECS states but not the actual tax per gallon.

I believe the government is right to tax the polluters. Those who damage the environment with toxic fumes throughout the land creating health issues which in the end puts great burden on our health services, should be made to pay directly and indirectly towards the cost of the running and maintaining a good quality health service free at the point of delivery to all.

Tax on petroleum is one way of raising the money needed to improve our hospitals. It’s an enabling resource allowing the government of the day the opportunity to employ more specialist consultants; qualified experience doctors; nurses; technicians and purchase and maintain the latest health service technology to operate a world class health service for our people.

If Sen. Burke is really serious about paying people working in our health service a better salary and recruiting more qualified staff to relieve the pressure on staff he must come clean and tell us how such improvement is to be paid for. If he can’t then he should shut up.

Industrial disputes within the public services appear to be on the rise and from what I can gather the issues are mostly about pay and working conditions. The government of the day has to negotiate and be prepared to meet at least some of the demands put forward by the unions representing these workers which will no doubt include a pay increase of some sort. A further increase in tax on petroleum to cover some of the cost seems likely.

The NDC persistently complain and highlight the Mitchell-led government going to the IMF. Indeed it is their theme tune; they also criticised the collaborated economic pressures to get the debt ratio down giving the impression all the while that it will not work and it was bad for Grenada but so far they have not put forward an alternative or tell the people what they would have done differently to rid the country of this heavy debt burden and this in my view is their biggest problem.

They are critical of government but they are unable to provide any credible alternatives.

Sen. Burke’s latest venture is Grenlec. Reading his published statement on the issue gives the impression that he (Burke) is not only a Director but a Spokesman for the company.

Grenlec is a monopoly no doubt about that and monopolies are bad for consumers. When oil prices were high every month Grenlec send out a bill it had something called fuel cost adjustment which was an added cost on your bill.

Grenadians were paying the highest price per Kilowatt hour for electricity in the English-speaking Caribbean. We are perhaps still paying the highest price because the price we currently pay per Kilowatt hour does not reflect the fall in the price of oil on today’s market.

Having read the Senator’s reported statement – does he speak for the people of this country? I think not. Grenlec has been trying to frighten the people of this country and the Senator appears to be supporting them.

The company in my view seems to have crossed the line of being an industry generating, transmitting and distributing electrical energy to one involved in local politics and I regret to have to say the press statements they have released and their adverts are disgraceful and unbecoming.

I am supportive of the government because I honestly believe a lot of what they have proposed is right and is in the best interest of consumers in the long run.

My only hope is that both the government and the company will at some point settle their differences and start working in partnership for the greater good of all consumers.

Winston Strachan

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