One of the three Opposition Senators in the Upper House of Parliament has given a commitment to closely monitor all aspects of the development of the country under the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration.
Senator Franka Bernadine who along with Nazim Burke and Dr. George Vincent was given Senatorial appointments by Governor General, Sir Carlyle Glean in the absence of an official opposition in the House of Representatives addressed the media about their role during a Press Conference at the Coyaba Beach Resort on Tuesday.
A newlook Parliament assembled for the first time on Wednesday for its first sitting following the February 19 general elections in which the NNP took all 15 Parliamentary seats for the House of Representatives.
According to Sen. Bernadine, the Opposition Senators would monitor what is taking place in education, health, finance, the environment and social development among others in the interest of the country.
She said the country must see the progress that was promised by the NNP in the election campaign in which it was able to defeat the Congress Government.
The female Opposition Senator who served as Minister of Education and Human Resource Development indicated that in the first one hundred days in Office of the Government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) back in 2008, it was able to deliver on the free school books programme to every primary school and half of the secondary schools although they inherited a dim financial situation.
Sen. Bernadine also spoke about the unwarranted transfers that are taking place in the Public Service since the elections.
She reminded the media that the Constitution of Grenada speaks of the Civil Service being neutral and that public officers must be able to perform regardless of who is in power.
“One looks with interest at the amount of movement that is taking place within the system at this point in time. All of these are the issues we intend to monitor, intend to raise, intend to examine to see if it is in the best interest of Grenada,” she said.
The most notable change is within the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) with Commissioner of Police, Willan Thompson resorting to holiday leave following complaints from Prime Minister Mitchell, and the removal from their posts of the Chief of Immigration, Supt. Godfrey Flemming and the Head of the Financial Intelligence unit (FIU), Inspector Senneth Joseph.
Sen. Bernadine who previously served as a Government Senator during the last Parliament said it is good to have voices in Parliament that must present another perspective about what it taking place in government before the nation.
“I see it as a critical role and certainly as a responsibility to… express their views (twenty-two thousand people who voted for the NDC) and an opportunity to carefully monitor and be the check of what in fact is happening and how it is happening,” she told reporters.
She recalled that a lot of promises about betterment and delivery of jobs were made by the governing NNP in the campaign.
Burke who served for two terms in the Lower House of Parliament pointed out that the opportunity given to him to be able to speak in Parliament on national issues was rather welcoming.
“It is an opportunity to speak on behalf of all those voices who would not be heard through the Lower House… and all those voices who wish to hear an alternative view to what is going on,” he said.
The other Opposition Senator, Dr. Vincent gave a commitment to serve with honour and dignity in the new Parliament.
He said he would promote and advance the principles and values of the NDC, and work with all communities as a means of bringing benefits to them.
Dr. Vincent who is a former Tourism Minister said he was looking forward to serving the country.
He gave a commitment that wherever necessary, the three Opposition Senators would support the programmes that are put forward by government.
“Where appropriate, we are going to aggressively oppose, and we would take the opportunity in the Senate to offer alternative ways forward,” he said.
NDC Political Leader, former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas also addressed reporters, saying that he was satisfied that three of his members have been assigned Opposition Senatorial appointments by the Governor General.
Thomas said he believes Sir Carlyle would have taken into consideration the large block of votes his party received at the elections.
Just about 22,000 persons voted for the NDC during the February 19 General Elections.
Thomas said no one should question the recommendations of the Governor General to give the three opposition senatorial appointments to Congress.
“I believe that it is appropriate that persons from the major political party are the appropriate persons to be appointed to speak on behalf of, not only the supporters, but speak on behalf of the country,” he added.
Speculation is rife that some of the fringe parties are not happy with all three Senatorial places going to NDC.