New Foreign Affairs Minister, Nicholas Steele has stressed the need for respect to be shown to Ambassadors and Honorary Counsels when they are recalled following a change of government in Grenada.
Steele made the statement as part of his contribution to the debate on the 2013 Budget of Revenue and Expenditure in which his New National Party (NNP) controls all fifteen seats in the House of Representatives.
In his maiden speech to Parliament following the February 19 General Elections, Steele said although persons serving the country abroad as diplomats have been recalled some weeks after the NNP victory at the polls, this was done with respect, compassion and dignity, mindful of their contributions in their positions.
He pointed out that Grenada should be proud of those who represented their country in every capacity and as Minister with responsibility for Foreign Affairs, he wised to inform that “the process of recalling our ambassadors was done with respect, compassion and dignity”.
“Mr. Speaker the same cannot be said of those who served their country and were involved in the recall in 2008”, he told Parliament.
“If you represent your country with respect and pride, your country should treat you in the same way”, he added.
He did not identify any specific case. However, Steele’s remarks could be seen as criticisms being leveled at former Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter David who was put in charge of the Foreign Affairs portfolio when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) took office after winning the July 2008 general elections.
David gave tacit support to NNP in the February elections after he and nine others were expelled from Congress amidst a struggle for power with then Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas.
In his speech to Parliament, Minister Steele said his ministry would be strategic and innovative in its appointment of Ambassadors and Honorary Consuls.
“It will not be business as usual. In fact, Mr. Speaker, it will be business unusual in the best interest of the people of Grenada”, he added.
The new administration is yet to make public its new set of overseas representatives.
However, expelled NDC former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karl Hood has been telling close aides that he was offered the post of Ambassador to China and would be flying out soon to Beijing.
Hood appeared on the NNP platform in the just-ended general elections.
There are also unconfirmed reports that a diplomat who served under the former NDC administration as an Honorary Consul is also in line to get a diplomatic posting with the new rulers in St. George’s.
A businessman by profession, Steele said that in keeping with Grenada’s foreign policy and international business, his ministry would develop opportunities and creative ways to fulfill its mandate.
The senior government minister stated that while the former Congress government of Tillman Thomas accepted overseas missions spending millions of dollars inappropriately and inefficiently while local ministries such as the Ministry of Health suffered from lack of basic supplies, he will not pursue such a policy.
He said that as a developing country it is always the wish to have representatives serving in all capitals of the world but warned that Grenada with its cash-strapped economy, “we must live within our means”.
Minister Steele said his ministry would pursue Technical Corporation with bi-lateral partners and seek investment for Grenada’s economic and social recovery.
He warned that every dollar earmarked as expenditure in the 2013 Budget must be seen as an investment in the people and that every dime that comes to Grenada has to yield at least one dollar and that every dollar leaving the country through his ministry must yield ten-fold at minimum.