Host of the popular weekly “Sundays with George Grant programme, aired on the internet on a local FM radio station has called on Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to take the lead and show the rest of the country that he is serious about the call made for unity in his Independence address on February 7.
“…I AGAIN OFFER MY HAND TO MY POLITICAL OPPONENTS. I SAY, COME LET US BUILD OUR NATION TOGETHER”, was the plea made by Dr. Mitchell in the address delivered at the traditional military parade ceremony held at the national sporting stadium at Queen’s Park, St. George’s.
In reacting to the address, Grant described the words uttered by Dr. Mitchell as “remarkably powerful words” but was quick to point out that he did not know whether people will take Prime Minister Mitchell at face value since the Grenadian leader had made similar utterances in the past but did not provide concrete proof that he was serious about nation building.
Dr. Mitchell devoted a potion of his speech to call on his political opponents to bury the hatchet and to come forward and help the government to find solutions to the current fiscal difficulties which have forced Grenada to engage the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for help in putting together a Structural Adjustment Programme.
As part of the programme, the one-year old New National Party (NNP) administration of Dr. Mitchell has introduced a series of austerity measures including a lowering of the income tax threshold to persons earning $3000.00 per month and over, as well as huge increases in property tax and for services provided by government.
“…I know that there are droves of Grenadians who would like to see that happen. We support your call, sir. You have correctly identified precisely what our country need at this juncture. But, Mr. Prime Minister, it will have to begin with you. I pray to God, sir, and I know scores of Grenadians who share this view- that it is time that you stopped using the People’s Parliament to lambaste your opponents or those with whom you disagree.
“Since your return to office, I have not been able to broadcast a single sitting of the House of Representatives where you did not degrade, insult, and shame one or more of your opponents. And that is very unfortunate, sir. Because – here you are – two days ago, asking the nation to “come let us build our Nation together.” How can they take you seriously, sir? For that to happen, we are asking that you lead by example.
“Yes, we all have enemies out there, as you quite rightly suggested in your Independence address; but you may be surprised at how many silent partners out there are waiting, watching, hoping, and ready to come beating a path to your door to help you out of this mess. But first, you need to have a change of heart, sir.
“You need to end the rhetoric – Grenadians have seen right through it. Start with your behaviour in the House of Representatives. One year ago, the people of this country gave you a mandate like has never before been seen in Grenada. And, about six months later, one of your most ardent supporters said to me, “George, it is time that Keith recognised that the election is over; and that he doesn’t have an opposition. He needs to get out of election mode.”
“Listen to her, sir. She is one of your staunchest supporters. She means well for you; even though she is one of the few who has the nerve to speak her mind – and the truth. Many of your very own supporters feel that way, Doc. But they haven’t got the guts to say so to your face – because they fear you. Instead, they will talk with your very own opponents and share their utter disgust with them.
Grant urged Prime Minister Mitchell to change course and to give Grenadians proof that he is a changed man who is more concerned with leaving a positive legacy behind and not going after his political opponents.
“Dr. Mitchell, you have told us that this will likely be your last term in office. Let your legacy, sir, be that of having brought this country together at what has probably been one of the most difficult periods in our history – rather than one of hatred, anger, venom. Rise above the rest, Doc.
The radio host also commented on the open admittance made by the Prime Minister that the NNP administration had made mistakes in office.
Dr. Mitchell has often been accused by his critics of being the person largely responsible for the economic and financial mess the country has now found itself in due to his “reckless borrowing and spending spree” during his earlier stint between 1995 and 2008 when the national debt rocketed from EC$374 million to close to EC$1.8 billion.
Since his return to power following the clean sweep by the NNP at the polls a year ago, Dr. Mitchell has angered the island’s international creditors by stop making payments on the millions owed to them in interest payments.
Prime Minister Mitchell has consistently argued that Grenada is in no way to make payments on the current terms and conditions and need to meet with the creditors to renegotiate the debts.
In his independence address, PM Mitchell uttered the following words : “WE HAVE BEEN WANDERING FAR TOO LONG IN THE DESERT OF FISCAL IRRESPONSIBILITY, AND LOW PRODUCTIVITY; LIVING BEYOND OUR MEANS; SPENDING WAY MORE THAN WE EARN; WITH A WAGE BILL THAT ACCOUNTS FOR 70 CENTS OF EVERY DOLLAR.
He went on: “THERE IS NO SUSTAINABILITY IN THIS, SISTERS AND BROTHERS, AND WE MUST TAKE THE COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TO FIX THIS NOW! FISCAL IRRESPONSIBILITY UNDERMINES OUR VERY INDEPENDENCE. FOR THIS REASON, OUR GOVERNMENT WILL INTRODUCE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY LEGISLATION.””
In responding to the charge, Grant said: “Let us take the collective responsibility, sir. And begin by showing the Grenadian people that you, and your government, are doing the very same things that you are asking of us. Be prudent in our spending; be fair in our dealings with others; and stop the persecution.
“…Let me say again, “There are lots of persons out there willing to help you, Doc.” Let us in. You are being closely watched, not just by us here in Grenada, but by governments, institutions, and Grenadians around the world”.
The talk show host also commented on the statement made by Prime Minister Mitchell in the address in which he once again admitted but without being specific that he had made mistakes in the past while running the affairs of the nation.
Dr. Mitchell said, “… AS I LOOK BACK OVER THE YEARS, I ACCEPT THE MISTAKES MADE BY SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS – MINE INCLUDED. I ACCEPT THAT THESE GROWING PAINS WERE ALL PART OF THE GROWING UP PROCESS. LET THOSE EXPERIENCES BE INSTRUCTIVE, AND LET US LEARN FROM HISTORY AND NOT REPEAT OUR ERRORS OF THE PAST”.
Grant told PM Mitchell: “…When I hear someone admit that he or she has made mistakes, I feel encouraged … and I sense better days ahead for that person. It takes strength and courage to admit that one has made mistakes, or done wrong – and it is not the first time that I have heard our PM do this, sir. Now, let’s forget the words of remorse, and show the nation that you meant them. God bless you, Keith”.