The islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique need greater autonomy more than its name being included on the passport, according to local attorney-at-law Anselm Clouden.
The outspoken member of the legal profession who is from Carriacou, told THE NEW TODAY newspaper in an exclusive interview that the inclusion of the two sister isles on the national passport is one of the things currently on the agenda for the consideration by the Constitution Reform Committee.
However, Clouden was quick to point out that while it is a good initiative it is really minor since there are much more important things that should be of concern to the residents of the islands.
He said that a Legislature just like in Tobago with the House of Assembly is needed since it would provide for greater autonomy for the administration of Carriacou and Petite Martinique affairs.
“We need the ability to raise taxes for local purposes. We need an assembly with a Secretary just as Tobago where you have two or three or five elected members to the assembly. We need to be able to deal with matters of health, matters of investment,” he remarked.
“We don’t need to have the GIDC (Grenada Industrial Development Corporation) here determine what investment is more appropriate for Carriacou or the Cabinet of Ministers in the Central Government determines what investment is more appropriate for Carriacou. That must be done for Carriacounians by Carriacounians.”
Over the years, successive Grenadian government have made commitments to local government for the islands, but Clouden said this is not what Carriacou needs.
“I hear them talking about local government, but that’s rubbish. I am not for the type of local government that they envisage because they are saying whether you should have an extension of the Carriacou model in the parishes of Grenada.
“That’s utter nonsense because Carriacou and Petite Martinique is distinct islands inhabited and separated by water (from) Grenada. When you speak of local government, you trying to put that in the category of a parish, we not talking about that, we talking about being able to manage our own affairs in Carriacou and Petite Martinique.”
The city barrister stressed that subventions from the Mainland could be given to Carriacou to look after its own affairs.
“Hypothetically, so we say every year we collect 50 million and we then through our own instrumentality and local management raise another hundred million. However, there are areas that we need to be autonomous in,” Clouden said.
The attorney stressed that Carriacou will need to look at assets around its surroundings that can help provide much needed income like the “gas and oil outside the east of Carriacou.”
“We must be able to benefit from resources found within our natural borders and determine how those monies are going to be spent and determine for example if we want a free port, we want a duty free port…”, he said.
“…We must be able to do that, we don’t have to depend on the Cabinet of Ministers of Grenada to determine that Carriacou is ready for a free port, those are the issues that we must address,” he added.
Clouden was a member of the government team that negotiated the Boundary Delimitation Treaty with neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago under the 2008-2013 Tillman Thomas-led Congress administration.
Speculation is rife that there are good prospects for oil and gas resources between the two neighbouring CARICOM member states.