Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress, Senator Nazim Burke is not pleased with the manner in which the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration is handling the issue of Casino gambling in Grenada
Speaking to reporters at a press conference called by the main opposition political party on the island, Sen. Burke labeled the government’s handling of the casino issue as “despicable”.
In a recent current affairs programme on one of the nation’s TV stations, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell announced that a commission has been set up to issue licenses to persons who want to operate a casino on the island.
The Prime Minister also told Grenadians that within a matter of weeks a license would be granted to an operator.
However, according to Burke, information reaching the NDC suggests that the license has already been granted.
“We’ve said before, the way that this Government handled this casino issue is really quite despicable. This is a Christian nation and the sensitivity that many people hold to this question of the casino is well known”, he remarked.
“…I can’t say that they should or should not be casino but the Prime Minister did promise that before a decision is made on Casino, the population will be afforded the opportunity to have their input,” he said.
According to Sen. Burke, a referendum on the issue of casino gambling on the island would have been the proper thing to do in terms of getting the nation’s involvement.
“…There might be benefits from it, there are disadvantages to it and let the population vote on it. If the majority says we want to go casino, then we’ll go Casino, if people say we don’t want a casino, it should not be that the Prime Minister and two or three other people in his Cabinet must decide that we’re having a casino regardless and use this kind of bullying tactics to impose the casino,” he said.
Sen. Burke pointed out that he has no knowledge of the establishment of the promised commission and that the unity that PM Mitchell often boast about is nowhere to be found.
“ I am not aware of a commission, I don’t know who the members are, I don’t know how they were selected, I don’t know if it is representatives of views, I don’t know whether it’s party hacks of the NNP, I have no idea who is basically running the show.
“…The Prime Minister has been making the statement all along that we are in this together, that he wants national unity, he wants consensus, never before in the history of the country he says has there been so much partnership going on.
“…Now If you promise that you are not going to impose casino laws without telling the people and you’ve done it and then the time comes to set up a commission and you don’t discuss it with the people – who are you really trying to fool? In other words who are you trying to convince that this is an all inclusive approach? Clearly it is not.
According to Sen. Burke, Congress is not surprised by the actions of Prime Minister Mitchell as he is more or less basically driven by “the desire to remain in office.”
“Every single move that you make, from constitutional reform to the Imani programme – every single one of these project have underlined selfish political designs and our business is to expose them,” he said.
NDC has been trying to regain political ground since its humiliating 15-0 drubbing at the polls by Mitchell’s NNP in February 2013.