Caribupdate Weekly at the Senate

The availability of the Caribupdate Weekly Newspaper to Senators inside Parliament has raised eyebrows among some members of the Upper House.

The newspaper which is linked to Senior Advisor to Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell on Communications, Information and Media Relations, Hamlet Mark was presented to Senators during last week’s sitting of the Upper House of Parliament.

Opposition Senator, Franka Bernadine who raised objection to the newspaper being presented to the House felt that if “news” is being distributed, copies of other local newspapers should also be made available.

“I cannot figure out why in fact the only newspaper that’s sitting here since you’re providing newspapers, is it that it’s free? What is the story with it, because this paper (Caribupdate Weekly) is a well established paper when it comes to favouritism in favour of the New National Party and the present government,” Sen. Bernadine said.

The female Opposition Senator believes it is a subtle reminder of campaigning in the House which she said is not acceptable.

She charged that Caribupdate does not offer an objective perspective in its line of reporting.

“If it is news that you’re very kindly distributing, please distribute the other newspapers alongside it,” she told the sitting.

Speculation is rife that Caribupdate is being funded by a prominent member of the so-called “Project Grenada” grouping that was expelled from the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in 2012.

Sen. Bernadine also spoke of the delay in having questions answered by Government Senators and called for them to be taken more seriously.

According to the female parliamentarian, there may be long stories why the questions may or may not be answered, but the item of “question” on the Order Paper “is still not ticking.”

“You can’t ask a question in April of 2015 and get it returned in February of 2016,” she remarked.

Sen. Bernadine who is a former Minister of Education in the 2008-13 Tillman Thomas-led Congress Government, recalled that questions are sent to the ministry through that particular line minister who in turn will present it to the Permanent Secretary to have the answer prepared.

“I do not recall any time during that four-year or five-year period where our questions took longer than two weeks,” she said.

“So this dragging it on for six and nine months, and we’re excusing it, is not acceptable in my books at all… We are functioning inefficiently,” she added.

Another Opposition Senator, Dr. George Vincent was not happy with the delay in having a question he filed only being answered after one year.

Dr. Vincent stated that it was rather unfortunate to be presented with an answer to questions only when the person who filed them had asked about the answers.

The Opposition Senator who was a former Tourism Minister said his question was seeking to find out which airline does the State owes and for what period.

According to him, the answer he received said that as of November 2014 Grenada still owes Monarch Airline and Golden Caribbean 901,035 pounds sterling which was incurred up until 2012.

Dr. Vincent also disclosed that he only learnt during the sitting of the Senate that government paid Condo Airlines of Germany marketing commission quarter million United States Dollars, with 210 and 214 seats made available weekly which are shared with Barbados.

He told the Senate that for the past year he has been trying to examine the performance of the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA), but the information is not available.

“I have not seen a report for 2013, I have not seen a report for 2014, and I hope to see a report for 2015,” he said.

The former Tourism Minister also said he does not have the information to substantiate reports that GTA is being heavily subsidised in its operations.

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