Has government replaced the departed nurses?

Minister of Health, Nickolas Steele was unable to give as clear answer on whether government was able to replace any of the qualified nurses who have left the island and migrated to “greener pastures” in the United Kingdom in recent months.

The Public Workers Union (PWU) which represents hospital workers announced in 2018 that there was a mass exodus of qualified and competent nurses from the government system to different countries around the world but mainly the United Kingdom.

Minister Steele was specifically asked at the weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing on Tuesday if the Keith Mitchell-led government had been able to replace the departed nurses.

He said: “I don’t think we ever replace anybody that has left, but have been able to maintain our numbers above critical. Do we have a system in place to increase the number of individuals coming into the system? Yes; and also focusing on increasing the level of training for those that have remained as well. Will that increase the potential of leaving, maybe, but we have to focus on the task at hand which is train our people as much as possible, as quickly as possible so that they can deliver as best as possible.”

In the face of migration of the local nurses, Minister Steele said that bringing in nurses from outside is only in the wishing stage.

“We have wishes of bringing in nurses from elsewhere, but as I said there is a worldwide shortage of nurses and any nurse who speaks English and are qualified, they are going to be going to first world nations and trying to get as much as possible financially or in terms of challenge of services that they can provide.

“So, there are two motivations for an individual to leave – to be able to do more with their talent and to be able to get more from their talent. So yes, we have wishes, but we recognise there is a shortage, so what we have to do is deal with the challenge here and the challenge here is to train many people as possible.

Minister Steele is optimistic that if Grenada manages to provide training for its nurses and improve the health service then those nurses who migrate will return home.

He said: “The fact is that if we constantly improve while they leave – because they are leaving for a better place, or they are leaving for more opportunities, of more remuneration – once we constantly improve and once they constantly call themselves Grenadian, they will come back.

“…Those who leave as long as we try as best as possible to fill that gap to improve those services, to work with what we have and focusing on patient care as much as possible and constant training and improvement – constant training and improvement … individuals will come back’.

CBI expert commends new CIU boss

A Citizenship by Investment Strategist, Johanan Lafeuille-Doughlin has commended the newly installed head of the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), Thomas Anthony, for taking the necessary steps to safeguard the integrity of Grenada’s 6-year-old passporting selling scheme known as Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme.

Thomas Anthony from Antigua, who took over the CIU last September

In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper, Lafeuille-Doughlin praised the new CEO for “doing a stellar job implementing the frameworks to ensure the safety and confidence that is needed in the programme for all involved”.

Anthony has been engaged in the due diligence field in the CBI from Antigua and is a former Global Head of Exiger’s Immigration, Citizenship, and Visa Practice.
He was the Deputy CEO of the Antigua & Barbuda (Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) between 2013 and 2017 and also acted as interim CEO for several months toward the end of his tenure there.

Since his arrival to head Grenada’s CIU in September 2018, the unit along with the government have taken several steps deemed important in securing the programme’s integrity and improving its attractiveness, signed an extradition treaty with China, warning potential criminals that a Grenadian passport is no get out of jail free card; approved the sale of CBI-property in the secondary market; and widened the “dependents” definition to include siblings.

Currently, a failed shrimp-farming project that collected CBI-investment but later stalled is now the subject of an investigation.

Singling out the failed shrimp farm CBI project, Lafeuille-Doughlin pointed out that the government, with the recent amendments to the CBI Act, has set up a new escrow structure whereby, “project owners and developers would have to give account for the monies they are drawing down to phase out their projects, what it is being used for and the like”.

“So, no investor could just come and say I have an approved project, (and) take investors money and not do anything with it…the government would now have to say show us what you are doing,” she said.

“The Citizenship by Investment Unit’s Project Escrow Management Framework (PEMF) will effectively implement Statutory Rules and Orders No. 28 of 2017 (and) will enhance government oversight of the use of investor funds. This new structure strengthens the integrity of CBI program, and boosts investor confidence to buy into viable projects,” the female strategist explained.

According to Lafeuille-Doughlin, the new CBI regulations will allow a new pricing option under the real estate investment route of US$220,000, taking effect from Monday (April 1st, 2019).

She noted that only projects that apply for and receive written approval as prescribed to come under the Citizenship by Investment Unit’s PEMF will qualify to take advantage of the new price option.

She added that “in order for migration investors to buy in at the new price point, they must do so together with a co-applicant which will allow for a total US$440,000 deposit to such qualified project”.

“So, monies would then be held in that escrow account and there will be very strict guidelines as to how monies are drawn down and paid out (creating) a win-win situation for the project owner on the ground, the Grenada programme because it’s more secure and for investors who wish to invest in a project on the ground”, she said.

In addition, the expert stated that the government will also have “a say in how the monies are managed and that gives some added confidence… specifically to ensure that the project comes on stream and the monies are used for just that”.

Lafeuille-Douglin LLB (Hons), LEC is a Real Estate Investment Strategist, Real Estate Attorney-at-Law and Citizenship by Investment Framework Specialist and a Motivational Speaker, who helps real estate investment, development entities and select high net worth individuals create safe and profitable projects.

Real Value launches “Change for Change”

Real Value IGA Supermarket is taking to heart the famous words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” and Margaret Mead who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world”.

As of Monday, April 15th, Real Value IGA Supermarket will be encouraging customers to ‘make a change, with their change’ by taking the opportunity to round up to the nearest dollar at check-out registers. This will allow customers to donate their change to a pre-selected charity of choice each month.

A new charity will be selected monthly and customers will be given the opportunity to recommend charities that are near and dear to their hearts. 100% of all donations will be made on behalf of the customers of Real Value IGA Supermarket.

The first charity selected to benefit from the new initiative is the Grenada Cancer Society. With cancer on the rise worldwide, one is hard-pressed to find someone in Grenada whose family or friends have not been touched by this terrible disease.

The Grenada Cancer Society (GCS) was founded in 1984 by a group of health care workers, business persons and other individuals. In 1999, the Grenada Cancer Society was incorporated and became a registered charity. The organisation’s primary goals are to educate and counsel persons with cancer, provide medical assistance, provide financial assistance to those who are in need of scans, treatments or surgery and to advocate for support groups.

Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer are the leading cancers found in women in Grenada and Prostate Cancer is the leading cancer found in men according to the GCS.

Persons in Grenada are often times diagnosed during late stage of cancer growth due to the limited public awareness of leading causes of cancer, proper preventative measures and typical symptoms or signs for concern with their health.

The Grenada Cancer Society is taking measures to draw awareness through education, where possible through Health Fairs island-wide.

Real Value IGA Supermarket believes in living up to their tag line, “Serving the Community”, and to the fact that everyone can make a difference in the world. It takes less than you might think to touch the life of someone else. One person alone can impact another person’s life; but together many can impact a nation.

The Dalai Lama once said, “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.”

It is with great honour that Real Value IGA Supermarket launches “Change for Change” on April 15th. We ask you, our valued customers, to believe that change is possible, and that together we can impact the lives of our fellow citizens that are in need.

Join us by telling your cashier to “keep the change by rounding up to the nearest dollar” and you’ll make a change that has far-reaching effects.

(Submitted by Real Value IGA Supermarket)

13 Year Old Charged With Non-Capital Murder

A 13-year- old boy from the sister isle of Carriacou is one of two persons brought to court on the island this week to face Non-Capital murder charges.

Patrick Allert – died at the hands of a teenager

The other murder suspect is Leslie Hitlall of Conference, St. Andrew who was taken into custody for the stabbing death of 46-year-old Leon ‘Ratty’ Fletcher of the same village.

The teenager has been remanded to the Grand Bacolet Juvenile Rehabilitation and Treatment Centre after he was charged for causing the death of a man 28 years his senior.

Dead is 41-year-old Patrick Allert – who resided in Carriacou, after he was struck in the head with a piece of wood by the schoolboy.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the incident occurred two weeks ago on March 29 in the village of Mt. Royal following an altercation between the deceased and the accused.

This newspaper was told that Allert was exchanging words with a family member of the youngster who was not pleased with the situation which resulted in him striking Allert in the head.
Allert died five days later at the St. George’s General Hospital as a result of a fractured skull.

The 13-year old made his first court appearance at the Gouyave Magistrate’s Court on Monday along with his legal representative, Derick Sylvester for the court to give directions in a matter involving an underaged person.

According to the Juvenile Justice Act, a court shall consider the following principles when making a decision regarding the release of a child in detention: “Preference shall be given to the release of the child into the care of a parent or an appropriate adult, with or without the imposition of conditions; (b) if the release of a child into the care of a parent or an appropriate adult is not feasible, the release of the child on bail or bond, upon the recommendation of the Director shall be considered; or (c) if the child must be detained as a measure of last resort, the least restrictive form of detention appropriate to the child and the offence shall be selected.”

Leslie Hitlall – charged in connection with the fatal stabbing in Conference

The Magistrate ordered the teenager to return to court on April 16.

In the other murder case, 39-year old Hitlall was remanded to the Richmond Hill Prison on a Non-Capital Murder charge after he appeared in court in connection with the death of Fletcher.

The murder suspect was picked up by police officers attached to the Grenville Police Station, hours after the stabbing incident occurred in the village, just after 8.00 p.m. last week Thursday night.
Hitlall is accused of using a sharpened instrument to inflict stab wounds to Fletcher’s left chest, lower abdomen and lower back.

The 46-year-old was pronounced dead upon arrival at the Princess Alice Hospital at Mirabeau, St. Andrew.

Represented by Attorney Andre Thomas, who was holding papers for Attorney-at-Law Anselm Clouden, the murder-accused appeared Monday before Magistrate Nevlyn John at the Grenville Magistrate’s Court, where the indictable charge was read out to him.

The 39-year-old, who had strong family support when he made his first court appearance, was not required to enter a plea as he is charged indictably.

He is scheduled to reappear before the court on April 29.

Fletcher’s death is the fourth homicide to take place in the country, so far this year.

Are Natural Disasters Caused by God?

Frequently, when a natural disaster strikes, a person may say: “God is punishing those people because of their sinful/wicked ways.” Is that really true? In times past, God did punish or destroy nations because of their evil ways.

For example, God brought a flood and destroyed wicked ones in Noah’s day. Genesis 7:4, 11, 12. He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because the people unrepentantly practiced sexual immorality. Genesis 19: 29. But in the two examples above people were saved.

Noah and his family were saved from the flood. Lot and his daughters were saved from Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction. When God acts, he destroys the wicked unrepentant ones; he does not destroy the good ones along with the wicked ones. 2 Thessalonians 1:8, 9 show that only the ungodly, disobedient, bad ones will be destroyed in the future when Christ comes, not the good.

Today, when natural disaster strikes, both the good and wicked suffer, sometimes get killed. So is it right to say that God brings natural disasters upon a nation, hurting/killing both good and bad?

No. God ALLOWS natural disasters to happen, but he does not cause them. Ecclesiastes 9:11 says that “TIME and CHANCE happeneth to them all.”

So if a hurricane hit a certain country, anyone, good or bad, in that country may suffer because the country stood in the path taken by the hurricane. By CHANCE the hurricane took that path. The sufferers were in the country during the TIME the hurricane hit; thus, they suffered. Other people escaped since they were not in the hurricane’s path and they were not in the affected country during the passage of the hurricane.

So it is wrong to blame God for natural disasters.

Brianna Patterson

12 months in prison for two young men from Birchgrove

Two young men of Birchgrove, St. Andrew will spend the next 12 months at the Richmond Hill Prison for stealing.

Rondel Lessey and Hezron Farray – sentenced to 12 months in prison for stealing EC$1, 700.00

The sentence was handed down on 22-year-olds, Rondel Lesey and Hezron Farray by Magistrate Nevlyn John, after they entered guilty pleas before her at the Grenville Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

They pleaded guilty to stealing a combined sum of EC$1, 700 from a dwelling house in the Birchgrove community occupied by a Ukrainian

The two were reportedly employed at a restaurant operated by the Ukrainians when the incidents occurred.

Attorney-at-Law Andrew Thomas, who assisted with the matter, pleaded with the court to not impose a custodial sentence on the men, who have been on remand since their arrest last month.

“Your Honour, I know it was a breach of trust (because) both defendants were employed with the company,” said Attorney Thomas, who urged the court to impose a non-custodial sentence.

The attorney recommended a suspended sentence, stating that this would act as a deterrent and prevent the re-commission of the offences.

“You can also impose a fine,” he told the court, expressing the view that “sending them off to prison would not do them any good.”

The Ukrainian cleric and two of the persons who accompanied him on Monday to the hearing at the Grenville Magistrate’s Court

However, the Magistrate held a different view since the youngsters are no strangers to the court and have been treated leniently in the past for the commission of similar offences.

“What is propelling them…I am amazed at what is written here,” Magistrate John said as she reviewed the court file.

“(They have been) reprimanded and discharged (several times), fined and (given) community service. So, this means that the court has been very lenient…I don’t think I have a choice but to impose a custodial sentence”, she said.

“I have boiled it down to deviance (because) the court has bent over backwards for them (and) I don’t think the parties respect authority,” she added.

On the first charge of stealing EC$500.00, both youngsters were sentenced to six (6) months and on the charge of stealing EC$1, 200.00, another six months (6), with the sentences to run consecutively.

Nothing to show!!!

It is unfortunate that a foreign chef has to bring back on the national agenda for discussion the serious lack of support by government to the key agriculture sector on the island.

The international chef who is associated with the newly opened Silver Sands Resort called for more support from government to the dwindling agriculture sector to keep alive the burning desire of many to see a true marriage between tourism and agriculture for real and serious development in the country.

The Chef lamented the fact that hotels are forced to contribute to the rising food import bill as they often have no choice but to purchase items from overseas to satisfy guests in the face of shortages on the local market.

As the Chef said, Grenada needs to invest heavily in systems that can produce a reliable supply of local produce through green and hot houses to deal with variations in weather conditions.

It cannot be disputed that the two past governments which took strong progressive steps in agriculture over the years were the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) administration of the Father of Independence, Sir Eric Matthew Gairy and the 1979-83 People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of executed leader, Maurice Bishop.

The late educator George Brizan also had a passion for agriculture when he served in the 1990-95 Congress government of Sir Nicholas Brathwaite.

However, the same cannot be said of the New National Party (NNP) of Dr. Keith Mitchell who has been given the longest run as Prime Minister since independence in 1974.

Prime Minister Mitchell has paid nothing but lip service to agriculture as he seemingly prefer to go after short-term projects and initiatives that can bring in quick and ready cash like passport selling and informatics like Call Centers.

The NNP as a regime has never pursued any meaningful programme that is based on long-term and sustained growth of the agriculture sector.

The Mitchell-led government made a very bad decision to give a government-owned farm to a group of revolutionaries who spent many years incarcerated at the Richmond Hill prison for the murder of Prime Minister Bishop in October 1983.

The revolutionaries had no known training in agriculture but were given a prime government estate to run and develop into a worthwhile venture.

Today, there are reports that the farm has been abandoned and is taken over by an individual known to be associated with the Jab Jab entertainment industry and all the crops on the estate are being destroyed by roaming animals including cows.

The Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB), a creature of the revolutionary government, has become a dismal failure with a series of bad management put in place that lacked the vision to provide the platform for farmers to use as an outlet for their produce over the years.

Government has clearly fallen short when it came to putting in place systems and corrective measures to seriously gel agriculture with tourism to develop a strong economy for the island.

Agriculture has not gotten its fair share of the “pie” from the NNP government when it comes to allocation of funds to develop and grow the sector.

Prime Minister Mitchell has chosen Information Technology (IT) over agriculture and the result has nothing been short of disastrous for the country.

A lot of hype was made over the CKLN programme involving Ken Sylvester, a Grenadian living in Jamaica and millions were accumulated through the programme.

The Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN) was being promoted as an inter-governmental agency of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) responsible for developing and managing a high capacity, broadband fiber optic network called C@ribNET, connecting all CARICOM member states.

The CKLN agency was first proposed in 2002 at a meeting between the 7 Prime Ministers of Eastern Caribbean States and Barbados who met with the then President of the World Bank and established the body in 2004 as an institution of CARICOM, under the authority of Article 21 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

The CKLN was supposed to do among other things:-

*to allow participating learning institutions to both offer and receive distance learning courses and other online services for the benefit of students in the region

*provide Caribbean-wide satellite network (E wide satellite network (E -LINKS Americas), that will connect all Tertiary Institutions in the region wishing to join the network, and provide access to other global networks and knowledgebase.

*Provide Wireless network (Wi -FI) for each college campus.

Millions came in through this initiative. Where is CKLN today and what has it done to improve the Information Technology platform in Grenada?

As lead Prime Minister in the Caribbean for Science and Technology, Dr. Mitchell attempted to mobilise the whole of Grenada and the rest of the Caribbean around CKLN and today no one ever hears the name CKLN mentioned again.

It seems to have been a dismal failure despite the region getting millions of dollars to spend on it.

The Mitchell government did not spend one single dime from the millions generated through CKLN on trying to create a marriage between Agriculture and Technology for the future development of the country.

The CKLN provided an opportunity to purchase Chain Saws and Weedeaters to clean up the whole country and replace those primitive tools like cutlass and forks with modern technology to bolster agriculture.

For instance, a portion of the CKLN funds could have been used to introduce technology to monitor the farms and help reduce the increasing incidences of praedial larceny that has been a major source of concern for farmers over the years.

No one should be surprised that the drum keeps beating that nothing has really been done to seriously and meaningfully address the marriage of agriculture and tourism to help grapple with the annually rising food import bill.

Integrity Commission recruits Trinidadian-born attorney

The Integrity commission has hired a new attorney to head its investigations into alleged financial wrongdoings at the state-owned Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB).

Trinidadian-born Douglas Mendes SC is the Integrity Commission’s new attorney

An official from the Commission confirmed with THE NEW TODAY last week Friday that Trinidad-born Senior Counsel, Attorney-at-Law Douglas Mendes will replace Eugene Otuonye QC, who has been serving as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the Turks and Caicos since January.

Otuonye was selected for the high ranking position in his homeland, following an open recruitment process, based on recommendations from an interview panel led by the Chair of that country’s Judicial Service Commission, Sir Michael Barnett.

A source who preferred not to be named said that Nigerian-born Otuonye will be heavily involved in the prosecuting of the island’s former Chief Minister and will not have time to get involved in the MNIB probe in Grenada.

Last July, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, who is the line minister for MNIB announced that his Cabinet has approved the setting up of a public Commission of Inquiry into the state-run entity as a result of alleged financial wrongdoing.

Approximately one month later in August, the Integrity Commission announced that it would take charge over the MNIB investigation and would conduct it privately and not publicly as stated by PM Mitchell.

It was disclosed in December that Otuonye was retained by the Commission to investigate the financial corruption allegations at the MNIB, in which former General Manager, Ruel Edwards is at the centre.

Otuonye was described as one who is experienced in the field of investigating wrongdoings and in 2008 successfully conducted a routine review of the administration of his adopted homeland, which is a British overseas territory, that led to the arrest of former Turks and Caicos Premier Michael Misick, who was charged with conspiracy to receive bribes, conspiracy to defraud the government and money laundering.

The allegation against Misick is that he had engaged in corrupt activities by enriching himself and fellow ministers by selling off crown lands.

THE NEW TODAY has now received confirmation from the Integrity Commission that Otuonye removed himself from the MNIB investigation, for reasons surrounding a “conflict of interest,” with his new position back home.

The Trinidadian-born was a judge of the Court of Appeal of Belize from March 2011 to March 2014 and a temporary judge of the High Court of Trinidad and Tobago during the period April to September 1998.

He was also a lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of the West Indies (UWI) for a period of 14 years, ending in 2012, when he took up his judicial appointment in Belize. In 2003, he was appointed Senior Counsel and became a member of the Inner Bar of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

The SC has litigated numerous human rights, constitutional and administrative law cases as a senior legal practitioner across the Caribbean and before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.

Mr. Mendes is also the current President of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago.

The MNIB probe is currently locked in court as Edwards, through his attorney Cajeton Hood has filed a motion challenging the authority of the Integrity Commission (IC) to do the investigation.

The lawsuit alleges that the IC-led probe is being done in violation of the Commission of Inquiry act.

Belize: Put the national interest first

Narrow party-political ambitions frequently thwart the wider national interest in practically every country.

The world is watching this play-out now as a public spectacle in Britain where the Brexit question continues to be deeply immersed in both personal political purposes and a struggle for the supremacy of one political party over another. At the end of it, Britain will be a much-diminished nation economically. It will also have little clout in the international community.

But it is not in Britain alone that this tragedy of political ambition over wider national interest is being displayed. On April 3, seven days before a referendum is scheduled to be held in Belize to determine if the country should take its border dispute with Guatemala for final arbitration to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the opposition political party, the Peoples’ Unity Party (PUP), obtained an injunction from the Chief Justice, Kenneth Benjamin, to stay it.

This commentary is less concerned with the legal technicalities of the judgement, important though they are, and more concerned with the increasing tendency to eschew agreement among political parties that serve the national interest, and, instead to pursue political advantage even though it may be short-term and harmful to the nation’s cause.

Of course, the politicians and political parties that pursue these advantages will reject the idea that they are doing so. They will wrap their arguments in the colours of the national flag and claim that they are marching to the drums of the national anthem. They will proclaim it is the people’s interest they are protecting. The same will be done by the governing political parties. But it is the very people, on whose behalf they claim to act, who will be sidelined in the party-political argument.

The referendum, scheduled for April 10 in Belize, was precisely to give the people a say in determining how the Belizean nation should deal with the claim to all of its territory by Guatemala – a claim that has manacled the country hand and foot, retarding its economic and social advancement even prior to its independence from Britain in 1981.

The decision to hold a referendum did not materialise out of thin air, nor was it the brainchild of the governing United Democratic Party (UDP). Significantly, most of the work to hold a referendum was done by the very PUP that sought the April 3 injunction to stop it.

After years of incursions by Guatemalans – both civilian and military – into Belizean territory and an absolute refusal by successive Guatemalan governments to end the claim to all Belizean territory, the governments of the two countries agreed in 2012 to hold separate referenda to allow their people to decide whether or not the all-consuming dispute would be sent to the ICJ for settlement.

After much foot-dragging and postponements over the six following years, the Guatemala government held its referendum on April 15, 2018. The result of the referendum, albeit with a low turn-out, was a mandate by more than 90 per cent of the voters for the Guatemalan government to take the dispute to the ICJ.

In the face of this history and the remarkable step by the Guatemalans to hold the referendum, the voice of the Belizean people had to be heard. Therefore, the date for the referendum was set, and the government launched a public programme to educate the population about all that was at stake.

Unfortunately, no referendum is easy, and the political campaigning surrounding it, never sticks to the question people are being asked to answer. The dissonance, distortions, and disinformation, which permeate the political wars that are launched, were evident in the run-up to the vote in Britain over “Brexit”, and in referenda held in Caribbean countries concerning replacing the Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the apex court in Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.

Perhaps it was naïve to think that the Belizean referendum would have been free of mischief, misinformation and jockeying for political advantage. However, given that it was the opposition PUP that had done most of the very hard work to advance it while in government, and that the ruling UDP had taken up the mantle, it was a reasonable expectation that the parties would have united to provide national leadership on the matter.

The question for the Belizean electorate in the referendum is: “Do you agree that any legal claim of Guatemala against Belize relating to land and insular territories and to any maritime areas pertaining to these territories should be submitted to the International Court of Justice for final settlement and that it determines finally the boundaries of the respective territories and areas of the parties?”

Straight forward though the question is, the answer has been distorted by those who have played on the fears of the Belizean people that they could lose their country if the ICJ finds for Guatemala.
Guatemala would have been bemused, if not delighted, by the actions that have caused the stay in the referendum. It has sent a wrong signal from Belize. Fortunately, the stay cannot long stand and, one way or the other, either by judicial appeal or by rectification of any encumbering law, the referendum will be held.

This dispute with Guatemala cannot be solved by negotiation – it would be in Guatemala’s interest to prolong it and so maintain the present claim. It also cannot be solved by conflict. The ICJ is Belize’s best route. Both political parties – when in government – supported that view. They should jointly continue to embrace it and give the people of Belize the guidance and sense of confidence they are due.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States and the Organisation of American States. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and at Massey College in the University of Toronto. The views expressed are entirely his own)

The Organic Shrimp Farm, Fool Me Twice…

On 27th February 2017 a glitzy ground-breaking ceremony was held in St. Mark’s to launch the Grenada Sustainable Aquaculture (GSA). The project was to establish an organic shrimp farm that promised much needed employment in one of the most depressed parishes.

According to GSA’s website, the project was to create “more than 400 new local jobs”, some of which were to be highly skilled, that would give young people educational opportunities at the university level.

Naturally, many Grenadians welcomed this development because St. Mark’s deserves a break. This was not the first time the people of St. Mark’s were promised a major project that would bring them employment and economic benefits.

In 2003, a poultry farm was to be established in St. Mark’s, an initiative of private Grenadian investors to which Government was later invited in a public/private partnership. After our Grenadian investors did all the preparatory work and secured the US$6.9 million needed to start operations, the NNP stooges were allowed to swoop down, grab all the money and ‘run wid it’.

The investors were robbed of their money and the people of the promised opportunities. An investigation was not launched into that project. Is it because they knew exactly who swiped the US$6.9m? The money was never paid back. The taxpayers of our country did.

A twisted joke was played on the people of St. Mark’s because the failed shrimp farm was to be established on the same lands where the poultry farm was to be located. Worse yet, those are fertile lands that once contained hundreds of bearing cocoa trees. Had the people of St. Mark’s not been duped twice, those lands could today be supplying cocoa to Diamond and other chocolate factories on the island.

At the launch of GSA, Dr. Claris Modeste-Curwen, MP said that the project was to be funded in part by the Government of China. Mr. Dennis Antoine, Grenada’s then Ambassador to China made remarks. GSA’s website indicates that the Government of Grenada and the “principals” of GSA were to jointly invest $20 million of the $39 million needed for the project.

Government must now tell us how much of our monies were invested in this failed project. What amount the Government of China contributed. This fiasco runs the risk of not just once more bringing our country’s name into disrepute, but this time, dragging the name of at least one friendly country into the dirt.

The Prime Minister also said that he was an investor in the project so people “should not worry”. Why should people worry? It was as though Mitchell knew since then, that the whole thing was a sham so he said those words to appease people who may have been sceptical given the NNP’s past history of doing business with crooks, conmen and fraudsters.

Did the PM know or suspect since then that this was going to flop? Surely, with all his experience, he should be able to spot the crooks from a distance.

The troubling thing for the NDC is that based on our research, the people behind GSA, do not appear to be fraudsters of the ilk of EJ Miller & Charles Liu of the Mt. Hartman Project, Robert Oveson of the Levera Project, Eric Resteiner, the briefcase man or Van Brink of First International Bank; just to name a few of NNP’s fraudster ‘investors’.

Furthermore, we are yet to hear from the principals of GSA, however, Mitchell has taken in front, announced the investigation and suggested that the investors have made off with people’s money.

Based on Mitchell’s pronouncements, the integrity of our CBI program is questionable. It means that proper due diligence is not being done on applicants. Liu and Oveson also promoted CBI projects. How can Mitchell be only now asking for help from regional and international agencies to investigate these people who he, his ministers and diplomats paraded with and told us were legit?

Isn’t that putting the horse before the cart once more?

We need complete transparency on this one. Who are the investigators? What are their terms of reference? How long is the investigation to last? Which regional and international agencies are we asking for assistance? Make the findings public. It is time for Mitchell and his pack to stop treating Grenadians as though we are all stupid. Come clean. Stop with the dirty games.

(The above reflects the views of the main opposition National Democratic Congress)