IS GRENADA’S CCJ REFERENDUM REALLY ABOUT ACCESS TO JUSTICE?

(PART FIVE)

In the strictest legal sense, within constitutional governance as is typical of Grenada, justice begins at the law-making point and ends at the point of receiving satisfactory solution for an unlawful action.

In effect, the spectrum of addressing justice entails the structures and processes from the formulation and passing of laws in the Parliament, to the administration and application of the laws by the Executive, and to the interpretation and judgement on the laws by the Judiciary.

The Parliament, Executive and Judiciary form the government of the land, which has been developed to facilitate justice by means of the rule of law, involving the adopting of democratic principles.

The Executive is the central arm of the government, particularly for making possible and delivering justice to the people; that is, the laws of Parliament depend on the policies and purposes of the Executive and the extent to which the judgements of the Judiciary are enforced and respected is at the prejudice and pleasure of the Executive which is essentially the Prime Minister in a dictatorship-type administration.

The Executive uses its central control of the affairs of the land and its decision-making powers to define and determine the meaning and form of justice, as well as that of access to justice, for the people.

It is this sweeping authority and discretion of the Executive that dictates the attitude and approach of the government of Grenada, as revealed for example in the manner by which the constitutional referendum on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) continues to be pursued.

The people however, must be astute to appreciate that the requirement for a referendum on the decision for a final avenue for judicial redress, or for justice, places them (the people) at a critical ‘powerful negotiating’ position to curtail the wanton excesses of the government.

Wanton excesses with actions contrary to principles and laws are an abuse of power – this also takes the form of corruption and injustice against the people.

What do the people deserve and expect for justice? Justice for the people begins with having just laws, and this would include amending or repealing unjust laws.

Considering that the Constitution of Grenada is founded on the affirmation of respecting moral and spiritual principles, the dignity of human values and rights, and the fatherhood and supremacy of God, then an unconstitutional law would be unjust as reflected in section 106, if any other law is inconsistent with the highest law of the land, then this other law shall be declared void.

Justice is universally accepted as a virtue for living; it is about fairness and equity and is the basis for law and order in the nation. Thus, in section 38 of the constitution, Parliament is warned to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Grenada.

Moreover, section 16(5) provides that the Parliament could confer extra powers to the High Court to enhance the effectiveness in the deliberations and delivery of justice.

Unfortunately, the Executive has been propelling disputable laws and is sluggish to the crisis facing the High Court system.

To relate the concept “access to justice” to the CCJ as a final resort for justice is also to diminish and shun the duty of the Executive for the proper administration of justice and for it to be held responsible for the lack thereof, and is to give the impression that justice rests solely with the CCJ.

However, this deceit should have been debunked by the previously internet-circulated articles on the concern “Is Grenada’s CCJ referendum really about access to justice?” (Parts One, Two, Three and Four).

It is critically important to absorb furthermore, that accessing the CCJ does not mean, or is not the same as, achieving justice by the CCJ.

The fact is that access to justice does not guarantee the receipt of justice, or it does not necessarily achieve justice; generally, none of the parties in a court-case is certain to receive a ‘just and/or satisfactory’ judgement.

Many Grenadians can attest of continued suffering even after being able to have a court-trial, due to the disdain by the Executive for justice; judgements handed-down by the courts, especially for damages against the government, are often not honoured.

The imperfection of the CCJ with respect to the people accessing and achieving justice has been exposed by the Jamaican Shanique Myrie 2012-2013 case against the government of Barbados; review the judgement thus (www.worldcourts.com/ccj/eng/decisions/2012.10.26_Myrie_v_Barbados.pdf) / (www.worldcourts.com/ccj/eng/ /2013.10.04_Myrie_v_State_Of_Barbados.pdf).

The case is however used as the flagship by the proponents for the CCJ, to woo the people for accepting the CCJ instead of the Privy Council, but this is done without making any reference to the outstanding troubling aspects of getting ‘real and ultimate’ justice.

On many grounds, the case in itself is not a perfect and genuine example in testing the strength and merit of the CCJ, the main underlining reason being that trade complaints cannot and should not be equated to civil and criminal affairs.

Despite the boast for the CCJ, the questions still remain about the record of any private person, and/or the government, of Grenada maximising the CCJ in its Original ‘trade disputes resolution’ Jurisdiction, to address gross imbalances in Caricom, recall article “Focus for Senatorial debate on Grenada second CCJ referendum”.

The Shanique Myrie case teaches that even with a CCJ’s judgment, justice is not completely served with the tremendous delay and frustration for the judgement to be honoured.

The situation has raised pertinent concerns and cries in various institutions regionally that “… if a judgement from the CCJ cannot be enforced, what’s the use? Isn’t the whole justice system a farce then? Why bother taking anything to the CCJ?” (https://barbadosfreepress.wordpress.com/…/caribbean-court-of-justice-judgements-can…).

Interestingly; it has been reported that Justice Ralston Nelson speaking on the regional integration Justice expressed that “… there was no order to implement the court’s ruling” and noting that “… there is also no power in the national laws for a CCJ order to be treated as a national order …”, in the article “No Mechanism To Enforce Judgement In Myrie’s Case – CCJ Judge”, (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/power/50599).

The Myrie’s case also raised debates on the impact of the role of the CCJ on the status of national sovereignties; review article “CCJ ruling will pose problems”, http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/letters_to_editor/3149/ccj-ruling-pose.

Unless provisions are in place to press for prompt punishment for wrong, including payment, from court-judgements, especially against officials of government, then a Vote No at the CCJ referendum would better serve as justice for the people of Grenada.

Once again; the people are advised to continue to tread slowly but securely on the appeal for acceding to the CCJ and to learn and weigh cautiously, as the operations of the CCJ unfold and as the More Developed Countries of Caricom react.

J. K. Roberts

LIL NATTY & THUNDA TOPS SEMIS IN SOCA MONARCH

‘Get in your section.’

That was the song performed by 2 times Road March winners from St. David, Lil Natty and Thunda under the jargon ‘Wuss Ways’, to top the semifinal round of the national Soca Monarch competition on 241 points last week Friday (July 27) at Progress Park, in the big parish of St. Andrew.

With an energetic performance, the St. David duo scored 241 points, 4 points more than their closest contender Javis ‘Muddy’ Cuffie, also from St. David, in 2nd position on 237 points with his selection ‘Done stupid already.’

Placing 3rd on 231 points was the pride of St. Patrick, Luni Spark & Electrify, with their rendition ‘Mass up challenge.’

Speaking with reporters following their performance, the Soca bards from St. David expressed satisfaction with their performance.

“It has a lot of challenge going on around the world but it never had a mash up challenge. So, it’s people, basically showcasing themselves; who could mash up the most, who could get on the most, that is the whole objective, that’s the vibes for Carnival too. That’s what it’s all about,” the duo told reporters.

There was a tie for position number 4 on 222 points between newcomer to the semifinals stage Kendel ‘Ledneck’ George, with his rendition “Stampede” and the veteran, Elimus ‘Inspector’ Gilbert who sang, ‘Disagree.’

Ledneck, who was one of the people’s favorite coming into the competition, felt he had a good chance to make it into the finals and expressed satisfaction with his performance and in reciting a line from his song “We in we place”.

He said: “We know Carnival is madness, people mashing up place; so that is what Stampede really covers, the meaning of Carnival on a whole,” he added.

Inspector also known as ‘Specky,’ who has been in the industry for more than 33 years and holds every national music title under his belt said he remains relevant today because of his fans.

“I have loyal fans (and) they are not giving up on me…Some of the young boys want me (to) go but the fans say, “No, leave the old man so, ‘allu’ could learn something.”

The 6th position was occupied by Shem ‘Terror D Governor’ Bernard, on 218 points with a rendition called ‘Only God can stop me”.

Reigning Groovy King, Shondell ‘Dash’ Amada, followed in 7th position, on 217 points with his rendition ‘Follow my lead.’

Dash, who topped the preliminary round of the competition with a track called “Wild up” said, the song (Wild up) was used alternatively as “Follow my lead” was not yet completed.

“It (‘Wild up’) wasn’t the song (that) I wanted to do but I didn’t finish ‘Follow my lead’ in time, but this song here it means a lot to me because it is actually a different, different, bounce of music…”, he said.

’Follow my lead,’ it’s a song for the night, it has the different elements, you have commands, music (and) melody…” Dash explained.

Placing 8th on 213 points was Damion ‘Pappi boi’ La Pompe, with a track called ‘Bacchanal Blast.’

He was followed by Keron ‘Lil Kerry’ Noel in 9th position on 212 points with his rendition ‘Ah ain’t giving up.’

In position number 10 was Jerry ‘Pappa Jerry’ Baptiste, with a song called ‘Total destruction’ on 211 points.

The artiste, who has been in the music business 17 years now, has never won a crown.

“I am one of the most destructive forces in Soca and Calypso (and) people see me as controversial, someone who always bring something interesting for people to either object or agree to; so, the song is basically to destroy all the competitors,” he said adding, the fact that the title always elluded him provides the opportunity and the drive to think “it’s my year”.

“I will never give up until it’s accomplished”, Pappa Jerry quipped.

The other semifinalist moving onto the final round of competition were Ezron ‘Dezy X’ Stafford, in position 11 on 209 points, Jevaughn ‘Vaughn’ John in 12th position on 207 points, Dave

‘Boogie’ Peters 13th on 206 points, Finber ‘Short Pree’ Andrews, 14th on 203 points; Filandi ‘Stunner’ Jeffery, 15th on 202 points and Brendon ‘Killa B’ McKie on 201 points.
The 16 competitors will compete on Bachannal Friday (August 10) against reigning 4 times Soca Monarch, Jalon ‘Boyzie’ Olive, on the big stage at the National Stadium at Queen’s Park.

Scholar tops Calypso Semi-finals

Two former monarchs have been included in the list of ten calypsonians who will challenge Rootsman Kelly for the coveted title on Dimanche Gras on August 12.

Eight times Calypso Monarch, Findley ‘Scholar’ Jeffery and Elwin “Black Wizard” McQuilkin got the judges on Sunday night at the Melody/Papitette semi-finals held at the Progress Park in Grenville, St. Andrew.

With a score of 499 points, ‘Scholar’ topped the semifinal round of the competition – 4 points ahead of his closest rival, Jerry ‘Pappa Jerry’ Baptiste, who placed 2nd with 495 points, followed by Sean ‘Sour Serpant’ Niles in 3rd position on 494 points.

Scholar who won the crown in 2016 was dethroned last year by ‘Rootsman Kelly’.

Having stayed away from competition for 4 years, ‘Black Wizard’ made a return to the big stage on Sunday night and successfully advanced to the final round in 4th position, with a score of 484 points.

In 5th position was Micah ‘Baracka’ Joseph on 481 points, followed by Georgia ‘The Messenger’ Mc Intyre on 476 points and Keturah ‘Keturah’ George in 6th position on 474 points.
Sheldon Douglas, whose soubriquet is the same as his given name, placed 8th on 474 points, followed by Jason ‘Big J’ Joseph in 9th position on 46 points and Gordon ‘Innocent’ Joseph on 464 points.

Kootsman Kelly has already expressed uncertainty as to how the recent loss of one of his sons through violence, will affect his ability to defend his crown on Carnival Sunday night (August 12) at the National Cricket Stadium at Queen’s Park in St. George.

Four On Murder Charge

Donte Joseph and Tyrell Frederick – are facing the indictable charge of Non-Capital Murder

An altercation between 22-year-old mentally challenged Woburn resident, Bradley Francis and four others resulted in his death last week Monday morning.

Police have since slapped non-capital murder charges against four suspects including three 19-year-old St. George residents for the death due to stabbing.

The suspects who appeared in court last Friday are 19-year-old Woodlands resident, Kendal Stanisclaus, Donte Joseph from Frequente and Tyrell Frederick of Woburn, along with 36-year-old Brendon Gill of Morne Jaloux.

Francis met his unfortunate demise after receiving a stab wound to his back and what appears to be chop wounds to his right shoulders.

Sources told this newspaper that the deceased was armed with both a cutlass and a knife which were later used by his attackers to kill him.

The accused persons were brought before Magistrate Tahira Gellineau in the St. George’s No. 2 Magistrate’s Court where criminal defense attorney Derick Sylvester, who is representing 2 of the murder accused persons, issued a call for members of the public to leave their weapons at home and find better ways to resolve conflict during the festive season and beyond.

Brendon Gill – the oldest of the accused

Attorney Sylvester, who is representing 19-year-old Construction Helper, Tyrell Federick and 36-year-old Shop Keeper Brendon Gill, made the call in making his opening statements to the court.

“I am issuing a call to members of the public to keep their weapons at home because (there is) only one thing that can ensue from the use of weapons,” the longstanding attorney told the court.

His call was echoed by Attorney-at-law Arley Gill, who is providing legal counsel for 19-year-old Donte Joseph.

Attorney Gill urged the “public to deal (resolve conflict) within the parameters of the law.”

The other murder accused 19-year-old Kendal Stanislaus is being represented by Attorney-at-Law Francis Williams.

Kendall Stanisclaus – facing Non-Capital Murder charge after allegedly stabbing Bradley in his back

Information reaching THE NEW TODAY is that Stanisclaus was the one who allegedly drove the knife into Bradley’s back during the physical altercation in which the other accused persons were also involved.

Attorney Sylvester indicated to the court his intention to make a bail application on his client’s behalf, when the matter resumes in court on August 17.

He outlined that his arguments would be based on the premise that the law is not specific when it says the Magistrate cannot grant bail for murder.

“It (the law) says you can’t grant bail for murder but it does not say that the Magistrate cannot grant bail for Non- capital murder,” he declared.

Tempe man on sex-related charges

A 55-year-old Tempe, St. George’s man who is accused of committing sexual crimes against his 13-year-old daughter, was last week Wednesday granted bail in the sum of $35, 000 with 2 sureties.

Lincoln Jones – is accused of committing sex crimes against his daughter

Charged with two indictable counts of Indecent Assault and one count of Having Sexual Intercourse with a Minor, is Lincoln Jones, who appeared last week Wednesday before Magistrate Tahira Gellineau at the St. George’s No. 2 Magistrate’s Court on St. John’s Street.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the accused father was apprehended by police on July 21 for questioning in connection with the allegations brought against him by his own daughter.
Jones has retained the services of Attorney-at-Law Francis Williams.

There are unconfirmed reports that the most recent incident took place on the day the young girl celebrated her last birthday, which led to her running away from home.

The accused father was accompanied in court by his wife, who is also the mother of the complainant.

“My husband is an innocent man,” the wife was heard saying outside the court house.

“She (my daughter is) accustomed to running away from home…I don’t know what she doing that to him for,” remarked the wife as she demonstrated strong support for her husband.

As part of his bail conditions, the court ordered the accused father to have no contact with his daughter or have anybody contact her and to report to Central Police station on the Carenage every Wednesday.

Information reaching THE NEW TODAY indicated that Jones was unable to find sureties to post his bail.

The matter has been adjourned to October 22, when the Preliminary Inquiry (PI) into the charges against the accused is expected to start before the Magistrate.

The Sir Royston Scholarship Programme

Seventeen students from the Blessed Sacrament RC School in Grand Anse and two students of employees of Spice Island Beach Resort have been added to the Sir Royston Scholarship family.

The programme, which is into its 26th year, has over the years provided assistance to selective students from Blessed Sacrament who have successfully completed the Caribbean Primary Exist Assessment (CPEA) formerly known as Common Entrance.

The programme now facilitates 97 revolving students at both the secondary and tertiary levels.

Prior to 2008, school books were provided for all subjects, however, in lieu of books which the government now supplies, Sir Royston provides vouchers redeemable for other items such as workbooks, uniforms and stationery supplies.

The annual presentation ceremony for the 2018 recipients was held on Monday at the Spice Island Beach Resort.

Sir Royston, the current Chairman and Managing Director of Spice Island Beach Resort, encouraged his awardees to fight towards reaching the tertiary level, as CXCs would not be enough for them to have a sustainable life.

“A CXC is not enough to take you out in today’s (workplace) because of the competitive environment, because of all the technological advancements that are made in education”, he said.

Hopkin reminded the students that the holders of CXC subjects “can just barely get through the lowest level of jobs” unless they decide to continue on the “learning journey” to acquire some “A” level subjects at the T.A. Marryshow Community College.

“…We must not take those things for granted because we are in a developing country”, he said.

According to Sir Royston, Grenada has its challenges but one of the good things about the island is its low crime rate which is one of the lowest in the Caribbean.

“… I want it to stay like this and it can only be like this if all of you go to school, get into the work force and (are) gainfully employed and have something to occupy yourself”, he said.

The island’s premier hotelier told the scholarship recipients that the opportunity now being provided to them will “determine how you would go through your life…you folks (better) take this opportunity very serious”.

General Manager of the resort, Brian Hardy urged the students to always remember that in order for them to excel in life, they must practice the art of application and responsibility.

“I am convinced that with the changing world and with the advent of modern technology we have in many ways allowed our children to get off the hook when it comes to applying themselves because as parents we have moved to the stage where we don’t want our children to work as hard as we did…”, he said.

“… We try to give them as much as we can and we forget to teach them responsibility and to teach them how to apply themselves…what is the role of your child at home, what responsibilities do you have at home…”, he added.

Hardy went on: “As children, you need to take up the mantle and ensure that it’s done and then take responsibility… and understanding that this is what you have to do because for us this is what we had to do in our time…that is applying yourselves; applying yourselves not only to your school work but what has to be done at home because if you don’t understand that as a child, what is your responsibility, what you have to do, that transposes to your school work and in some cases in your work life”.

Hardy lamented the fact that a lot of people do not understand “when you come into work this is what you have to do, when you come home this is what you have to do (and) we have gone to the stage now where we wait to be told what to do.”

Co-ordinator of the Scholarship Programme, Hermian Griffith told the awardees that under the programme, they are expected to work hard.

“Our scholarship awardees are doing key positions and contributing to our labour force and it can be seen at the local banks, teachers, working in the School for Special Education and even members of our press”, she said.

“This is not a handout programme – students are expected to maintain good attendance at school and good deportment, grades should be at least 50 percent; report cards are expected to be submitted at the end of each term…”, she added.

In welcoming the new awardees to the Spice Island Beach Resort family, Griffith offered the following words of advice: “You have joined a wonderful and noble institution, an environment where you are expected to exceed our expectations, not just to operate as normal. As you move unto and onwards to secondary school I would just like to say these few words of suggestion, believing in yourself is the first step to facing challenges…sometimes you might be a bit unsure or a little bit uncertain, that’s okay…you just have to choose the right medium and the right friends”.

Acting Principal of the Blessed Sacrament RC School, Karen Charles also offered words of encouragement to the new awardees.

She said, “At secondary school, we know that education is not easy, it’s not cheap, it is an expensive commodity and it’s an opportunity that Sir Royston has given you so that I encourage you to embrace it.

It is something that a lot of money has been put into, a lot of effort and a lot of time so I encourage you all to embrace it and to undertake your studies at secondary level and at tertiary level, very seriously.”

Charles reminded the students that at the end of each school year, they are required to submit their report cards so that the co-ordinator of the programme would get an idea of how they are progressing at school.

FROC: Drop in unemployment and growth in GDP are responsible for economic growth in G’da

In its second review of Grenada’s economic performance, the five-member Fiscal Responsibility Oversight Committee (FROC) has reported a rebound in Grenada’s economy citing the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the decrease in unemployment.

Some members of the FROC at last week’s press conference

The report which was submitted to Parliament stated that “the government continued, throughout 2017, to put measures in place to satisfy the requirements of the FRA (Fiscal Responsibility Act) including capacity building in the Macroeconomic Policy Unit.”

According to FROC Chairman, economist Richard Duncan, the committee is satisfied with the economic context with which they operated in 2017 to confirm the data collected from the Ministry of Finance to help reach their conclusions.

Speaking with reporters at a media briefing at the Conference Room of the newly opened Parliament Building at Mt. Wheldale in St. George last Thursday, Duncan said that the drop in unemployment on the island contributed significantly to the trajectory of the economy.

However, he said that although unemployment decreased from 28.2% in 2016 to 24% in 2017, the figure is still high.

“What we speak to in the macroeconomic context is the backdrop in which things happen so there are certain amounts of consistency that what we can (live by). What we can conclude is that unemployment being in the 20% range is still high, nobody could deny that, nobody is denying that, that is has come down slightly that’s a statement of fact. In fact, we would get a better reading in the macroeconomic context because I believe the labour force survey is being conducted…

“One is not denying that unemployment is still high and hence the reason you would find that even though there is growth in the economy, the extent to which that growth is, significantly job intensive and labour intensive is what the problem has always been because coming through the last economic crisis, people been speaking for years of jobless growth where economies are growing in terms of GDP but unemployment is still high and I think that phenomena still obtains in the OECS and Grenada as well.

According to Duncan, FROC believes that the growth in the economy that is not being felt by the ordinary man in the country is due to the failure in linkages between the different sectors of the economy – tourism, construction and agriculture.

Economist with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Beverly Lugay explained to media how the linkages should take place to bring about greater impact to citizens.

She said: “In Grenada’s case we notice that the tourism, construction and agricultural sectors…these were the main sectors that drove growth in 2017…how do you strengthen linkages among those sectors?

For instance, a simple encounter in the tourism sector, we know that a lot of the times these hotels depend on agricultural products – do we have enough capacity in the agricultural sector to meet the demand of the tourism sector? So, these are some of the areas that need further enhancement…there are linkages in the tourism sector and agricultural sector so that while tourists come to Grenada and have a fantastic time, the farmers will also benefit from that…”.

According to Lugay, the same also needs to be done in relation to construction and education as the latter has to find ways to combat the problem of a lack of skilled labourers in the labour force.

The Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) is projecting growth of around 3% in the Grenadian economy in 2018 and next year.

PI into Renwick’s death

The Preliminary Inquiry into the death of 61-year-old insurance executive Trevor Renwick, started last week Tuesday before Chief Magistrate Tamara Gill, at the St. George’s No. 1. Magistrate’s Court on St. John’s Street.

Renwick was a prominent member of the local business community and served as the Managing Director of Massy United Insurance Limited at Woolwich Road in St. George’s.

He died at the St. George’s General Hospital on April 12, shortly after the motorcycle he was riding along the Grand Anse Valley main road, collided with a motorcar driven by Police Constable Denson Charles, within close proximity to the popular Andy’s Bar.

The 34-year-old policeman, who is attached to the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA), has since been slapped with an indictable charge of Causing Death by Dangerous Driving and is currently on $30, 000 bail with 2 sureties.

Charles has retained the services of defense attorney Derick Sylvester to assist him in the matter.

Prosecuting the case is Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Christopher Nelson QC, who called to the stand the first of approximately 13 state witnesses, Cuban Pathologist Maria Alvarez.

The Cuban specialist, who has been employed at the General Hospital for approximately 5 years, was the one who examined Renwick following the fatal accident.

The Preliminary Inquiry has been adjourned to November 5.

Renwick’s body was cremated following his funeral service at the Grenada Trade Centre on April 24.

IMF reports on G’da economy

The Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) has Mitchell-led government in St. George’s another passing grade with the performance of its economy following the implementation of a Structural Adjustment Programme.

In its latest report, the Executive Board of the IMF is projecting growth in the economy in 2018 and 2019 but has expressed its usual concerns with the high unemployment figures in the country.

Following is the full text of the report that was released on July 25:

The Grenadian economy grew by an estimated 4½ percent in 2017, driven by strong activity in construction, tourism, and education sectors.

Weather-related weakness in agriculture has, however, been a headwind. Unemployment fell from 28 percent in 2016 to 23.6 percent in 2017. Inflation is low, falling below 1 percent, supported by the peg to the US dollar.

The 2017 current account deficit increased by 3½ percentage points of GDP to 6¾ percent of GDP, reflecting rapid import growth. The fiscal situation improved further in 2017, with the government overperforming the targets of the Fiscal Responsibility Law (FRL).

The primary surplus increased to 5¾ percent of GDP while public debt fell below 71 percent of GDP at end-2017 from 82 percent of GDP in 2016.

In 2018 and 2019, the economy is projected to grow by 3½ percent benefiting from supportive global economic conditions and continued strength in construction and tourism. Thereafter, growth is expected to ease to the long-term potential rate of 2¾ percent. Inflation is expected to edge up in 2018 reflecting recent global energy price increases, but stabilise at 2 percent in the medium term.

The primary fiscal surplus is expected to remain high in the near term, supporting rapid debt reduction. Once the public debt ratio falls below 55 percent of GDP (projected for 2020), the fiscal surpluses and the pace of debt reduction are expected to moderate.

The external current account deficit is projected to increase to 7½ percent of GDP in 2018 mostly from recent increases in energy costs, but would decline thereafter as the construction-related imports and energy prices are expected to ease.

Executive Directors commended the authorities for implementing sound policies leading to a strong economic and fiscal performance and sustained debt reduction. While the outlook remains positive, Directors stressed that continued policy resolve and public support for reforms are critical to restoring debt sustainability, improving medium term growth prospects, and strengthening the financial sector.

Directors welcomed the continued fiscal adjustment in compliance with the framework of the Fiscal Responsibility Law (FRL), which has supported policy credibility. They noted that while there is scope to improve the FRL’s operational aspects, more substantive changes to the framework should be approached as part of a comprehensive plan that balances debt reduction with the need to create fiscal space for high quality infrastructure spending.

Directors welcomed the authorities’ intention to implement the recent initiatives on pensions and health care in a way that is consistent with the FRL’s targets.

Directors encouraged the authorities to support the FRL through continued reforms to improve public financial management, expenditure efficiency, and fiscal transparency. They saw scope to further strengthen social assistance programs to protect the most vulnerable and to strengthen the productivity of state owned enterprises.

Directors emphasised the need to continue tax administration reforms and resolve remaining bilateral arrears. They welcomed advances in fiscal transparency, including the establishment of the Fiscal Responsibility Oversight Committee, and encouraged further progress in this area.

Directors welcomed indications of a strengthened banking system and considered that banks are better poised to contribute to private sector investment and growth. They noted the rapid increase in lending by credit unions and called for strengthening the supervision of the sector by the local regulator to reduce potential financial stability risks.

Going forward, they encouraged the authorities to support steps taken at the ECCU level toward a regional approach to regulation and supervision of the non bank financial sector. Directors emphasized the importance of complying with AML/CFT regulations, including enforcement of the due diligence process of the Citizenship by Investment program, noting that this was critical for Grenada’s continued access to stable cross border payments.

Directors underscored the importance of implementing structural reforms to boost potential growth, noting Grenada’s susceptibility to natural disasters in addition to structural weaknesses such as high unemployment and the external competitiveness gap. They emphasized the need for measures to improve the business environment and labor market, address weaknesses in the implementation of public infrastructure spending, and reduce skill mismatches.

Directors also encouraged the authorities to continue building on their efforts to strengthen resilience to natural disasters.

Ralph Blackman on another drug charge

A Woburn resident considered as one of the major players in the illegal drug trade on the island, Ralph Blackman has been charged in connection with the multi-million dollar drug haul on Hog Island.

Ralph Blackman on another drug charge

Approximately 2 weeks ago, law enforcement officers recovered 10 kilograms of cocaine on the offshore island which carries an estimated street value of EC$1, 126, 500.

Blackman is the 5th suspect to be arrested and charged with Possession and Trafficking of a Controlled Drug, in connection to the illegal substance, which was found buried in a hollow hole in a number of sealed plastic bags.

The accused was accompanied to court by Attorneys-at-law, Dr. Francis Alexis, QC and Anselm Clouden as he appeared before Magistrate Tahira Gellineau at the St. George’s No. 2 Magistrate’s Court.

Blackman, who has a string of past drug-related cases pinned on him, was granted bail in the sum of $200, 000, with 2 sureties.

As part of the bail conditions, the drug suspect was ordered to surrender all his travel documents and report to the South St. George Police Station every Monday and Friday between the hours of 6.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m.

Like the other suspects, Blackman was also ordered to seek the court’s permission to travel outside of Grenada.

Last Tuesday, three other Woburn residents – Craig Messiah, Clinton Braithwaite and Abijah Davis – were granted bail in the sum of $200, 000 when they appeareda before Chief Magistrate Tamara Gill at the St. George’s No.1 Magistrate’s Court for the drug haul.

Attorneys Alexis, QC and Clouden who also represented the suspects were unsuccessful in their attempt to secure bail for the 4th suspect, Kimei Richardson, who is from the sister isle of Carriacou.

The Police Prosecution team strongly objected to bail for Richardson, who was described as no stranger to the court, having been recently placed on bail for a similar offence and has a number of matters pending before the court.

All five drug suspects are due to reappear before the Magistrate’s Court on September 21.