Real Value – 15 years and growing

RValue -1Like several thousand times before, Real Value IGA Supermarket’s doors opened for business. As is customary by now, customers were already waiting outside, eager to start the day with a snack for breakfast or to simply pick up a couple items before the daily grind.

Fifteen years ago however, things were very different. Back then, the people on the ‘outside’ were more concerned with prophesying the downfall of the latest Hadeed family endeavour. “6 months” was all the time afforded to the business by the man on the street before it would fold.

“Grenada doesn’t need another supermarket” it was said. To be fair, the sceptics were not without reason. Those early days – to put it lightly – were rough.

The Hadeed Family had no prior experience in the supermarket industry, meaning that Real Value faced a steep uphill battle from day one. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

With the then brand new Spiceland Mall International nearing completion, Hassan Hadeed was faced with a dilemma. The company that was to open a supermarket in the new mall suddenly pulled out at the last minute, leaving a 12,000+ square foot sized hole in the new project.

Adamant that Spiceland Mall International had to have a supermarket, Mr. Hadeed entered the supermarket business and never looked back.

It wasn’t easy. There were a myriad of problems. Importantly, however, they were overcome. Today, Real Value IGA Supermarket has established itself as Grenada’s premier supermarket, ever progressive and forward thinking, with a strong community focus central to its core values.

Fifteen years on, Mr. Hadeed stood on the Supermarket floor ready to address his expectant staff who had gathered to mark the occasion.

RValueAs he began to recall the story of how he and his team got Real Value IGA Supermarket off the ground and turned it into the respected company that it is today, he took a moment to compose himself.

The journey had been difficult, improbable – though never impossible – and the Managing Director was understandably emotional.

The message was clear. Without the staff – the team – all buying into Hassan Hadeed’s vision and philosophy, Real Value IGA Supermarket would not have survived even 15 months, let alone 15 years.

The importance of believing in what you want to achieve and working hard to attain those goals was not lost on those present.

As the ceremony drew to a close, Mr. Hadeed allowed himself a slice of cake:

“Make sure everyone gets a piece,” he said with a smile.

Maybe it was supposed to be this way after all.

Real Value IGA Supermarket would like to thank our staff for their continuing years of service and for their support of the 15th Anniversary celebrations.

In keeping with the community-centric spirit, the Management and staff embarked on a number of community outreach activities,the first of which commenced on Saturday 25th July, 2015 – the staff of Real Value IGA visited the Grand Anse Home for the Aged and planted a kitchen garden. With the help of our suppliers, a donation of fresh
produce and food items were also made to the Home.

On August 15th, the staff of Real Value IGA Supermarket distributed food hampers to 15 vulnerable families from the immediate communities, which were selected with the assistance of the Ministry of Social Development and Housing.

Raphael Donald becomes the official Ombudsman

Raphael Donald - Ombudsman of Grenada

Raphael Donald – Ombudsman of Grenada

Retired civil servant, Raphael Donald, was officially sworn in as Grenada’s Ombudsman last week Thursday .

Donald, a former Deputy Comptroller of Customs and Clerk of Parliament, has been acting as Ombudsman for the past year.

He received his instruments of appointment from the Governor General two weeks ago.

Speaking to reporters, the newly installed Ombudsman said one of the most challenging things for him was developing a strategy to approach Government Ministries, Departments and Statutory bodies to quickly resolving complaints from members of the public.

“I was a Public Officer so I am fully aware of the complaints faced.

Basically the public service does not have a complaint solving mechanism so a complaint comes to a Secretary, a Head of Department and sometimes it is attended to, sometimes it is not attended to…sometimes that complaint is lost and the complainants feel aggrieved,” he explained.

According to Donald, as the official Ombudsman, he can now hire an additional Complaints Officer since provisions have already been made for that position in thee Budget.

“It’s going to be a joined up office, it’s going to be flexible and our structure has to change and evolve according to the demands of the public”, he said.

“There are some complaints outstanding and when the report comes out and it’s laid in Parliament, you will see some matters that would hurt your belly from things that seemingly could have been solved easily and have not been solved and we have made them known in writing,” he added.

Donald told reporters that he intends to place some emphasis on tackling a number of longstanding land issues in the country.

“…Information that is coming to us seem to indicate that people are being deprived of their lands, some Grenadians find lands that should be owned is no longer there, pieces of the lands are missing… I think it’s an explosion waiting to happen”, he said.

Donald dropped hints that some issues involving lands might have to be settled by the law courts and not the Office of the Ombudsman.

“…If an individual comes to the office with a matter of land between two persons, it’s not a matter for the office”, he said.

JetBlue adds another weekly flight to G’da

JetBlue Airways, which entered the Grenada market last June with direct flights from New York on Thursdays and Sundays, is offering a third weekly flight to the island from September 15.

According to Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister, Yoland Bain-Horsford, the New York-based air carrier is now scheduled to operate on Tuesdays from the John F. Kennedy International Airport, Queens, New York into the Maurice Bishop International Airport at Point Salines, St. George.

Minister Bain-Horsford said the increase in JetBlue’s flight to Grenada is as a result of the ongoing extensive marketing campaign and negotiations between Grenada and the airline.

“I think our marketing strategy, along with theirs really helped. The connections, all the different meetings and links we have established with them have played a great role,” the female Minister said, noting that the “visionary airline” is seizing the opportunity to take advantage of the growing interest travelers have been showing in the Caribbean.

“They are really moving swiftly. They are looking down the line and they see how they can build and develop in Grenada. People are looking at the Caribbean now to travel and enjoy…and so they are capitalising on those efforts,” she added.

The Tourism Minister went on: “JetBlue realises that we need their services here in Grenada. They realise that the Caribbean is “it” and they are targeting the Caribbean, and Grenada is open and ready for that kind of targeting”.

According to Minister Bain-Horsford, a fourth Jetblue flight between the two destinations is also expected to begin on January 5, 2016, continuing every Saturday thereafter.

This will bring the JetBlue flight offerings to Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Minister Bain-Horsford referred to JetBlue as one of the alternatives being looked at by Grenada especially with the expected loss of seats from the planned pull-out from the island by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines.

“We are grateful that they chose Grenada and that they are increasing their flights. Grenada is beautiful, and they know that a lot of people have interest in it. They are really taking Grenada seriously under their wing…we are really taking off with airlift in Grenada despite Caribbean Airlines pulling out,” the Tourism Minister declared.

THE NEW TODAY understands that Caribbean Airlines will make its last direct flight to the island on September 9.

OVER-REGULATION OF BANKING

Brian Francisby Brian Francis

 

For many years, we in the Eastern Caribbean have boasted of a relatively strong and stable financial system as one of the foundations of our financial and economic successes to date.

Given the vast changes taking place in business environments regionally and internationally, there is a growing awareness among many leaders in the financial sector that it cannot be business as usual and that changes have to be made in our strategic approach to decision-making.

In an October 17, 2000 speech on “The Role of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB),” Governor, Sir K Dwight Venner, said:

“The role of central banks has changed from being highly secretive and mysterious institutions to open, transparent, and in some cases, predictable organisations. This has been the result of two trends.

Firstly, the almost compelling understanding that independent and accountable central banks are able to deliver low rates of inflation which has now become a significant public good. Secondly, a convergence of theory and practice in which increased access to information, or as we say in economics, the decrease in information asymmetries, leads to better decision-making and positive outcomes.

These changing circumstances have led to a number of new paradigms in the philosophy and operation of not only central banks but most institutions in both the public and private sectors. We are now in the era of governance and accountability.”

If 15 years ago, as the Governor concluded, financial institutions were functioning in an era characterised by governance and accountability as well as lower degree of informational asymmetry, then today, we all should expect less regulations of these vital institutions by the ECCB, allowing our financial leaders to create and implement ideas that will not only protect their shareholders’ interests but also earn the blessings of their customers.

However, for that to happen, financial institutions operating within the region must be governed by legislation that is consistent with the changing conditions to which the Governor referred.

As noted above financial leaders recognised that it cannot be business as usual. Therefore, it was anticipated that practitioners would have been given reasonable time to review the recent changes to the new Banking Act and make meaningful input.

Feedback suggests that adequate time was inexplicably not given and indeed the new Banking Act rushed through Parliaments in the region in March and April this year.

Without doubt, the sweeping changes to the regulation of banks operating under the supervision of the ECCB will have far-reaching implications on the banking sector and, more importantly, the end users who are already saddled with high fees.

Indeed, according to news reports from Antigua, where bankers went on strike to protest the new Banking Act. In St. Kitts, strong objection to several aspects of the Act by the new Opposition should have made everyone think twice, but unfortunately these concerns were unaddressed.

Also, some Parliamentarians in St. Lucia and Antigua raised eyebrows on the fact that the new Act was presented within hours of the voting, not allowing anyone to carefully read and analyse the 150-odd page document.

But why was there such strong opposition to aspects of the new Act?

The answer to that question rests with some of the main areas in the new act:

(i) increase capital requirements for the banks and non-banks financial institutions,

(ii) removal of powers from the local governments and centralising all authority within the ECCB,

(iii) draconian rules for directors and the ability of every licensed institution to now operate in all the ECCU countries.

Let’s address these three (3) areas:

Boosting capital requirements for the banks is overall a welcome concept that is in line with global regulatory changes. It will, however, negatively impact smaller banks that may not be able to meet the new requirements.

In order for this caveat not to inadvertently cause consolidation within the financial or banking sector, then small banks should be granted some flexibility even on case-by-case basis.

Centralising power in the hands of the ECCB is a dangerous notion.

Local governments should have a say in who is operating in their Island States. While the ECCB member countries may share some commonalities, there are specific characteristics in each Island. For instance, Montserrat and Grenada will have different needs from the financial system as their economies are driven by different economic factors.

In relation to the rules governing directors, allow me to relay a recent story. A participant in a recent bankers’ workshop in St. Lucia told me the Governor who was addressing some questions from participants (mostly bank directors) said, “I wouldn’t want to be a bank director today.”

Whether or not this assertion is correct, the draconian requirements will invariably discourage highly qualified professionals from accepting invitations to join boards as directors.

Directors are critical in the corporate governance of the banks and therefore a review of the rules is warranted at the earliest in order not to scare away eligible candidates who would otherwise wish to serve as directors.

In this writer’s opinion, the new Banking Act amounts to over-regulation of our banks in a time when we continue to maintain that our financial system is healthy and stable. Over-regulation of the banks will ultimately lead to higher operating costs which, of course, will all be passed on to the end users – the customers.

So if we are concerned about the high lending rates, and high transactions costs, imagine what would be the implications of a 20% increase in banks’ service charges!

Ultimately, it will be very difficult for virtually every licensed institution to operate in all the ECCU countries unless there are revisions along the lines suggested. In the end, one must wonder: what was the ECCB so afraid of that it failed to properly communicate with and consult the public on this new Banking Act?

(Dr. Brian Francis, a former Permanent Secretary in the local Ministry of Finance, is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics at the Cave Hill Campus in Barbados of the University of the West Indies)

CARICOM: A collective bargaining unit for rights

SAUNDERSThe Caribbean regional integration project is often described and criticised almost entirely on the uneven benefits of trade to member countries.  But, important as it is, there is more to the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) than trade.

While the failure to progress the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is a cause for considerable regret, there are other aspects of integration that have benefitted the 15 member states in the past and that should be vigorously pursued now to advance their prospects in the international community.

One of them is joint bargaining.  By joint bargaining I mean the pooling of the resources of all member states to negotiate with other countries or groups of countries on issues in which CARICOM states have a shared interest.

There are a multiplicity of such issues.   In relation to the United States of America alone, CARICOM countries share great concerns about several matters.    Among those matters is the cost to each country’s treasury of complying with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), a law passed in 2010 by the United States that has been imposed on Caribbean countries.

Under the terms of that law, financial institutions in the Caribbean are required to provide information to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about accounts held by U.S. taxpayers or foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest.   In a sense, financial institutions in the Caribbean have become agents of the IRS and have to spend money to satisfy the burden imposed upon them or risk being penalised in the US, including by the seizure of any assets that they may have there.

By extension, Caribbean governments have also become IRS agents because they have to make sure that the regulatory, investigative and enforcement machinery is in place to monitor financial institutions within their jurisdictions to ensure compliance with FATCA.  The cost of this machinery comes at a cost to CARICOM governments, many of which are already cash-strapped and resource-poor.

There is a case to be made to the US government for compensation for the financial burden that FATCA places on Caribbean governments to help the IRS collect U.S. taxes.   While each CARIOM country would have a sound basis for engaging the U.S. government for compensation on this matter, all of them would be better placed to make their arguments with the US Government and Congress if they did so together.

Dealing with the harmful allegation made by the U.S. government that some countries of the Caribbean are involved in human trafficking also requires a joint CARICOM approach.  What the allegation implies is that governments have knowledge of and are complicit in such human trafficking.  It is an allegation lacking in substance and evidence.

There may be rings of human trafficking in some CARICOM countries, organised by unscrupulous persons who take advantage of desperate persons to make money.  But to infer government involvement at an institutional level is a stretch too far.  In CARICOM countries, where governments have been provided with evidence of such human trafficking, they have acted to break them up.  It is true that, in many CARICOM countries, legislation on human trafficking has to be strengthened and penalties for offenders have to be made tougher.

There is also room for effective Police machinery to gather intelligence and deal with trafficking rings.  But, CARICOM states, already buffeted by poor terms of trade, decreased aid, no access to concessional financing and myriad demands from large countries to expend scarce resources on curbing money laundering, tax evasion and drug trafficking need help.  They also have to continue to provide education and health services, roads and other infrastructure, employment and pensions, and safety and security for their people.

CARICOM governments need help with information, intelligence and technical assistance for law enforcement agencies to break-up the rings.   Richer and more advanced countries, such as the U.S., should contribute to the solution and not just identify the problem.  A joint approach to this would also be a positive benefit to being part of the Caribbean Community.

Then, there is the overarching problem of U.S. agencies labelling the Caribbean as an area of “high financial risk”.   The Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB) has publicly stated that this “unfair” categorisation “is resulting in the disturbing threat of loss of correspondent banking relationships to banks in the region”.

More tellingly, the CAB states that “correspondent banking relationships are critical in enabling key economic and financial transactions, such as, remittances, foreign direct investments and international trade in goods and services, which constitute some of the key drivers for sustaining the region’s growth and development. Consequently, the loss of these vital relationships can render our region unbankable and ultimately destabilize all sectors of our economies. The CAB considers this issue to be a threat to national security for the various islands in the region”.

This matter was raised with US President Barack Obama at the Summit of the Americas in Panama by Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, in Panama last April.

The President promised to look into the issue.  But, again, joint CARICOM action on a regular and sustained basis is necessary if this serious problem, shared by all member countries, is not to simply fade from the U.S. agenda to the detriment of the region.

CARICOM has been at its best in delivering benefits for its peoples when its member states have acted together purposefully and with sound arguments backed up by empirical evidence.   When CARICOM has done so, it has demonstrated that the measure of the integration project’s success is not only intra-regional trade, but collective bargaining for economic justice as well.

The same approach is needed to rectify the non-delivery to the Caribbean of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union, the protestations of its representatives notwithstanding.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is an Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador and Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London University and Massey College, Toronto University.   He is also a candidate for the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General).

Whither, Project Grenada!!!

The architects of “Project Grenada” must be having some sleepless nights.

With the euphoria of their marriage to the NNP now wearing off, the RMC remnants are once again seeing their hopes of regaining state power slip away like sand through their fingers.

Pedro, Boom Chess and the media mercenary cum women’s rights activist were rubbing their hands with glee after their role in helping defeat NDC in 2013.

For a while, it appeared that their nefarious plans were bearing fruit. Hamlet became KCM’s head media honcho, Ra Ra landed a big post as Ambassador to nowhere, the Wood brothers got their promised rewards, the caca-doh from Sauteurs gets little projects here and there and Chess & Pedro were placed in the Senate.

It was only a matter of time though, before the old guards in NNP began to push back. The rapid rise of the RMC elements created alarm among the stalwarts and they were only prepared to give Pedro a fringe position as Assistant General Secretary. That was a humiliating blow for Pedro, who went from an NDC 4 Star General to an NNP one stripe Lance Corporal.

The next one to see his star fade was the braggart, Boom Chess. After being roundly booed by workers at May Day 2014, the ex-lion was reduced to pot hound status in 2015.

In spite of his bravado prior to May Day, he was forced to tuck his tail between his legs to avoid being further embarrassed in the presence of Ambassadors Guerrero and Balaguer of Venezuela and Cuba, respectively.

Boom Chess must now know that he is as valuable to KCM as a flea is to a dog.

The unravelling of “Project Grenada” is further evidenced by the fate of the ambassadors. Attempts to foist Ra Ra on the NY NNPites met such stiff resistance that KCM was happy to send him to chill in cooler climes.

Imposter Wood will have to make do without his Asian doggie as he is now in an area where he can be more closely monitored. There is some consolation because both the English and Chinese like tea.

Pedro still adds a bit of value because he can occasionally bring in tit-bits from the southern mainland to help oil the party machinery.

However, not even that will be able to save him when the master manipulator makes his move.

KCM is so far ahead that Pedro is not even in the same arena.

When will these guys learn that the politics of connivance, treachery, revenge and spite will never prevail?

Harmless Mack

Joy Riding

Several persons are puzzled by the travel pattern of Caribbean leaders and the impact of this travel on the country they represent. In the past, it was common to expect that when a leader travels, he would return with substantial benefits and ideas for the transformation of the nation that he represents.

This does not seem to be the case anymore. Indeed there are times when the details of a trip are hardly forthcoming. One Grenadian Minister was seen recently in the company of some Hollywood stars in a photo op discussing movies and that is all we know of that story.

We are also aware that another Minister toured Europe, flogging our citizenship and passports to would-be buyers at large, probably we should be provided with a back to office sales report.

Even before the advent of the industrial revolution, leaders would travel to other countries and return home to emulate and implement the best practices observed during their travel.

We are told that the transformation of modern Russia was accelerated by the building of the city of St. Petersburg the then capital of Russia in 1703 and remained the capital until 1917.

We are also told that this remarkable transformation of Russia from what was then referred to as the dark ages to modern efficiency, military efficacy and effective governance was influenced by Peter the Great’s visit to Western Europe in 1697 and 1698.

Peter the Great returned from his trip fortified, excited and energised to implement reform in the areas of education, engineering, science, navigation medicine and Mathematics.

Jumping forward several hundred years to 1979, and coming closer to home, when the then Prime Minister of Grenada, Maurice Bishop travelled to Cuba and returned with ninety seven pieces of equipment and several hundred skilled men to commence the construction of what is now the Maurice Bishop International Airport.

This effort established what was referred to as our gateway to freedom, and still remains one of the greatest transformational projects Grenada has ever witnessed.

Our leaders met with the President of the United States in Panama more than a year ago and to this day we are unaware of a single transformational project arising from that meeting that has been implemented on our island.

The question is – what do our leaders do when they travel? What ground shattering announcement do they make upon their return to home?

Our leaders must remember that, as they ride home after every trip, we are like spoiled little children anxiously awaiting our parents return from overseas with goodies.

A trip to nearby Trinidad will show our leaders how to construct and operate a farmer’s market, keep a mall open and how to run a modern postal service. By the way, they can also have one of their smart friends send them a How-to You-Tube video.

Thirty years after our agro industries were destroyed, Trinidad’s effort continues to flourish. The last thing they took from us was our production of Coke leaving a question mark over our Carib Beer facility. Probably one more strike will do the trick.

During that same period our agricultural trade with Trinidad has diminished as that country boosted its agricultural production.

As Jamaica emerges from yet another foray with the IMF, a distinct difference with its current effort has been its willingness to boost production. Recently, Red Stripe beer undertook to use locally grown cassava for its production process creating a boost in cassava production in the country.

All over Europe, the United States and Canada, efforts by Jamaica to produce and export its products can be found. These efforts range from Blue Mountain Coffee to farm bred Tilapia.

There are issues that we are attempting to wrap our brains around that have been solved in several of the countries that we visit when travelling. Jamaica, for example, has contracted with WRB Enterprises for the construction of solar and wind energy farms in that country.

In Grenada, we are struggling with that same company to reach an alternative energy agreement and to pass the enabling legislation.

Our leaders travel to countries where there are parking meters placed at strategic points to allow persons to do business within a specified time in the city but they prefer to indiscriminately impose no-parking signs all over the place without regard to the effect on their citizens.

At the Ministerial Complex, the authorities prefer to store derelict cars in prime spots rather than allow customers to park to do business with the ministries.

So we traverse the world with our eyes wide shut. Probably only looking for opportunities of a certain nature without set criteria. It was Mohammed Ali who observed persons who had the ability to “walk through a hurricane and don’t get wet”.

There ought to be legislation passed to make joy riding a criminal offence.

Garvey Louison

F for Brenda Hood

Spice Mas is Grenada’s premier national cultural event. Under the administration of Tillman Thomas, Spice Mas took a new dimension with the establishment of the Spice Mas Committee (SMC).

The SMC was established so that the Spice Mas Festival would be run by a statutory body with some degree of independence from the Central Government.

Under former Minister of Culture, Arley Gill and former Chairman of the SMC, Collin Dowe, Spice Mas carnival was properly organised and produced. Despite the economic challenges facing the SMC, these two gentlemen did an exceptional job elevating Spice Mas to a new level.

The disaster that took place with Spice Mas in 2015 under Minister of Culture, Brenda Hood, is a national embarrassment to the entire state.

Minister Hood, given her extremely poor stewardship of Spice Mas and Culture in general, should be relieved of this portfolio.

In any democracy, whenever a Minister performs so badly on a national scale they would do the decent thing and resign. In Grenada, under the NNP that would never happen. It’s business as usual.

To have the nation’s kids out on the street so late because of poor organisation and subsequent late start to the show is unprecedented.

The parents of these kids deserve an apology from Minister Hood and the SMC.

It is a disgrace when a country is blessed with rich talents and these talented individuals are sidelined due to perceived political affiliation.

It is high time that Grenada’s senior and aging politicians become mature and manage the affairs of the country in a responsible and transparent manner. Grenada can ill afford to continue on this path with such poor quality management by those in authority given the scarce resources available.

This level of dottishness and backwardness is primarily responsible for the dire state of the national economy. Mitchell, throughout his tenure as Prime Minister of Grenada, has used his authority and power to marginalise scores of professionals to the detriment of the country. He is consumed only with retaining power at all costs, even taking Grenada to the claws of the IMF.

His backward agenda is now strengthened by the former revolutionaries in Chester Humphrey and Peter David who are now in bed with the notorious NNP regime. The lust for power has destroyed every facet of the Grenadian society including its culture.

The fact that every single show organised by the SMC was so poorly organised is a damning indictment of the credibility and managerial ability of Minister Hood. What this shows is that Minister Hood does not have the necessary skills and capabilities to manage the Ministry of Culture effectively.

Arley Gill, with all his flaws, was ten times more effective than Brenda Hood. Prime Minister Mitchell, if he cares about the state of Culture in Grenada, should do the right thing and fire Minister Hood.

Failure to take serious action against Hood will convey a very dangerous message to an already demotivated public service. His administration would be seen as promoting mediocrity at a time of serious structural adjustment and economic stagnation.

Grenada’s young population should be aware of the negative impact the promotion of negative culture can have on their future. Spice Mas is now a big national blocko designed to meet the needs of the political directorate.

The festival is allegedly used to advance the political objectives of the NNP. Given the interest that Grenada’ s young people have in digital technology, the proliferation of popular music among the young people has been phenomenal.

The NNP has effectively used this phenomenon as part of their election campaigns and so with elections not too far away, Spice Mas will be used to gear up the young voters into a party/wet fete mood in an effort to capture this very important voting bloc. “The destruction of the poor is in their poverty.”

Over the years, hundreds of young people have turned alcoholics.

Grenada is number one in the consumption of alcohol in the Western Hemisphere. It is extremely irresponsible of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to allow this under their watch. Their families though are not seriously affected by this.

Government, however, should not shoulder all the blame. The people have a responsibility also for their own actions. The Minister of Culture and her colleagues seemingly do not care about the dangers that these young people are exposed to once they can get their votes.

Grenada cannot afford for next year’s festival to be plagued by the same problems experienced this year. Once Brenda Hood remains Minister of Culture these problems will increase. In my vew, Minister Hood is a very arrogant individual and the older she gets the more arrogant she will become.

SMC can change its organisational structure but under Brenda Hood it would be same old, same old. Minister Hood has failed miserably and must be replaced.

Prime Minister Mitchell has no other option. Fire Minister Hood or run themselves another disaster in Spice Mas 2016.

Grenadian Class

Irate over something!!!

Late last week I had the misfortune to witness a rather heated exchange between what I learned later was a top person in the Child Protection Authority and a driver for Island Catering.

In what appeared to be a dispute about parking spot at the National Stadium, it quickly became obvious that the person from the Child Protection Authority was rather irate over something!

While we are all humans and subject to the emotions that come with that state, I was shocked to hear the foul language used by the high up towards the driver of the Island Catering van.

Several curse words were thrown around followed by the unusual and almost laughable sight of what I can only assume was a female employee, physically restraining the man from attacking the driver.

Have we lost our standards to the point that a person holding such a position with a prestigious agency can act in such an undignified manner, looking more like an unruly youth than of a grown man employed to protect the nation’s children?

Have we no perspective any longer over what is important to our society and to life itself?  Parking spots and vehicles are worthy of that most uncontrolled reaction?  I sincerely hope not, for all our sakes.

Concerned Citizen

Early poll in the making?

Speculation is rife that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is thinking of calling an early poll – long before 2018 – in order to get an endorsement from Grenadians to his package of sweeping austerity measures, which is a main component of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).

A source who spoke to THE NEW TODAY newspaper on conditions that he was not identified said that Dr. Mitchell, the Political Leader of the ruling New National Party (NNP) is quietly streamlining the party and putting the structures in place for elections as early as 2016.

He said the Prime Minister believes that an early poll will give the NNP a decisive advantage out of the belief that the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) “is far from ready” and would be caught “with their pants down”.

According to the source, there will be no major surprises in the list of candidates to be selected by the ruling party for the upcoming poll.

He said that the only major casualty could be the Member of Parliament for St. George North-east, Tobias Clement who might be discarded in order to create a place for former Congress General Secretary, Peter David who is now a full-fledged member of NNP.

David along with several other persons were expelled from NDC in 2012 at the height of bitter infighting as a rival group battled with then Prime Minister Tillman Thomas for control of both the party and then government.

The source said that David will not be considered for the Town of St. George seat that he won in both the 2003 and 2008 general elections and the NNP will stick with Nickolas Steele, the current Minister of Health.

He spoke of PM Mitchell not prepared to gamble with leaving out Steele and the other Upper Class candidate, Alexandria Otway-Noel (MP for South St. George) from the line-up because of the large amount of funds they can bring to an election campaign.

“He (Dr. Mitchell) will keep Steele and Alexandra as candidates because he doesn’t want to upset the Lance Aux Epines crowd and the money flow that can come from these people. So Steele and Alex will be running again”, he said.

If David gets the nod in St. George North-east, he would be coming up against Congress leader, Nazim Burke, the former Minister of Finance in the 2008-13 Congress government.

The two have been political comrades for years, dating back to the 1970’s as secondary school students with the left-leaning New Jewel Movement (NJM) of late Marxist leader, Maurice Bishop.

The two only parted company in 2012 when Burke took the side of then PM Thomas in the NDC bruising internal feuding while David was considered as the leader of the Rebel Faction.

Another NNP party insider told this newspaper that one possible change in the next NNP lime-up for an upcoming poll will be MP for the rural St. Patrick East constituency, Clifton Paul who is to be discarded in favour of a female candidate.

He said the favourite is a female head mistress in a rural school who is the sister of a leading calypsonian that is considered a top NNP political activist in the St. Patrick area.

THE NEW TODAY understands the NDC will most likely field a female social worker as its own candidate for the St. Patrick East seat that was once held by former Prime Minister Thomas.

The source pointed out that PM Mitchell, who has often indicated that he intends to retire soon from frontline politics, will definitely lead the NNP into the next general elections.

He said the Prime Minister does not believe that any of the “other pretenders to the throne” is ready to lead the party at a national election and he wants to do so for one more time before handing over mid-way in the next term in office.

The source singled out David, the disgraced NDC member, as the person most likely to be given the green light by PM Mitchell to succeed him at the helm of the party.

He said the other two top leaders in the party – Deputy Prime Minister Elvin Nimrod is older than Dr. Mitchell while Party Chairman, Gregory Bowen has some health issues.

NNP currently enjoys a 15-0 majority in the Lower House of Parliament after capturing all seats in the February 2013 general elections – the second time in recent years with the first taking place in 1999.