New French Chef at Secret Harbour

The owners of the Secret Harbour Boutique Hotel Restaurant & Marina, have hired a famed French Master Chef in an effort to refine its presentation and the dining experience offered at the restaurant.

New chef at Secret Harbour, French Master Chef Bruno Deligne

Chef Bruno Deligne arrived on the island approximately one (1) month ago to take up his duties as Head Chef at the Lance Aux Epines-based restaurant on the southern end of the island.

Approximately three (3) weeks after his arrival, members of the media got an opportunity to meet Chef Bruno first-hand and savor his cooking.

Following a carefully prepared full three-course meal of shrimp, salmon and chocolate desert, inclusive of red and white wine, water and sparkling water, the newly appointed Manager of the Secret Harbour Restaurant, Cindy Marama, explained what guests can expect from the new chef.

“What you can expect from our new chef compared to what the previous chef did, is to keep (using) the local products, which was already the idea and then work around the French touch even more than we did before. What we are adding is the French touch with a little more refined presentation and taste,” she said.

“The idea for Bruno’s cooking is to make his menu as we go along. So, because we work a lot with local fishermen, some days you don’t know which fish we are going to get. So, it’s about Bruno being able to adapt and work his creativity around his dishes to offer a diversity of meals to our guests at the restaurant,” Marama explained.

Chocolate Cake desser

“…It’s sort of a new discovery,” she said, noting that this discovery “has to be generous and also all about the taste…we are going to be working a different menu every season, so it will depend on what we can get, colours, flavours and taste wise.

“So I think we are going to work on developing different tastes that maybe you can discover that you haven’t discovered yet… she added.

Chef Deligne, who does not speak English fluently, told THE NEW TODAY that he has had an enjoyable experience exploring the offerings at the fruit and vegetable and fish markets in St. George’s.

“I see (that) the (fruits and vegetable) market in St. George’s is very, very, nice,” he said, adding that “it (the fruits and vegetable market) has plenty colourful fruits, vegetables and spices.

Salmon and yams

“I also visited the fish market, it’s very nice,” he remarked.

According to information released by Secret Harbour, Chef Deligne grew up in the kitchen, with his father, who was a chef for 33 years in ‘Taillevent’ one of the most famous three (3) starred Michelin restaurants in Paris.

“He has been experiencing most of the renowned starred tables in France, Troisgros, Pic, Chantecler at Negresco hotel, the Ritz, Fauchon, keeping his humility…As the years went by he honed his special style to create a cuisine that fits his personality: classic, simple and generous,” the release said.

Shrimps

Deligne, who is an active member of the French Culinary Academy and also Euro-Toques (European Academy), was described as “a real guardian of culinary heritage (who) values the know-how, the pleasure of working well, the respect and the requirement surpassing oneself.”

With his French and Caribbean experience in St. Lucia, Turks &Caicos, Chef Deligne promises an unforgettable dining experience at the Secret Harbour Restaurant.

The restaurant is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and until 10:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and also with ‘Brunch’ served every Sunday.

Reaction to repeal of International Companies Act

The countries of the European Union (EU) have received a heavy broadside from Grenada government ministers who are peeved at having to make amendments in Parliament to the island’s International Companies Act.

The Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) is not happy with the pressure being exerted by the EU’s Organisation for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD) that is threatening to blacklist the island as a non-cooporative country with harmful tax measures.

The administration was forced to take legislation to Parliament to repeal the International Companies Act CAP 152 as it has been deemed by the EU as being unfair and lacked a bit of transparency by the inter-governmental Code of Conduct group in business taxation.

Minister of Legal Affairs and Parliamentary Representative for the Constituency of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, Kindra Maturine-Stewart piloted the amended legislation at a recent sitting of the Lower House of Parliament.

According to Maturine-Stewart, as a result of the preferential treatment and incentives given to international companies over local companies under the International Companies Act, Grenada was identified by the EU group as carrying on harmful tax practices which have the potential to have a negative effect on the tax collection by the European Union.

“Mr. Speaker various countries, including our OECS neighbours were found to be deficient with respect to the criteria that were set out and as a result Mr. Speaker many countries made high level commitment to either amend or to abolish requisite regimes by December 31st, 2018”, said the female government member.

Maturine-Stewart stressed that the abolishment of the International Companies Regime will not significantly affect Grenada.

She said: “At present Mr. Speaker, barely any companies exist under this act. As a matter of fact, 84 companies are presently registered; unlike in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Mr. Speaker, where over approximately 6000 of these companies are registered.

“Mr Speaker therefore, pursuant to section 3 of the Bill, International companies that have already been registered and incorporated under the International Companies Act are permitted to continue operations until 31st December 2022 or until Mr. Speaker, those companies are dissolved or wind-up prior to that time. Of course Mr. Speaker this is with the exception of international trust corporations who will be allowed to continue even after December 31st, 2022,” she added.

Health Minister and Parliamentary Representative for St. George South, Nickolas Steele gave support in principle but not unequivocal support for the repeal of the bill.
Steele contended that the powers-that-be in Europe have not told Grenada the law in its present form encourages illegal activities.

“…Mr. Speaker, the reason I support or will have to give support to this bill is because I am a representative of a developing country and it is necessary for us to make sure that we comply with the wishes of those who are setting rules internationally. That is our desire to comply with those who are setting the rules internationally with respect to international trade”, he said.

“We do not want to put forward a position of saying that we are a sovereign nation and therefore we do as we please and it harms us as a sovereign nation, developing. So, I support this bill because we are a developing country and it is necessary for us to remain in compliance with respect to international practices, international transactions”, he added.
Caricom affairs minister and Parliamentary Representative for the Constituency of St. David, Oliver Joseph charged that the EU is exerting pressure on a black country and was seeking to limit competition from developing countries.

Joseph told Parliament: “The only reason the EU is putting pressure on countries outside of the OECD (is) because we are able to compete with their jurisdiction. We say we going to move into international business and off-shore service and we start to become very competitive, earning revenue and they say well you’re doing too well …why the businesses leaving the OECD countries and coming to our jurisdiction to do business.

“…So as soon as you start to be competitive, they start to exert pressure on you – they tell you, you must diversify. We have taken a decision – this is the way to go – attract foreign companies to do business and then we are told that we have to change the law and abolish the international business that we want to set up to aid in the development of our economy”, he said.

Minister Joseph expressed fears that very soon the EU would mount an assault on Grenada’s passport selling scheme known as Citizenship By Investment (CBI) which is bringing in much-needed funds to help transform the economy.

He said: “We have a national transformation fund and we have due diligence and everything is in place, but they would find some way of telling you that you have to change as though Small Island Developing States cannot manage its own affairs – only the OECD and the developed countries that are capable of running this sort of business, black people like us should not get involved in that”.

Foreign Affairs minister and Representative for the Town of St. George, Peter David, echoed the sentiments of Minister Joseph, and called for Small Island called for Small Island Developing States to come together to put an end to the problem now being faced at the international level.

David told Parliament: “The only time we will see the end of this is when we as small states come together, when we as developing states come together, when we understand because one of the tactics of the countries who are imposing these things on us is divide and rule, so that we find ourselves unable to utilise the strengths that we have in demanding change to these phenomena.

“You know we have traditional allies and we have said to them time and time again that if they are truly our partners, then they must assist us in campaigning in the EU…so that … our interests are properly served. We must first understand where we are…there are people who said Grenada is being blacklisted – it means that the government is doing something wrong.

No, it doesn’t mean the government is doing anything wrong when you hear this blacklisting. In fact, many times when you hear they are blacklisting is because we are doing something right for our country.

Mosquito spraying at Silver Sands!!!

Crime in Trinidad has increased exponentially. Murder is the new sport. Another gruesome murder today, leading the relentless murder toll to climb to 509, threatening to break the 2008 record of 550 murders, leaving 2017 at 494. Thus far, January has been the bloodiest month of the year at 40 killings. Why? Oh Why?

Even though the government allocates billions of dollars towards crime, this has made no impression. Murder continues to hamper the economic prospect of the city, affecting tourism as countries have issued advisories warning their citizens about our little island.

Immigrants from Venezuela, Columbia and Cuba are flocking to Trinidad in search of better living conditions but are bringing with them drugs and weapons. As unemployment continues to climb, frustrated citizens are resorting to drugs, namely marijuana and cocaine, which alter their minds and make them less tolerant to opposition and more inclined to violence. Drug trading even offers easy, fast money. Crime spikes in times of hardship.

For every man murdered, two women are killed. Approximately 52 women were killed this year of which 43 were due to domestic violence. People are warned to stay away from Laventille and the capital city, Port-of-Spain, as they are the hot spot areas for crime.

In order to ease the murder toll, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has brought in foreign help since Trinidad also has the lowest detection rate in the Caribbean. An anger management counsel is presently being developed for women, especially those who are psychologically inclined and need counseling.

A permanent solution is needed involving root causes. It starts in kindergarten. Bullying is the first sign of a potential criminal. Teenagers from the age of 13 and onward are responsible for many of the murders. Love for your brother what you love for yourself. Maybe, just maybe, this is the answer we have been searching for.

Saudah Baksh

Suspended Police Officer on Sexual Related Charge

In May 2018, police officer Denson Charles was placed on $30,000 bail after being charged with “Death by Dangerous Driving”.

Denson Charles – is currently on bail for causing death by dangerous driving

Charles was taken into custody following an accident on the road that led to the death of Insurance Executive Trevor Renwick in April 2018 along the Grand Anse Valley main road.

Less than eight months, the police officer is again in trouble with the law on a sex-related charge.

The 34-year-old Constable has been slapped with a charge of “Cultivating an Online Relationship with a minor for a Sexual Explicit Act”.

THE NEW TODAY was informed that the charge was slapped on Charles following a complaint from the parents of the child to the police about the act back to October 2018.

The parents reportedly made available to the lawmen copies of several WhatsApp messages concerning communication between Charles and the child, who is believed to be 14 years of age.

Charles, who is married with one child, has been suspended since May 2018 with half pay from his job at the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).

Charles is the third individual to be charged under Section 12 of the Electronic Crimes Act which states that: A person shall not knowingly and without lawful justification or excuse cultivate, entice or induce children to an online relationship with another child or an adult for a sexually explicit act or in a manner that may offend a reasonable adult on the electronic system.

In November 2019, Sheldon Alexander, a 26 year old construction worker of Samaritan, St. Mark was arrested and charged with child pornography, after allegedly sending nude photos to an underaged male via a social media platform.

Christmas donations to Richmond Home

Residents at the Richmond Home for the Aged spent a much happier Christmas due to the donation of some much-needed supplies by two charitable citizens.

Roy Coutain hands over packet of Soap to Sister Lessey

The goodies were provided a few days before Christmas Day by Gillean Paul of GP Promotions and Roy Coutain, a regular donor to the institution.

In speaking at the handing over ceremony, Paul said she is driven to give the things out of a desire to share her blessings.

“…When God blessing you with something, you have to always give back something, so it would be very selfish for me to be getting something whole year and not sharing it”, she said.

“It will be bigger for next year, hopefully, because when people see what I have done…i feel next year will be much more successful for me in donating hampers to this home, Gouyave and Victoria and even maybe one more too, who knows.

The donor also went on: “I will continue to call to find out what this home needs because I know it’s not a paying institution – this is run by the government and anything you can give it will be very helpful”.

GP Promotions and Senior Nursing Officer at the Home, Paula Lessey during the
handing over

GP Promotions started its donation drive in 2017 by giving hampers to needy persons in Grand Roy, St John, Mt. Plasir, St. John and surrounding areas.

This year, the group 8 added three homes to the list – HillsView Home in Gouyave, St. John, Charles Memorial Home in Victoria, St. Mark and the Richmond Home for the Aged.

In accepting on behalf of the Home, Senior Nursing Officer, Paula Lessey thanked GP Promotions for the timely contribution to the residents of the home.

Lessey said: “On behalf of the residents and staff, we wish to thank you GP Promotions for your kind contribution and for choosing us and pledging to be one of our donors. We really appreciate it and we hope that we see you next year.”

Coutain who has been making donations to the Richmond Home for the last nine years has pledged to continue doing so.

Some of the items donated to the Home

“This home here, in my younger days, we used to call here the Poor House and here is run by the Government of Grenada. It’s not like the home where people pay for their family to stay; not everything the government could do financially and I decided that I am going to do this here for this home. I adopt this place here as my home…I always call Sister Lessey and say how are my people doing….”, he said.

“… (I have donated) 17 boxes of adult pampers, 40 bars of bathing soap, 49 tubs of petroleum jelly, 15 bottles of Avon Anti Perspiration, 2 gallons of disinfectant, I gallon of dishwashing liquid, 18 gallons of bleach, I bucket of Arm and Hammer Laundry Detergent, 2 bales of toilet paper,” he added.

In accepting this particular donation, Sister Lessey said: “Thanks Mr. Coutain for all that you have done for us. As he said, during the year, on all different occasions…he always calls to find out what we need and always supply. So we thank him very much and we hope that he continues as he said he would”.

Small decrease in Corporate and Personal Income Tax

The ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has taken a decision to provide some relief to individuals and businesses liable to pay income tax by reducing their payable amount by 2%.

The motion to make this possible was tabled in the last sitting of the House of Representatives for the year at Parliament Building at Mt. Wheldale, St. George by the Leader of Government Business in the House, Works Minister Gregory Bowen.

The senior government minister told legislators that the schedule about the tax reduction has already been made public by the PM Mitchell in his capacity as Minister for Finance in his budget address and debate in November.

In explaining to Parliament the effect of the reduction, Minister Bowen said: “This is simply reducing the rate of taxes for persons that are not corporate persons but individual persons. Where their chargeable income above $24,000 was at a rate of 30%, this amendment will reduce it to 28% as indicated by the (Finance) Minister and for corporate tax, corporate persons, their income tax will also be reduced from 30% to 28% Mr. Speaker.

“And we know that the principle of keeping Personal Income Tax the same as the Corporate Income Tax, so that nobody is tempted to move one into the other and get from their businesses if they are directors or owners of such business, Mr. Speaker,” he said.

In his own address, Prime Minister Mitchell said this move on the part of government can encourage increased economic activity in the country.

He said: “This falls directly within the whole philosophy of this government, which is to encourage the private sector to increase activity in general and by so doing expand their operations, at the same time being able to provide jobs and at the same time to add economic activity of the country as a whole.

“We think that is an incentive. That is necessary because the less taxes that they have to pay means that as long as they’re paying their fair share (it) will certainly give them the room space to increase their operation and it is in the benefit of all concerned in the country.

“…Similarly, this government firmly believes that the more disposable income that exist among the workers of the country, the more we can see people taking initiatives to increase activities and broaden areas of opportunities and by so doing may able to create jobs.

“We hope in the not too distant future we can move to even reduce the taxes even further because as long as it will not injure the fiscal situation in the country, then the government is better off because it’s sometimes not ideal for government to be getting too much money from individual income earners in the country, and the same time reducing the ability to do things for themselves so that people don’t have to depend on one income stream for survival.

Minister of Health and Parliamentary Representative for the Constituency of St. George South, Nickolas Steele voiced support for the tax reduction.

This move by government, he said is in keeping with the promise made to the country to give benefits to every sector once it is allowed by the fiscal space.

“I think it’s essential to say that we did make a commitment that once there is a fiscal space allowing in all sectors, we would do our best as a responsible government to make sure that each and every sector would receive some sort of benefit. And for the private sector, individuals who pay personal income tax, they would be most appreciated. I’m sure like anybody else, would be asking for more, but they would be most appreciative of this and also to give support to the government policy that has maintained a certain amount of stability with respect to Corporate Income Tax and Personal Tax – specifically the inability or deterrence of tax avoidance, tax evasion in keeping Corporate Tax and Personal Income Tax at the same levels.

Therefore, it’s minimal incentive, if any, by any individual shareholder of a corporate entity to move expenses from one side or the other. So, we’re keeping that policy throughout and moving forward”, he added.

The Mitchell-led government has often indicated that its financial options are often dictated by the Fiscal Responsibility Legislation (FRL) struck with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) to control Central Government spending.

The Nicaragua Government has gone too far

The English-speaking Caribbean has just emerged from a season manifesting the spirit, intrinsic to Christmas, of ‘peace on earth and goodwill to all’.

Not even the no-confidence vote that was carried against the APNU-AFC coalition government in Guyana on Friday, December 21 disrupted the festive celebrations of the period.

Bitterness, felt by faithful supporters of the main political party, the Peoples’ National Congress (PNC), was contained in sterile argument about whether the Constitution was correctly interpreted, and, therefore, the possibility of overturning the vote.

In the coming weeks, that argument might be tested in the Court, which is the appropriate place to settle disputes peacefully and legally.

In Barbados, despite the stringent austerity programme upon which the 7-month old Mia Mottley government has had to embark to put on an even keel an economy left in shatters by the predecessor regime of Freundel Stuart, there was a sense of optimism amid strenuous conditions for many.

The point is that people in these two countries have not been encouraged to march in the streets, nor have they been manipulated to attack one another based on party political support.

Instead, the debates have been rife in the media with no restrictions, no political demonstrations, no deployment of police to tear gas protesters, and no arbitrary arrest or detention of real or suspected organisers.

In other parts of the region, particularly in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and St Lucia, dissent and disagreement are being been expressed and rebutted within the law. The media – both traditional and social – are replete with discussion on all sides of arguments, including, unfortunately, what has come to be known as ‘fake news’; the deliberate distribution of false and harmful information. But no media has been silenced by government action, and no protest suffocated. All ideas are contending, as they should.

But, this maturity of managing dissent; of responding to it with counter arguments, with challenges to its veracity; and by acknowledging shortcomings and acting to correct them, continues to elude parts of the Caribbean region where recent protests against a government have been suffocated by tear gas and arbitrary arrests and draconian use of laws not meant for this purpose.

This is an ugly scar on the Caribbean’s face of human, civil and political rights. It will attract to the region the strongest condemnation and eventual intervention by way of sanctions by the international community if it continues.

In the sub-region of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the member-states collectively have collectively shied-away from criticism of excessive behaviour in individual member states. Similarly, CARICOM member states have not pronounced collectively when regimes in other countries in the Western Hemisphere have assaulted their people, imprisoned politicians, and detained champions of human rights.

In part, this studious silence arises from the notion that events in neighbouring counties are “not our business’ and we would best serve ourselves by not getting involved. But within the region, neighbourhood business is local business. For events in one country quickly infect the other.

Because CARICOM has been collectively silent, member states have joined other groups to express their concern, voice their condemnation and even vote against actions by governments within the Western hemisphere that have sought to maintain themselves in power through constitutional manipulation, rigged elections including partisan election machinery, stifling dissent and the excessive use of force by the police and military. This has weakened CARICOM as an agency for advancing Caribbean interests.

This ought not to be the case. Rising-up from a history of slavery and indentured labour, of worker exploitation and human rights atrocities whose scars continue to mark the region today, Caribbean countries should be the strongest defenders of political, civil and human rights.

It is by winning those rights that Caribbean countries emerged into political independence and into some degree of economic self-determination. These are values that form part of the ethos of the Caribbean civilisation and they should be defended and upheld. For their erosion elsewhere, could eventually spread to the corrosion within CARICOM states of the values of freedom of speech and expression, of political and trade union association, of human equality, and of the institutions that preserve them. These are the very things that have occasioned high regard for the majority of Caribbean countries by their citizens, their visitors and their investors.

The CARICOM region, therefore, has a large stake in ensuring that democracy and human rights are upheld everywhere. In doing so, they ought not to apply double standards such as the world has witnessed by some powerful governments. Justice is not served by narrow political and economic interests.

But CARICOM silence should not be an option. The region should be steadfast in upholding principles of justice in political, human and economic rights globally, even as it stands-up for international respect for those principles in relation to itself.

Within the hemisphere, over the last eight months, 322 people have been killed and 565 others jailed in Nicaragua. Today, many of its citizens from cities across the country are hiding from the wrath of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.

Earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of people marched against the Ortega regime and were met by a repressive response. The Ortega family now control virtually every aspect of government, including the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, the armed forces, the judiciary, the police and the prosecutor’s office.

Ortega caused an amendment to the Constitution to keep himself in office, and presumably to maintain power that has allowed his adult children to manage everything from gasoline distribution to television stations.

The excesses continue, worsened this week by a raid on the country’s leading human rights organisation and the expulsion of international human rights observers. Among those expelled was Paulo Abrão, the executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of which all CARICOM countries are members.
CARICOM countries may continue to respond in different ways to events in Nicaragua, but acceptance cannot be one of them.

The Ortega regime has gone too far.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador 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 his own)

Government engages church leaders on pension negotiations and industrial climate

Government has been actively engaging church leaders, allowing them an opportunity to share their views on the pension reform negotiations, the industrial climate following recent action taken by teachers and some public officers and the decision by the Cabinet to withhold salaries for the days not worked.

On Wednesday (December 19, 2018), Prime Minister, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell met with leaders of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and on Thursday, a similar meeting was held with the leaders of several other denominations including Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Methodist and Pentecostal.

Dr. Mitchell expressed that his Government sees pension as a moral responsibility but any payments made to public workers must not put the rest of the population at risk and must not jeopardise the future sustainable development of the country.

At both meetings, concern was expressed for the well-being of the nation’s students and the potential negative impact of the industrial action on them, not only now, but in the long term as well.

Minister for Education and Religious Affairs, Honourable Emmalin Pierre also met this week with about 40 religious leaders, representing different denominations.

At Wednesday’s sitting of Parliament, Minister Pierre said the religious leaders have committed to give more support to the education sector and she disclosed a commitment by her ministry to hold regular meetings with the church leaders.

“They have a role to play in the development of the education system and of the communities across the tri-island state. Tuesday’s meeting made clear the need to keep the religious community informed; I commend them for the frank discussions we had and I commit my ministry to ongoing engagement in the future,” Minister Pierre stated.

Mikey Live gives back for Christmas

The Mikey Live, go to programme on Facebook has teamed up with its viewers to bring christmas cheers to four needy families from the parishes of St. David and St. George.

Mikey Hutchinson and some of the bags of food stuff donated on Christmas Eve

The families were selected by the Mikey Live Helping Hands Foundation and were blessed for the Christmas season with enough food items to carry them into the new year.

The Mikey Live Helping Hands Foundation is approximately one year old and comprises of Canadian, American and Grenadian viewers of the Mikey Live Programme.

Speaking to Head of the Organisation, Mikey Hutchinson last Thursday, he told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that the initiative can best be described as basically a Mikey Live family affair.

He said: “So, the members donate to whatever initiative that we’re having. We’re just now starting to do fundraisers, so we have our very first fundraiser in Canada in February and the proceeds from that will go towards further initiatives but all of the hampers that we have given so far from all the other initiatives were funded from donors within the group itself.

“…This is not the first time that we are doing this – this is in fact the second year. Last year we gave to a wide cross section of people and this year we did the same but we did four families this time. We gave them a lot more, enough to last them a while. So, we’re talking about your regular items that you would use on a daily basis, food to cook, canned foods, flour, rice, sugar, things to make juice, snacks and we actually purchased these items from supermarkets; so it’s not like we’re getting bulk items,” he added.

According to Hutchinson, he is driven to make these Christmas Eve donations because the living conditions of some people are atrocious in the country.

He said that although “food may help them and it may help them in one way, probably they would not be hungry but some people really do need better housing accommodations and so on, so we would try and see if we can extend just beyond helping people with food.”

The Foundation has been operating quietly since its formation but is now going public with the hope of attracting more donors to its cause.

Hutchinson believes the limited students and fire victims who have been receiving assistance from the Foundation can now be increased.

“…We help students to go through school, paying for their lunch in their school and we also help with transportation, with graduation for students who are not able to do that. We did have a back to school distribution and paid school fees for two students. Also we have helped a lot of fire victims. Once we hear that their house was burnt, we would put together hampers and deliver it to them and even giving them cash but we give cash particularly to fire victims. People with chronic illnesses and so on, we have given them checks, blood sugar test and things like that and medication, whatever they need, we try our best to see if we can help them.

“…We try to help in as many ways as we can but now that we believe that we have everything in order, we will be going to the public for their assistance because I think the more people we would have on board, the better it would be for us because we want to try to meet as many people as possible. Our objective is not really to get recognition for all that we do but just to help the people. We recognise now in an effort to help more people we have to at least let the public know what we are doing so that we can get their support.

Meanwhile, the Rotaract Club of Grenada East teamed up over the christmas holiday period with Synergy Promotions to provide Christmas toys to 15 children from remote villages in the parishes of St. Andrew and St. Patrick.

The names of the needy children were provided by the Ministry of Social Development.

Approximately $700.00 was spent on the toys which were delivered personally to the children at their homes.

This is one of many community initiatives done by the Rotaract Club of Grenada East for 2018.The Mikey Live, go to programme on Facebook has teamed up with its viewers to bring christmas cheers to four needy families from the parishes of St. David and St. George.

The families were selected by the Mikey Live Helping Hands Foundation and were blessed for the Christmas season with enough food items to carry them into the new year.

Members of Rotaract Grenada East and Synergy Promotions with recipients of toys

The Mikey Live Helping Hands Foundation is approximately one year old and comprises of Canadian, American and Grenadian viewers of the Mikey Live Programme.

Speaking to Head of the Organisation, Mikey Hutchinson last Thursday, he told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that the initiative can best be described as basically a Mikey Live family affair.

He said: “So, the members donate to whatever initiative that we’re having. We’re just now starting to do fundraisers, so we have our very first fundraiser in Canada in February and the proceeds from that will go towards further initiatives but all of the hampers that we have given so far from all the other initiatives were funded from donors within the group itself.

“…This is not the first time that we are doing this – this is in fact the second year. Last year we gave to a wide cross section of people and this year we did the same but we did four families this time. We gave them a lot more, enough to last them a while. So, we’re talking about your regular items that you would use on a daily basis, food to cook, canned foods, flour, rice, sugar, things to make juice, snacks and we actually purchased these items from supermarkets; so it’s not like we’re getting bulk items,” he added.

According to Hutchinson, he is driven to make these Christmas Eve donations because the living conditions of some people are atrocious in the country.

He said that although “food may help them and it may help them in one way, probably they would not be hungry but some people really do need better housing accommodations and so on, so we would try and see if we can extend just beyond helping people with food.”

The Foundation has been operating quietly since its formation but is now going public with the hope of attracting more donors to its cause.

Hutchinson believes the limited students and fire victims who have been receiving assistance from the Foundation can now be increased.

“…We help students to go through school, paying for their lunch in their school and we also help with transportation, with graduation for students who are not able to do that. We did have a back to school distribution and paid school fees for two students. Also we have helped a lot of fire victims. Once we hear that their house was burnt, we would put together hampers and deliver it to them and even giving them cash but we give cash particularly to fire victims. People with chronic illnesses and so on, we have given them checks, blood sugar test and things like that and medication, whatever they need, we try our best to see if we can help them.

“…We try to help in as many ways as we can but now that we believe that we have everything in order, we will be going to the public for their assistance because I think the more people we would have on board, the better it would be for us because we want to try to meet as many people as possible. Our objective is not really to get recognition for all that we do but just to help the people. We recognise now in an effort to help more people we have to at least let the public know what we are doing so that we can get their support.

Meanwhile, the Rotaract Club of Grenada East teamed up over the christmas holiday period with Synergy Promotions to provide Christmas toys to 15 children from remote villages in the parishes of St. Andrew and St. Patrick.

The names of the needy children were provided by the Ministry of Social Development.

Approximately $700.00 was spent on the toys which were delivered personally to the children at their homes.

This is one of many community initiatives done by the Rotaract Club of Grenada East for 2018.

Why is it so hard to amend Caribbean constitutions?

On Tuesday, November 6, the citizens of Antigua/Barbuda and Grenada soundly rejected the entreaties of local and regional elites to vote “yes” in separate referenda to replace the London-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as their highest appellate court.

This outcome should have come as no surprise to those familiar not only with Commonwealth Caribbean constitutional amending procedures but with the difficulty in amending constitutions in most democratic countries.

When the ill-fated West Indies Federation was established in 1958 by a British Order in Council, a single West Indies Supreme Court headquartered in Trinidad was put in place to deal with cases emanating from its 10 member provinces: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, the then St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, Saint Lucia, St Vincent (including the Grenadines), and Trinidad and Tobago.

The current heir to this court is the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, not the CCJ.

This is because during the few short years of the Federation (1958-1962), appeals of Supreme Court decisions were still heard by the JCPC despite the sovereignty of the Federation and its individual provinces.

The reason for the continued supremacy of the JCPC had nothing to do with the Caribbean court system that the Crown had put in place in the colonies from the earliest days of settlement and modified from time to time to accommodate changing circumstances. Instead, it was based on a general principle underpinning Western democracy: each branch of government, sometimes even with the direct consent of the citizenry, needs to have some influence over the other branches and may choose to restrain or block actions by the other branches, as well as violent resistance by an unruly citizenry, to preclude the hegemony of any one of them.

Moreover, it is also recognised that in constitutional democracies the proper functioning of the justice system depends on the informal principle called “trust”: confidence in one another as fellow citizens and faith in the impartiality of various governing and decision-making institutions: the executive branch (lead by the head of state and the head of government, administered by an independent, non-partisan, and tenured civil service, protected by a separate military and/or police force, and concerned with enforcing laws and regulations); the legislative branch (concerned with making laws); and the judicial system (concerned with interpreting the laws).

In the British-Caribbean’s Westminster form of government (named after the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the British Parliament), this general principle still applies even though its application is less clear cut than in an American-style presidential system because the head of government, the Prime Minister, and other elected members of the ruling regime hold overlapping executive and legislative roles.

But even where trust and a separation of powers exist, there must still be institutional processes to ensure that they cannot be undermined. Where trust is low or otherwise problematic, as in our Caribbean civilisation, these processes are all the more necessary.

In our fragile, even fractured, Caribbean civilisation the need for checks and balances on the abuse of power by one or more branches of government and its ancillary institutions was all too well known to our British colonial overlords who were rightly concerned about leaving us to our own devices with a system of government that would quickly descend into chaos, potentially leading to their worst nightmare, an expensive and unseemly re-colonisation.

More particularly, the British Colonial Office had a well-founded distrust of some of our pre-independence political and legal power holders. This distrust is still with us and widely and correctly shared by the general population. Its most conspicuous colonial relic was the granting of independence constitutions that are hard to amend.

In other words, because our paternalistic British colonial masters, anxious to protect themselves and the new independent states from internal political calamity, purposefully made it difficult, but not impossible, for mendacious and/or megalomaniacal politicians to abrogate the rights, powers, and privileges granted to ordinary people as enshrined in the colonies’ new constitutions.

What we were granted in exchange for our self-determination were constitutions that make transformative change such as turning the country from a parliamentary democracy into a republic or switching from the JCPC to the CCJ extremely difficult.

But this is as it should be. Though not written in stone, democratic constitutions are meant to be conservative documents for promoting and protecting the freedom and welfare of the people. Making extreme amendments easy by, say, allowing a one-vote majority of Parliament to be sufficient for a sweeping revision, even abrogation, of the constitution could see a Caribbean country “democratically” transformed into a one-party dictatorship in the blink of an eye.

But this constraint on radical constitutional meddling goes well beyond the Caribbean and even characterises most democratic countries that had the power to write their very own constitutions. This is why the constitutions of countries like America and Canada that value democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law above all else are so difficult to amend as well.

In the United States of America a Constitutional amendment may be proposed and sent to the States for ratification by either: (1) the Congress, whenever a two-thirds majority in both its Senate the House of Representatives deem it necessary or (2) a national convention, called by Congress for this purpose, on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the 50 States that make up the union called America.

To become part of the Constitution, an amendment must be ratified by either (as determined by Congress): the legislatures of three-fourths of the states or state-ratifying conventions in three-fourths of the states. Upon being properly ratified, an amendment becomes part of the constitution.

Some 12,000 proposals to amend the US constitution have been introduced in Congress since 1789. Most, however, never get out of the Congressional committees in which they were proposed, and only a fraction of those that do receive enough support to win Congressional approval to go through the constitutional ratification process.

Thirty-three amendments to the United States Constitution have been proposed by Congress and sent to the States for ratification since 1789. Twenty-seven of these, having been ratified by the requisite number of States, the last in 1992, and are now part of the Constitution.

Modifying the Canadian Constitution is even more difficult and convoluted partly because it contains no fewer than five amending formulae determining different kinds of constitutional changes. Since the patriation of the Constitution from Great Britain in 1982 there have been eleven minor amendments to Canada’s Constitution. Most of these amendments have been limited in scope, dealing only with matters affecting specific Provinces. None of these amendments approached the importance of the CARICOM issue of whether or not to join the CCJ. Two efforts to enact major amendments, one in 1987 and one in 1992, both failed.

While nearly all CARICOM constitutions are difficult to amend, some are more difficult to modify than others. This is because although the British distrust of indigenous political leaders and the supporting legal system was widespread, it was particularly focused on three Eastern Caribbean colonies.

Our colonial masters had an intense and justifiable distrust of the political beliefs and machinations of Vere Bird of Antigua, Eric Gairy of Grenada, and Ebenezer Joshua of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, each of them radical, ignorant, rabble-rousing, autocratic, or corrupt in one way or the other. In each case, there was suspicion that an independent nation led by such men could sabotage, if not overthrow, the democratic Westminster model of government upon which their new constitutions were based.

C. ben-David