The Dr. Sandiford scenario!!!

It appears that a new person is acting in the post of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance which is headed by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

There has been no official announcement from government but from all indications Dr. Wayne Sandiford, who landed a US$10, 000.00 a month contract to do the job is no longer sitting in the prized chair in the ministry from the first working day in the new year.

THE NEW TODAY notes that when Dr. Sandiford was appointed to the post on contract there was much fanfare as he took leave from St. George’s University (SGU) to fill the vacancy left by Mike Sylvester who went on assignment with the IMF and World Bank in Washington.

The silence is almost deafening about his departure with not even Prime Minister Mitchell making any statement about it and also who has since replaced him in this critical position in the public service.

This newspaper is forced to ask a few pertinent questions on what appears to be the hurried manner in which Dr. Sandiford departed from the Ministry of Finance.

A number of persons associated with the goodly gentleman have been sending around information to the effect that Dr. Sandiford took a one-year leave of absence from SGU to serve government with effect from February 2017 to February 2018.

This is being disputed by others who have indicated that based on documents seen the leave of absence from the University was from March 2017 to March 2018.

It was also reported that Dr. Sandiford had 35 days leave as part of the contract and so he took the decision to leave the government service at the beginning of the year to cover the leave due to him.
Something seems to be wrong with the maths and the calculations even when the two months are taken into consideration.

Dr. Sandiford can also clear up a few other important things pertaining to his contract with government and leave of absence from SGU.

Did he take one or two years leave from SGU? Did the contract signed with government provided for him to accept the job for one year in the first instance with an option to renew it for another year?

If so, why didn’t he renew the contract? Was he having problems with any person in the government and moreso the Public Service Commission?

Did SGU put systems in place to accommodate Dr. Sandiford’s leave for two years and not one year by giving out those courses assigned to him to other lecturers?

As it stands today, has SGU worked out a teaching programme for Dr. Sandiford with school due to resume within a matter of days?

There have been murmurings in government circles that some within the hierarchy of the corridors of power were not totally satisfied with Dr. Sandiford’s performance on the job.

Is it by co-incidence that his departure came shortly after the so-called “Mother of all budgets” were presented by Dr. Mitchell in November that has been coming in for so much criticisms?

As a matter of fact, this newspaper has already branded the 2018 budget as the “Disclaimer Budget” because this is the first time in the history of modern Grenada that a budget has been presented to the nation with promises based entirely on the outlook of the “fiscal space” in June.

The Prime Minister has promised to lessen taxes and to do a number of things provided that the “fiscal space” can allow government to tinker with the system that has been put in place under pressure from the IMF.

There have also been widespread allegations that the vast majority of the work on the budget was done by certain persons within the Ministry of Finance and not by Dr. Sandiford himself.

Time will tell what implications the exit of Dr. Sandiford from the Ministry of Finance will have on the “Project Grenada” initiative between the Mitchell-led NNP regime and the expelled elements from Congress led by Peter David and Chester Humphrey.

When David was removed from the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs in the 2008-13 Congress government, an angry Humphrey came out publicly and branded the move as a “blow” to the progressive forces within the Tillman Thomas government.

Humphrey made it quite clear that NDC was not a wholistic party but that it was an arrangement in which the “progressive forces” were only a part of it.

Can it be correctly assumed that the “progressive forces” are only involved in an accommodation for the time being with NNP?

Where will they go if they agree to end their association with Dr. Mitchell and NNP?

Or put another way – if Dr. Mitchell decides to end the accommodation with “Project Grenada” where will they go next?

Steele’s Auto Supplies Co. Ltd. launches Jeep brand

The Jeep brand of vehicle is the newest addition to the fleet of vehicles run by the family-owned Steele’s Auto Supplies Co. Ltd., which will celebrate 49 years in the vehicle dealership business this year.

Jeremy Hart, Regional Sales and Marketing Manager for Chrysler (left) and Chief Executive Officer at Steele’s Auto, Derick Steele pose in front of the 2017 Jeep Wrangler Sahara version

The company opened for the first time in February 17, 1969 under the leadership of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Derick Steele with the Toyota brand of vehicles and later expanded with the Suzuki and Kia brands.

Steele’s Auto introduced to the public last week Thursday, the 2017 models of the multiple-award winning luxury SUV, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Ltd., the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport and the Jeep Wrangler Sahara Version.

The vehicles come equipped with a wide range of modern features and specs including premium leather seats and seating capacity for 5 persons, V6 cylinders, four-wheel drive, remote anti-theft alarm along with some noticeable differences.

The event was attended by Jeremy Hart, the Barbados-based Regional Sales and Marketing Manager for Chrysler Franchise with the Inter-Americana Trading Corporation which is the regional distributor for the Chrysler franchise.

According to Hart, the Jeep “has evolved into a brand that identifies with you as a lifestyle brand and grown into one of the most recognised around the world”.

“It’s a product that has always been innovative…it’s one brand that has always maintained an identity over the course of its life and what’s significant about it for us in the Caribbean is that we have a lot of different markets”, he said.

“…We have a lot of people that identify with it as a brand, (whether it be) with their lifestyle, adventure, freedom – you know we have beaches, mountains, rivers and is a brand that speaks to it because there is no other product like it on the global market,” he added.

The General Manager of Steele’s Auto Supplies Co. Ltd., Jonathan Steele who is the son of the founder, Derick Steele said that over the years the management has “been looking at the market… and we have been … wanting to bring another brand that would really open the eyes of many Grenadians so that when they purchase it (the vehicle), they would feel very proud…”.

General Manager of Steele’s Auto Supplies and Co. Ltd., Jonathan Steele engages a potential buyer inside of the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

According to Steele, it is the hope of the local company that those who buy the vehicles “would feel like they have spent their money on something that they would enjoy driving every day and also that would give them some kind of identity with their vehicle”.

Jonathan, who is the younger brother of Health Minister Nickolas Steele, told THE NEW TODAY that because of Jeep’s legendary history, “we believe that Jeep brand would really make a statement coming to Grenada.

“…It is kind of nice to have a vehicle that you can actually talk to your friends about and say look, this is the history of my vehicle especially the Wrangler, which has three-quarter of a century of history behind it, where it came from, how it grew, what it represented when it was first built and also what it led towards”, he said.

The Grand Cherokee Overland is going for a price tag of $258, 000, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Ltd., at $227, 000, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport selling ($200, 000) and the Jeep Wrangler Sahara Version, which is selling for $215, 000.

The Chinese (invade) invest in Grenada

The Grenadian government is still packed with Maurice Bishop sympathisers. So, wanting to get into bed with a massive communist state does not surprise me.

Bishop, like many students, was full of Marxist ideals, he was turned by the Russians when he studied in London and introduced to the Cubans, then sent back to Grenada to await his calling.

Bishop was no stranger to Eastern Europe and was no stranger to Cuba, he spoke Spanish with a Cuban accent. The Cubans were the USSR’s nominee in the Caribbean, as they were in Africa.

The Russians wanted to take over the whole Caribbean and the Americas, using the Cubans as a front. It was a way of invading the United States without actually attacking them.

All the Caribbean Marxist rubbish arrived in Grenada during Bishop’s revolution, Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent, who assisted Bishop with his speeches and rode about with Bishop in his car as a close adviser. There were many others of varying quality, all wanting to carry back the revolution to their own islands.

The Cubans loved them and they all loved the Castro Marxist system. Many of them, including Bishop, went secretly to Moscow for training. This was to be the start of a creeping cancer, anti-USA and anti-democracy.

Some of the privileged party members in Grenada loved Bishop because he gave those people a better life than their neighbours. Those people informed on their neighbours and were the worst of the worst collaborators.

Bishop imprisoned all the Rastafarians and cut their children’s hair before they allowed them to go to school, locked up many citizens who were simply opposed to him, without trial. Bishop signed almost all arrest warrants. So, for the other half of the population hard and severe times were imposed on them. Those Grenadians that remember good times under Bishop were his thugs and informers and the ignorant who took his little presents of cash.

Now the Chinese government, not Chinese businessmen or investors, have taken it upon themselves to make a development plan for Grenada. They say they do not interfere with internal government workings, but the Cubans said that and they ended up in every ministry and training the police in special techniques of torture and questioning.

I read with interest today the headlines by the South China Post, ‘China set to move into United States backyard with national development plan for Grenada’ and the introduction of ‘Tiny Caribbean nation considering Beijing blueprint produced 34 years after being invaded by US troops’.

The Americans came and they cut out the cancer; they should be applauded. The Chinese are coming not for Grenadians, they are coming for themselves. They will bring most of their own workforce, leaving a minimal number of menial jobs for Grenadians. When the Chinese government invests that amount of money they will expect to be in control, and they will be.

Following Chinese government investment, ordinary Chinese people will start buying up land and property and land and houses will soar in value, putting land and property beyond the reach of Grenadians.

In London, Chinese people have been buying up the housing stock, doubling the prices and then leaving them empty.

Remember the Chinese can also be bullies if you take account of what they have been doing in the South China Sea. They may seem nice but they are not; whatever they do is for themselves with total disregard to everyone else.

They have also been supporting North Korea for years, pretending to help the US with dealing with the atomic missile crisis, whilst actually rubbing their hands in glee because it ties up the US militarily and helps drive a financial nail into their coffin. North Korea would not carry on in the way they are behaving if the Chinese ordered them to stop, but the Chinese love it, so they pretend to be blocking supplies and pretend to be scolding North Korea whilst patting them on the back.

Grenada is a blessed island with its wonderful agricultural prospects, which the government has all but abandoned to follow the tourist path. Tourism is great in Grenada and it is well developed and getting better infrastructure year on year. Beautiful beaches and coves, wonderful friendly people. Grenada really does not need this deal, which is actually the sale of the island to the Chinese treasury.

My real worry is that the dottish politicians in Grenada are way out of their depth in this matter.

Michael Scrubb

DPP Nelson continues PI hearing against Insp. Clev Antoine

The highly anticipated court matter into allegations of sexual assault against suspended Inspector of Police, Clevroy Antoine, which commenced prior to the Christmas holiday, at the No. 2 Magistrate’s Court in St. George’s, will continue on January 19, 2018.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the complainant, Grenadian-born Canadian citizen, Eleanor Peterkin-Walters was the only witness called upon to give evidence, when the closed-door matter commenced on December 20, before presiding Magistrate Tahira Gellineau.

The 55-year-old middle rank officer, who has served the RGPF in various capacities for more than 30 years, is being prosecuted on two summary charges of sexual assault brought against him in August 2016, by Peterkin-Walters, who was at the time vacationing on the island.

Antoine, who is currently on $8, 000 bail, had previously entered a not guilty plea to the offences, allegedly committed on August 16, 2017.

He is represented by Attorneys-at-law, Dr. Francis Alexis, QC and Ruggles Feguson.

INSP. Antoine was accompanied in court by his wife and daughter.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the Prosecution, which is being led by Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Christopher Nelson, intends to call at least three more witnesses to give evidence against the police officer.

Peterkin-Walters, who retained the services of experienced Queens Counsel, Celia Clyne-Edwards to assist her, claimed that Insp. Antoine sexually assaulted her when she visited the South St. George Police Station to file a child abuse complaint against someone.

Party switching – a healthy political and democratic process

Politics is ripe these days, the fruit some green, some yellow and shades in-between will inevitably fall to the ground with fresh saplings springing to life. Regardless of color, richness of soil and shade from the hardier older growth – will determine the quality and sweetness of the fruit. A few pods, scattered by fierce winds and torrential rains to less chaotic ground, quality and sweetness flow in abundance.

I see politics in those terms. My attention turns to vicious comments from many of our citizenry who wittingly or unwittingly do so toward people who exercise their constitutional right to choose among competing interest – specifically political parties.

The words expressed with vicious anger and scorn: “Counter, Traitor, Stupid and Uneducated, Dey should shoot al ah you, Wen we win ala you so do getting work,” and other obscenities I dare not mention.
Maybe calling attention to politics on a more civil plane would bring awareness that switching parties is a healthy political and democratic process.

A thorough look through the ranks of party switchers demonstrates that the tactic actually has a reasonably good success rate. (Consider Chris Koster of Missouri, who switched from Republican to Democratic while running for attorney general in 2008. He won and was re-elected easily in 2012. “He has been accepted into the Democratic Party in Missouri without any problems,” said Saint Louis University political scientist Ken Warren. “His political future seems bright.”

In New Hampshire, Lou D’Allesandro served as a Republican in the state House in the mid-to-late 1990s, then switched his affiliation to Democratic and proceeded to win a state Senate seat — a seat he’s continued to hold to this day.

In Michigan, state Rep. Sal Rocca switched from Democratic to Republican in the early 1990s. He was elected to a half-dozen more terms, and then was succeeded by his wife Sue and son Tory, both Republicans.

Iowa is home to recent successes as well. State Rep. Dawn Pettengill has been re-elected three times after switching from the Democrats to the Republicans in 2007.

When voters choose candidates for office, they delegate decision making on public policy to parties and to party-identified representatives.

It is not uncommon for elected legislators to abandon one party and enter another, even during the legislative term. For instance, approximately one-fourth of the members of the Italian lower house switched parties at least once during the 1996–2001 legislatures, (Heller and Mershon 2005; 2008), and more than one-third of the Brazilian MPs elected in 1986 had transferred from one party to another by late 1990 (Mainwaring and Pérez Liñán 1997)

The famous wrestler turn politician, Jesse Ventura, in 2000 while governor of Minnesota, left the Reform Party, along with most of his supporters, to re-found the Independence Party of Minnesota.

Hannibal Hamlin was Abraham Lincoln’s first Vice President. He was a life-long Democrat who switched parties after 1856, when he didn’t agree with the pro-slavery position taken by many party members. His defection to the Republicans made national headlines.

Wendell Willkie, the 1940 Republican presidential candidate, was a delegate at the 1932 Democratic convention. But he officially left the Democrats in 1939 after a dispute with the Franklin Roosevelt administration.

Ronald Reagan was also originally a Democrat and a New Deal supporter, who became a union leader while in Hollywood. He switched parties officially in 1962 and gave a famous quote: “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.”

Strom Thurmond ran as a segregationist candidate for President in 1948, and then served in the U.S. Senate in the 1950s. By 1964, Thurmond switched to the Republican Party in the middle of the Civil Rights battle, as many Democrats sided with the Johnson administration.

Elizabeth Dole served in the Johnson administration in the 1960s as a Democrat. But she remained with the Nixon administration, and switched parties in 1975, before her husband, Bob Dole, joined Gerald Ford on the 1976 GOP presidential ticket.

In 1964, a very young Hillary Rodham Clinton was one of the Goldwater Girls who campaigned for the Arizona Republican. She officially became a Democrat later in the 1960s after she attended the 1968 GOP convention.
Leon Panetta started out in politics as a Republican and he worked briefly in the Nixon administration. He switched parties in 1971 over concerns about the civil rights policies of the Nixon administration.

Elizabeth Warren, the current liberal icon, started life as a conservative who voted Republican because of the party’s pro-business stance, and she didn’t switch to the Democratic Party until the mid-1990s.
For the curious, Wikipedia has an exhaustive list of party switchers.

Kit Stonewalling

2018 will test CARICOM’s collective resolve

In 2018, unless Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries eschew their tendency to pursue narrow ‘national interests’ in the conduct of their international relations, each of them individually and all of them collectively will be buffeted by larger and more powerful countries and regions.

The CARICOM states that accede or succumb to lures or demands of bigger countries may secure short-term economic gains, but in the longer-term they will severely compromise their independence and sovereignty.

Events toward the end of 2017 demonstrated that both the United States and the European Union have no qualms about using a big stick to get their way.

In a letter to ambassadors of many developing countries, including CARICOM states on December 19, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, minced no words when she wrote: “The President will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us. We will take note of each and every vote on this issue.”

The issue was a resolution reiterating the United Nations’ position on Jerusalem. It affirmed “that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”

The resolution was directed at the US government which, the day before, used its veto power in the UN Security Council to block its adoption. The other four permanent members – Britain, China, France and Russia – as well as the ten non-permanent members all supported it. The General Assembly vote of December 21, to which Haley referred in her letter to UN ambassadors, was more symbolic than substantive. Resolutions in the Assembly are non-binding and do not carry the force of international law as do measures agreed in the Security Council.

As it turned out, the resolution was adopted by 128 countries with 9 against, 35 abstentions and the others absent. CARICOM countries were divided between seven that voted for the resolution, five that abstained and two that absented themselves.

No CARICOM consensus on the matter was possible at the UN because there was no consensus among Caribbean governments. Those who depend upon the US for aid or who fear non-tariff barriers being applied by the US to remittances and trade, including tourism and financial services, opted not to rock the US boat. Others felt the principle was worth the risk of bucking the US and are hoping for the best, and two simply ducked for cover.

The important point is that there was little attempt to “seek to ensure, as far as practicable, the adoption of Community positions on major hemispheric and international issues” and even less to “co-ordinate the positions of the member states in inter-governmental organisations in whose activities such states participate”, as the CARICOM treaty requires. Yet, had there been a single CARICOM position and action, the US would have been hard-pressed to sanction the entire area.

In this connection, CARICOM countries let themselves down, demonstrating that the very thing they proclaim as their strength, i.e., their 14 collective votes, is seldom maintained, and more often ignored.

The European Union also showed clearly and unequivocally that the 28-nation group is very ready to threaten developing countries, including member states of CARICOM, that do not bend to their will. On December 5, it issued a blacklist of countries that it claims are non-cooperative for tax purposes. And, it threatened them with sanctions if they did not quickly comply.

The threatened sanctions go beyond tax areas to include “foreign policy, economic relations and development cooperation”. This could range from cutting off loans and aid to applying sanctions such as withdrawing banking facilities.

Further, the euphemistically-described “defensive measures” that the Council proposes to the EU member states include: reversal of the burden of proof, withholding tax measures and special documentation requirements.

On December 7, I published a commentary making the point that, while some Caribbean countries, notably Barbados, complained about the blacklisting, “no one questioned the authority of 28 European countries alone to decide tax standards for the rest of the world”.

Subsequently, on December 19 in a statement, issued by its Secretariat, on which there was consultation, CARICOM states “strongly objected to the disappointing decision of the European Union”, protested that the EU unilateral screening process is “unjust and inequitable since it has not been applied to its own members nor subject to peer review examination”, pointed out that process of compiling the list is “inconsistent with the objectives and principles enshrined in the EU-CARICOM Economic Partnership Agreement”, and called on the EU “to desist from the imposition of any defensive measures and to enter an early dialogue with CARICOM states as a group with a view to agreeing on benchmarks for good tax governance that could be applied in a fair and equitable manner, taking account of the economic circumstances and capacity of all their jurisdictions”.

Whether the CARICOM states will jointly stand by this statement or meekly and quietly each succumb to the EU demands will be judged in the first part of the New Year.

The record so far has not been encouraging. As far back as 2000 when the opportunity for a solid CARICOM resistance to the FATF and OECD rules, driven by the EU, was ripe, governments failed to act in concert. In beggar-thy-neighbour policies in which countries sought to escape blacklisting, there was little or no solidarity and, one by one, they acquiesced, abandoning coordination, joint positions and collective resistance.

With the current mood in the US and the EU, more than any other year, 2018 will test CARICOM’s capacity to act collectively. The region’s interest – and the interests of the individual states – would be best served by recalling the warning in 1776 of one of the US founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, to the 13 American colonies that confronted the then mighty Britain over their desire to be independent of an overlord: “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the US and the OAS. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London and Massey College in the University of Toronto. The views expressed are his own)

Doc, please help to heal the nation!!!

The Youth of Grenada deserve a future with good jobs and having self-respect, dignity and a positive image of self and of our country.

Your cruel, cruel back-stabbing which you do to your own people while giving the favoured few the golden chest of huge wealth – epic hypocrisy!

Mr. PM, please reach out and let all of us help to shape Grenada that we, each of us – can be very proud to call it our homeland, our country, our Grenada.

Under your leadership, it has been like a battle zone. An olive branch would go far towards healing and prospering together. And a Grenada to which we can hold our heads up high.

I have a great job in Tourism in Hawaii because good jobs are not available in Grenada; Why? WHY PM MITCHELL?

I try to provide financial help to my family, relatives and to even a few friends. I feel so sorry for them being stuck in Grenada.

United, we can all become proud Grenadians. Divided, NNP will fall.

Many of us, whether back in Grenada or in the Diaspora, still call ourselves the “Youth of Grenada.” Whether in our 20’s or 30’s, we want to see success in our Grenada – not just POLITICAL CHAOS.

We do not want to go NDC unless you continue to force our hand. Many are planning huge multi-media pushes to prop-up or to hurt either political party. It will be 2018 Madness. Our Priority … GRENADA.

Please give us a reason to stay with the NNP way. IE: Jobs, tourism, growth, less political chaos – And we will stay with the NNP for five more years!!!

Many, many people have been so turned off by the NNP “We Will Deliver” train which never arrived that bitter hate is driving them far away from any and all NNP promises.

Re-group, right and tight. Competition is now spread too thin to win big; any NNP win will be like a multi-sliced pie.

We monitor; we watch, we do pray for a better Grenada. God Bless Grenada. God Bless Hawaii & the USA.

ALOHA & MAHALO

HOT POLITICAL ISSUE – Relocation of the Grand Anse Jetty

The relocation of the Grand Anse jetty is turning into a hot political issue with general elections on the horizon between candidates of the two major political parties – Health Minister Nicholas Steele for the ruling New National Party (NNP) and ex-Senator Raymond Roberts of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The area in front of the Vendor’s Market in Grand Anse where the new jetty is being erected

Roberts has condemned the move by the Keith Mitchell-led NNP government to relocate the jetty from its present location and to proceed with a development project nearby.

The jetty, which is situated close to the Coconut Beach Restaurant along the beach, has become an eyesore and poses a danger to those who use it.

Tourism Minister, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen has said that the Jetty, which was erected approximately 20 years ago with input from the Grenada Ports Authority (GPA), is in a deplorable state and not only needed fixing but would also be relocated based on a proposal for a development project in the area, which she is confident would benefit the tourism industry.

Speaking at the weekly Congress press conference on Monday, Roberts expressed concern that ordinary people are being displaced and inconvenienced with the jetty in order “to suit the whims and fancies of foreign investors”.

He said that the issue of the relocation of the jetty has become one of grave concern for the Water Taxi Association (WTA).

THE NEW TODAY understands that a new Jetty with funding from government is nearing completion in an area of the beach directly in front of the Vendor’s Market in Grand Anse, which is meeting strong objection from water taxi operators.

Roberts recalled the removal of vendors from the Camerhogne Park area by the NNP regime and to relocate them to the Vendor’s Market in Grand Anse.

He said he is “convinced that the government is prepared to take all the ordinary people (chair operators, et cetera) and heap all of them in front the vendor’s market.”

“There are approximately 40 chair operators, with over 1000 chairs on the beach…we got to be careful (because) we need a Grenada for everybody,” said the NDC Candidate for South.

The state of the Grand Anse Jetty

Roberts stated that while the current NNP administration is “very high-profile in welcoming investors of extreme high-profile” it is equally important that locals also enjoy “the beauty of their country too”.

He said while the country welcomes foreign investors “we cannot continue to operate on that basis, moving things to suit the whims and fancies of a couple selected people”.

According to Roberts, “what we (government) do, has to be in the best interest of all and sundry”.

He said: “Here are ordinary people who operate as water taxi operators and chair operators, who are not looking for employment, (but) create their own livelihood and they are paying taxes…so we have to value them”.

The NDC candidate questioned whether the move by the authorities to relocate the jetty is being done in order to suit the fancies of the nearby Silver Sands developer and that of Minister Steele, who owns the property directly in front of the current jetty.

There are unconfirmed reports that plans are afoot to construct a restaurant on Steele’s property.
Roberts noted that the Jetty, which was built to the tune of $200, 000, has already been moved about three times in the past.

“You (authorities) first had it one place, you moved it to another place and then you go back to the original place and now you (want to go back (move it) to another place…”, he said.

“So, $250, 000 (is) rooted up and I assume that it would cost a similar amount to put it elsewhere,” remarked the aggrieved NDC Candidate who pointed out that the relocation of the jetty is being done without consultation.

The property in front of the jetty belongs to Health Minister Nickolas Steele

He recalled that the Ports Authority had recommended that the jetty be erected at its current location and moving it was essentially “wasting taxpayer’s money.”

Water Taxi Association President, Oscar Bartholomew has already expressed fears that relocation of the jetty will reduce the use of the facility by water taxis moving cruise ship passengers and could negatively impact on their economic and financial livelihood.

The water taxi operators wrote to the Tourism Minister to inform her that based on expert advice the current location of the jetty is the most appropriate one.

The letter also referred to the calmness of the water all year round at the existing location that ensures safety particularly because the tides there are generally friendlier in comparison to other areas of the beach.

The water taxi operators also told Minister Modeste-Curwen that monies spent to construct the new jetty would “undoubtedly result in a waste of scarce resources which our country cannot afford.”

There has been no word from Minister Steele on the jetty issue that is turning out to be rather contentious with general elections just around the corner.

Mixed performance by government on fiscal responsibility

The Richard Duncan-led Fiscal Responsibility Committee set up by the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell under the dictates of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) has presented its first report for public scrutiny.

The committee was put in place based on act of Parliament to monitor the fiscal performance of government in the wake of its so-called homegrown 3-year Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) to deal with a severe fiscal situation including high debts.

In its 40-page report, the group praised the efforts of the Mitchell-led government to significantly bring down the island’s debt to GDP ratio.

However, the Duncan committee expressed concerns with the failure of government to honour some of the commitments as outlined in the act that set up the FROC.

The report said that “progress is being made in a number of areas including revenue enhancement and debt reduction” but faulted the government in the area of fiscal reporting in many key areas.

According to the committee: “While the Government produces a number of Reports including annual and mid-term reviews of its performance, the FRA requires more detailed, specific information to be presented which is not being adhered to.

“Teething challenges with the introduction of the FRA have been advanced as reasons for non-compliance and the FROC has been advised that systems are being put in place to ensure that all Reports required by the FRA are generated and submitted to Parliament on time”, it said.

As a public service, THE NEW TODAY highlights some of the major findings of the committee:

“Small countries like Grenada are beginning to recognise the advantages of practicing fiscal responsibility by devoting attention not only to the maintenance of prudent fiscal policies in each budgetary period, but also seeking to build, over the medium to long term, a coherent, consistent and stable fiscal policy with specific rules and targets.

Concurrent with this is the need for fiscal responsibility legislation and to this end the Grenada Government introduced, in 2015, the Fiscal Responsibility Act No. 29 of 2015.

The objectives of this Act are “to establish a transparent and accountable rule-based fiscal responsibility framework in Grenada, to guide and anchor fiscal policy during the budget process, to ensure that government finances are sustainable over the short, medium, and long term, consistent with a sustainable level of debt, and for related matters.”

The Fiscal Responsibility Act (the Act or the FRA) created a Fiscal Responsibility Oversight Committee (FROC). This Committee is responsible, under section 14 (3) of the FRA, for monitoring compliance with the fiscal rules and targets and reporting to the House of Representatives annually on the status of implementation of the Act.

The FRA governs matters related to the management of public finances and fiscal matters relating to the Central Government and covered public entities.

The FROC comprises five persons, four of whom were nominated by the Committee of Privileges of Parliament in consultation with the Director of Audit and appointed by the Governor General on 23 August, 2017.
As required by the Act these persons possess expertise in:

(i) accounting;

(ii) businss management, having not less than ten years of experience;

(iii) public administration, having not less than ten years of experience; and

(iv) law

This Report is the first of its kind produced by the FROC. It covers the fiscal year ending December 31, 2016 and is produced in accordance with section 14(3)(b) of the Act.

Data for the preparation of the Report was provided by the Division of Economic Management and Planning (the Macroeconomic Policy Unit) in the Ministry of Finance.

The Report reviews the Government’s fiscal performance in 2016, based on available data, as compared to the rules and targets in the FRA and assesses the variances between the actual and targeted performance and Government’s overall implementation of the Act.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This Report assesses Government’s compliance for 2016 with the specific fiscal rules and targets as outlined in sections 7 and 8 of the Act as well as the other duties and responsibilities outlined in sections 5, 6 and 12.

On an overall basis, the Government has begun to put measures in place to satisfy the requirements of the FRA and progress is being made in a number of areas including revenue enhancement and debt reduction.
However, a number of areas need concerted attention including fiscal reporting.

In order to ensure that Government’s fiscal and financial affairs are conducted in a fully transparent manner (unless secrecy is required for national security or economic stability) the FRA as well as the Public Finance Management Act (PFM) and the Public Debt Management Act (PDM) require the submission to Parliament of a number of Reports.

These Reports include an annual fiscal risk statement and a statement on the submission of the annual or any supplementary budget on compliance with the FRA.

While the Government produces a number of Reports including annual and mid-term reviews of its performance, the FRA requires more detailed, specific information to be presented which is not being adhered to.

Teething challenges with the introduction of the FRA have been advanced as reasons for non-compliance and the FROC has been advised that systems are being put in place to ensure that all Reports required by the FRA are generated and submitted to Parliament on time.

In addition, the Macroeconomic Policy Unit must build appropriate mechanisms to provide support relating to the supply of data and any supplementary information requested by the FROC in a timely manner in order to facilitate easy discharge of the FROC’s functions.

MACROECONOMIC CONTEXT

Grenada’s economy experienced a series of shocks during the decade 2004-2013, namely hurricanes Ivan and Emily in 2004 and 2005 respectively; high world food and fuel prices in 2007; and the global economic and financial crisis of 2007/2008.

Real GDP at market prices rose at an average annual rate of 3.1 percent in the first half of the decade, in contrast to an average annual pace of decline of 1.0 per cent in the latter half of the period.

This was accompanied by deterioration in the operations of central government, escalating public sector debt, as well as challenges in the financial and external sectors. In spite of debt restructuring efforts in 2005 and reforms implemented under IMF-supported programmes of 2006-2010 and 2010-2013, the macro-economy and public finances were on an unsustainable path.

Economic growth (real GDP at market prices) recovered by 2013, peaking at 7.3 percent in 2014, and decelerating to 3.7 percent in 2016 (See Figure 1). The performance in 2016 was heavily influenced by declines in agriculture and wholesale and retail trade which were offset by improved performances mainly from construction, tourism, and education.

Against this backdrop, the consumer price level remained stable, rising by 0.9 percent in 2016 relative to 1.1 percent in 2015, after two consecutive years of deflation in 2014 and 2015.

COMPLIANCE WITH FISCAL RULES AND TARGETS: 2016

Summary

The extent of compliance with the Fiscal Rules and the attainment of targets are pivotal to the sustainability of Grenada’s public sector finances.

Much of the improvements in Grenada’s public finances have been, by design, from structural reforms and adjustments.

However, medium to long term sustainability rests on improved job-inclusive growth and enhanced tax administration.

In this Report the following keys are used to assist (persons) to easily understand the FROC’s assessment of Compliance with the Rules and Targets:-

*The FROC is not convinced that all elements of the public sector debt as defined in Section 8(1)(a) of the FRA are comprehensively captured and fully accounted for.

Of particular concern are (a) contingent liabilities assumed by the Government, (b) the debt and contingent liabilities of statutory bodies and state- owned enterprises.

Given that the ratio was above 55% in 2015, corrective measures ought to have been taken to bring the ratio down to 55% within 3 years (by 2018) with 1/3 of the adjustment taking place in the first year 2016.

Accordingly, as real GDP per capita grew progressively from 2013, the unemployment situation improved.

The average Grenadian was richer in 2016 than in 2013 – the average annual income per person grew by 23.1 percent to roughly EC$25,786 in 2016 relative to the amount in 2013.

The unemployment which peaked at 32.2 percent in 2013, dropped to 28.2 percent in 2016, aided by the economic upturn.

The country’s fiscal and debt performance improved remarkably since the introduction of its three-year Fiscal Homegrown Structural Adjustment Programme in January 2014, which was supported by a formal IMF arrangement and other development policy-based loans from external partners.

Fiscal adjustment measures were undertaken, structural reforms progressed and negotiations on public debt restructuring advanced during the three years of the Programme.

In 2015, the country recorded its first primary surplus after grants ($52.3m or 2.0 percent of GDP) in a decade. In the following year, the first overall surplus after grants ($66.0m or 2.3 percent of GDP) was registered in a decade.

Aided by debt restructuring efforts, the debt to GDP ratio contracted from a high of 103.4 percent in 2013 to 80.5 percent at the end of 2016. Consistent with the growth and fiscal gains, there have been improvements in the external and financial sectors.

Current account deficits narrowed and the reserve position remained positive from 2014.

In the financial sector, overall banking sector performance improved but private sector credit remained weak at the end of 2016.

On the issue of Contingent liabilities arising from public-private partnerships, the Richard Duncan Committee said:

“FROC is not satisfied the Macroeconomic Policy Unit has a firm handle on this subject. The Fiscal Authorities have not thoroughly, or at all, scrutinised the relationships between Government, government agencies and private entities.

In reference to the Wage Bill to GDP Ratio, the report said that FROC is concerned that the application of the definition of wage bill since this can potentially result in under reporting of actual wages in the central government. “Such under reporting results in the ratio being lower than it should be, thus implying availability of ‘fiscal space’ that can encourage heightened union ‘pushfulness”, said the report.

The Mitchell-led administration was given a “commendable performance” on the area of Growth in Primary Expenditure (in real terms).

Apart from being compliant and surpassing Target in 2016, the Duncan group said that the transitional 2015 target of 1.3% was also surpassed.

“At a high level this broadly confirms the soundness of the expenditure and revenue strategies of the Fiscal Authorities”, it added.

The group said the following in the report on Public Sector Debt to GDP Ratio:

Legal Requirement – Sub-section 8(1): the total stock of public sector debt from domestic or external sources for any purpose, including the total sum of debt guaranteed by the Government including contingent liabilities assumed by the Government, but excluding contingent liabilities arising from, as a result of, or in connection with public-private partnerships;(b) the debt and contingent liabilities of statutory bodies and state-owned enterprises; and(c) such sums as may be necessary to defray expenses in connection with such liabilities, to the GDP shall not exceed fifty-five percent of GDP.

Legal Requirement – Sub-section 8(5): If in a fiscal year the debt level exceeds sixty percent of GDP, the Minister shall undertake appropriate corrective revenue and expenditure measures to reduce the public debt to fifty-five percent of GDP over a period of three fiscal years, with at least one-third of the adjustment in the first year.

The Fiscal Authorities have achieved strong and highly commendable downward movement in the Debt to GDP Ratio from 86.9% in 2015 to 80.5% in 2016.

Given that the ratio was above 55% in 2015, corrective measures ought to have been taken to bring the ratio down to 55% within 3 years (by 2018) with 1/3 of the adjustment taking place in the first year, 2016. This implies that the ratio should have declined 10.3 percentage points in 2016 i.e. 1/3 of (86.9% -55%). Actual decline is 6.4 percentage points.

(To be continued)

RGPF investigates shooting incident

The Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) is currently investigating a shooting incident in the town of St. George last week which left one man nursing a gunshot wound at the St. George’s General Hospital.

THE NEW TODAY understands that 35-year old Michael John of Victoria, St. Mark is currently warded at the hospital after receiving a single gunshot wound to his right leg from Fabian Charles of Springs, St. George, the owner of a licensed firearm.

The incident reportedly occurred around 5:00 p.m. last Wednesday at Cross Street, St. George, near to Wee-FM radio station.

There are unconfirmed reports that John and Charles were engaged in an altercation on the morning of January 1 on Port Highway, St. George, which resulted in the latter receiving a stab wound.

Two days later, the two had another encounter and the police were called in to assist.

According to reports, John attempted to flee the scene as the police arrived and Charles ran after him and shot the man in the leg.

The matter is currently under police investigation.