NDC calls for Independent Commission to Investigate Illegal Selling of Diplomatic Passports

Several international media outlets have reported the widely circulated allegation that the Grenadian government is selling our diplomatic passports.

The sale of diplomatic passports by the Government of any country is illegal and represents a scandal of the highest degree.

Our diplomatic passports are meant for Grenadian diplomats, not for random individuals from other countries who are not providing any service to Grenada but are willing to pay for a diplomatic passport.

It is alleged that a Pakistani national who is not in the service of Grenada is the holder of a Grenada diplomatic passport which was granted to him in exchange for money. Such an act would be contrary to international law and practice.

The consequences of this scandal are severe. Our country could be regarded as a rogue state. Our diplomats could be prohibited from entering countless countries around the world. The Grenadian passport could also be put at risk. We already saw the rollback of visa free entry into Canada for our Nationals resulting from government’s reckless handling of our passport. It could get worse.

Our society only advances when Grenadians can freely travel and when our diplomats are respected. If our diplomats are not respected and further restrictions are placed on our travel, our economy will suffer and Grenada will become a laughing stock.

To settle this matter, the NDC calls on government to come clean. Tell us: (1) if they have been selling diplomatic passports and if so, (2) who are the persons to whom these illegal diplomatic passports have been sold.

We further call on the Governor General of Grenada to cause a Commission of Inquiry to be appointed to conduct an investigation into whether our diplomatic passports are being sold and if so, the circumstances under which these sales have taken or are taking place.

This will send a strong message to the international community that Grenada is committed to good governance and the rule of law and encourage foreign investment into our country.

Rootsman Kelly: Defending in 2018 will be his last in the Independence competition

Calypso monarch Kelly “Rootsman Kelly” Clyne has announced that after defending his 2017 Independence Calypso Monarch title, he will be bowing out of that competition for good.

Rootsman Kelly will be leaving the independence competition after this year

In an interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper on Tuesday, the Rootsman said that “win or lose this will be my last year for the competition” because he will like “to give someone else the chance to win.”

Fourteen Calypsonians are in the running to try and dethrone Clyne as the defending monarch in the competition to be held on January 27 at the Sauteurs Bus Terminal in St. Patrick.

The reigning monarch who has won the competition for the last two years is hoping to complete a hatrick of victories later this month.

He was not willing to “let the cat out of the bag” in terms of his composition song but warned his competitors that he is not “going to make it easy for them fellas.”

The fourteen artistes who are expected to challenge the Rootsman next Saturday night are Jermaine “Superstar” Simon (“One People”), Teddy “Top Cat” Christopher (“Touching Base”), Sheldon Douglas with “Do You Know”, Sean “Sour Serpent” Niles (“We en Gone Through”), Michael “Wonder Boy” Griffith (“Make Grenada Sweet Again”), and Edison “Teacher Eddie” Francis (“One People”).

The other competing artistes are Christopher “Sqeezy” Antoine (“Grenada We Give Us Dat”), Shaunde Joseph (“This is Home”), Abraham “Jah Glory” Lewis, as well as Denson Lewis (“Victory”), O’Neal “Gunn” Findley (“Independent Grenada”), Anthony “Grenada Michael Jackson” Etienne (“Moving Upwards”), Shanae “Mini Axe” Sylvan (“Independence Marriage” and Cheryl “Lady Cheryl” (“We Have Come A Long Way”.)

The National Celebrations Committee (NCC) is predicting that the 2018 competition will be “one of the keenest” patrons would have ever experienced as the songs are based on the 2018 Independence theme – “One people, one country, our responsibility”.

The committee said that the lyrical content of the songs is expected to be of a high standard and “a reflection of our achievements over the last forty-four years.”

Sleeping habits!!!

We all have days when we feel overwhelmed and may miss out on adequate sleep. Skipping a few hours sleep may not be life-threatening, but this should not become your norm.

It’s important to get some shut eyes because sleep is essential for proper daily body function. It boosts your immune system, repairs muscle and tissue damage, improves memory and helps your brain function at its best.

Amazingly, sleep is also linked to your weight as studies show that even with healthy eating and exercise, if you don’t get the recommended hours of sleep you may have trouble losing or managing your weight.

The amount of sleep you need depends on many factors, including your age. Teenagers need 8-10 hours and adults need 7-9 hours sleep per night; so the best way to get enough sleep is to make it a priority.

The quality of sleep you get is as important as how long you sleep, so if your sleep is frequently interrupted, it means you’re not getting enough rest.

Believe it or not, what you do throughout the day and the foods you eat determine how well you’ll sleep at nights. One substance that affects sleep is Caffeine. That’s because it’s a stimulant that prevents sleep, gives you energy and helps you stay alert.

Caffeine suppresses the natural sleep hormone, melatonin, disrupting your normal sleep cycle. Because caffeine can stay in your system for 5 to 6 hours, you are advised to not drink coffee or caffeinated drinks right before going to bed. Also keep in mind that stress and alcohol can make it hard to fall asleep.

Exercise can have a positive or negative impact on your sleep. If you don’t do much exercise during the day, you may find it difficult to fall asleep at night. However, if you exercise too close to bedtime, it will keep you awake. It is best to stop exercising at least 4 hours before bedtime.

Here are some other tips to help you get the quality sleep you need.

Turn off all distractions at least one hour before going to bed. This includes your computer, cell phone and TV.
When in bed, think relaxation, rather than work, stressors or entertainment.

Avoid stress. Studies show that stress lessens sleep time and lowers your quality of sleep. Stress causes insomnia by making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Create a bedtime routine and stick to it. You can take a long bath, meditate, listen to your favourite music or read.

Stick to a schedule, go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, even on weekends.

Watch what and when you eat. Avoid eating heavy meals and drinking alcohol close to bedtime. This may cause heartburn and make it hard to fall asleep. Avoid soft drinks, tea, coffee and chocolate after 2 p.m.

Turn out the lights when going to bed. Darkness cues your body to release the natural sleep hormone melatonin, while light suppresses it. It’s easier to fall asleep in the dark that in light.

Lack of sleep leaves you feeling tired, stressed and agitated. It may also be hard to focus or function the way you should. When you miss out on sleep, you’ll also be less alert and less attentive.

(Submitted by the Grenada Food & Nutrition Council)

Why I can’t vote for Boatswain

Anthony Boatswain has been a disaster and an embarrassment as a MP and a Minister. Since Boatswain became the MP in 1999, St. Patrick’s has become the poorest and most corrupt parish in Grenada.

During his tenure, it has become the norm that only NNP supporters are considered for government jobs, Imani placements, scholarships, vouchers, contracts, road work and safety net programmes.

The office of the Parliamentary Representative, funded by taxpayers’ money, is used as his party office, thereby excluding constituents who are not his party supporters.

Aside from a few pieces of concrete roads, the infrastructure of the constituency is falling apart. Gru Gru Bailey hill is a calamity waiting to happen. The centre bridge in Mt. Rich has been unusable for many years.

The main bridges in Mt. Rich, Mt. Elba, Chantimelle, Chapel and Union can collapse at any moment. In spite of Boatswain’s promise to have the road from Chapel through Prospect and Darvey and on to Sauteurs rebuilt, nothing has been done except yearly measurements of the road.

St. Patrick’s R.C. School, Chantimelle R.C. and TAMCC Sauteurs Campus are falling apart under Boatswain’s nose.

Although Boatswain campaigned under the slogan “we will deliver better healthcare” in 2013, recently, the Mt. Rich Medical Station was closed down.

The waiting time at Hermitage and Sauteurs health facilities has increased significantly since that closure.

The Sauteurs Health Complex is crying out for repairs, with pieces of concrete hanging dangerously over patients’ and workers’ heads.

Basic medical supplies are often lacking at all facilities. To make matters worse, there is no ambulance to serve the area.

In any other country, Boatswain would have been fired or made to resign following the massive housing scandal involving workers from his office.

Instead of having to face the law for all the stolen material, all those involved were quietly moved to other jobs, given government contracts to manage playing fields or advise statutory bodies.

The one thing Boatswain was beating his chest about has blown up in his face. Aware that he has been a total failure, he rushed into the Breakwater project without any planning or environmental impact assessment. As a result of this unplanned work, the coastal areas of Mt. Craven, Mt. Rodney and Mt. Alexander are being rapidly destroyed, especially with the resumption of sand mining in these areas.As a proud citizen of the Historical Parish, I was ashamed to hear my MP say on TV that the planning for the Breakwater will be done afterwards.

Recognising that he cannot seek re-election based on his record, Boatswain has decided that he will have to depend on gimmicks to try and fool the people.

To that end he spent thousands of dollars to stage a mini-carnival last Thursday evening. How can Tony justify this wastefulness while so many of his constituents are jobless, broke and without life’s most basic amenities?

I urge all right-thinking people of St Patrick West to tell him to “keep moving”, right out the door.

John Boatswain

Let us pray!!!

For the country we love, Grenadians go to the polls in a matter of weeks. The people are murmuring because they are not happy. Common sense tells that we are limping towards a major milestone.

The Government we elect in 2018 will take us to fifty years as an Independent nation. By any honest account, the hopes and dreams of the founding fathers have not been sufficiently realised. We have not mastered the mountains of government, education, culture or the economy.

And things are set to get worse! The fiscal algebra has been fixed a second time, but worsening poverty, persistent high unemployment and a lacking economy tell a sad tale and plainly testify to the frightening state of the Grenadian society. That is not to say that no progress has been made.

The argument is that we seem content to shoot ourselves in the foot, repeatedly. Such shooting is not unique to the criminal soul of power so brutally displayed in October, 1983. ‘Something’ tells us that we could create “dozens of millionaires in Grenada”, while we grow the poor by the thousands annually and pamper an unproductive diva culture. And we celebrate!

That ‘something’ must be very wrong! We simply cannot afford the ‘welfare state’ we are pretending to be. Assigning blame is instinctive, but is hardly a helpful enterprise. Acknowledging our failings must be the first step towards happier circumstances.

Resolving to correct the situation and setting ourselves a course of action will be a blessed response.

Remember always that God provides for all our needs, but we must manage!

The management of the business of the nation has been put in the hands of political leaders. The political parties practice ‘constitutional dictatorship’ to the max. Because they are so dominant, the limitations of the parties have become the limitations of the society.

Take a careful look. For the upcoming General Elections, the parties, with very few exceptions on both sides, are not offering Grenada’s best as candidates. They are offering the most convenient ‘best’ that they can find by way of enticements and promises of access.

In the circumstances, it is not far-fetched to find a candidate who sows his seeds in far off lands and reaps a huge harvest in little Grenada; happy to reveal and socialise with his fruits at Victory Bar or The Light Ship!
Something is rotten in the Grenada we love. What are we learning? Many who offer themselves as candidates are unable to argue, with conviction, that they are most concerned about ‘service to the nation’.

Personal ambition is their mainstay and driving motive. Who among us is not selfish? But the price for selfishness at the level of political leadership is borne for by the tax-paying citizens.

Nonetheless, if the spoils of selfishness are shared with the needy, the sharer is further rewarded at the polls! Wrong-doing in Office is often overridden by cultural exceptions.

The campaign season will confirm all of the above and more! Imagine we are approaching fifty years as a nation and our leaders are competing with promises for the poor and the youth! There is virtually nothing that they agree on except, perhaps, the holding of elections.

While our needs are for real development, the parties are trading on slogans and ‘gold dust politics’! Who cares about the genuine causes that are important to the people?

The foremost cause of the people is national development anchored by three pillars, i.e. a production agenda, enlightened governance and cultural preservation.

There was a time when the leader of the New National Party talked boldly about having an economic philosophy. Evidently, that has now given way to a ‘cash-in’ philosophy (taxes, CBI receipts, debt relief and multilateral program funds), in the main. There is no coherent and convincing narrative on national development.

The economy remains very fragile! The ‘default victory’ of 2013 (NNP was not then loved or affirmed, they were resorted to as the people had no choice given the calamity of the NDC) has not evolved beyond that. Uncertainty abounds! Things are so uncertain that no viable deputy leader of the NNP has been positioned and none is identifiable.

Therefore, the imminent exit of a now ageing and tired leader is set to produce instability for Grenada in a battle for leadership of the NNP. If the NNP has no confidence in themselves to settle the leadership question, in the public interest, then where will the public derive the comfort it needs?

Grenada has been good to the NNP and it is the NNP’s turn to be good to Grenada. Spare us another bout of political instability! Remember that where the party is in Office, its internal affairs have implications for Government and country. Recall the NJM situation and its impacts on the PRG and Grenada in 1983?

Instability, like corruption, is a major enemy of development. Development is a matter of public interest. For its part, the NDC seems to be struggling to be affirmed by the people even though many may have shown a willingness to give them a look-in.

Opportunities have come their way, but capacity and other problems (self-inflicted) appear to have shut door after door. One hour of PR time goes to shameful waste Sunday after Sunday, suggesting either that campaign discipline is lacking and/or that they have precious little to sell the public.

Manifestos do not win elections, process, relationships and leadership do! In fact, as elections day draws nearer, they have not even begun to sell a compelling leadership promise. Instead, they seem to be prepared to ‘out-promise’ the NNP in an unwinnable battle for the poor vote!

How is it that they have failed to identify a major national cause around which to anchor their campaign? How come the elementary lessons of culture and demographics in the Grenadian society do not appear to have influenced strategy? ‘Politics 101’ teaches that the first step in devising strategy is to look in the mirror!

Unable to find sufficient merit in either party, many have reconciled themselves to the prospect of a second ‘default victory’! If I had the power, I would suspend the Constitution and give the parties time to fix and to prepare themselves to lead Grenada into fifty years of Independence! I would do so for the Grenada I love!

A big national milestone requires ‘big’ leaders, properly prepared in accordance with the biblical standard of leadership called ‘a spirit of excellence’. Let us pray.

William Joseph

Debate needed on National Debt!!!

A lawsuit filed in the local courts last Friday should lead to a healthy debate among the two main political parties on the island – The New National Party (NNP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) – on the precarious state of the nation given the massive national debt.

Some persons might choose to slam the lawsuit filed by former President of the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP), Lincoln St. Louis as frivolous and vexatious but the issues raised are relevant to this generation and succeeding ones.

THE NEW TODAY is not about to venture into any speculation as to how the Court might treat with the lawsuit as it was put together and filed by an individual who is not schooled in law.
However, Mr. St. Louis has opened the door for the public to call for a serious debate between Prime Minister

Dr. Keith Mitchell and Nazim Burke as Political Leader of Congress on the millstone around the necks of Grenadians – the $2 billion plus national debt.

The upcoming election campaign should not be allowed to degenerate into which leader can dance and go down low and much better than the other, and which one of them will win a 100 yards race at Queen’s Park to prove physical fitness.

The electorate should be spared an assault on their intelligence by “ole talk” about who is dyeing hair to look young and even the dye hair not hiding those gaps of hair that already gone from the head.

This newspaper has consistently indicated that the national debt will continue to have serious and significant bearings on the upward mobility of the Grenadian economy for years to come.

It is generally agreed that the debt stock was as a result of not prudent borrowing by Dr. Mitchell and NNP during the 1995-2008 period when the regime embarked upon a massive borrowing and spending spree on a number of unfortunate projects.

Mr. St. Louis might have been prompted to file the suit given the historical context in which the debt stock should be looked at by the people of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.

When the GULP government of Sir Eric Matthew Gairy was overthrown in a 1979 coup d’etat by the left-leaning New Jewel Movement (NJM) of Maurice Bishop, the country was virtually debt free.

The end of leftist rule after four-and-a-half years by Bishop’s People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) did not do too much damage to Grenada’s national debt.

However, it is well documented that the advent of the NNP under Dr. Mitchell’s leadership took a toll on the debt as the emphasis was on winning elections through massive borrowing at high commercial interest rates and spending on very questionable vote-catching projects in key areas of the country.

There is a lot of boasting going on from within the NNP Camp that the latest Structural Adjustment Programme under the supervision of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) resulted in massive “haircuts” on the national debt.

There are no figures put to the nation to back up this claim as PM Mitchell has consistently refused to give the exact figure of the national debt at this point in time.

Mr. St. Louis alluded to the possibility of Grenada paying more in debt payments over the long haul as the much-talked about haircut came with a rise in interest rate payments.

He said the following in reference to the Taiwanese debt: “The fifty percent (50%) haircut was negated by the increase in the rate of interest from two percent (2%) to six percent (6%)”.

There has been no information coming from the corridors of power to refute this kind of assertion.

Furthermore, a large portion of Grenada’s debt stock was contracted with commercial institutions at very high interest rates in the region of 9% and not the usual 5% and 6% when borrowed from places like the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).

A Mitchell/Burke debate or a court battle involving St Louis’ lawsuit should help clear up once and for all whether the haircut given is not being eaten back up due to the rise in interest rate payments.

The court case is important because the Technocrats in the Ministry of Finance will be called upon to share pertinent information about the national debt and give a true analysis of the debt situation.

THE NEW TODAY is warning Grenadians that when the dancing is over on the campaign platform it does not mean that the problem with the huge national debt will also go away.

This is just a distraction from the real issues that should be up for debate in Campaign 2018.

The NDC should not be afraid of a debate since it was in office for only four-and-a-half years to tackle the island’s national debt while the NNP served for the bulk of the time.

Perhaps, there is a role for the smaller and lesser known political parties to light the national debt fire and keep it burning until a proper and comprehensive national debate takes place on the issue between PM Mitchell and Mr. Burke of Congress.

Power at our fingertips

An election is swiftly approaching our tri-island state, many of us are eager to vote for the party we believe will move Grenada forward and or keep it where it is.

We are fortunate here, we can democratically exercise our right to vote. As a young woman, I am excited to adhere to the call of voting. My ancestors fought relentlessly for that right.

Over the past year, I decided to carefully analyse the state of conversations regarding politics in Grenada.

Though sometimes annoying, I listen to radio programmes like ‘Plead Your Cause’ which in my opinion gives listeners a raw take on political opinions.

I have also combed through social media sites and found that the murmur is loud. Social media gives a subtle power to people. A plethora of things are said and shared daily, often behind pseudo names and accounts.

Given the small-mindedness of some of our people, pseudo names and accounts are necessary to safeguard jobs and opportunities for ourselves and our families. The surrogates who openly expressing their favour of the government are safe. They are beneficiaries of opportunities and resources. They do not have to qualify for jobs to land them.

I have observed that with the NNP, loyalty takes precedence over merit and nationality, and that is frightening.

The logic of NNP’s slogan of ‘moving forward’ is laced with insanity and deception. Anyone with enough common sense will agree that in this political climate it is impossible for the country to move forward when only segments of the country get the resources to do so.

Even the blind can see that only supporters of the NNP are rewarded with the tools for movement. They get the contracts for projects, they get the scholarships, they benefit from the $200 help-out, and they are the ones who get the jobs.

If you are a critical thinker as I am, the NNP recipe is a recipe for disaster in the long run. The realisation of effects of excessive borrowing with terms and conditions to be decided after the fact will leave this country financially shaken in time to come.

The greed and corrupt nature of this government blind them to the reality of their actions. Though the NNP zygotes come like tsunamis when the content is spoken against their leader and party, we have a democratic right to call out the government for the poor decisions it has made over the last 4 years.

We need to call them out and VOTE THEM OUT. The focus of movement should be on Grenadians and not on NNPites. It is perfectly fine to create avenues for your supporters, however, as a government the focus should be on all the people of the country.

NNP does not have people at heart. The PM cares about his legacy which if left up to me would be a legacy of a questionable leader who is indecent and selfish. Simple.

As astute as the PM is, he fails to convince me that his intelligence counts for something other than certification. He has had an extensive tenure as a politician, so one would think that he should have a clear picture of the needs of Grenadians.

He has to see that health care is at its worse, that young people are fighting social struggles and are desperate for a way out. He has to be knowledgeable of the fact that development does not only mean the construction of hotels, he has to know the deplorable conditions that our roads have been in for months on, he has to know that it is about time he vacates office.

He has to be aware that the selling of Grenadian passports puts darkness on our nationality, a darkness that led our country to be blacklisted.

The PM is too comfortable. He exudes the demeanour of a dictator who does not see an end to his reign. The power to end his reign is at our fingertips. We have to make it abundantly clear that we have had enough of something that is not working in the interest of the people.

NDC is the alternative and we have to grant them an opportunity to do better. Word has it that the NDC has a better leader in Mr. Nazim Burke and I wholeheartedly believe that he is. He is genuine about his plans to develop Grenada.

We have no sound reason to stick to the NNP. This country does not belong to them, it belongs to us the people and it is pertinent that we take it back. Let us give the stewardship of managing the country’s affairs to the people who we know will have our best interest at heart.

The Graduate

First Murder in 2018

The Tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique recorded its first homicide for year on Monday, with the early morning death of former police officer, Curtis Calliste, from Rose Hill in St. Patrick, who was described as being a mentally unstable individual.

Former police officer Curtis Calliste who was stabbed to death early Monday morning

THE NEW TODAY understands that Calliste was found lying motionless on the floor inside his place of residence with multiple stab wounds inflicted on his body.

According to a release from the Community Relations Department (CRD), of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), a 31-year-old, whose name was withheld and is also known to be mentally challenged, is currently assisting with their investigations.

Unconfirmed reports are that the murder suspect, who is also from Rose Hill, allegedly fled the scene of the crime but was detained hours later during a police search of a nearby area.

The grieving aunt of the deceased said that at around 5 o’ clock on the fateful morning, she heard loud commotion coming from inside the nearby house, where her nephew lived and decided to call the police.

This, she said was done because the nephew is known to be “a mental case and we usually have to call the police to come and give him treatment.”

According to the woman, when the police did not respond as quickly as anticipated “another friend went there and he (came back saying), that he see someone lying on the floor”.

“So, when I heard that I alerted the police that I had called earlier…and now I understand that someone is on the floor; so I would like (for) them to come and assess the situation. When they came they said Curtis Calliste is dead. He was stabbed”, she said.

The aunt indicated that both the suspect and the deceased were close friends and used to pick cocoa and cook food together.

“…I don’t know what went wrong,” she quipped.

The aunt also expressed concern that not enough is being done in Grenada to provide proper services to mentally challenged persons.

“We always call and complain, telling them that sometimes the medication is not even working and they would never come and take him to get the medication unless we call when he starts acting up,” she said.

Up until press time on Wednesday, THE NEW TODAY was unable to confirm whether a charge has been laid against the murder suspect.

During the opening ceremony of the January Criminal Assizes on Tuesday, Guyanese-born High Court Judge, Madam Justice Paula Gilford, emphasised the need for a proper facility to house mentally challenged persons who commit offences, other than at the Richmond Hill Prison.

Speaking with THE NEW TODAY following Tuesday’s opening ceremony; Crown Counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Brandon La Touche, reiterated that there “should be a facility for the criminally insane…geared towards (providing) healing and treatment (for) those persons who are deemed to be unfit.”

However, he said, with the non-existence of such a facility and the requisite professionals to deal with such persons, “the unfortunate option is at Her Majesty’s Prison”.

This newspaper understands that there are several persons deemed to be mentally ill who are either on remand or serving sentences at the prison for crimes they allegedly committed.

One such case involves Gabriel Alleyne, the 27-year-old son of a prominent religious figure on the island, who was recently committed to stand trial for Non-Capital Murder in connection with the June 24, 2017 death of 49-year-old Anthony Alexander, who was also a patient at the Mt. Gay Psychiatric Hospital.

THE YEAR 2018 COULD BE DISASTEROUS FOR GRENADA

By J. K. Roberts

Social and moral decadence is universally evident in Grenada, and this is not limited to the horrible criminal and violent acts. Most depressing is that the institutions of authority, including religious persons, have been compromising on essential principles and caressing the young people into a false sense of rights, virtues, hope and prosperity.

This indecorous state of affairs may be explained as being characteristic of the ongoing Spiritual warfare for the ‘soul of man’, in which unrighteousness and vulgarity are being facilitated by political policies and practices, by the penetration of foreign cultures and accommodation to global dictates, and by the influence of post-modern philosophies.

Post-modernism opposes traditional norms, absolute truth and objective reality; and moreso it discredits the existence and commandments of God.

Empirical evidence on Grenada’s “consistent path of economic expansion since 2013 and is poised to experience its fifth consecutive year of growth in 2017” eludes the average citizen; as they continue to grapple with a barrage of austerity measures, high cost of living and taxation, spiraling unemployment and impoverishment, and failing health and education systems.

The persistent fiscal surpluses and the bright economic prospect boasted by the Government have being festering into industrial unrest, public outcries, national despair and a social time-bomb.

The uncertainty and bewilderment of the people to benefit from the so-proclaimed “successfully completed three-year Home-grown Structural Adjustment Programme” which ended in December 2016 remain, as the 2018 Budget Statement declares “…if the fiscal space allows, we will consider a number of measures, aimed at bringing fiscal reliefs….(to) our people”.

Even without the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance defining and qualifying that “fiscal space”, the reality is that major indicators towards its achievement are not conducive.

Grenada lacks solid productive and agricultural investments; the integrity of the Citizenship By Investment programme is in unabated debates, the economic viability of the Bolivarian Alliance for Our Americas (ALBA) is threatened by the political upheavals in Venezuela; the Trump’s National Security Strategy for the United States of America, as well as the phenomena of the exit of Britain (Brexit) from the European Union (EU), present new challenges for Caricom; President Trump’s threat to withhold billions of dollars in aid for countries that voted at the United Nations General Assembly against his unilateral declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is not ‘fake rhetoric’; and the EU blacklisting which can trigger more scrutiny on Grenada’s creditworthiness and transparency by international financial institutions, is not for comfort.

In fact; that “fiscal space” is in limbo when the public debt is being concealed, taking Grenada into a ‘debt trap’ with the mortgaging of the nation, and when there has been the need to pass a Supplementary Appropriation Bill for over eighty-six point seven million dollars in July 2017, months after pronouncing the 2017 Budget Statement for approximately one point one billion dollars in December 2016, and to have enacted immediately the controversial 2018 Budget Loan Authorisation Act that allows the Minister of Finance to borrow up-to one hundred million United States dollars after presenting the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure of over one billion, one hundred and twelve million, and thirty-nine thousand dollars in December 2017.

The economic and social predicament which the country faces would not only be worsened in the year 2018, but the situation could be disastrous with the pending general elections and the Atlantic hurricane season.

The impact from any of these incidents will depend on the level of consciousness and preparedness of the citizens on the pertinent issues; but unfortunately, this is of no concern to the personnel of authority.
Particularly, the response by the authority to a hurricane-disaster would be reactive and ad hoc, and ineffective with tremendous damage which cannot be retrieved and the citizens having to undergo a period of stress and sacrifice.

Grenada has a marked history with the political revolution in March 1979 and with the military massacre in October 1983; that period from 1979 to 1983 has been void of a constitution and of democracy.

The years which followed have seen political polarity heighten into political tribalism, and it seems that with political maneuvering within the restored democratic framework, this trend is heading again for open political clashes with casualties.

The election campaign, election process and the election outcome will be very challenging for the citizens; and so too will be the governance by the succeeding administration. Moreover, the election could realise a paradigm shift in the ‘political dynamics’ which can be disastrous for Grenada unless there is Divine intervention.

It is pitiful to acknowledge that Grenada’s assets, patrimony and sovereignty are at stake; but the citizens need to defend it to the end.

Indeed the 2018 elections would be momentous in many aspects. The amount of candidates in the elections may well be unprecedented and the resultant form of government may even be unexpected.

If the votes split significantly amongst the candidates but without any political party gaining a majority of the parliamentary seats, then there could be anarchy, especially resulting as disapproval of supporters, with the coming together of ‘bitterly vicious’ candidates to form a government.

In fact, presently, behind the scene discussions and under the table business by some candidates may well be happening, despite the public rivalry and ridicule.

Grenada has been used to assist in the aftermath of the severe hurricanes (Irma and Maria) which devastated some countries in the region last year; but were any lessons learnt for local purposes, especially from the problems encountered in the rescue, relief and recovery process?

Most of the bad and sad statistics associated with a hurricane does not occur directly during the natural incident but from the circumstances emanating from the disaster.

How applicable and workable is Grenada’s National Hurricane Strategic Plan, if any, and is the public sensitised on such plan? Has there been any allocation in the national budget towards the implementation of the plan? Are there special legislative and regulatory provisions to support the plan?

What is the mobilisation mechanism established, especially considering the layout and nature of the road network and the topography and communities-spread of the country?

What are the institutional arrangements with professional bodies concerning the expeditious assessment of damage and settlement of claims? Is food security guaranteed, which should also take into consideration storage and distribution facilities for extra imported foodstuffs?

Heavy equipment and medical materials ought to be deployed, with the human resource identified, at the community level, before the onset of the hurricane season.

Whilst the ritual is to extend a bright and prosperous and happy new year to all, and to have optimistic resolutions, it is not out-of-place to alert the nation on the high probability of the occurrence of disasters, based on critical analyses, clear trends and the dire consequence.

(J. K. Roberts, is a former public officer and now considers himself as a Sound Public Policies Advocate)

January 2018 Assizes opens with139 matters

The January Assizes opened on Tuesday at the St. George’s No. 2 High Court with 139 matters on the Cause List, a reduction of 18 matters, compared to the October 2017 Assizes, which listed 157 matters.

Once again, sexual crimes continue to dominate the list with a total of 55 cases down for adjudication between the two criminal courts on the island – High Court No. 5, presided over by Trinidad-born Justice Shiraf Aziz and No. 2 High Court by Guyanese born female justice, Paula Gilford.

The October 2017 Assizes saw a total of 62 sexual offences listed.

In an interview with THE NEW TODAY, Crown Counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Brandon La Touche said, the “steady increase and influx in sexual matters, ranging from rape, incest and sex with minors” continues to be an area of grave concern.

“We have seen a lot (of cases) involving incest,” he said, noting that “fathers having sexual intercourse with their daughters, has gotten so serious that it involves those at a very tender age (in which) children as low as ages 5 and 7 have become victims.”

“We (have been) seeing also the impact it (the sexual crime) has on them (sex victims) and how traumatised they are (especially) having to come (to court) to give evidence and having to deal with the follow up of these matters, whether the alleged perpetrator is convicted or not. So, it’s very heavy burdened on the families and the communities”, he remarked.

THE NEW TODAY understands that a total of 121 of the cases listed on the January Assizes list, were traversed from the October Assizes, which concluded last December.

Of the traversed matters, 8 would have either pleaded guilty or found guilty by trial and were scheduled for sentencing on Wednesday before Justice Gilford.

Notable cases included Dave Benjamin, who will be sentenced for Capital Murder for the January 24, 2016 death of United States national, Jessica Colker, and Akim Frank, who pleaded guilty to Manslaughter for the December 6 killing of Canadian citizen, Linnea Veinotte following an accident along the Lance Aux Epines main road.

Another due for sentencing is Phillip Baptiste, for Non- Capital Murder in connection with the March 26, 2017, death of his uncle Glen ‘Brass’ Baptiste.

Monday’s opening ceremony saw jurors being selected and assigned to both criminal courts.

Addressing the ceremony, longstanding Attorney-at-Law, Ashley Bernardine, noted that “being a juror is one of the few areas (in) which the public has active participation in determining justice.

He urged jurors to exercise “fairness and impartiality” in carrying out their duties, and for them to consider the kind of treatment they would like to be meted out, if they or someone close to them find themselves in that predicament.

“You must ask yourself, if it was you or a member of your family that was in that position (on trial); how I would want to be viewed or treated?”

Another seasoned Attorney, George Prime rose to echo the sentiments expressed by his colleague.

“We must realise that the matters coming before the court has to be dealt with as real life issues and situations,” Attorney Prime said, adding that “trial by jury has remained intact because it is tried, tested and it works.”

Attorney-at-Law, Darshan Ramdhany also added his voice to the discourse and expressed concern with the approach that jurors take from time to time as they participate in the administration of Justice.
He urged jurors to endeavour to deliver a true version of the facts presented to the court and not prejudice the case with unrelated matters.

Justice Gilford, who presided over the opening ceremony along with Justice Aziz, reminded the Jurors of the important role they play in the administration of justice and called for more private lawyers to make an effort to handle more pro-bono cases, pointing to the “large number of persons on the list who are unrepresented.”

“It’s important that you take it seriously”, she said.

The female Justice reiterated the importance of fair and impartial justice to be handed out by jurors.

She noted that while everyone may hold their own view about a case or a person their “verdict must be entirely based on the evidence provided to the court.”