NEW YEAR GREETINGS FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE GRENADA TRADE UNION COUNCIL, KENNY JAMES

Kenny JamesThe Grenada Trade Union Council extends New Year greeting to our affiliates and all workers in Grenada Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

Comrades, 2015 has come and gone leaving us with a number of unresolved challenges that our unions must continue to address in this New Year. The issues of the unpaid increments to public officers and teachers as well as the plight of our nurses at the General Hospital are amongst some of the major challenges.

We continue to offer solidarity to the workers at the Grenada Postal Corporation, LIME, FLOW, and Gravel Concrete & Emulsion Production Corporation, where workers are facing possible dismissal. The GTUC will continue its undaunting support for the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers’ Union and the Public Workers’ Union as they continue to negotiate on the behalf of these affected members.

Furthermore, we call on the Demerara Life Insurance Company to make good on the benefits that retired workers are entitled to based on the collective bargaining agreement signed with the CIWU. Additionally, we call on Government to put proper mechanisms in place to monitor the performance of the privatised estates as the GTUC is concerned about the operations of the estates and the workers in their employ.

Brothers and Sisters, as workers we were asked to make sacrifices as part of the Government’s Structural Adjustment Programme; therefore, unions in good faith agreed to a deferral of negotiations while government wanted a wage freeze. Meanwhile, this same government through the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure 2016 has proposed a monthly increase of $1000.00 for the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary.

While a legitimate increase for any worker is welcomed by the labour movement, to do so at this time when others are sacrificing and under significant pressure is a very insensitive, ill-informed and unreasonable move by the Government.

Consequently, the GTUC calls on the Government to reconsider and revoke this decision as it sends a mixed message at this time of structural adjustment and sacrifice. Failure to reconsider this decision will leave the public sector unions no choice but to seek increases for their members who are well deserving of same as many of the successes that the Government boasts about is because of our selfless service and sacrifice.

Moreover, the issue of unemployment continues to plague our country at a rate of 30%. While there has been some improvements triggered by the construction industry, more must be done to get our unemployed youth engaged in sustainable forms of employment. As a result, we call again for Government to place greater emphasis on the productive sectors of the economy as this can form the basis for sustainable employment for our people.

More favourably, the GTUC wishes to salute and commend the workers’ representatives Sister Madonna Harford and Brother Bert Paterson on the Board of the National Insurance Scheme for their valiant efforts to ensure that no hair cut was given to the Government; but rather, a debt restructuring arrangement. This debt restructuring arrangement will ensure that the monies owed to the Scheme by the Government are paid with minimal losses based on the professional advice given to the scheme.

Brothers and sisters, the Government of Grenada has signed agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other agencies and these agreements are made public for all to peruse. Hence, the National Insurance Scheme should do likewise in the interest of transparency and accountability to the Grenadian people.

Albeit, comrades as we forge ahead in 2016 let us be vigilant, manage the little that we have and hold our leaders accountable during this structural adjustment program. This is a period that calls for all workers both in the private and public sectors to unite and ensure that the benefits that our founding fathers fought for are not retracted under the pretext of structural adjustment.

May God’s blessing be upon us in this New Year as we continue to champion the cause of workers in Grenada Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

Solidarity forever, long live the labour unions and the hard working people of the State of Grenada

Victim of Road Accident

Norwegian Kleppa was struck down by a motor bike along the Grand Anse main road

Norwegian Kleppa was struck down by a motor bike along the Grand Anse main road

A sixty-three year-old Norwegian woman, who was struck and fell onto the ground by a motor bike along the Grand Anse main road last week Thursday (January 7) has issued a call for motorists in Grenada to drive with more due care and caution along the nation’s roads.
The incident occurred around 11:15 a.m as Karen Joy Kleppa was about to use one of the two pedestrian crossings close to the Post Office in Grand Anse to cross the road to catch a dog she was treating as part of a volunteer programme involving a veterinary group from St. George’s University (SGU).

Police later charged a male individual who is a resident of the United States for driving without due care and attention and driving without a license.

The matter was heard before Magistrate Tahira Gellineau at the St George’s No.2 Magistrate’s Court on the same day of the accident.

The accused was represented by Attorney-at-Law Peter David who told the court that at the time of the incident two buses had stopped on the pedestrian crossing to either pick up or drop off passengers.

He blamed the action of the busmen for the unfortunate incident as his client who was on the motor bike attempted to pass the vehicles.

The defendant was fined EC$ 600.00 to be paid forthwith, for the offence of driving without due care and attention, while the Court dismissed the driving without a driver’s license charge brought against him.

Kleppa told the court that she has been having chest pains since the incident and has sought medical attention and requested compensation to pay her medical bills.

However, the sitting Magistrate informed the Norwegian woman that she would have to seek compensation in a civil case against Joseph, as the Road Traffic Act does not provide for the Court to award compensation in such matters.

Kleppa, who is a member of the yachting community in Grenada, later told this newspaper that “the pedestrian cross walks (in the country) should be even more up-kept (and) freshly painted.”

She said she had “waited (for) about half a minute before some of the cars slowed down and stopped before crossing the road.”

According to her, when she reached about half way across (the road), where traffic was flowing in the opposite direction, the motor bike was driving past the cars that had stopped for her (to cross) and ran straight into her with the impact of the handle bars and mirrors sending her straight onto the ground.

“I went flying and landed on my hands and knees and my head went down in the road,” she told THE NEW TODAY.

“I need to find some way of getting compensation for the visit to the hospital, x-rays, medication and physical therapy from the Orthopedic to work with my joints afterward,” Kleppa said while expressing the hope that she does not suffer  any “long term damages.”

The woman also expressed the view that “there should be easier ways for the victim to get the fees for their medical attention covered, noting that “it’s an emotional trauma no matter how big or small an accident is because you’re in a life threatening situation.”

“You know, you’re already working through the trauma and to have to go through that too (the paper work, hire a lawyer) and all the (other) complications is an added stress,” she said.
Kleppa , who was also involved in the recent search for Canadian citizen Linnea Veinotte, who recently lost her life after allegedly being struck down by a motor vehicle in Lance Aux Epines, called on motorists to  do more “defensive driving” in the country.

” This is my thirteenth winter season here,” Kleppa said, pointing out that “there is speeding everywhere, whether it’s the (Coast guards) patrols on the water or the cars and the buses” on the roads.

“(There is) very aggressive driving here…I think that we need to change from aggressive driving to defensive driving,” she added.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the biker who caused the accident had offered to foot Kleppa’s medical bills following last week Thursdays court proceedings.
He was expected to return to the US on Sunday.

Timothy Antoine appointed ECCB governor

The Eastern Caribbean Monetary Council has appointed permanent secretary in Grenada’s ministry of finance, Timothy Antoine, as governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).

Timothy Antoine

Timothy Antoine

Antoine, a Grenadian national, succeeds Sir K Dwight Venner, who retired on November 30, 2015.

He is the holder of a BSc degree in Economics with Management from the University of the West Indies and an MSc in Social Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics.

Antoine’s appointment followed a process that included identification of suitable candidates by a search committee led by Sir Errol Allen, interviewing the candidates and the submission of recommendations to the Monetary Council.

Antoine was one of the two candidates shortlisted for the position in December 2015. The other candidate was Dr Hyginus Leon of Saint Lucia, a senior official of the International Monetary Fund.

The Monetary Council, the highest decision making body of the ECCB, interviewed the two top ranked candidates before making its decision.

In welcoming Antoine, Victor Banks, chief minister of Anguilla and chairman of the Monetary Council, noted that “Mr Antoine is an outstanding Caribbean professional with a clear vision for the ECCB and demonstrated commitment to the development of the Eastern
Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).”

Antoine also has significant regulatory experience as a member of the ECCB board for 12 years and as chairman of the Grenada Authority for the Regulation of Financial Institutions for the past seven years. He is also the chairman of the Technical Core Committee on Insurance for the ECCU.

The new governor has served as director on several regional boards including the Caribbean Development Bank and the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility. He also served as advisor to the executive director for Canada, Ireland and the Caribbean at the World Bank Group from 2005-2007.

Antoine will officially assume office on February 1, 2016.

Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell extended his congratulations to Antoine, on his appointment.

Dr. Mitchell said he was “ecstatic but not surprised. Timmy has obviously distinguished himself over the years, to the point where he has earned regional and international respect for his work and his integrity.”

The prime minister went on to say that Antoine’s new role will come at a great loss to the finance ministry of Grenada but he is confident that, as a region, we are all winners because

“Timmy will be one of the best assets to regional development.”

An intriguing year ahead!!!

The year 2016 is already shaping up to be an action filled one for residents in Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.

There are early signs that the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is starting to think of putting definite plans in place for the next general elections.

The Prime Minister made this clear when he met reporters for the first time on Monday for the New Year and indicated that things will start to be put in place to make sure that the NNP is ready.

Undoubtedly, the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) under Nazim Burke will seek to intensify its preparation over the next 12 months.

Congress has started 2016 hoping to rally the people around the Camerhogne Park issue in light of signs that a number of persons on the island are not in support of losing the area to a foreign investor.

The other major issue that NDC would seek to gain political capital on is the planned referendum in the first half of the year on the controversial issue of Constitutional Reform.

Outside of the political fray, the government would have to face up with some of the genuine and honest gripes of the trade unions on the island.

Public sector unions are already up in arms over the $1000.00 a month increase offered to the female Press Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister.

The wound has widened due to the nonsensical statement made by Minister of State for Education, Senator Simon Stiell that the Press Secretary is doing the work of five of the persons who were on the Staff of former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.

Is the Press Secretary doing the work of former Ambassador William Joseph, at the Caricom level, as well as Aaron Moses who was involved in projects, as well as the persons who were doing detail security work?

The three public sector unions – PWU, GUT and TAWU – have their own constituency needs to address especially the workers at the bottom ladder of the pay scale.

The President of the Grenada Trades Union Council (GTUC), Kenny James has already sounded a warning about the burning issues that will be put on the front burner like the long outstanding increments.

Apart from the $1000.00 increase given to the Press Secretary, the government has singled out for special treatment and granted an increase for a certain category of workers on the public payroll.

What were the criteria used to give a pay hike to these workers? Why can’t the same criteria be used to give salary increases to other public sector employees especially those in the critical health sector?

And news are emerging that an individual who has been deemed a failure in the state-owned bodies will soon land another top paying job in the Ministry of Finance due to family ties to the NNP.

This is another contradiction from the Mitchell government in light of its stated attrition policy of seeking to cut on numbers within the public sector as part of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).

What is this individual bringing to the Ministry of Finance and the government service when he could not keep his job elsewhere?

Prime Minister Mitchell and those within the ruling circles might have some kind of an ace up their sleeves, which the ordinary man in the street might not be aware of at this point in time.

PM Mitchell breathes politics every minute of the day and would not want to give the opposition any semblance of a chance to regain State power.

This is an individual who is now pre-occupied with legacy and THE NEW TODAY will not rule out the possibility of the current Grenadian leader looking beyond the next general elections and even the other one constitutionally due in 2023.

It’s still time for the NDC to go back on the drawing board and restrategise for the new general election in order to not only move off the zero mark in terms of seats but capturing the seat of government.

Is the current construct the best that is available to the party at this point in time? What changes are needed and might be necessary in order to bolster the party’s chances in a national election.

Can the NDC do a scientific poll to get the views of the ordinary rank and file Grenadians on the way forward as opposed to those of its ardent and loyal followers?

Congress leaders should be aware of the fact that elections are all about numbers and there is no place in the corridors of power for those who run second no matter how tight is the race.

YET MORE LIES – HOW CAN WE TRUST WHAT THE NDC SAYS?

Here we go again!! – Randal Robinson’s ranting, innuendos and false accusations about the Prime Minister’s recent visit to St Kitts, is yet another example of the NDC’s attempt to mislead and confuse the minds of this Nation.

How many more times must we listen to their deliberate and irresponsible attempts to distort the facts or resort to downright lies in their efforts to score cheap political points?

The facts on this particular matter are clear and simple:

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) chartered and paid for a private plane to transport Prime Minister Mitchell, and the other prime ministers and officials from the region, to St Kitts, to attend an ECCB Board of Governor’s meeting. Not one cent of Grenada’s taxpayers’ money was expended on this travel arrangement.

The meeting agenda included interviews with the two shortlisted candidates to determine who shall succeed Sir Dwight Venner as the new Governor of the ECCB – one of those candidates interviewed for this top position was Grenada’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine.

The rationale to charter a plane for the officials was borne out of a need for expediency and time efficiency during a busy Holiday season; enabling the participating Prime Ministers to attend the meeting and return to their respective countries on the same day.

In so doing, they were able to achieve in one day what would have otherwise taken at least two days of travelling when they should be back in their respective countries attending to the affairs of State.

So rather than acknowledging the gravity of the meeting and the importance of Prime Minister Mitchell’s attendance, what did we hear from Randal Robinson? We heard wild and inaccurate statements.

To quote Randal Robinson – “so folks KCM and his bodyguards boarded a Private Jet this morning and is off again to GOD knows where to meet with GOD knows who… Who paying for that flight?….. You think he coming back with a briefcase?

…more questions than answers.

…watching and waiting.”

That was the written contributions of NDC’s spokesperson. Further allegations were made on the television and radio along the same slanderous and misleading theme.

His claim that the Grenadian taxpayer was footing the bill for the trip is false.  His claim that the purpose of the visit was a mystery is false. It was public knowledge that Prime Minister Mitchell was scheduled to attend this meeting – the Prime Minister made the announcement of this impending meeting at the last sitting of Parliament.

And the implication that there was some sort of corrupt agenda to the visit was not only a blatant attempt to mislead, but it is dangerous and libelous.

If NDC spokespersons and officials have a question or concern, the responsible thing to do is to ask for, or establish the facts first before commenting.

Instead, they exercise this perpetual habit of choosing to ignore the facts and fire off one false allegation after another. By so doing, they are continuing to lose credibility with the Grenadian populace.

This is not the first time. We heard only recently their claim that this Government had failed to pay its contributions to the National Insurance Scheme. The facts are, this Government has not only been meeting its financial contributions in full and on time since entering Office, but has also been addressing the significant NIS arrears left behind by the former NDC Administration.

Clearly the truth counts for nothing in the eyes of these desperate accusers!!

This is a transparent NNP Government that has put in place the mechanisms to ensure that integrity in government is upheld. It is this NNP Government that established the Integrity Commission which has the independent authority and means to investigate any reasonable claims presented to it.

Our parliamentary systems also allow for questions and concerns to be raised on the floor. That is what any responsible and effective political party, especially one which claims to be the Opposition, should do: Take their concerns to the appropriate agencies to have them addressed in the Nation’s interests.

They need to stop bringing those “concerns” to the public domain before they establish the facts. But instead the NDC chooses to take the path of this cheap and dirty political charade.

In recognition of the seriousness of these false statements, the New National Party is calling on Randal Robinson to withdraw his remarks or make a public apology. This reckless and irresponsible behaviour must now stop – the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique deserve the better. They deserve the truth.

(The above reflects the views of the New National Party)

Changes within Ministry of Finance

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has announced that government will be moving to make some changes within the Ministry of Finance with the appointment of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine as Governor of the ECCB.

PM Mitchell told reporters at a press conference Monday that government would move with haste to make adjustments within the Ministry to make sure that the work and activities are not interfered with or reduced due to the impending departure of Antoine.

He spoke of additional support to be given to the Ministry of Finance to help bolster its work.

“We will be acquiring an Economic Advisor with years of experience in serious economic development … so we just have to move the date forward to ensure that the person will be available earlier than we originally planned”, he said.

“…We’re also looking at (a) Macro Economic Advisor, who’s already here and supported by the Commonwealth Secretariat. We will also be getting a Debt Advisor. We’re already in touch with the Easten Caribbean Central Bank, we’re also looking for (a) Macro Economic Planner and the Search Committee is on for this,” he added.

The Prime Minister did not give any hints about the person who would be appointed as replacement for Antoine who was a key figure in the implementation of the two-year old Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), which has another year to run.

Speculation is rife that the Trinidad and Tobago-based Dr. Patrick Antoine, who serves as an Ambassador would be given a more prominent role in the Ministry of Finance.

Dr. Antoine was reportedly kept out of the Ministry of Finance in the wake of allegations that he did not have a good working relationship with PS Antoine.

Sources told THE NEW TODAY that in the lead up to the 2013 general elections, Dr. Antoine was suggesting to Dr. Mitchell who was then in opposition that a new team of technocrats should be brought in to take charge of the Ministry of Finance and to help fashion a new economy for the island.

PM Mitchell stuck with PS Antoine and put him in charge of Dr. Antoine by giving him a contract, which mandated him to report to the Permanent Secretary.

During the press briefing, PM Mitchell told reporters that a number of “in-house promotions” would be undertaken within the Ministry of Finance to strengthen
the Economic Division.

“We should be aware that the gains of the country during the period of the first two years of (the) Structural Adjustment Programme must not or should not have been seen as just the success of the Ministry of Finance or the government or one individual Timothy Antoine, who led the Ministry of Finance Administrative Division”, he said.

“There are a number of competent, hard working capable individuals in that Ministry who were providing yeoman service. So the Budget Division headed by Kim Frederick…Kim may be moving up and recommended for additional responsibility in Administration and other personnel there would also be upgraded,” he added.

The Prime Minister who played a key role in landing the ECCB Governor’s job for Antoine praised his outgoing Permanent Secretary and compared his elevation t that of the gold medal struck for Grenada by 400 metre runner, Kirani James at the 2012 Olympics in London, England.

He said he feels proud with the appointment not just as Prime Minister but also as a Grenadian and called on his countrymen not to see Antoine’s departure as a loss to Grenada.

“I believe therefore while we feel that there would be a void for us as a country and as a government of the day and for myself as Minister Finance, I believe Timothy has not been lost to us. The region yes has gained enormously but I don’t believe we have lost because the Governor of the Central Bank to some extent has to be seen as an advisor to all governments of the OECS or members of the Monetary Union particularly on fiscal matters so in that sense he would be there like Sir Dwight Venner was to give us advice on critical issues related to economic activity,” PM Mitchell said.

Meanwhile, the main opposition National Democratic Congress issued a congratulatory statement to PS Antoine on landing the prestigious and lucrative job of ECCB Governor.

The statement reads: “The Political Leader, National Executive Council  and Members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) congratulate Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance  of Grenada,  Mr. Timothy Antoine,  on his appointment as the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).

The party joins with the rest of the nation in celebrating this moment of pride with this Son of the soil and wishes him every success as he embarks upon this  new journey”.

Grenada gives legal teeth to CAAM-PH agreement

After approximately15 years, the Government of Grenada is finally taking the necessary steps to legally accede to the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions (CAAM-HP), which was established in 2003.

CAAM-HP is an accreditation body established in 2003, to legally determine and prescribe standards and to accredit programmes of medical, dental, veterinary and other health professions and for incidental purposes for medical, veterinary, and dental schools in the 15 member nations of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Its main purpose is to ensure that schools meet standards of structure, function, and performance and assures society and the health professions that graduates of accredited schools meet the educational requirements for further training and the health care needs of the people in the Caribbean.

Last December, the Lower House of Parliament approved the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Medicine and other Health Professions (Bill), 2015, to give effect to the agreement signed on July 4, 2004.

Education Minister, Anthony Boatswain who presented the bill for first reading noted the “negative impacts” that the “the absence of such legislation” has had on “the accreditation and recognition process for the St. George’s University (SGU).”

He pointed out that “CAAM-HD does not have the authority to act on behalf of the Government of Grenada or to represent, or make applications on behalf of SGU to international organisations”.

In addition, he said that “in order to ensure that students attending SGU have access to federal loans in the USA, SGU must make (an) application for comparability to the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education Accreditation (NCFMEA),” which can “only be submitted to the accrediting agency, which in our case would be CAAM-MD.”

The Education Minister informed the House that “CAAM-HP has been the accrediting agency for SGU since 2007,” and has since “served as the means of providing quality that generates confidence in the principal stakeholders regionally and internationally, in the students as well as the general public.”

“We (Government), have received a letter from SGU requesting that we move speedily,” Minister Boatswain went on to say, noting that the next NCFMEA conference is carded for April 2016 and that the organisation has already approved a request from the Government of Grenada to be placed on the agenda of the conference.

“It means Mr. Speaker, that we have to move with some degree of pace to ensure that this piece of legislation is passed prior to the conference in 2016,” Boatswain emphasized, pointing to the many benefits to be derived as a result.

“The standards and procedures used by CAAM-HP for the accreditation of SGU would be considered comparable with the standards used by medical education providers in the United States of America…foreign students would be able to access federal loans in the USA to facilitate their registration with SGU,” he said.

“This is very important in order to generate the confidence that is desired for such a high level medical institution,” he added.

Additionally, the Education Minister pointed out that this will have no effect on the National Accreditation Board as this board would then be restricted to the general areas of tertiary education providers.

Perjury charges dropped against Dessa Mc Intosh

The St. George’s Magistrate Court has taken a decision to discontinue two (2) counts of perjury  that were laid against Dessa Mc Intosh of St Paul’s in St. George’s.

The young lady was charged with the offense after giving evidence contrary to information supplied during the Preliminary Inquiry of the Alexander Clack murder case.

Perjury is a crime that occurs when an individual willfully makes a false statement during a judicial proceeding, after he or she has taken an oath to speak the truth.

Mc Intosh was initially granted bail in the sum of EC$30, 000 for the offences.

However, the charges were discontinued Monday by Magistrate Tahira Gellineau who presides over the St. George’s No.2  Magistrate’s Court.

Mc Intosh was listed as one of the witnesses to appear for the Prosecution in the recently concluded Clack Murder trial.

However, she was taken off the list after she changed her story in an alleged attempt to assist the British-born Grenadian citizen, who was charged with non-capital murder for the June 17th, 2014 death of his 27-year old wife Nixiann Clack of Duquesne, St. Mark.

The British-born national became the prime suspect after his wife’s body was discovered by police officers in a shallow grave in the hilly Mt. Moritz area of St. George’s.

The 6-week long murder trial concluded on December 23, 2015 with the 12-member jury finding Clack guilty of non-capital murder for the death of his wife.

Clack is due to return to court for sentencing on February 1, 2016.

THE NEW TODAY understands that Mc Intosh was intimately involved with the murder convict, who, the Crown believes used her in his failed attempt to interfere with the case and get off the non-capital murder charge brought against him.

Speaking on Monday’s development, Senior Crown Counsel Howard Pinnock, who was prosecuting the case for the State said that the Crown took the decision to discontinue the charges against Mc Intosh in realisation of what he described as a “genuine error” on her part.

“Ultimately the big man (Clack) is responsible. Clack would have gotten caught. This (Mc Intosh) is a young person who genuinely made an error. She is not a criminal…a criminal conviction could blight her future prospects. We have the main person who would have killed his wife and was using her to try and get off the charge,” he told THE NEW TODAY.
Pinnock stated that based on the law, “the Prosecution cannot simply prosecute somebody because an alleged offence has been committed”.

The Prosecution, he said must also serve some other useful purposes.

Timothy Antoine speaks out

Outgoing Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine has, for the first time, publicly spoken about the financial hardship the ministry faced during the onslaught of the economic and financial crisis that came to the fore in 2008.

Antoine who is due to take up the position of Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) from February 1st outlined to a radio programme last Sunday the difficulties the technocrats faced in meeting government’s financial commitments.

He disclosed that as Administrative Head of the Ministry of Finance, he noticed that the economy started slowing down in 2008, but the recession “really started to bite 2009.”

“During 2009 and 2012, that was the height of the great recession,” he said.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Tillman Thomas came to office in July 2008 and was booted out of office 15-0 by the New National Party (NNP) of Dr. Keith Mitchell in February 2013.

Antoine is taking over the regional bank from the retired Sir Dwight Venner who held the position for 26 years.

Antoine was informed about his appointment last week Friday by Chairman of the Monetary Council, Victor Banks who is the Chief Minister of Anguilla.

The senior Grenada Civil Servant started working at the Ministry of Finance in 1993 with the Public Sector Investment Programme, and within six years was elevated to the top position.

He was asked by Prime Minister Mitchell to act as Permanent Secretary in 1999 following a fall-out with Dr. Brian Francis, a Senior Lecturer in Economics with the Cave Hill campus in Barbados of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Antoine took up a World Bank position in 2005 in Washington DC for two years as an Advisor to the Executive Director for Canada, Ireland and the Caribbean.

The outgoing Permanent Secretary said that upon his return to the Ministry of Finance in 2008 the recession started not too long after.

“In all my years in the Ministry of Finance, those were the most difficult years (2009 to 2012),” he added.

Antoine recalled that in 2009 the revenue shortfall was $80M.

“There were days I really don’t know how we paid anything, and I would get up, pray and march into the Ministry of Finance and, with God’s help, we’ll pay a bill or two, or whatever we could do… Those were very, very difficult days,” he remarked.

According to Antoine, over the years he has been able to develop a working relationship with the different Ministers of Finance in the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

“I have always had a respect for who is in Office, and I tried my best to support them,” he said.

He noted that civil servants do not get to choose their bosses, and who ever the people elect they work with them.

“It is our job (as pubic servants) to give fearless advice,” he said.

Antoine also said that it is the job of the public servants to work with the Government Ministers to assist them in the implementation process of their policies.

The outgoing Permanent Secretary disclosed that before he moves out of the service the ministry will be meeting with the public sector unions to trash out some issues.

According to him, discussions with the unions will centre on pension reform, salary negotiations, increments, and public sector reform.

Public Sector unions in Grenada have been forced to accept a wage freeze during the 3-year period of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) initiated by the Mitchell government in 2014.

Playwrights call for legislation amid first ever monologue competition

Playwrights in Grenada have made a call for policy makers to create legislation to govern the creative arts industry in the country.

Bjorn Bubb winner of the senior category of the monologue competition

Bjorn Bubb winner of the senior category of the monologue competition

Bjorn Bubb winner of the senior category of the monologue competition

“The time has come for us to lift our voices to make a clarion call for the creative arts to have its prominence in the legal system,” declared Francis Urias Peters, who was one of three playwrights presented with a token of appreciation for contributions made to creative arts last week Thursday.

Peters was at the time addressing those gathered for the first ever monologue competition held at the Grenada Boys Secondary School (GBSS).

“Shame on the policy makers,” he added, referencing the absence of an “arts festival,” which he said “is essential to the social and spiritual pace of the country.”

The other two playwrights that were awarded tokens of appreciation in recognition of their contribution to the arts and the young people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique are Ricardo Keens-Douglas, who was  absent and Christopher De Riggs.

In accepting his token, De Riggs also called for the policy makers to get onboard and expressed the hope that “this (the monologue competition) is something that can grow.”

“I am proud to be a part of this event (the monologue competition)…I want to encourage the policy makers to get afoot, get (the) law involved and get the thing going again,” he said.

The monologue competition held under the theme “Bringing art to life,” was the brainchild of Theater Arts Specialist, Neila Ettienne.

“These three men have inspired me to work with the young people,” she said in making the announcement, which came as a surprise to the recipients, who witnessed the competition.

The event celebrated the works of the three Grenadian playwrights and saw students demonstrating some of their pieces, including from Ricardo Keens-Douglas’ “Aye Aye Aye Ivan” and “Yesterday”, a piece from Francis Urias Peters “Redemption Time”, and ‘Sentence to hang” and Christopher De Riggs’, Ms Gooding School’ and “Cain and Abel”.

Eighteen students from six secondary schools on the island participated in the competition.

However, it was Bjorn Bubb from the Grenada Boys Secondary School (GBSS) and Pebbles Best from the St. Mark’s Secondary School who impressed the judges most in the junior and senior categories, respectively.

Bjorn Bubb is the son of local comedian Wayne Bubb.

The fourth form student won the senior category with 544 points, after an entertaining delivery of “Aye Aye Aye Ivan” and “Ms Gooding”.

“It was a good experience for me to be able to showcase my talents and gain more experience in the drama field,” he said in an interview with THE NEW TODAY at the end of the event.

 Pebbles Best winner of the junior category of the first ever monologue competition for secondary school students

Pebbles Best winner of the junior category of the first ever monologue competition for secondary school students

The junior winner, Pebbles Best is a form three student, who is actively involved in drama activities at her church and school.

“I feel very proud and I just want to thank God for this win and for giving me the confidence to go out there and do it,” Best said.

First, second and third place winners were awarded trophies and cash vouchers to be a part of the Excel programme at the Grenada Public Service Credit Union.

Speaking with THE NEW TODAY following the event, Ettienne said, “I am extremely happy with the performance of all the students and to think all of them did an exceptional job and I just want to congratulate all of them.”

Ettienne, the Artistic Director of the ‘Creative Arts Theater,’ which was formed in 2013, after the introduction in secondary schools of Theatre, Drama and the Arts as a subject area by the CXC.

“Since there is no arts festival going on, this is a good avenue for them to be a part of something great that would help them in the future to stay out of trouble, to become more confident, with their literacy and the whole interactive communication process,” she told this newspaper.

According to Ettienne, the intention is to make the monologue competition “an annual event.”

“I am also thinking about doing one for the primary school students…and maybe do some coral speaking and maybe some 10 minute plays to have a more variety,” she said.