CIBC FirstCaribbean responds to TAWU statement

CIBC FirstCaribbean has observed media reports of a statement from the Technical and Allied Workers’ Union in the weekend press relating to allegations surrounding the dismissal of an employee.

CIBC FirstCaribbean never takes matters such as these lightly.

We are confident that the bank has acted responsibly and reasonably in all the circumstances. However, we have always articulated and continue to take the firm position that we do not debate or address internal matters within the public domain. This is particularly relevant in view of the fact that the matter has been escalated to the Labour Commissioner.

We would wish to reiterate that we have ensured compliance with and adherence to the laws of Grenada, the policies and procedures of the Bank and the established protocols of Industrial Relations.

We are working towards an amicable outcome to this matter and remain committed to highest of standards and established protocols in all our interactions with our employees and their representatives. Moreover, we are steadfast in our commitment to the development of our team in Grenada.

Statement issued by PM Keith Mitchell on passing of Nelson Mandela

It is with great sadness that I join the global community in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela – a man who was not only the former President of South Africa, but a world leader, a vanguard, and an inspiration to freedom-loving people the world over.

Indeed, Mr Mandela is arguably the greatest public figure of the 20th century. His eternal legacy will be about the importance of forgiveness, reconciliation and respect for all people. In those respects, he leads where others should aim to follow.

Through shear moral conviction, he transcended politics, and inspired people of every culture, everywhere.

The essence of the man is so aptly captured by something he once said: “No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.”

Indeed, his dignified and gracious spirit has left this world – his work here is done, but his legacy will forever live on in the hearts and minds of world citizens everywhere.

On behalf of the government and people of Grenada, I therefore extend our heartfelt condolences to the government and people of the Republic of South Africa.

We all hold the Mandela family in our thoughts and prayers at this time of mourning.

May the soul of this courageous, dignified human being – Madiba Mandela – forever rest in peace.

Boatswain: Temporary teachers would be addressed

The Grenada Government is embarking on several initiatives aimed at regularising temporary teachers throughout the country.

Addressing the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing last week, Minister for Education, Anthony Boatswain said that there would be an analysis of all temporary teachers in the employment of the government of Grenada.

According to the minister, government is seeking to develop a matrix of all temporary teachers and make decisions as to who will be appointed permanently and to create a cadre of teaching assistants or part-time teachers whose services would be retained as necessary on a contractual basis.

The Education minister informed the media that Cabinet last week adopted a proposal from the Ministry of Education on the way forward for temporary teachers in the school system.

He said the proposal is considered to be a road map to regularise the status of temporary teachers – an issue often raised by the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT).

The three-point formula is expected to be implemented by the end of the next school term.

Minister Boatswain told the media that the issue of temporary teachers is problematic and requires urgent attention.

He said the records show that as of November 2012, out of a total 1529 teachers known to be in the system, there are 523 temporary teachers.

He stated that the highest concentration of temporary teachers is in secondary schools, which he believes is due to the number of graduates coming out from the TA Marryshow Community College (TAMCC).

The senior government minister believes that a lot of these persons are not too interested in teaching as a career but are mainly looking for a source of income and as such enter the profession on a temporary basis before moving on to pursue a career path or some other sustainable job.

According to Boatswain, this issue is not unique to Grenada but government does not want to encourage the practice, as it does not help to build a cadre of professional teachers in keeping with the overall CARICOM standard of practice for the teaching profession.

He said that a significant number of the 523 “in transit teachers” have been in the system for a very long time, and in some cases for more than a decade.

He believes that some of these temporary teachers are dedicated but unfortunately were not appointed even to posts that were declared vacant and instead were given temporary assignments renewable every year.

“…Those temporary teachers are needed in the system because they came here as what we call additional units because of the expansion of the school curriculum and therefore they are not easily replaced, but unfortunately they do not hold any permanent appointment in the system”, he said.

“And without that permanent appointment it creates a problem if not legal, but morally because they cannot engage in any long-term financial contracts. They are not committed because they know that their tenure in the system is not secure and therefore it does not auger well for the overall performance for this category of these temporary teachers”, he added.

Minister Boatswain pointed out that the plan would seek to ensure that the “temporary teachers” who are not needed would not be on the payroll of the government but could be recruited on a contractual basis as the need arises.

“…So in the long run what (we) will have is the permanent teachers increase because of the vacant positions being filled but the temporary would decrease because we would be phasing out all the temporary teachers and there would be what you call a pool of substitute teachers who would be called upon as need be”, he told reporters.

Minister Boatswain sees this as the best way forward and as such there must be budgetary allocation for the recruitment of these teachers as well as a legal framework to cover them.

However, he was quick to point out that government is open to discussions with the GUT on the issue.

The Education Minister said that government needs to regularise the teaching system as it cannot continue with the status quo.

 

Indicators of more belt-tightening

Little by little Grenadians are getting more and more information about the austerity measures that are contained in the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) that is to take effect from next January and to run over a three-year period.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell during a National Address late October announced that the Income Tax ceiling will be lowered from $60,000.00 to $30,000.00 per month, and that there will be an increase in property tax without giving specific details.

However, at a recent Social Partners’ Forum held at the Grenada National Stadium, Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine outlined what the increase in property tax will entail, and also gave additional measures that will be in the SAP.

Antoine disclosed that property tax on land will be doubled from the rate of 0.10 percent to 0.2 percent and the tax on residential buildings will also be doubled from 0.15 percent to 0.30 percent.

According to Antoine, the tax exemption on the first $100,000 remains as the Mitchell government looks to the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) for help to tackle the country’s financial woos.

Grenada has been defaulting on payments to international creditors since the Mitchell government came to power in February.

The island’s current debt stock stands at EC$2.4 billion, with most of it raked up by a former Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration that ran the island from June 1995 to July 2008.

In his presentation, PS Antoine disclosed that tax for people with smallholdings will move from $20.00 to $40.00, or from $30.00 to $60.00.

He added that people whose agriculture land remains idle will be called upon to pay property tax.

Antoine said government views this measure as a means of getting the land under production.

At present, agriculture land attracts no taxes in Grenada.

The PS in the Ministry of Finance also stated that user fees will be addressed, and that there will be a reduction in tax exemption.

Lottery winners will also have to provide government with some of their earnings through a withholding tax.

Government is determined to impose Personal Income Tax on pensioners as part of the austerity measures in the SAP.

However, the Grenada Trades Union Council (TUC) is prepared to resist that move.

TUC President, Madonna Harford who also spoke at the forum indicated that pensions are meant to be tax-free, and that pensioners would have already paid taxes on their income.

She said TUC views the payment of taxes on pension as being unfair and unjust.

She spoke of some pensioners still having to service their mortgages and other financial obligations including student loans.

She said there are others who have to take care of their health by having to purchase expensive medications.

Harford stressed that some pensioners have also lost their retirement benefits, which were invested with some local and regional institutions.

This is an obvious reference to the dilemma created with the collapse of British American Insurance Company (BAICO) and the fall-out from the crash of the Trinidad-based CLICO.

The TUC President indicated that the SAP, to be implemented by the Mitchell government, will eventually bring hardships on salary earners and pensioners.

She said the lowering of the Income Tax Threshold will capture additional workers who earn in excess of $3,000.00 per month, in light of the fact that most of these people would have already entered into financial obligations.

Harford acknowledged the Trades Union umbrella body is aware that it is imperative for government to put measures in place to seriously address the grave fiscal imbalance facing Grenada.

As it stands now, from every dollar collected, seventy cents are used by government to pay salaries and pension and most of the rest of the dollar absorbed in debt payments.

 

Chinese delicacies exposed to Grenada

Chinese LonsterGrenadians had the opportunity Saturday to experience another form of the Chinese Heritage through their culinary arts.

A number of people including Head of State, Governor General, Dr. Cecile La Grenade, and Tourism Minister, Alexandra Otway-Noel attended the first-ever Chinese Food Festival held at Sogecoa International Hotel, Woodlands, St. George’s.

The Food Festival showcased a variety of dishes that is known to form part of the Chinese menu.

Resident Chinese Ambassador, Ou Boqian spoke of the importance of food in the Chinese culture, noting that some of the food that was first created was not just as a food, but also as a medicine.

The female Chinese envoy said that medication food has a long history of more than two thousand years in the Far east nation and has been used by the Chinese people to not only save lives, but also to try and improve their health.

According to the Chinese Ambassador, the medicated food is used primarily to make people feel healthy and energetic.

She said during big holidays and festivals, the entire family will get together in China to enjoy Chinese food.

The Governor General who also addressed the gathering spoke highly of the Chinese delicacies.

Dr. La Grenade indicated that a Chinese banquet, in its preparation and presentation shows all the culture and culinary arts that have been perfected over the years.

She said Grenada looked forward to the development of new dishes, utilising some of the local fruits including mango, and for there to be a close co-operation between the Sogecoa Hotel and the farmers in the Spice Isle.

Dr. La Grenade who is a Food Specialist by profession, suggested that people should look instead at using sweet and sour sauce using star fruit or carembola, and golden apple balls instead of pineapple chunks, as well as the creation of a nutmeg-flavoured soy sauce to give the unique Grenadian flavour, and the development of a special bright spice made from local herbs and spices.

“Some of you might be wondering whether I have already started experimenting with some of these ideas, and are probably looking forward to a publication entitled, ‘The GG’s collection of Grenadian Chinese recipes,’” Dame Cecile said.

Before taking on the role of Governor-General following the February general elections, Dame Cecile was the driving force behind De La Grenade Industries at St. Paul’s, a family owned and operated business that manufactures pepper sauce, and a number of jams made from nutmeg pods and guava.

General Manager of Sogecoa, Jenny Jiang spoke of being honoured to have the hotel host the Food Festival which is expected to become a regular feature on its agenda.

Jiang described the activity which received the full support of Ambassador Boqian as “a big event” for the small Chinese Community residing in Grenada.

She said the Chinese Food Festival was geared at sharing the joy of Chinese foods with everyone.

She recognised that in Grenada there is already the weekly Fish Friday at Gouyave, St. John’s, as well as the monthly Victoria Food Festival in St. Mark’s that have Grenadian characteristics and attractions.

She said she hoped that the Chinese Food Festival can also become an attraction for the General Public.

“I would like to call it a Sogecoa Saturday. Let the people of Grenada, from the Caribbean, and the tourists all over the world would have the opportunity to enjoy Chinese food in Grenada, and through this window of Sogecoa, let people know more about Chinese food,” she remarked.

The Sogecoa Hotel announced that half of the income raised at the Food Festival will be donated to charity on the island.

Lowering the heat on CARICOM travel and trade

SAUNDERSFull appreciation is due to Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, A J Nicholson, for taking the initiative to invite Trinidad and Tobago’s Foreign Minister Winston Dookeran for talks over travel and trade issues that had reached boiling point between the two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.

Equally, Dookeran deserves credit for the level-headed, unassuming and sympathetic manner in which he treated the discussions with members of the Jamaica government and the private sector.

Between the two men they lowered the heat on these contentious issues that threatened to scorch relations between their two countries. In this sense, they were the right men in the right place at a perilous time. Two different personalities might have poured oil on troubled waters for narrow political gain by playing-up to nationalistic sentiment.

They have been wise in agreeing that in respect of “entry and stay” in CARICOM member countries, immigration officers must be guided by what is now clearly “Community Law” as instituted by Heads of Government and given clarity by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). In the case of the 13 Jamaicans who were denied entry to Trinidad and Tobago on 19 November, the rules as set out by the CCJ were not followed.

Now, both Nicholson and Dookeran have agreed that the CCJ ruling must be implemented, and the Chief Immigration Officers of CARICOM countries should convene a meeting to review instances of “profiling”. Both sides also agreed that “there is a need for further training of immigration officers to effectively facilitate the hassle-free travel of Community nationals”.

The news that Attorneys-General of the 15-nation Caribbean Community, or their representatives, have also been discussing the implementation of the CCJ ruling is a positive step. In the words of the Jamaica Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, treating CARICOM nationals at CARICOM airports properly “is a matter of dignity”. The efforts by Nicholson and Dookeran must now be translated into transparent machinery at the bilateral level, but all CARICOM countries must do the same.

At the same time, there should be education in every CARICOM country about precisely what the CCJ ruling means – a task to which the CCJ itself should consider contributing. An impression appears to have been created that CARICOM nationals need only turn up at entry points in other CARICOM countries to be granted entry and the right to remain for six months.

This is not necessarily so. Heads of Government did not agree to free movement of people across the borders of CARICOM countries as applies, for instance, among the 27 Member States of the European Union. What they agreed to is entitlement “to an automatic stay of six months upon arrival” but subject to “the rights of Member States to refuse undesirable persons entry and to prevent persons from becoming a charge on public funds”.

The CCJ in its decision carefully explained that “in contradistinction to foreigners in general, nationals do have a right of entry to enter the territory of Member States unless they qualify for refusal under the two exceptions mentioned above”. It seems, therefore, that where it is clear that nationals do not have the means to keep themselves and there are no relatives or friends who have provided documentation taking responsibility for them during their stay, immigration authorities would be right in assuming that they could become charges on the public purse and so deny them entry provided they are given a written explanation, the opportunity to call a lawyer or their Consul, and the right to appeal the decision.

The CCJ decision stops capricious or malicious denial of entry to CARICOM nationals by immigration authorities and provides rules by which any denial must be guided. Of course, it does not legislate that CARICOM nationals should be treated with “dignity” as the Jamaican Prime Minister rightly asserted should be part of the process.

Treating people with dignity comes only from an appreciation of mankind’s common humanity, and an understanding that in the inter-Caribbean rivalry of past colonial governments and plantation owners, the people of the Caribbean were victims not beneficiaries. That rivalry was the rivalry of “masters” not slaves and servants. Rivalry and antagonism didn’t serve the interests of the Caribbean people then, and it doesn’t do so now.

Treating CARICOM nationals with dignity cannot be legislated, but it can be encouraged and taught. Since many immigration officers have been trained to treat foreign tourists with dignity and respect, perhaps the training should be extended to include the Caribbean people who share the same history, live in the same geographical space and depend on the co-operation and support of each other to forge a beneficial place for themselves in the international community.

On the trade issues between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, it is less clear what has been agreed. But, at least the unhelpful proposal of a boycott by Jamaicans of Trinidad and Tobago products appears to have been quietened. Mr Nicholson is to visit Trinidad and Tobago early next year and maybe by then concrete ways of addressing the trade issue will have been worked out.

But, it is as well to note here that while for the three years 2010-2012, Jamaica had a balance of trade deficit with Trinidad and Tobago of US$2.3 billion, more than 80% of Jamaica’s imports was for mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials that the country would have had to import anyway – and probably at a higher price had it chosen to do so from other places.

When the cost of mineral fuels and related materials are subtracted from the Jamaica trade deficit with Trinidad and Tobago, the figure for the three years 2010 to 2012 is US$329.3 million – still high but not as daunting as US$2.3 billion. Further economic co-operation between the two countries in production integration, mergers and investment would redound to the benefit of both, and to the wider CARICOM region.

Messrs Nicholson and Dookeran in their constructive discussions and in their search for solutions provided a whiff of the aroma that once permeated the Caribbean integration project and excited its people. They have given an example for others to follow.

P.S. Since writing this commentary I have seen the comments of the Trinidad and Tobago Minister of National Security and Immigration Gary Griffith that questioned the understandings on entry of CARICOM nationals reached by his government’s Foreign Minister with the Foreign Minister of Jamaica A J Nicholson. His remarks are unfortunate, particularly his cavalier statement that “T&T is not a mall, where anyone will be allowed entry.” They undermine the credibility not only of his government’s Foreign Minister but also of his Prime Minister who authorised Dookeran’s visit to Jamaica to talk with Jamaica’s Foreign Minister and others with a view to finding agreed solutions to the issues of trade and travel. Mr Griffith has violated the principle of collective responsibility of Cabinet within his own government. However, judgement on whether he has actually undone the admirable efforts of Dookeran or simply vented his personal spleen, must now await the response of the Trinidad and Tobago government and its Prime Minister.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant, Senior Research Fellow at London University and former Caribbean Diplomat)

A very special budget

Lloyd NoelOur 2014 Budget has been in the News for many months now, and even before it was finally presented by the P.M. and Finance Minister, it had to be put off for four days or so because the P.M. was off the Island.

But whatever it may contain, after nearly one year since the all powerful Controllers regained the reins of control, the coming New Year for which the income and expenditures are intended will not be an easy one.

We heard so much about that Budget in the last few months from those in control, that there can be no excuses about the limitation of time for the preparation so that whatever is contained therein must have been fully thought out and discussed by the group in charge and their advisers.

It has been noticeable however, that in the last two months or so the chief Economic Advisor, Dr. Patrick Antoine, seemed to have taken a back seat and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance has been the main Spokesman on the Economy.

Whatever is the true position and the reason for the apparent change, time may tell in due course.

So much emphasis had been placed on that Budget in the months before the reading thereof, that it left many wondering why it was so very important and what great benefits were to be expected now it has been made public and will soon be passed through Parliament, we can only wait to see how effective it will be for the operation of the nation’s business in the year 2014 and beyond.

One aspect of the whole exercise which was made public even before the actual reading in Parliament was the issue of increased Taxes on some salaries, but more importantly on Lands and Houses owned by our people up and down the Islands.

The concern of many owners who are unemployed, is how they will be able to meet the additional Financial burden if no employment is forthcoming sooner or later.

Time and the unfolding circumstances will determine as the months go by, but in the meantime a whole lot of folks are very concerned about the increases proposed and how they will meet the extras.

For a wide cross-section of the people, this Xmas season does not have the usual excitement and expectation of former years and many are expressing their very serious disappointment about the actions and intention about the Leader and party they so fully voted into office.

The party Leadership and advisors must have their plans and objectives for the actions and decisions they are taking but these will take some more time before the benefits will become available.

We have been hearing a lot of talk about the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) for example, so with the Budget now published we should be seeing some more details of that device, and in due course witnessing its success and how it will be beneficial to the Economy.

The increases in Taxes and Duties and whatever else in the Budget, these will definitely have some burdensome effects on many families and individuals; because I cannot see Salaries and Wages going upwards in these times to meet those increases, nor the corresponding increases that will follow in the shops and Business places, that will have to bridge the gaps in their returns to make ends meet.

How the increased Taxes or the SAP will help in providing the many needed jobs and employment opportunities in the immediate or distant future, only time and the reality will disclose in the months ahead. And if the months are going to be extended into years down the road, then our struggling people could have even harder times to put up with as the system determines.

On the issue of the stoppage of free Xmas Barrels, one reader called me to suggest that all the families overseas have to do is send the cash to those at home.

While I am sure some dollars will be sent, I had to remind him that the costs of a lot of the Barrels Contents in the U.S.A. and U.K., will be a lot less in those countries and the dollars received will not be enough to make up the difference.

Whatever the new Budget is offering or providing for the needy, I do hope the framers remembered those deprived.

We are still waiting to hear about those promised Overseas Investors, who were expected to provide the many thousands of jobs for our people – maybe the new Budget will help in that area.

I heard on some report that the CCC Roads Maintenance project was having some problems and may be withdrawn.

During the recent two or three weeks the de-bushing gangs were on the job, and in the last week they were on the roads again, so that there will be some thing in the kitty for the Xmas season.

I do hope the powers-that-be will be able to sort out the difference in the CCC program, so that those workers can look forward to a steady source of income in the New Year.

Goodness knows they are a fairly large section of our unemployed people and they have big families to support.

So now the much talked about and anticipated Budget is a reality, we wait with baited breath to see how and where we going into the New Year 2014.

BUDGET 2014: The real context

Brian FrancisThe share nature of the budgetary proposals and economic and financial measures presented annually by the Rt. Honourable Minister of Finance is such that the proper context within which the policies, programmes and plans of the Government for the upcoming financial year are outlined must be adequately explained to the general public to provide a basis for intelligent discussions of the contents of the budget.

Failure to adhere to this rudimentary principle could only lead to confusion on the part of all those with a keen interest in the policy debates and who genuinely desire to contribute meaningfully to national dialogue on the current and future state of affairs of the local economy.

But setting the proper context for the budget is apparently even as critical from the perspective of those actually making the presentations. And the basis for that inference is supported in many instances by recent budget presentations in several Caribbean countries, Barbados being no exception. For example, in his budgetary proposals for financial year 2011-2012, the Honourable Finance Minister in Barbados said this: “Barbados has its challenges but we are no worse off than any other country, and better off than most in the wake of the worse global economic and financial downturn in recent memory.”

Admittedly, I was shocked, to say the least, at that statement. Hence, I argued publicly that “unless the Minister of Finance has a somewhat vastly different framework that he uses to undertake comparative economic analysis, I cannot see how that particular characterisation of the current state of the Barbadian economy relative to other countries can stand the test of times.

In fact, even if I am prepared to give the Honourable Minister of Finance the benefit of the doubt today, I certainly have little choice but to disagree strongly with him when we take into account the medium and long term.” Today, I stand firm with sorrow in my heart because I was right then and time has proven so!

Why did I adopt that stance? In my humble opinion, an adequate response to the 2011 Budgetary Proposals in Barbados could not have been forthcoming without a proper contextual basis. That inference logically begged the following question: What was the proper context within which the 2011-2012 budgetary proposals should have been evaluated?

Sorry folks! I do not intend to answer that question in relation to Barbados. Instead, I will address the same question in reference to Grenada’s 2014 Budget which, by the way, was not yet presented at the time of writing this piece. And that decision of mine to pen the column just a couple of hours before the presentation of Budget 2014 by the Rt. Honourable Minister of Finance was deliberate. Can you guess why?

Let’s get back to the main point. To adequately address the critical question posed, one must make a comparison between the economic circumstances facing Grenada today and that which existed in the early 1990s when the country was forced to adopt its first home-grown structural adjustment programme (SAP) that subsequently stabilised the local economy, restored international creditworthiness, and put it back on a growth and development path.

Without delving too deep into the prevailing economic conditions then, it is safe to observe that in the early 1990s Grenada faced a severe economic crisis that featured weak government finances, high and unsustainable public debt, lack of investor confidence, and the inability to borrow especially on international capital markets.

Wait a minute! Am I confusing the economic situation in the early 1990s with that which exists in 2013? Absolutely not! You see, folks, Grenada’s economic woes are identical in many respects to those that existed at the time of the first SAP during the 1990-1995 period. And that similarity in the economic climate in the early 1990s and 2013 provides the proper context for the measures that should have been announced in Tuesday’s budgetary proposals by the Rt. Honourable Minister of Finance.

Specifically, the budgetary proposals should have contained bold, but creative measures, to grow the economy and reduce current expenditure more so than anything else. No amount of revenue-raising policies will resolve the problems the country faces on the expenditure side. That simple conclusion is the plain truth!

Hence, given what we have been told thus far, I expect our Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to miss the financial and economic boat during his budgetary proposals! Consequently, Grenada’s economic troubles would not have been helped much by the proposed measures in Budget 2014 and that would be a real shame!

You, my friends, have heard the budget presentation and all of the proposed measures. Was I right?

Awards ceremony for police officers

Sgt. Linford Cummings – Policeman of the Year

Sgt. Linford Cummings – Policeman of the Year

Anthony Boatswain says a herb research centre will benefit the country close to one hundred police officers were recognized last week Saturday night for excellent performances as members of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).

The major awards were taken by officers attached to the

Investigative Arms of the force like the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Drug Squad.

The officers were recognised during the Fifth annual awards and retirement ceremony of RGPF held at the Grenada Trade Center, Grand Anse, St. George’s.

Detective Sergeant Linford Cummings was adjudged the 2013 Policeman of the year for his fight against illegal drugs.

Sgt. Cummings who enlisted in the force on October 14, 1985 and has been with the Drug Squad for the last ten years, is the officer who commands the operations and strike teams within the unit.

He was also recognised for being the Most Outstanding Officer of the Drug Squad.

Woman Detective Constable, Nancy Joseph received the award for Policewoman of the Year.

Nancy Joseph Policewoman of the Year

Nancy Joseph Policewoman of the Year

Joseph who enlisted in RGPF on May 29, 2006, is currently working at the CID as the Records Clerk.

She reportedly solved 59 of the 88 crimes with which she was asked to investigate.

Joseph was also awarded for being the Most Outstanding Officer from the CID.

The award for Bravery went to Woman Corporal Portia Nicholas.

It was reported that the female officer while traveling on a bus in the Carenage area and dressed in her Immigration Uniform, noticed a man brandishing a screwdriver on a boat and was in the process of approaching another person in a menacing manner.

Cpl. Nicholas dropped off the bus, went on the boat and took control of the situation by disarming the man with the dangerous item.

During the night, the CID and Drug squad were identified as the most proactive department in the fight against crime.

The Drug Squad confiscated ninety percent of the 3,185 pounds of marijuana seized on the island, carrying a street value of $7,224,940.80.

As its name suggests, the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) got the award for Speed of Response.

Ten special awards provided by Martin Bedeau, Manager of the Grenada Trades Centre were distributed to senior ranks of the RGPF.

Corporal Portia Nicholas – awarded for her bravery

Corporal Portia Nicholas – awarded for her bravery

Those awarded were Superintendent of Police, Reuben Maitland – Officer-in-Charge of the Eastern Division, Supt. Trevor Modeste – Officer-in-Charge of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Criminal Records Office (CRD), Supt. Floyd Dragon – Officer-in-Charge of Central Division, Supt. John Mitchell – Officer-in-Charge of Fire Department, Supt. Jessmon Prince – Officer-in-Charge of Immigration Department, Supt. Arthur Renaud – Officer-in-Charge of Western Division, Supt. Sebastian Mitchell – Officer-in-Charge of Northern Division, and Supt. Rodriquez James – Officer-in-Charge of the Drug Squad.

The others are Assistant Superintendent of Police, Terrence Noel – Officer-in-Charge of the Special Services Unit, and Inspector Brian Hurst – Officer-in-Charge of the Police Band.

Awards were also given to several Officers for outstanding performances at various police stations across the island.

The outstanding Officer from the Grenada Coast Guard was Constable Innocent Lisamar, from the SSU is Sergeant Carlyle Julien, Woman Constable Lilian Thorne from the Western Division, Constable Finbar King from the Central Division, Woman Constable Nancy Joseph from the Eastern Division, and from the Northern Division, Constable Derron Phillip.

Also recognised were Woman Police Officer, Jody Hinds attached to the Immigration Department, Constable Denielle Antoine, from the Rapid Response Unit, Port Police Station (Constable Derick Modeste), as well as Constable Rein Brizan from the Traffic Department, Fire Department, Constable Neilon Antoine, Constable Carvon Wickham from the Licensing Department, and Corporal Mike Modeste for his efforts in Community Policing.

The most outstanding officer within the Grand Roy Police Station was identified as Constable Kin Bowen, Woman Constable Nathalie Jeffrey for the Gouyave Police Station, from the Victoria Police Station, Constable Osron St. Claire, Constable Leon Felix from the Union Police Station, Constable Nylon Lalite from the Sauteurs Police Station, the Hermitage Police Station is Constable Jefferson Modeste, and Corporal Raymond Thomas of Grenville Police Station.

The list is completed by Woman Constable Sharmaine Modeste from the St. David’s Police Station, Constable Dwayne Mason of Birchgrove Police Station, Constable Kingston Baptiste representing Central Police Station, Constable Kimber Coutain from St. Paul’s Police Station, Mt. Royal Police Station, the officer who excelled was Constable William Nicholas, Detective Sergeant Kendol Smith from the Criminal Records Office, Carriacou Police Station (Woman Constable Michelle Boatswain), Constable Vincent Joseph from Petite Martinique Police Station, and from South St. George Police Station is Constable Terrol Jackassal.

Awards in the area of support services were presented to Constable Vickroy Richardson of Government House, from the Community Relations Department is Corporal Emmon Duprey, Woman Constable Sherry Julien from Police Headquarters.

The award in the Police Prosecution Department went to Constable Michael Charles, as well as Rural Constable Mary Phillip and Constable Martin Bartholomew from the Police Canteen.

Also awarded were Woman Rural Constable Faye Hood from the Tailor Shop, Rural Constable Matthew Plenty (Police Store), the Police Band (Constable Alex Phillip), Woman Sergeant Michelle Bedeau of the Police Training School, Arley Alexander from the Police Garage, Corporal Archeleus Nelson from the Artisan Squad, Constable Jude James, and Constable Alex Thomas from the IT Department.

Police officers who excelled on the sporting field were also recognised for their achievements.

Among them is Woman Corporal Kathy-Ann Smith who was named as the Female Athlete of the Year, and the Male Athlete of the Year was Constable Ronald Barry.

Constable Julien Wellington was awarded for Basketball, Rolston John for soft ball cricket and Leon Chichester for hardball cricket.

In the area of football and dedicated service the award was presented to Rural Constable Sherwin Joseph, Corporal Chris Khan for Table Tennis, and in the area of Sporting Administrator, it was given to Sergeant Allan James,

Constable Rodney George was recognised for his contribution to the Police Welfare Association.

Twelve Officers who have given three hundred and sixty years of service to the RGPF were also recognised.

Among them are retired Superintendent of Police, Anthony Joseph who headed the CID for a number of years, and Godfrey Edwards.

The other retirees are Corporals Margaret Gludd, John Redhead, Vaughn James, Alvin Ince, and Steven Francis.

The list is completed by Constables Michael Francis, Henry Swan, Finbar Thompson, Frederick Blair, and Edward Gibson who is one of the five Police Officers implicated in the December 26 controversial incident involving Grenadian-born but Canadian citizen, Oscar Bartholomew at the St. David’s Police Station.

A Coroner’s inquest has been ordered by a high court judge into the incident as Bartholomew subsequently died at the St. George’s General hospital after the alleged beatings at the hands of some police officers.

Acting Commissioner of Police, Winston James described the awards and retirement ceremony as a proud and prestigious moment for members of RGPF.

Commissioner James said he believes the activity can create an environment for members of the force to showcase themselves in the various areas of discipline that would be recognised for awards.

“It would definitely challenge those who are not recognised this year to lift their level of performance to what is required for recognition and awarding, and by so doing, they will enhance the image of the Royal Grenada Police Force,” he remarked.

In congratulating the Awardees, the Acting Commissioner of Police admonished his charges to continue displaying their hard work and commitment to the job, and to continue showcasing themselves in a positive manner.

Chairman of the Police Welfare Association (PWA), Inspector Randy Connaught encouraged the Awardees to allow their success to become a way of life.

Insp. Connaught said they are now challenged to be mentors to their colleagues, and to continue in their pursuit for excellence.

 

Overcoming our debt burden

By Gerry Hopkin

 

We may eventually have to add new taxes and/or increase levies in order to pull ourselves out of the deep economic hole that we have slid into.

But we need not rush into such a mode. Before we do so, we must seriously embark on the following, lest we add more stress and burden to struggling Grenadians who are already suffering:

(a). WE MUST GROW OUR ECONOMY by innovatively producing more – concretely doing more in the productive sectors in a sustainable manner:

(i) especially in agriculture/agribusiness where we can add value to more of our local produce by processing, consuming and exporting more of what we grow (spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables) and rear (animal protein);

(ii) harnessing, upgrading and better packaging and marketing our tourism, health, education and hospitality services;

(iii) fast-tracking our energy development by adopting a diversified approach which engages various partners (friendly foreign national entities and agencies with experience in this area (T&T, Venezuela, China, U.S. and Nigeria), as well as private companies such as Shell and BP which can finance and carry out the exploration;

(iv) maintaining, upgrading and moving forward with our lead in ICT, as we take better advantage of opportunities, such as those afforded through the training centre which was offered to us by the Government of India.

(b). WE MUST ALSO SERIOUSLY DO AN EFFICIENT JOB AT COLLECTING FUNDS CURRENTLY DUE FROM INDIVIDUALS & ENTITIES (especially those in a position to pay back) TO THE NATIONAL TREASURY AND AT COLLECTING TAXES/LEVIES DUE UNDER EXISTING LAWS.

Reliable sources have indicated that uncollected funds due to the Treasury may exceed EC $500 million:

(i) We must seriously go after those who owe the government and people of Grenada in a manner that shows no political curry favor. Leniency and sensitively structured terms should only be extended where one’s real and objective hardship or inadequate means, constructively preclude re-payment or payment.

(ii) We may deliberately seek to end waste of public funds:

(a) by having government offices share and make optimal/efficient use of space and equipment such as printers; and

(b) by renovating and using more abandoned government buildings with NIS funding, instead of paying big money to private landlords. (Some of these buildings may be renovated by Imani interns under Professional Contractor supervision as part of a Certificate Program; and upon completion, some of the space in these buildings can be rented out to private entrepreneurs at reasonable rates.)

(c). WE MUST WALK THE TALK OF ENERGY CONSERVATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION & ADAPTATION:

(i) by making better cost-saving use of natural lighting in the Ministerial Complex (and other government buildings), specially designed with functional large glass walls/windows to preclude the use of electric lighting from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Because electric bulbs generate heat, not using them as much as currently done, would reduce the need for AC in these offices.);

(ii) by taking full advantage of the PRC’s (China’s) offer of assistance to install new energy-efficient LED bulbs in all government buildings, which would save us MILLIONS of dollars, being cognizant of the high cost of electricity in Grenada; and

(iii) by taking deliberate steps to exercise leadership and influence in fast-tracking the development/tapping of the alternative energy potential in Grenada, which ought not be controlled by a privately profit-driven GRENLEC, which stands to make less profit when we encourage more of our people to use alternative energy. (Some degree of balanced government intervention is needed in this area, not necessarily in terms of share-holding, but necessarily as it relates to pricing, as provided for in the original legislation.)

Consistent with the role Grenada has played as a global leader on the issue of climate change awareness and the need for fervent proactive and reactive action, more grant proposals for funding of developmental projects which advance a progressive agenda of conservation, mitigation and adaptation in Grenada’s environment, thus sustaining our nation’s beauty and productivity (our agriculture and our tourism product), must be pursued.

(d). WE MUST ESTABLISH A GRANT PROPOSAL RESEARCH & WRITING DEPARTMENT, possibly within the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Economic Development, which ought to be charged with the responsibility of sourcing funding via research and proposals to international, governmental and NGO organisations and agencies.

Such a department would have trained grant-writing officers who would each be assigned to specific identified areas (covering every government Ministry) that are ready and viable for development.

It is a well known fact that each year, millions of available dollars in organisations such as the UN and EU, go unutilised due to our failure to submit grant proposals.

In a world where governments in the developed world are hardly giving non-interest bearing aid (grants) to countries like Grenada, it is imperative that we leverage our global profiles and human resource abilities to tap into available grant funding.

Considering the limitations of Grenada’s tax base (the taxable individuals and entities in our small population), I am of the calculated view that we can potentially raise more funds through well-written grant proposals for development purposes, than we can ever raise collecting taxes.

(e). WE MAY ALSO PURSUE A DEBT FORGIVENESS/JUBILEE initiative as a part of our multi-faceted approach to addressing the heavy, unbearable burden of our debts, of which some are illegitimate or ill-gotten.

I agree with the message, spirit and purpose of the recent open letter of Grenada’s Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Hon. Oliver Joseph and with Father Sean Doggett of the Conference of Churches in Grenada, when he says:

“The effects of Grenada’s indebtedness are causing the poorest to suffer pain that the peoples of few developed countries would find tolerable. Our young people face a future of hopelessness and joblessness.”

It is common sense for us to pursue negotiating debt reduction with our lenders, so that our debts can be reduced to levels which allow our nation to alleviate poverty and secure meaningful livelihoods for all, rather than implementing austere measures in an almost hopeless quest to deal with our debt.

However, this must only be one of the explored approaches to addressing our debt crisis. In other words, as we say in Grenada, we cannot put all of our eggs in one basket, especially not singularly in one which essentially appeals to the moral heartstrings and historical sensitivities of profit-driven debtors.

(f). THE WAY FORWARD

The thesis of my commentary is that we ought not to implement a structural adjustment initiative in Grenada at this juncture, which resorts to lowering the threshold and raising the rate of income and property taxes, lest we further constrict development and economic activity.

It is advisable, relying on best practices and the experiences of other rapidly developing states, such as Singapore, Malaysia and even Guyana, that we focus on implementing initiatives such as the ones outlined above, in lieu of higher taxes and retrenchment.

If we decide to go the way of higher taxes and retrenchment, we would be negatively harming our small and large business owners, as well as working class Grenadians and non-nationals, whom we need as investors, as much as we need our nationals in the Diaspora.

Higher taxes generally tend to function as a dis-incentive to new investments, which we need more than anything else right now, if we are to seriously climb out of the economic hole which we have slid into.

As one local businessman puts it, “Besides giving more serious attention to real development initiatives, we should collect the outstanding monies owed to the government for defrayal of our debts, before we impose increased and new taxes on our people. Those who owe the government and people of Grenada should pay up before we ask the small man to cough up more than he is already paying in VAT, etcetera.”

May common sense and economic prudence prevail over policies which reflect the sentiments and profit-driven motives of the banking community’s interest, as historically represented by the IMF. I am saying this, notwithstanding the new, more nuanced and apparently more sensitive manifestations of the IMF, which is no doubt influenced by the refreshing perspective of the new president of the World Bank, Japan’s Dr. Jim Yong Kim.

I dare say, premised on the philosophy and track record of Dr. Kim, that our leaders, Opposition included, should directly make our case to him, beseeching his consideration and endorsement of measures which stay clear of austerity, while embracing the sustainable development approaches advanced above.

(Gerry Hopkin is a former aide to former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas)