Honouring the late George Brizan

The late George Brizan played a pivotal role in the development of thousands of students in the homeland

The late George Brizan played a pivotal role in the development of thousands of students in the homeland

The George Brizan Legacy Committee (GBLC) will be hosting a number of events this month in honour of the late Prime Minister and founder of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Brizan who also had a stint as Leader of the Opposition served on occasions as Minister of Finance and Trade, as well as Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Regarded as one of the island’s better known author and scholar, Brizan was born on October 31, 1942 in St. David and died on February 18, 2012 after a battle against diabetes and other ailments.

In a release issued, GBLC said that on Sunday (February 15) three of Brizan’s former colleagues will highlight his career in Education, Agriculture and Politics during the Sundays with George Grant Programme on Chime FM radio station.

According to the committee, as an educator, Brizan was very instrumental in establishing the Institute of Further Education (IFE), now transformed to the T.A Marryshow Community College (TAMCC).

Current TAMCC students are included in the planned programme of events as the institution will host the George Brizan Legacy Lecture at 9.00 a.m. on Thursday with the topic being, “Education for Social and Economic Elevation.”

The General public is invited to attend the George Brizan Legacy Forum (GBLF) at 7.00 p.m. on Thursday night at the Grenada Trade Centre.

The event will be held under the theme “Agriculture and Agribusiness -The Nutmeg Industry: Grenada’s Black Gold.”

The GBLC said the event is being held in recognition of Brizan’s contribution to agriculture and his promotion of the nutmeg industry as the key to Grenada’s economic development.

The keynote address at the Forum would focus on the pragmatic approach to applied research by Brizan and would be delivered by Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the Secretariat of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

GBLC said the Forum would be preceded by a display of the work of Brizan and an exhibition of spice plants, commencing at 6.00 p.m.

Brizan had his early education at St. Dominic’s Roman Catholic Primary School and then at Presentation Brothers College.

He also attended the Grenada Teachers College, University of Calgary and Carlton University in Canada, as well as the University of the West Indies (UWI).

He attained a Certificate of Education from UWI, degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in History and Economics from the University of Calgary and a degree of Master of Arts in International Economics Relations from Carlton University.

From 1963 to 1984 he taught at the Grenada Boys Secondary School (GBSS) and served as a lecturer at the Institute for Further Education (IFE).

Brizan also served as Acting Principal of (IFE) and as Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education.

Within months of the collapse of the Grenada Revolution in October 1983, Brizan entered frontline politics when he launched the National Democratic Party (NDP), which later merged with Herbert Blaize’s Grenada National Party (GNP) and the Grenada Democratic Movement (GDM) of Dr. Francis Alexis in August 1984 to create the New National Party (NNP).

Brizan contested his first national elections in December 1984 and won the St. George North-east seat. He was elected as the MP for the area for three consecutive terms to serve in the House of Representatives.

Disagreements surfaced with the Blaize-led NNP administration and in April 1987, Brizan went into opposition and soon formed the National Democratic Congress (NDC) which took the seat of power following the 1990 general elections.

A prolific author, his publications included “Grenada Island of Conflict”, “The Nutmeg Industry- Grenada’s Black Gold”, and “The Education Reform Process”.

Two years and Forty-One years ago

Lloyd NoelWe are now two years since the controllers achieved the total support of the Electorate to run the nation’s affairs and the milestone of forty-one years, since our tiny nation gained Independence from the British Government in 1974.

What or how much we achieved in those forty-one years as an Independent nation state would be a matter of individual opinions and the political outlook of the commentators.

As to what was achieved since the clean sweep Victory at the Polls two years ago by the Controllers, that can be seen or recognised in the various communities if any, or answered in the negative without much effort.

But whatever the answers maybe by those persons with differing viewpoints or those who have or owe allegiance to The Controllers for whatever reasons, the situation across the Tri- Island state is quite visible for all and sundry to recognise without much effort.

And from all appearances that situation is not encouraging or re-assuring, for the many thousands of our people who have been un-employed and have no other means of earning a living for ever so long.

The messages and promises coming from the Controllers after the two years of no positive activities on their part, in keeping with the promises and programs they boasted about to win all the seats two years ago, these have now been forgotten or discarded for reasons known only to those in charge.

As for the program submitted by the Referendum Committee to the Government about which the people will have to vote for or against when the Polls are held, to give The Government a two-thirds majority so as to bring about the Reformation of the Constitution – that program and the voting date seem to have taken a back seat for the past few months and nothing has been heard about its status for the new year thus far.

The sale of Grenadian Passports to nationals in the Far-east, and the program for foreigners to Invest in Grenada, to bring about employment opportunities for our thousands of un-employed nationals in the Tri-Island state, those two activities seem very quiet for the new year thus far.

Whatever is happening behind the scenes, in the interest of providing employment for our loads of needy families, who are so dependent on those daily paid jobs to maintain themselves – these will be very welcome because things are very rough among those un-employed folks.

As far as the bits of news about foreigners coming to our shore, to start up businesses that will provide some needy jobs are concerned, these are also in great need for many families, and the sooner they can come in so much the better because things are very rough.

But if the sale of passports to foreigners, and their coming to the Islands to start up Businesses that will be providing jobs – if that program also means, that in holding a Grenadian Passport they will thereby be entitled to vote in a Referendum to amend our constitution then that will be going much too far in my humble opinion.

Lately I have been hearing news items about Chinese nationals coming to the Island by Government officials on the topic of Investment but no details were provided about the whole scheme and how it will affect their nationality in holding a Grenadian Passport.

I also find it very strange, that the NDC officials are not saying anything publicly on the whole matter of the sale of our Passports, to nationals of Far-Eastern states which are not members of the British Commonwealth of nations.

I am puzzled as to whether their silence can be interpreted as being in agreement with The Controllers and they too see our future as being aligned to Far Eastern states, and outside the Commonwealth that we have been accustomed to from way back in history.

There can be no denying that the Economic situation in our Tri-Island state, is in dire need of very widespread assistance to help in the provision of employment for our people.

Our national Government by itself – whether NDC or now NNP or any other party – cannot provide the ways and means, to produce the level of employment needed by our people to look after themselves.

But there are standards and principles, and human rights provisions and our religious upbringing that we cannot ignore, in looking for and choosing providers of Economic opportunities and employment, to get our people out of the chaotic situation we are now facing.

But as bad as things may become, or how much longer they may last before getting so much better, we should not be lowering our standards and principles, to attract outsiders who may have other ideas and motivations for coming to our assistance.

So that the interest being shown by Far Eastern states of investing in the Spice Isle as well as the controllers eagerness to trade our Independence with those foreigners – these and those must be viewed with the greatest suspicion and resisted Island wide with no reservation.

We have had some bitter experiences of human rights restrictions and denial of freedom of movement by Government in Grenada in the Nineteen Seventies; we cannot go back down that road, no matter what are the promises being publicised by The Controllers to win support.

It is therefore our abounding duty and solemn responsibility, to be very cautious and wary about whatever is being published to win our support and change our national image down the road.

We need some changes to assist the movement from where we are to where we want to be but those changes must not be from all kinds of outrageous decisions, that will affect our people in the years ahead.

Lessons to learn from the Jamie Stewart incident

The incident between Jamie Stewart and the Police Officer was a hot topic which was discussed at length on social media, the different radio call-in programs and the general public. Everyone expressed their opinion on the issue and soon we will forget about it. That is the way we Grenadians operate. We love excitement.

However, we have to look at the incident beyond who was right or wrong. The purpose of this letter is to examine the incident objectively to discover what lessons can be learnt and what can be done to prevent something similar from happening again.

Jamie Stewart was a student at a secondary school in St David but transferred to a Secondary School in St George. According to a relative, he was expelled from school sometime last year because he was accused of “coming on to the girls too much”.

Since he was expelled from school and being from an underprivileged family he went to work as a conductor. Soon he started having problems with police officers from the Traffic department. The relative explained that he was charged by the police and his father accompanied him to the Number One Magistrate’s Court where he reported why his son was not in school.

He stated that he reported the matter to the Ministry of Education but nothing was done. According to the relative, the court referred Jamie’s case to the Social worker at Social Services. My investigation revealed that the social worker investigated the incident and found out that the allegation was true and the matter was referred to the Ministry of Education. This means that if Jamie was in school we will never have such an incident.

Now, who gave the Principal the authority to expel a child from school because the girls are attracted to him? The Education act states that a Principal can suspend a student for one week for minor offences and two weeks for serious offences such as violence in school or for drugs possession.

Whenever a child is suspended the Principal is authorised to send a written report to the Ministry of Education. Parents, you need to know the law. Principals do not have the authority to “throw out” your children from school. Only the Ministry of Education after examining the case has the authority to decide if your child should be expelled permanently or not.

If the Ministry fails to take action to have your children return to school it is your right to find a lawyer and take legal action against the Principal and the Ministry. Do not wait for your child to end up like Jamie Stewart.

It is also of urgency that the Grenada Union of Teachers and the Ministry of Education assist the secondary school Principals to acquire the necessary skills to deal with these children because it appears that although they may be more qualified than their predecessors they do not have the ability to deal with children who have social issues and they are causing a lot of our children to become truants and juveniles.

Even when they have to deal with children who are slow they are quick to refer them to NEWLO as though NEWLO is the dumping ground for slow children. A research conducted by Myriam L. Baker, June Nady Sigmond and Elaine Nugent states that, “truancy or unexcused absence from school if left unaddressed during the preteen or teenage years can have significant negative effects on the student, schools and society.

It is linked to serious delinquent activity such as substance abuse, gang activity, burglary, auto theft and vandalism in youth and if it is not dealt with it will lead to more serious behavioural problems in adulthood.” We cannot allow these Principals to throw out our children from school. We have to take action against it.

Michael Walsh told a story which should be a lesson to Principals who find pleasure in throwing out children from school. Brandon Stanton, a street photographer asked Vidal Chastanet, a thirteen year old student of Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, one of the most dangerous locations in Brooklyn, New York who inspired him most in life.

His answer touched many people. “My principal, Nadia Lopez”, he responded. “When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us and she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school; a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up one at a time and she told each one of us that we matter.” Secondary school principals in Grenada need to apply this policy.

According to the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the child, a child is anyone under eighteen years. Jamie is seventeen years so his case should be tried in Juvenile court – so why is it being tried in traffic court? Where is the Coalition of the rights of the child on this issue? This organisation needs to stop being reactionary and start being proactive.

It is my opinion that the police are aware that the Magistrate would not tolerate a teenager being disrespectful to a police officer so they are “going for the kill” but it is reported that that same Magistrate who they want to try the case, on one occasion summoned officers of the Ministry of Education to his court because a child who appeared at his court was not attending school.

It is my hope that at the trial of Jamie Stewart, the Principal and personnel from the Ministry of Education should be summoned to court to explain why Jamie was expelled from school. Can it be said that the Principal is indirectly responsible for the crime?

The incident was taped and circulated on social media showing Jamie beating up the police. He did not sustain any injuries at the scene but after he was arrested he sustained an injured hand, swollen face with a cut above his eye and is spitting blood.

I am not condoning what Jamie did but no one, not even the police have the authority to take the law into their own hand – that is what the court is there for. What will happen now is that Jamie will be receiving two sets of punishment, one from whoever physically abused him while in the custody of the police and the other from the court.

Finally, let us look at the way the Corporal of police handled the situation and see if there wasn’t another way to deal with the problem and avoid that unfortunate situation.

The original problem was picking up a passenger outside of a prescribed bus stop. If he was given a ticket and he tore it up, is that a reason for arresting him? Didn’t the police have a duplicate in the ticket book? If tearing up a ticket is a crime, couldn’t the police avoid the confrontation and bring him to court with a summons? Did he have to prove something to the public by arresting him and humiliating him in the street?

Police officers need to understand that they are once a Police officer and twice a civilian. Grenada is a small society and it will be a sad day when police and civilians cannot live peacefully. We do not really want that.

A Concern Citizen

POLITICS AT ITS BEST

I have come to accept politics at the very least as entertaining if nothing else.

I have been monitoring a particular situation since this said newspaper bought it to the attention of the public and I am saddened to see that it pays to be a thief in Grenada. As I do not wish to mislead the youngsters I will add that, that is also dependent on who you are and who you know.

That a certain individual could have stolen from one government entity and then be given a higher position in another government place with access to even more of our poor nation’s funds is beyond me.  It does appear to the naked eye that some are being rewarded for stealing.

What exactly is the message that is being sent here?  Where is the Board of the Grenada Airport Authority?  What are they doing about this?

Theft occurred, yes the money was repaid but only when caught and unchallenged evidence was shown.  Why is this person still employed at GAA?  This individual stole from the people of Grenada……imagine that!  And not only was nothing done but the person was rewarded with a higher position.

Maybe it’s time for the people of Grenada to take a stance.  I think the people of Grenada need to publicly object to this person having access to our little island’s hard earned.  This is undoubtedly politics at its best or should I say at its worse.

What is the government saying here?  Once you are a NNP supporter you should steal from the people of Grenada?

A Very Concerned Citizen

Rip-off at hotels

I am still in shock to find out that certain hotels in Grenada are still underpaying their  workers, even when it is brought to the knowledge of the unions, not much interest are being shown in the workers.

This does not surprise me given the level of compromise some union have been making to the benefits of employers and not the employees in this modern time with all this awareness of worker’s rights.

I am still speechless when the female worker reached into her  bag with tears in her eyes, and showed me her monthly pay slip of $EC400.00. There are some hotel managers and others in businesses in this country who continue to take advantage of the poor people.

I am therefore calling on the Labour Department to please make it their duty to protect these workers. This matter is now in the hands of a lawyer. I am also calling on the Government to please stick to their election promises, and avoid the high level of exploitation that is still taking place in this country among exploitative business owners and managers.

Case in point: Since the  first  manager retired from this hotel, the new female acting manager is doing as she likes, totally and bluntly ignoring the designated domestic wage agreement set aside in law agreed up on by both government, and the unions of 720.00 $EC per month.

I am calling for the dismissal of this acting manager with immediate effect. This is a very dangerous practice taking place in this country and it’s because some unions are in bed with government.

Added to that, there is very high-handedness going on with the same manager, who in my opinion is removing the legitimate  tour operators who are registered as Tour companies under the laws of Grenada, and giving  the work to taxi drivers, only to get a 10 percent off the job.

They are ignoring completely, the level of research and professionalism – taxis are not tour operators.

But there is also a high level of injustice being practice by some hoteliers while in the same breath, they continue to make promises to satisfy the best interest of the guests at their hotels and ignoring the comments echoed, by social media such as Trip Advisor etc.

Elements like these do not have tourism at  heart, but their own selfish motives. There is also another bad practice being condoned at the hotels – someone will just mark taxi on a H Vehicle and be allowed to pick guests even if you have registered taxis based in these hotel yards.

A lot more needs to be done by the hotel association to address these issues. Let us not mix up taxi service with tour companies as taxis can never be tours service providers because they are fundamentally different.

Some tour companies must have public liability insurance, which a taxi will not have. So I am calling on government, the unions, and private sector to constantly look into protecting  these poor and vulnerable workers in our society.

This meagre salary was paid in the early 1980s – some of these single parents still have three and four children to care for.

If the poor man does not have spending  power then the rich man cannot prosper.

Kennedy Jawahir

Special thanks!!!

We are sometimes so overwhelmed with information about negative experiences at our main health facility; The General Hospital. However, while I do not disregard the authenticity of such reports,  I wish to bring to light the warm experience that I had having been warded at the Gynecological Ward.

I encountered kind nurses and doctors who were genuinely concerned about my well-being, who went over and beyond to assist me,  who despite limited resources ensured that I was comfortable.  They always had a kind word to say and encouraged their patients to be optimistic.

I was deeply touched by their kindness and my gratitude goes out to them especially Dr. Quashie and Dr. Andrews, Nurse Roberts, Nurse Binda and Nurse Lessey. With such devoted and hard-working public servants,  our health sector will surely improve.

Thank you.

Nerrisa James

Germany contributes 4.5 Million to Electricity Sector Reform

Dr Freudenberg and Permanent Secretary, Patricia Clarke

Dr Freudenberg and Permanent Secretary, Patricia Clarke

Deputy Head of Mission of the German Embassy in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad with responsibility for Grenada, Dr. Michael Freudenberg, made a special visit to the Spice Isle to coincide with the island’s 41st anniversary of independence.

During the February 4-9 visit, the German diplomat participated in several meetings including the Zero-Hunger Pledging Conference.

Dr. Freudenberg met with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to hand over a Note Verbale by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs which announced a new and important project in the energy sector.

The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) agreed to provide approximately 4.5 Million XCD (approx. 1.4 million Euros) from its International Climate Initiative (IKI) to support sector reforms in the Grenadian energy sector.

The project, “Reform of the Electricity Sector to support Climate Policy in Grenada” (G-RESCP) will commence this month.

The goal is to support Grenada in the use of renewable energy and its reduction of CO2 emissions via institutional amendments to allow for more investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

In a meeting with Permanent Secretary of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Patricia Clarke, the German envoy stressed that “Grenada has great potential for renewable energy and hence a unique opportunity to reduce its carbon footprint”.

Dr. Freudenberg said that Germany is happy to support reforms in the energy sector to allow Grenada to reap the benefits of this potential resource.

“By doing this, Grenada can lead the way for small island states in amending institutional structures to follow the path of a sustainable society”, he remarked.

G-RESCP will be implemented by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), in close collaboration with the Government of Grenada.

This new initiative is the second project in Grenada to be funded by the German Ministry for Environment.

The first project, the “Integrated Climate Change Adaptation Strategies” (ICCAS) programme, was launched in April 2013 and has a volume of approximately 16 million XCD (5 million Euros).

ICCAS’ objective is to increase resilience of vulnerable communities and ecosystems to climate change risks in Grenada.

It was noted that although the ICCAS Project is not even at its halfway mark, it has left a recognisable imprint across various sectors in Grenada.

Permanent Secretary with responsibility for Agriculture, Lands and the Environment, who works closely with the ICCAS project, Merina Jessamy, lauded the key role of BMUB as a donor and GIZ as implementer in the reactivation of the National Climate Change Committee, the development of a Coastal Zone Policy for Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique and the training of public officers in the use of a Climate Risk Assessment Tool, which helps to make climate-smart decisions.

ICCAS is currently starting a rainwater harvesting project, a climate-smart agricultural project, as well as a community-based reforestation campaign which includes the protection of mangroves.

Recently, ICCAS also produced a climate change music video with three young Grenadian artistes (Swipe, Eclipse & Avonni) who performed the song, “Can’t do it alone”, which is available on Youtube for viewing.

At the end of 2014, as part of ICCAS, a Community Adaptation Fund with a budget of 3.3 Million XCD was created, which will assist non-government organisations to implement projects that will mitigate the negative impacts of climate change in their communities.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is in charge for the implementation of this key financing instrument to combat climate change in communities.

Dr. Freudenberg also mentioned that the new energy project will build on the groundwork of the existing climate change initiative, and extends the scope from Climate Change Adaptation to mitigation of greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change.

Grenada is the first country to receive such comprehensive climate change focused support which is also a component of other regional projects such as the “Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions (CATS)” project based in St Lucia, and the Regional Renewable Energy projects based in Guyana and St Lucia.

According to the German diplomat, this impressive list of projects shows the importance of Grenada to Germany as a front-runner in the fight against climate change.

He noted that the groundwork done by the German projects puts Grenada in an advantageous position to receive additional large-scale funding from the Green Climate Fund.

This, he said also means that the international community will look closely on actions on the ground in Grenada, and the progress made to inform the resilience-building measures of their own efforts.

Killing the goose that lays the golden egg!!!

Long time patriotic donor to the government and people of Grenada, Mr Chester Simon, who is a born Grenadian but currently resides and operates a business in Switzerland, was singled out for the most horrible and unwarranted treatment by the local Grenadian authorities.

What is understood to be his fifth container shipment donated free of cost to the government and people of Grenada since Hurricane Ivan ravished the country in 2004, has turned out to be a dreadful experience for Mr Simon at the Grenada Customs.

Mr Simon, who was in Grenada for a short visit during the Christmas season to assist in the distribution and presentation of a shipment of merchandise that consisted mainly of medical supplies for the Ministry of Health, among other items for various institutions, had to extend his stay on the island in order to clear his name of alleged wrongdoing.

In what can be best described as an unanticipated move by the Grenada Customs to seize possession of the non-medical items identified within the container which was reported as not being properly declared. He was later advised by the authorities to consult with a lawyer if he so wishes, since a full investigation will be carried out on the non-medical items within the container.

The 1993 SRO.35 of the CARICOM Common External Order gives clear guidelines of how free donations of these sorts should be treated by the competent authority (i.e. the Cabinet of Grenada). In broad context, donations of this nature are viewed as contributions towards the development of the country and do not serve as a direct benefit to the person or organisation making such donation, therefore such items should be free of all taxes and levies.

It is only a Cabinet Conclusion alone and not the Comptroller of Customs that can authorise concessions to any person, business entity or organisation. If there was an error on the documentation presented by Mr Simon to the Customs that read “special effects” instead of “personal effects”, this error could have been easily corrected by the competent authority, i.e. the Cabinet of Grenada via a letter authorising concessions on the shipment, rather than bringing the gentleman to open embarrassment.

Things took a turn for the worse when the Government Information Service (GIS) put out a release that suggested that Mr Simon was trying to defraud the government of much needed revenues. The government should take full responsibility for their ineptness and lack of competence and sensitivity in dealing with a simple and important matter of a bona fide and patriotic Grenadian, who for love of country sees it as a sense of duty beyond pleasure to reach out and assist his fellow citizens in a time of gross economic depression and hopelessness.

This inhumane action meted out to Mr Chester Simon has not gone unnoticed by the citizens of Grenada both at home and in the Diaspora and so one is left to wonder what next will this administration do to prevent the rights and freedoms of Grenadians everywhere to give assistance freely without fear or hindrance to political victimisation.

Since resuming office almost two years ago this NNP administration has squandered the opportunity given to it to settle down and help repair the damage done to the Grenadian economy over the last 20 years. Fifteen of those 20 years were governed by the New National Party administration, and during that period the government struck many bad deals that resulted in the loss of millions of dollars to the Grenada economy. The consequence and effects of those bad deals are now being realised by all Grenadians as the country faces severe hardship in a very depressed economy.

The New National Party was voted into office on some well put together “catch phrases” such as “New economy”, “we will deliver” and “we will rescue you” from the recession by providing jobs, jobs, and more jobs within a matter of 100 days and so on, every school child was supposed to be given a laptop to replace the NDC free school book programme; the promised laptops were later reduced to tablets but to date none of these are being realised. This and many others grandiose promises were made to the populace.

Instead what the people are experiencing to date under this administration is a far cry in respect to the overwhelming mandate given to the administration.

The consistent negative reviews of blunder, slip-up and mix-up made by this NNP administration since assuming office is unprecedented and of major concern to our foreign policy initiative as well as our populace.

Grenadians are growing weary of this state of affairs. It is now left to the administration to take the necessary steps to treat its populace with dignity and respect or else face the wrath of the people whenever the next election is called.

Jerry Marryshow

The new cold war

Many persons  will say that Obama is  trying  to lift the 60 year old embargo on Cuba, which was placed by the  U.S since 1961.

While this may sound good, it may not be so easy to do. Let us remember that lifting of the embargo does not only depend on Obama, but the approval of the American Congress, which is controlled by Republicans and who hold a  majority vote.

This embargo will not be easy to lift, given the preconditions the Cubans and the Americans are initiating – one of which is the return of Guantanamo province, where the Americans have a prominent military base which was separated from Cuba, during  the Spanish American war of 1898 which the US is still in control of up to today.

Added to that, the Americans are not being nice to Cuba – let us remember that the world order is changing, and we are almost on the brink of another new cold war, between the US and Russia.

The Russians have now established a new strategic alliance within Venezuela,   Bolivia, Brazil, and Cuba.

With new moves by the Russians to commence long range strategic bombers to start flying South, Central,  America, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico, this is clearly geopolitical ambitions, and the Americans are very uncomfortable with this new move by the Russians.

Imagine that even during the cold war, Russian bombers were not flying over the Gulf of Mexico. So clearly, the Americans just definitely have to try to get closer to Cuba  to strike a balance.

Russia has just whipped  out a 30 billion US dollar debt  which have accumulated since during the cold war  by Vladimir Putin as Cuba’s largest trading partner, which was some 6 billion dollars a year.

Remember, in the view of the US, this is a very dangerous development in the US backyard. So please when we are thinking that Obama is trying to chart a new coast, that does not mean that the Republicans really want that to happen.

We also need to take into consideration the world’s most advanced air defense missile system, which was developed by Russia, which is known as the S300 and the S400 which is capable of engaging 36 air  targets at the same time.

It is highly possible that this missile system could be deployed, in the US backyard.  Obama doesn’t just want to move the embargo – there are much more reasons for this.

It should also be noted that NATO and the West are encroaching on the ex-Soviet States which are now joining NATO.  All this is happening within the Russian borders hence the Russians are also wanting to get so close to the US where their national security will feel threatened by Russia,

Kennedy Jawahir

Let’s Talk about Money

There is an old saying that ‘money cannot buy you happiness’. But then someone else said that ‘If money cannot buy you happiness then you are shopping in the wrong place’. Maybe it was Notorious BIG and his friends who got it right when they discovered that the ‘More money they came upon is the more problems they had’.

In recent times every release from the Government of Grenada and most articles parroted by our journalist based on government press releases began by talking about money. Even the last cricket matches held at the National Stadium were analyzed on the basis of how much money they had generated for the country with no discussion on the public’s enjoyment or lack thereof of the games.

It has become the norm to restrict our discussions on a wide range of issues to the financial gain or loss incurred. It is now a routine for our leaders upon their return from an overseas trip to declare how much money was made available on that trip based on some new initiative or the other again with no references to whether the project will be good or bad for us.

For example, in reference the IMF austerity program the focus was always on the loan of USD$21.7 Million to be received upon signing of the letter of intent and not on the long list of debilitating measures that accompany the loan. Indeed much of the money talk died down when people realized that this worked out to be a chicken licking sum of USD$2.7 Million every six months after the IMF fully satisfied themselves that the country was crawling along nicely on its belly.

At the age of 41, it is a good time for Grenada to take stock of itself and ask the question, are we happy? If the answer is no then this is also a good time to examine ourselves and to set as a vision for the coming forty years; the relentless pursuit of happiness.

Several individuals and groups have posted videos to YouTube with
their rendition of the ‘Happy Song’. They sing along and dance merrily to the music in effort to express and share their happiness or simply to try to be happy. Whatever the rationale behind the posting it comes down to an effort to identify with the role happiness plays in one’s life or to promote happiness as a healthy way of living.

The Chartered Association of Certified Accountants (ACCA) in its Accounting and Business Magazine of September 2013 examined the effort by several countries to replace the financial measure – Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – as a measure of progress with the use of an alternative gauge of happiness by examining a wide range of quality of life elements.

According to the Article the real effort lies in attempting to measure happiness and linking it to a tangible life quality element that Government can change. Research has shown that GDP may not necessarily measure happiness. It has been found that as people grew richer they did not necessarily grow happier. The quest for happiness became more non-economic, emotional, spiritual and other forms of satisfaction.

According to the article, the Himalyan Kingdom of Butan has been working toward producing policy indicators that assess a society’s collective happiness or well-being. The UN General Assembly in August 2011 passed a resolution recognizing ‘happiness as a universal goal and aspiration’ and that ‘the GDP by nature was not designed to and does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of the people in a country’.

In March 2013 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released ‘Guideline on Measuring well-being’ it claimed that this was the ‘first comprehensive framework for internationally comparable and intellectually robust data on the topic’. The OECD wants governments to link well-being measures to policy delivery so that they not only know how to make people happy but how much it costs.

A ‘better life index’ created by the OECD suggest that governments deepen psychological data by linking it to measurement of how societies fare in jobs, health, housing and civic engagement. In Egypt, for example, GDP, life expectancy, and education improved while the country’s happiness index fell in 2008-2009 indicating potential turmoil to come.

As the IMF structural adjustment home grown Project Grenada Program sinks its teeth in our flesh and with the lackluster celebration of independence this is a good time for our leaders to apply the OECD measurements to the economy in an effort to gauge the level of happiness of the population and curtail all this talk about money.

Garvey Louison
FCCA