Chitan on EC$500, 000 Bail for Stealing

Alleged theft perpetrator - Elvin Chitan

Alleged theft perpetrator – Elvin Chitan

An elder with the Seventh Day Adventist Church has been picked up by police in connection with stealing nearly half-a-million from his former employers, Columbus Communication.

Two van loads of police officers swooped down at the home in Defoo, Springs of 39-year old Elvin Chitan, early last week Friday morning in connection with allegations that he stole approximately EC$465, 000 from his former place of employment.

Chitan was employed as an accountant at Columbus Communication for a number of years, and is accused of abusing his authority to steal monies from the company during the period January 1st 2010 – February 27th 2015.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the party of officers spent approximately 45 minutes inside the house apparently looking for documents.

When the officers emerged, they came out with a box allegedly containing documents that might be able to help them with their investigations.

Police investigators slapped Chitan with three indictable offences – stealing by reason of employment, falsification of documents and money laundering.

The suspect appeared in court on Monday and was granted bail in the sum of EC$500, 000 with three sureties.

The accused is being represented by Attorney-at-Law, Peter David, who was successful in his bail application at the St George’s Magistrate Court Number One.

Chief Magistrate, Tamara Gill as part of the bail conditions set, ordered Chitan to surrender all his travel documents and to report to the Central Police Station on the Carenage every Monday and Friday between the hours of 6.00a.m and 6.00pm.

THE NEW TODAY understands that Chitan is a prominent elder at the Springs  Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Several church members showed support for him by turning up at Monday’s court hearing.

Chitan’s wife is currently employed at the Grenada Supreme Court Registry.

Information reaching THE NEW TODAY indicate that the accused is the holder of about five different banking accounts containing more than EC$200, 000 each.

Although the three charges have already been brought against Chitan, the Police Prosecution indicated to the court that the investigations are still ongoing and the possibility exist that more charges could be laid against him.

Chitan is due to reappear before the Chief Magistrate on July 14th.

The suspect reportedly told close associates that he had left the work at Columbus Communications.

Chitan is believed to have found new employment at a hardware store in the Woodlands area of St. George’s.

Gov’t moves to increase VAT threshold

The Government of Grenada has taken the decision to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) threshold from EC$120, 000 to $300, 000 with the aim of providing greater incentives for the expansion of small businesses on the island.

This is one of several new measures to be introduced with the passing of the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2015, tabled in the Lower House of Parliament last week Friday.

The Bill also proposes a reduction in the late fee for filing VAT returns from EC$10, 000 to either 5% plus 1% for each month thereafter or whichever is greater.

Health Minister Nicholas Steele, who introduced the Bill to the House for first reading, said it presents a more realistic measure of equity to taxpayers, and provides more breathing space for the small businessman.

Five other money bills were piloted during last Friday’s sitting proposing to significantly restrict certain powers from the Minister of Finance for the first time in the history of Grenada’s Parliament.

They are the Annual Stamp Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2015; Property Transfer Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2015; Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2015; Public Debt Management Bill, 2015; and the Fiscal Responsibility Bill, 2015.

The Annual Stamp Tax (Amendment) Bill, was passed with amendment and proposes an increased threshold from EC$30, 000 to EC$36, 000 targeting small businesses.

“We have to ensure that small businesses grow…to ensure that small businesses make their contribution,” said Trade Minister, Oliver Joseph who introduced the Bill to the House.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell strongly supported the Bill reiterating that this move is an “attempt to provide avenues for “people with innovation to take more risks.”

“We believe that we should keep the rate at its minimum, and that is what we are doing here today,” Dr Mitchell added.

This newspaper understands that more than 60 small businesses throughout the island have closed their doors since the Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration came into office in February 2013.

Meanwhile, the Property Transfer Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which was passed without amendment, seeks to clarify ambiguity involved with the transfer of lands.

Steele said the amendment proposes a regularized procedure for foreign investors on what they need to do, as well as set a time schedule for investors to make their investment a reality.

It stipulates that where a purchaser who is not a citizen is allowed a rate of tax of 5% for exclusive use in carrying out a project, if the project is not commenced within two years of acquisition, the property tax waived shall be repaid to the Comptroller.

Contributing to the debate on the Bill, Prime Minister Mitchell noted that “in the past, governments would have given concessions without insisting in the agreement that if they (the investor) didn’t perform they would be fined.”

The Bill also seeks to remove powers from the Minister of Finance to remit tax, which Dr Mitchell said “speaks volumes of the intention of this government to ensure that politicians don’t take advantage…”

The Income Tax (Amendment) Bill was passed and seeks to provide several incentive regimes and a more predictable path for the granting of investment incentives.

According to Education Minister Anthony Boatswain, who piloted the Bill, it is expected that it would be the “primary vehicle for which concessions are granted.”

It also restricts in a significant manner the powers of the Minister of Finance, he added.

“In all my years …I have never seen any bill brought to Parliament restricting the powers of the Minister of Finance”, Boatswain told the lower house sitting.

In giving support to the bill, Prime Minister Mitchell noted that the change “brings an air of certainty in the process of granting concessions”.

“It’s a win-win situation for all concerned,” he remarked.

Speculation is rife that officials from the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressured the two year old administration to insert the clause to effectively reduce on some of the discretionary powers of the Minister of Finance on the issue of concessions.

The fund has been overlooking the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) which the Mitchell-led regime has been forced to enter into in order to deal with a severe fiscal situation facing the country and the need to address a massive national debt of EC$2.6 billion.

Additionally, the Fiscal Responsibility Bill seeks to introduce a rules-based fiscal policy framework, establish accompanying risk management systems and promote transparency in the management of the financial operations of the Government to ensure progressive minimisation of debt obligations.

This bill calls for the establishment of a fiscal responsibility framework and for prescription of targets to ensure progressive minimisation of financial obligations, among others.

It is expected that all six bills will be approved and passed into law during Friday’s sitting of the Upper House (Senate).

IMF calling the shots!!!

A recent statement made in another island within the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has raised once again the austerity measures inflicted on the backs of Grenadians by the New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

St. Lucia Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony told his own Parliament that he had the choice but decided against introducing any of the harsh measures that were instituted in the Spice Isle.

The St. Lucian leader was making reference to measures such as the doubling of the Property Tax on home owners, the widening of the income tax dragnet to catch more persons, and the huge increases in a number of government fees.

The major difference in the situation facing both countries is that St. Lucia had the option to avoid the type of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) imposed in St. George’s while the NNP had no choice but to call in the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bail-out from its severe fiscal imbalance.

Reality had been driven home to Grenadians in 2013 after years of unfortunate borrowing and spending by previous governments headed by Dr. Mitchell on a host of unsustainable projects.

Too many millions were wasted on projects that never materialised – the Poultry project at St. Mark’s, the Garden Group hotels in the south, the MNIB Fiasco in the Lagoon Road, the Call Centers, and the charade that took place in building the so-called Ritz Carlton hotel at Mt. Hartman.

The island’s debt burden became too heavy for the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Tillman Thomas.

The Minister of Finance in the 2008-13 period, Nazim Burke was always under pressure in the latter half of the government’s term in office to find monies on a consistent basis to pay salaries and international creditors at the same time.

THE NEW TODAY has stated in the past and wish to re-iterate that despite the uttering of the current rulers in St. George’s the economic and financial landscape will be problematic for the next 10-15 years.

It is not a quick fix for NNP or Congress in the immediate and foreseeable future.

The “ole talk” about building a new economy has been put back on centre-stage with the launch of the National Plan 2030 in which Dr. Patrick Antoine has once again surfaced after being in the “cold” for a long time to emerge as the main architect.

There is a lot of explaining for Dr. Antoine to do to the Grenadian people since he played a major role in the creation of the NNP manifesto document that propelled the party with a clean 15-0 sweep of the polls in February 2013 on the platform of “We Will Deliver”.

Where was Dr. Antoine hiding over the many months? Who is really in charge of the nation’s Economy – Dr. Antoine or Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine?

Does the entry of Dr. Antoine once again mean that the NNP is planning something new to sell to the electorate to get them to stick with “the green folks” for the next election? What is this new something in the making?

There is no relationship in terms of what is happening in Grenada economically and financially with the promises made by PM Mitchell and company with the last NNP Manifesto.

The calypsonians are having a field day on the investors still in waiting or those who have apparently canceled their flights into the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) with the bag of money for investment purposes.

In recent days, there was a strange utterance from PM Mitchell that too many people in Grenada believe that government has to provide the jobs for them.

If the tapes of 1995 are pulled out, it was Dr. Mitchell who told the NNP victory rally at the old Queen’s Park pavilion in 1995, “if is work you want is work you go get”.

THE NEW TODAY suspects that this period is the most painful for the Prime Minister as the SAP has just about destroyed his economic theory of the last 15 years about always putting disposable income in the hands of the people to propel economic growth and development.

The current construct of the NNP is to take away the so-called “disposable income” from the people to meet the demands of the IMF to help fix Grenada’s severe fiscal problem.

The folks in Washington are seemingly calling the major shots in Grenada. It is our firm belief that the Fund had a big hand in the decision of government to take legislation to Parliament to put the Minister of Finance in a straight jacket when it comes to using his discretionary powers on the issue of granting concessions.

This kind of legislation is not in the DNA of PM Mitchell who sees himself as a maximum leader and the one to go to on major issues in the country.

This paper would not forget the warning issued over two years ago by the IMF that its previous programmes in Grenada have failed under both NNP and NDC and the new one (SAP) will be a horse of a different colour.

Black Wizard’s IMF’s keep reverberating in our ears, when he sang
about the conditions often set by the IMF – if you want my money then be prepared for the austerity.

SJC St. George wins another trophy

GUTCU official (extreme right) presents cheque to winners

GUTCU official (extreme right) presents cheque to winners

The St. Joseph’s Convent St. George (SJCSG) has emerged the winners of the 2nd G.U.T. Credit Union National Secondary Schools Financial Literacy Quiz.

The final, held on May 28 at the Grenada Trade Centre saw the SJCSG team keenly challenged by the team from the Mac Donald College. Both teams ended rounds one on equal points, however SJCSG pulled ahead in round two by providing quicker, more accurate responses.

Sixteen secondary schools participated in the quiz, including Bishop’s College from Carriacou.

According to President of the G.U.T. Credit Union, Carl Andall, “the staging of an activity of this nature could not come at a better time… we believe that once persons acquire a working knowledge of basic financial transactions they would now feel empowered and confident to face the challenges which we are now faced with as a nation.”

GUTCU official (extreme right) presents cheque to winners

GUTCU official (extreme right) presents cheque to winners

As champions the St. Joseph’s Convent St George received the winner’s trophy, a challenge trophy and EC$3000 and the team members and teaching coach received $1000 each.

The Mac Donald College, which took the 2nd place, received a trophy and EC$2000. Each team member and coach received $750.

The Presentation Brothers College came third and received a trophy and EC$1000. The team members and coach received $500 each.

All schools and participating team members received consolation prizes.

Massive victory for St Mary’s Junior School

The St. Mary’s Junior School (SMJS) has dethroned the Grenada Junior Academy (GJA) in the 2015 Private Primary School’s Championship held last week Thursday at the grounds of the National Stadium, Queen’s Park, St. George.

St. Mary’s Junior School (SMJS) wins 2015 Private Primary School’s Championship

St. Mary’s Junior School (SMJS) wins 2015 Private Primary School’s Championship

GJA, the six-year champions, suffered a massive defeat when the curtains closed on the 64-event Ribena-sponsored games, amassing a total of 362 points, 134 points less than the athletes of St Mary’s (496 points).

SMJS seemed to have been on a winning streak as the school also won the March Past parade, while Alpha Junior and Westmorland trailed behind on 253 and 260 points, respectively.

An ecstatic SMJS Principal, Brian Charles said this is a significant win for the school, which is located at Tempe, St. George’s.

Speaking with THE NEW TODAY at the end of the day’s event, Charles attributed his athlete’s accomplishment in the games this year as a result of their engagement in a “specific developmental training programme and activities” developed by the school.

“We have put structures in place to ensure that they (the athletes) develop in the various categories,” he said, noting that “over the years we would have looked at the performance of our athletes at the Private Primary School games…we have been at second place consistently and we have put structures in place to ensure that our athletes peak and this is what we have seen today – victory at the games.”

The event saw the participation of 16 private primary schools and the emergence of several outstanding athletes including 11-year-old Tahje’ Grant, who is a sixth grader attending the Rainbow Junior Academy at Seamoon, St. Andrew.

He was one of the superior performers capturing a number of the events including the high and long jump events – jumping 1.24m and 4.35m, respectively and the javelin and short put events – throwing 8m and 21.9m respectively.

The aspiring footballer also placed first in the 100m, 200m and 800m races bringing home a total of seven gold medals.

Chairman of the Ribena Private Schools Games Organising Committee, Kester Elcock said the games have been very progressive over the years.

“These games have not only grown in numbers but also the quality of athletes participating at the games…who have gone on to do things nationally” such as CARIFTA athlete, Ronnie Ollivierre, Shawn Lambert, who holds the record in the 100m at the National Inter-collegiate games and Aaliyah Bartholomew who also established her record in the high jump at midgets while she was just a PREP, Shemar Mills who established records in the 100m and 200m PREP in 2014 and Doneala La Touche, who broke Mills record at the 2015 premier Inter-col event, among many others.

“They are examples of not just athletic excellence but have gone on to show, what the private school’s can do,” Elcock declared during the opening ceremony of the event.

Additionally, the committee chairman announced that the 100m under 13 male racing event was held in tribute to one of the PREP games most outstanding graduate, Dr. Shawn Lambert.

National Sports Coordinator, Conrad Francis, who was involved in the organising of the very first Private Primary School’s championship, was happy to note the growth of the games.

“It just shows the potential and what can happen once you have vision…”, Francis said.

Burke expresses concern over Fiscal Performance

The Grenada Government has registered a decrease in the level of its fiscal performance for the month of April, 2015 as against the corresponding period in 2014.

A fiscal summary report released by the Ministry of Finance for the month of April shows that revenues for the month of April was $1.2m above the target with the Treasury taking in collections of $45.6M as against the projected $44.4M.

Total revenues collected in April 2015 were $11.9M lower than the collections in April 2014 on account of a huge one-off receipt in April of last year.

However, Political Leader of the main Opposition, National Democratic Congress (NDC), Senator Nazim Burke believes the 20 percent drop in revenue collection may well be the first signal that the cash-strapped Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) Government is experiencing some kind of a financial difficulty.

During an appearance on a GBN Programme one day after the report was released, Sen Burke  said there is a significant under-performance by the two year old administration in respect of revenues, grants, and capital expenditure.

Sen Burke said the fiscal performance for April 2015 is a matter for concern as it is happening at a time when government is stating that the economy is buoyant.

The summary report also indicated that grant receipts continue to fall short of the target figure.

In April 2015, total grant receipts were $10.8M less than the target of $16.7M. However, the $5.9M received was more than the $3.3M taken in by government in April 2014.

According to the report, current expenditure was within target, amounting to $35.5M as against the target of $37.8M.

The level of current spending in April this year was $0.7M lower than the corresponding period last year.

Capital expenditure of EC$14.5M was below its target of $27.0M. This level of capital spending was similar to the level realized in April 2014.

Sen Burke charged that with capital expenditure being just about half of what was intended, it clearly shows that the local economy is not about to expand to the extent that the Mitchell government has presented its case to the people.

Total Current Revenue collected in April was $45.6m, as against $56.2m in 2014 ($10.6m less).

Taxes on income and profits in 2015 were $8.5m, while in 2014 it was $8.0m.

Taxes collected on property for 2015 were $2.7m, as compared to $3.3m last year.

Taxes on Goods and Services registered $11.2m, as against $8.4m last year while taxes on International Transactions amounted to $19.6m, as opposed to $19.1m in 2014.

The Trinidad & Tobago-based Medical Associates Hospital has expressed a willingness to improve the health care situation in Grenada with the use of advanced medical services.

The private hospital has 50 plus medical specialists, 50 beds and 35 years experience in providing quality health care.

A look at Medical Associates Hospital located in St Joseph’s, Trinidad

A look at Medical Associates Hospital located in St Joseph’s, Trinidad

A number of representatives from the hospital visited Grenada recently to engage in some preliminary work and conducted an interview with The New Today newspaper.

According to Vice President in the office of the Medical Director at the hospital, Karen Hinds, the hospital is mainly looking towards public/private collaborations.

“I want to emphasise the private component of it. Within these few days that we have been here, we’ve actually met with people within the both sectors and we’re hoping that when we return to Trinidad we can first put together something that would be good enough,” she said.

Hinds stated that the main objective of the medical outfit is to provide good health care for the people of Grenada.

Coordinator of the Executive Suite at the hospital, Irma Rattansingh said that Medical Associates is committed to helping Grenadians get better health care.

“We do have a lot of Grenadian patients coming to Trinidad especially for our pre-screening packages and pre-screening meaning there are packages that will help you. When you finish those testing, you may encounter issues for example High Cholesterol, or if you’re a diabetic you may find it during that testing – that it will now prepare you to take further action to help prevent it from going further,” she added.

“We really want to encourage not just our country but our sister countries, all these islands to (get) better health care because once you do that you find the environment would be different, you encourage health, you encourage a clean mind,” she said.

Although the services of the hospital will be available through collaborations, VP Hinds said it is hopeful that it will be an ongoing thing.

“We would like for it to be ongoing, meaning that… it’s like we’re coming in here to try and understand what you need and then going forward now… I do believe Grenada and Trinidad have shared a very, very long relationship both on the social level and both on the economic level,” she remarked.

Hinds sought to give assurances that the services to be provided will
be made available to everyone at an affordable cost, but was unable to give an estimated cost since the fees will be decided by the Director of the Hospital.

“When we go back in, we will discuss with our Medical Director what we have found and he in turn will have a meeting with the Board of Directors. Our proposal to him is really definitely collaboration and ensuring that we can have affordable cost,” she said.

The services to be provided range from Oncology to Caribbean Advanced Laparascopic Surgical Service (CALSS).

Under CALSS, the hospital offers Bariatric service, a weight loss programme done through a minor surgery.

In addition, free on-phone consultations are available to Grenadians until the end of June for the service.

The health facility also provides Outpatients’ clinics, Laboratories, Cardiac laboratory, X-Ray, Ultrasound, CT, MRI imaging and an ICU facility.

It has four operating rooms for general as well as microscopic surgeries, laparoscopy, arthroscopy, laser ophthalmic surgery and endoscopy.

The hospital promotes a Woman Wellness Package that focuses on Breast Ultra Sound, Abdomen & Pelvic Ultra Sound, Urine Microscopy, and Pap Smears among others.

The medical facility also works in collaboration with other medical professionals including radiation oncologists, specialist doctors, nurses, lab technicians & dieticians.

Among the services offered are consultation with specialty in Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Haematology, Palliative Medicine, Infusion Suite for chemotherapy, Consultation and Medical Care for adults with blood disorder, Diagnostic tests including bone marrow biopsy and Symptom management.

Medical Associates also offer to the public a programme in weight Loss, Gall Bladder Removal, Colon Cancer Resection, Hernia Repair, Appendectomy and others.

Government launches National Plan 2030

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has unveiled a national plan to take the Grenadian economy up to 2030.

The Steering Committee members of the National Plan that is headed by Economic Development Minister, Oliver Joseph

The Steering Committee members of the National Plan that is headed by Economic Development Minister, Oliver Joseph

Launched at the Trade Centre at Grand Anse last week Wednesday in the presence of private and public sector officials, the National Plan 2030 focuses on the extensive development of the island for the next 15 years.

The plan will build on other existing plans including the Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy.

A National Steering Committee headed by Minister for Economic Development and Planning, Oliver Joseph along with a Technical Working group has been established to help drive the process.

The National Plan 2030 will seek to provide jobs for persons who wish to work; business opportunities for those who choose to invest; and social justice for all who believe in equality and human rights.

In addressing the launch, Minister Joseph is optimistic that the plan would help to achieve the goal of building the New Economy – a promise made by the ruling New National Party (NNP) to propel it to a clean 15-0 victory at the polls in 2013.

The senior government minister said: “National Plan 2030 will provide the long term framework within which pillars for an even structural transformation and sustainability development will be identified as access to achieve our goals”

“The national strategic plan 2030…will build on the current exist of plans, policies and programmes in particular… the national strategic plan 2007, the national strategic plan 2015/2017, the 2015 strategic plan in modernising the public sector, strategic plans of ministries, statutory bodies and state owned enterprises,” he added.

In reacting to the move, representatives of the Committee of Social Partners, Judy Williams stated that the presentation of the plan should not be based on attitude but that it must be demonstrated by action.

“This process to develop a national developing plan requires serious change in perspective. Take a proactive, integrated, well-grounded approach guided by principles equity, justice, sustainability, an approach, which guarantees active participation of all our people,” she said.

The National Plan Technical Working group headed by Dr. Patrick Antoine who was identified as the Chief Economic Policy Advisor to the NNP regime in 2013

The National Plan Technical Working group headed by Dr. Patrick Antoine who was identified as the Chief Economic Policy Advisor to the NNP regime in 2013

According to Williams, the social partners’ vision in the process is to serve the national interest and as such, “it should not be seen as a lie”.

Prime Minister Mitchell, who is also Chairman of the Committee of Social Partners said the National Plan 2030 will seek to increase on growth in the country that must be broad-based and all-inclusive.

This he said should touch the Urban and Rural communities.

He assured the stakeholders that as government embarks on the plan to 2030, it intends to stick to it for the development of Grenada.

“Our commitment is for a fully transparent and participatory process. Sisters and brothers, the Government is not interested in scoring any points by this initiative… credit cannot be taken by the Government alone, it is by all the Social Partners… this is not about Keith Mitchell and the NNP… this is about this little land that God has given us which we historically has not taken care of sufficiently and we have to do so now”, he said.

“…This plan is not about Structural Adjustment, instead it is about structural transformation and the prosperity of all our citizens. This plan will serve this nation long after some of us in Government has ended our period of service and moved on,” he added.

A leading private sector official has welcomed the initiative, stating that Grenada as a developing country should have a developing plan.

“If the Government is serious about it and I hope they are, this will be a very good thing and I look forward to be an active part. As we were told, it couldn’t be a short-term thing, it has to take time… the Constitutional Reform has to be an important part to it but we cannot move forward and seriously say we want to plan for the next 30 years and don’t put a proper governance system in place”, he remarked.

“What I see happening with the Constitutional Reform process, I’m worried about the sincerity about really doing this thing right. The key to the success of this plan is going out there to the communities, the grassroots level to determine what are our strengths, what are our assets, what do our people need, what do they see themselves becoming in 30 years?” he queried.

Labour Representatives in the Senate, Ray Roberts said this should be a participatory process by all Grenadians.

“I don’t think it is a political side as such, I think if we all play a role as activists…we would ensure that it is a Grenada plan … so for me I would just encourage all Grenadians to take an interest. It is broad-based, it doesn’t have any colour, we are the ones to give it shape and therefore the young people in particular they should take more than just an interest of maybe satisfying maybe self, they should seek to satisfy the greater good which is Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique,” Sen. Roberts said.

WOLF! WOLF! WHERE? WHERE?

By William Joseph

Will someone please tell him that there is something called the ‘national table’ with seats for all who seriously and with merit wish to lead the nation? Will someone also tell him that anyone who is seized with the ‘cry-wolf’ syndrome entraps himself and thereby loses the freedom of perspectives necessary for good leadership? Will some believer pray that he receives an anointing of sound political judgment, very, very soon?

Let us all now say to him that when the subject or cause is national in nature and scope, it is for that very reason bigger than the NDC or the NNP, or indeed each of us as individuals.

As things stand, the entire effort towards Plan 2030 would be greatly assisted if the two main parties were to enter into a Protocol agreeing the status and character of the Plan and the basis on which they would treat the work product being progressed and the eventual Plan itself. To simplify, the thinking here is that neither party should be free to upload the Plan or elements thereof and present same to the electorate in their respective manifestos, as if it were owned by one or the other political party. There must always be a proper separation between ‘Government’ and ‘Party.’

For the time being, Grenada has two strong and important political parties, the NNP and the NDC. Each party exists for the purpose of securing opportunities of forming the Government of Grenada, at the pleasure of the people. Notwithstanding what may be termed as base support, the parties know that there is a certain voting demographic that determines the results of General Elections.

To this extent, posturing mainly to the base will not secure national applause and affirmation. Middle and working class people in Grenada need to be better understood and especially so, by the NDC and its new leader, in particular. Furthermore, misleading one’s base through inappropriate political conduct of various kinds may well do more harm than good. We saw this with the NJM from 1979-83.

There can be no explanation, credible and cogent or sound and convincing enough to justify the NDC’s decision not to name a representative to sit on the Steering Committee for the National Plan 2030. In fact, whatever ground they seek to rely on by way of public statement will only be a façade designed to mask their true reasons for excluding themselves.

Standing on ceremony is sometimes the same thing as grand-standing
which never serves a long-term interest. There are occasions when the fine print may be set aside. In the circumstances, even if the invitation was received or clarified at 6 o’clock Wednesday morning, the NDC should have hurried to name its representative by 9 o’clock.

All those who looked through the gallery, searching in vain for the NDC’s representative during (the)  function, must have not listened to a certain talk show two hours earlier. It was a classic case of condemnation by ‘the optics’ at the Trade Centre! Curiously, it was not the NDC leader or leadership, but a radio surrogate, who effectively communicated that party’s position on May 27th.

So there goes the NDC’s leadership, failing to see the big picture or otherwise sketching an image that did not relate to a factual reality.

Very distressingly, they appear to not understand that the best political coffee worth smelling is that brewed by the ordinary people.

Seriously-speaking, there appears to be a new phenomenon herein called ‘phobia politics’ which is engulfing the NDC in this period, when what is needed and expected of them is ‘confidence politics.’

Consider the matter under discussion here and their decision to withdraw from the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee. The evidence is that they have locked themselves into a trilogy of fights: – fighting to establish the new leader, fighting for party (in the aftermath of Peter’s attempted takeover) and fighting Keith! However, these efforts only amount to a self-pleasing enterprise, marketing to a displeased electorate. The result, barring default conditions, will be defeat.

Having put matters as plainly as I have here, some readers may anticipate another senseless campaign to execute me for the second time on Facebook and on radio, as was done by a group of ‘NDC Pharisees’ in January, 2014. In the process, they regrettably succeeded in demonstrating mindsets which were no different from that displayed on October 19, 1983. For my own part, I stand confidently on solid ground from where I speak honest words to men and give my conscience to Grenada.

Lacking a relationship with the NDC, I have no standing to ‘call-out’ Mr Burke. But sensible and concerned NDC people can. Kindly think it over and encourage him to cease imprisoning the NDC by ‘phobia politics’! Grenada, the nation, needs an effective, smart, open-minded and self-empowering NDC, operating at the cutting-edge of Grenadian politics.

(William Joseph is a former member of the National Democratic Congress and once served as Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister)

Sylvester Quarless: The rural economy is on a downturn

Business activity in St. Andrew’s is slowly grinding to a halt, and according to a former Parliamentarian and Government Minister, Sylvester Quarless, the situation is bad due to high unemployment, and the fact that the key agriculture sector is on a low profile.

Quarless, a former Government Information Officer, won the St. Andrew South-west seat in the 2008 general election but lost it in 2013 to current Tourism Minister, Yolande Bain-Horsford.

Appearing on a Radio Talk Show Programme, the former Social Services Minister painted a bleak picture about the economic downturn that has taken place in the rural economy over the past two years under the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Quarless who is also a small businessman cited the number of businesses in St. Andrew’s that have closed their  doors since the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration was routed 15-0 at the February 2013 poll by NNP.

He told the host of the programme that in the past 26 months of rule by the Mitchell-led government, two banks in Grenville –  RBTT and Scotiabank – have closed their doors, while CIBC First Caribbean International has signaled its intention to close operations in July.

He said that among the other private sector concerns that have ceased to exist in Grenville are 21 small businesses, four beauty salons, three barber shops, and 21 outlets from among the four small malls in the Big Parish.

According to Quarless, the closure of the two banks have brought hardships on the people of St. Andrew’s who are now forced to travel to St. George’s to carry out their financial transactions.

The former Government Minister chided the NNP Administration over what he said was its lack of concern towards the dire economic situation existing in the island’s largest parish.

He described as “not truthful” the claim being made by the Mitchell-led regime that it was able to provide some economic relief for the people of Grenada.

“From my vantage point, from where I sit this is not so, “he quipped.

Agriculture was once considered as the leading sectors within the Grenadian economy, with St. Andrew’s widely regarded as the “Bread Basket “of the island.

However, Quarless said the agriculture industry in St. Andrew’s is now at an all time low.

“The rural economy is on a downturn, and no one can say differently,” he remarked.

The former Government Minister also touched on the state of employment in rural Grenada.

He stated that in the next couple of months approximately two thousand school children will become  job-seekers and there is nothing on the horizon for them..

Quarless said that since going into politics on a full time basis, he decided to handed over their operations to his children, and recently one of his daughters informed him that one of the businesses received 189 applications for a job vacancy.

“I can tell you, it (job creation) is grim, the situation is (looking) bad,” he added.

The ex-government minister charged that the moral of the people in St. Andrew was very low, and it is the responsibility of politicians to engage them and provide some form of hope with meaningful  plans that can mitigate against  the downward spiral of the economic situation.

He accused the NNP ruling party of selling the people of Grenada a candle stick for leaven bread in a white basket covered with a cloth.

The former Parliamentarian also cited two examples of gross political patronage being undertaken by the Mitchell-led government.

One of the areas he looked at was the Grenville Market which, according to him, when construction was due to take place, 199 vendors both in and around the market were relocated to the Nutmeg Pool with the intention of giving them first priority to get a stall at the refurbished market.

Quarless said that ten percent of those vendors who are now stationed at the market are not original vendors.

The other area of discrimination that was cited was in the distribution of the low income houses in Soubise, St. Andrew’s as a gift to Grenada by the Government of China.

Quarless said that the Mitchell government has quietly given some of the houses to NNP supporters while the intention of the housing development project was to put them into the hands of those people in the Soubise area who are considered as vulnerable and needed to be relocated from the sea coast.

He spoke of doing a walk-a-bout in the area recently and discovered that no one from the area was provided with a unit, while there are people from other areas living in them.

He pointed fingers at an individual who previously resided at La Fillette, St. Andrew’s and who was also given assistance to build a house but now has keys for  one of the units.

“When you look at the profile of the persons who are given access to these apartments and houses in Soubise now, they have nothing to do with the environmentally-exposed persons at Soubise,” he said.

The former Parliamentarian called on Grenadians to get registered to vote in the next general election since regime change was the only way out of the current dilemma facing them.

Quarless re-iterated that those who are not registered to vote cannot make a meaningful contribution to have a change in the current administration.
General Elections are constitutionally due in Grenada in 2018 but are widely expected to be held sometime between 2016 and 2017.