Re-thinking taxing tourism

SAUNDERSAre governments in the Caribbean killing the goose that lays the golden egg? This question relates to the number of taxes that governments are applying to the tourism industry and, particularly, to the cost of airplane tickets for flights originating in their countries.

In some cases, the cost of government taxes far exceeds the actual fare charged by the airline. Intra-Caribbean travel has been seriously affected. For instance, it is cheaper to travel from some Caribbean countries to New York, Miami and Toronto than it is to journey to nearby Caribbean states.

This, of course, has a harmful effect on tourism apart from the fact that people to people contact, that should be at the heart of a Caribbean “community”, is also undermined. Caribbean people are also tourists. For some Caribbean countries, Caribbean tourists represent their second largest market.

The taxes applied by governments on tourism-related activity is akin to adding costs to exports making them more expensive and less competitive in the global market. In other words, it is like shooting yourself in the foot, and thereby giving your competitors in a race for tourists an unrestrained opportunity to beat you. This leads to tourists choosing less expensive destinations. The consequence is that fewer tourists come to the Caribbean, foreign exchange earnings decline, income of tourism related businesses falls and workers are laid off.

Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, the former Tourism Minister of The Bahamas and also former Head of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), recently produced an important paper on Caribbean tourism in which he pointed out the following: “Hotel occupancies across the region average 60% annually and tourism represents some 15% of regional GDP. In some Caribbean countries, the tourism contribution to GDP is as high as 80%. It does not take much arithmetic to see that if occupancies could be advanced to 90%, the tourism contribution could be increased by some 50%.”

He also makes the telling point that: “It is very odd that world trade agreements have removed so many of the taxes on goods travelling across borders yet we have seen steady increases in tariffs on people crossing borders”.

For Caribbean countries increased taxes on people travelling is not good for any of their economies – certainly not good for the countries that are highly tourism dependent, such as Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas and Barbados, and not good for countries that have lost preferential markets for their main agricultural products and are trying to develop a tourism industry to earn foreign exchange and create jobs.

Vanderpool-Wallace in his carefully argued paper drew attention to a PriceWaterHouseCoopers study on the effects of the Airline Passenger Duty (APD) on the economy of the United Kingdom. Apart from the negative effects of the APD on travel to the Caribbean, the study showed that “the removal of that APD would result in a US$788 million net gain in UK taxes”.

That study has lessons for Caribbean governments that now apply taxes to their vital export – tourism.

But maybe finance ministers, hard-pressed to find monies to pay for myriad demands, need convincing that the removal of these taxes would bring in greater revenues. In this connection, perhaps the Secretariat of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) might join with the CTO and the Caribbean Hotels and Tourism Association (CHTA) to conduct such a study for governments.

The European Union and the Canadian International Development Agency have regional funds to which application could be made to finance such a study. Why not take advantage of the opportunity and get an informed and scientific basis for the judgement being made about taxes on the tourism industry including air travel?

On the subject of the APD that the United Kingdom government has applied to Caribbean travellers, while Caribbean governments and tourism officials have been fighting this issue at the political level for some years, it should be evident now that no amount of political lobbying will shift the British policy position.

The Caribbean grievance has to be taken to an independent body for redress or, with polite apologies and offers to address the problem as soon as the UK’s own economic circumstances improve, nothing will be done.

Caribbean governments that are complaining about the APD could also lead the way in influencing the British government by eliminating or reducing their own taxes. Such action would also have the beneficial effect of lowering the cost of air travel to the region, making it more competitive, bringing in more visitors, increasing foreign exchange and revenues, and producing more jobs.

On a related matter, 10 Caribbean countries (9 CARICOM states and Cuba) have “Approved Destination Status” for tourists from China now the world’s second largest economy with a middle-class that will overtake the size of the US middle-class in a few years. The number of Chinese tourists was 70.3 million in 2011, expected to rise to 82 million this year. Yet, no real effort has been made to develop this market.

To its credit, the Barbados Tourism Authority has recently started doing so by inviting representatives of three Chinese tour operating companies to visit. They are: Shanghai Airlines Tours International, China CYES, and Huamei Holdings. Barbados is trying to target the wealthier end of the Chinese market.

But three vital steps remain. The first is to remove the requirement for Chinese to have visas to visit the designated Caribbean countries; the second is to create awareness of the Caribbean in China; and the third is to build strategic partnerships with tour operators and China Airlines to bring tourists to the region.

China Airlines flies to New York and to Brazil. Part of the strategy should be either to encourage China airlines to fly on to different Caribbean destinations in the course of a week, or to work out arrangements for other airlines to pick up Chinese passengers bound for the Caribbean from New York and Boa Vista.

Removing taxes on tourism in the Caribbean would also help to reduce the high costs of travel from distant China.

Getting tourists from China is a big leap. It requires attention now to build the structures to make it work. Meanwhile, the Caribbean continues to have nearby markets in North America and traditional markets in Europe from which they can still benefit. But, the benefits won’t come if taxes on tourism discourage tourists. It’s time to re-think taxing this vital export.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant, Visiting Fellow at London University and former Caribbean diplomat)

 

NDC leader gives warning to Grenadians

Lloyd NoelAfter a fairly lengthy silence, the NDC Leader, Tillman Thomas, issued a strong warning to Grenadians pertaining to the ruling NNP Government of Dr. Keith Mitchell.

The warning was published in Caribbean News Now on the 14th May, but I have not seen it in our local media.

The former Prime Minister, who also lost his seat in the February 19th General Elections – when the ruling party won a clean sweep of all the seats – has been very quiet since after the elections, and many persons have been speculating as to whether or not he was on the way towards calling it a day in politics.

The NDC is due to hold its Convention later this year to choose its executive, as well as the Leader of the Party – and there has been one or two names, besides Tillman Thomas, being published as possible Leaders to take over control of the group which has no M.P in the Lower House.

Of course, three of those who were defeated in the General Elections in February, have been appointed as Senators in the Upper House – courtesy the then Governor General, Sir Carlyle Glean, who has since retired from that position.

But the ex-Prime Minister has been very quiet over the months since his defeat – so that the strong warning coming at this stage, tend to look as though there maybe some movement taking place behind the scene.

The ex-Leader warned Grenadians not to give up their values and morality to the NNP brand of politics – because it is not the healthiest thing for Grenada; and he maintains that he is very strong on that position.

Whether he is right or wrong, only time and the unfolding circumstances would tell in due course. But in the coming months he has to convince the membership of his NDC Party, that he is still the best person to be elected as the Party Leader.

Only last year at the party’s annual Convention, a number of the Executive Body was expelled from the party for one reason or another – so that when the Election was called for February this year, an almost brand new Executive was in charge to contest the Elections; and the result was a clean-sweep for the NNP of Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Should the ex-Prime Minister contest the leadership position, I cannot see anyone else winning over him at this point in time – but how much difference that would make to the national political atmosphere is debatable.

The NDC has no voice in the lower house of Parliament, but three losers at the Polls are in the Senate where they can be heard

I cannot see any of those three beating the ex-Prime Minister for the Leader-ship position at the Party Convention – should they choose to contest.

But the party has to begin grooming a Leader for the future, because I doubt very much the current Leader would be in the race in the next four and a half years.

Whatever takes place at the NDC party Convention this year, the Senators and the Leader in charge have to let their voices be heard, on behalf of the people who voted for them at the last Polls.

The fact that whatever is brought into the Parliament to be passed into the law, cannot be defeated because the Government controls both houses – should not deter the NDC from letting its voice be heard, on matters that are considered not in the best interest of the people and the Tri-Island State.

It must not be cases of opposing, merely for the sake of opposition – when it can be seen that the proposal could be beneficial to the people in general.

But in any case where the proposal is not fully above board, it should be questioned and the concerns made public – so that the people can judge for themselves what is in their best interest.

In his warning to Grenadians published last week – the NDC Leader stated that Grenadians should not “surrender our values and our morality to the NNP brand of politics, because it is not the healthiest thing for Grenada”.

He did not elaborate on what the “NNP Brand of politics” was, but he stressed that we cannot be doing things for political expediency, and we need to respect people and promote them based on merit – not on politics and party loyalty which is what the NNP is all about.

He did not say anything about the expulsion of those Ten senior Executive members, from his party at last year’s convention – but he stressed that the plan now is to “regroup, to increase the membership, to sensitise our people as to the importance of politics, and to build a strong party political organisation”.

From that trend of thought on his part, it looks as though he is still very interested in maintaining his position as “Leader of the pack” – come the nest convention. Time will surely tell.

In the meantime, however, we have to deal with the Party and members now in control of the state and its Institutions – which were duly Elected for Five years last February.

They have only been in control for just over four month now, so it is early days yet – but based on their many glib promises during the campaign, which earned them a clean-sweep at the Polls, some more action is justified, especially in the area of the roads maintenance and de-bushing program.

The much bigger promises of Foreign Investors, who were ready to come on board and provide thousands of jobs for our long-suffering unemployeds – these will take much longer to negotiate and set in motion to begin producing results.

In the meantime, our people have to keep up the struggle of making needy ends meet – and remain alert and watchful of what is taking place on their behalf by the controllers; while the few opposition Senators have to let their voices be heard, and their party Organ remain watchful among the people on the outside.

 

Teachers’ Credit Union Donates to Home for the Aged

Treasurer Joslyn Augutus making the presentation to Managing Director Lurine Morain of the Home

Treasurer Joslyn Augutus making the presentation to Managing Director Lurine Morain of the Home

The Saint Martin’s Home for the Aged was the recipient on June 19 of a new desktop computer and all in one Printer, Scanner, Fax and Copier from the G.U.T Credit Union to assist them with the proper administration of the home.

Managing Director of the home, Lurine Morain thanked the Credit union for its speedy response to their request.

She said that the much needed equipment will go a very long way in improving the administration of the home because the present equipment was obsolete and presented a lot of difficulties for them”.

According to Treasurer of the Credit Union, Joslyn Augustus, the Teachers’ Credit Union “is committed to the philosophy of ‘people helping people’ whether they are our members or our neighbors”.

“This leads the credit union and our employees to partner with great organisations like Saint Martin’s Home for the Aged to help continue their work of caring for the senior citizens of Grenada Carriacou and petite Martinique”, she said.

The G.U.T Credit Union, which is celebrating its 30th Anniversary, is recognised as the fastest growing Credit Union in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique with assets of over 93 million dollars and branches serving its members from five locations including Carriacou.

Membership is opened to all salaried workers in Grenada and family members and friends living in the Diaspora.

 

 

Burke: Retrenchment on the horizon

Sen. Nazime Burke – the worse has not yet come

Sen. Nazime Burke – the worse has not yet come

As Grenada continues to face tough economic challenges, it is anticipated that a huge number of workers may likely face retrenchment, according to Senator Nazim Burke, the former Finance Minister in the Tillman Thomas-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government.

Sen. Burke who was speaking on the weekly “NDC Heartbeat” radio programme of the Congress party, said that the country can expect some retrenchment taking place under the new Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration.

He told the host of the programme that as many as 63 workers at the state-owned Gravel Concrete and Emulsion Corporation will loose their jobs, as well as other employees in a number of other state-owned enterprises.

The former Finance Minister said while he does not want to sound unnecessary alarm bells, the people should be made aware that the worse has not yet come.

According to Burke, the debt-restructuring programme that government has agreed to undertake will involve an austerity programme with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He believes the IMF will insist that the Keith Mitchell Government should lower the income tax threshold. Persons earning $60,000.00 per annum currently pay income tax.

Sen. Burke is anticipating that thousands of persons who are presently not required to pay income tax would be called upon to do so as part of an austerity programme under the Mitchell government.

“Their disposable income is going to be reduced and it will increase the hardship in this economic crisis,” he said.

Sen. Burke also believes that the IMF will also insist that many of the items that are zero-rated from the fifteen percent Value Added Tax (VAT) will have to be put on the list.

He said another possibility is that the items continue to be zero-rated and the VAT will be raised by the Mitchell government to twenty percent.

Prime Minister Mitchell has already hinted that any “medicine” to deal with the island’s troublesome economic and financial problems will be done by his administration and not by the dictates of the IMF.

In March, Grenada’s cash-strapped government saw its credit rating lowered to SD by Standard & Poors after the island defaulted on a payment of EC$19 million dollars to its U.S bondholders.

Sen. Burke who is a lawyer by profession and with some training in Economics said the NDC is concerned about what it sees as the tightening of the economic pressure that is being brought on the average Grenadian person.

“We are witnessing a tightening of the economic situation around the necks of the Grenadian people,” he told the host of the programme.

Burke recalled that in opposition, the NNP claimed that within the first one hundred days of being put in government, one thousand construction jobs would be created for persons seeking employment.

“As far as we know not a single construction job was created in the first hundred days,” he said.

Sen. Burke, the Deputy Political Leader of NDC, took issue with Dr. Mitchell’s claim in his recent National Address that work has begun on the Farm Roads Project that is to be undertaken by Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC).

Sen. Burke said based on what is being heard, the project may not likely start until the month of October and it is evident to everyone that the CCC work has not begun as stated by the Prime Minister.

The former Finance Minister also alleged that the fifteen hundred young people who were engaged under Congress’ Youth Empowerment Programme have been sent home and no longer have an income.

“Some of the streams of income that were available to the average Grenadian during the NDC Administration have now dried up, and people around the country are extremely disappointed, are extremely disenchanted, are extremely angry,” he said.

Checks made with the Ministry of Youth and Sports indicate that the revamped Imani programme for youngsters in the country is now back on stream.

An official in the ministry could not give a definite figure on the amount of persons enrolled in the programme.

However, THE NEW TODAY was told that the new Imani recruits were currently receiving training at centers scattered around the island.

Sen. Burke also addressed the situation with those persons who received housing assistance from the NDC Government in the form of grants that are now being taken away by the new rulers.

He charged that those who received the housing material in the sum of $6,000.00 per family are being forced to sign documents stipulating that it was a loan and not a grant they received from government.

During the campaign for the February 19 General Elections, Dr. Mitchell told Party Supporters at a public meeting that the world economic crisis had nothing to do with the state of Grenada’s economy but the hardship being experienced was due to bad management by the Congress administration.

Sen. Burke viewed the statement as being part of a deliberate plan to deceive the Grenadian people into believing that once the NNP was put back at the helm of government that everything will be well once again.

He said the NDC had warned that during the first year of the NNP in government, the Mitchell regime will use the time to try and wiggle out of the promise made to the electorate to deliver.

The Number two man in the NDC said that as an opposition political party it is their business to tell the people that they must hold the NNP administration to its promises.

 

Hood to take up Ambassador posting next month

Karl Hood – expected to take up his ambassadorial duties next month

Karl Hood – expected to take up his ambassadorial duties next month

Foreign Affairs Minister, Nickolas Steele has dismissed reports circulating in the country in recent weeks that China has not accepted the appointment of former government minister, Karl Hood as Ambassador to that Asian country.

Minister Steele who was addressing a post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday at the Ministry of Works Conference Room announced that Hood is due to take up his posting in China at the end of July.

“There is nothing at all about him being rejected… It is going through the normal process. In fact, I would expect Ambassador Hood to be in China by the end of July,” the Foreign Affairs Minister said.

According to Minister Steele, Beijing has to first go through the process of reviewing the information on Hood that was sent off before responding with the approval – a process that normally takes between three and four months.

“There is that regular process of a three months… period where there isn’t anyone in place as happened with the Chinese Embassy here in Grenada, as will happen very soon because our Indian High Commissioner who is based in Trinidad has informed us that he will be demitting Office in July and his replacement will come in September,” he said.

Hood replaces the daughter of former Prime Minister, Sir Eric Gairy, Marcelle Gairy who served as Ambassador to China during the past four years of the Tillman Thomas Government.

The new envoy to China served as Minister of Foreign Affairs under the former Congress government but resigned, citing a loss of confidence in the leadership of Prime Minister Thomas.

Hood and nine others were expelled by NDC delegates at the annual party convention last September as the then Thomas government moved to deal with bitter infighting involving a faction that was loyal to former Tourism Minister, Peter David.

Foreign Affairs Minister Steele also discussed the posting of the Ambassador to London.

He said although Joslyn Whiteman who previously served as Ambassador to China has been accepted by the United Kingdom, his delay is due to the change of location of the office space for the High Commission office.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the Mitchell government is set to name former Ambassador to Washington and the Organisation of American States (OAS), Denis Antoine as the new envoy to the United Nations.

Antoine will be taking over from Ambassador Dessima Williams who was the appointee of the former Congress government.

He reportedly got the nod over former Carnival Queen, Yolande Smith who was being put forward for the post by a lobbying group of Grenadians based in the United States.

Raphael Stephens takes charge

Grenada has a new Comptroller of Inland Revenue.

He is Raphael Stephens, a former Head of the Valuation Division Unit in the Ministry of Finance.

Informed sources told THE NEW TODAY that Stephens has taken over from Pauline Peters who was appointed to the post during the reign of the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

Peters has reportedly taken two years no-pay leave from the Public Service Commission (PSC) to take up an assignment in The Bahamas.

Close aides have confided in this newspaper that Peters is not inclined to return to the service at the end of her stint and intends to look at other options.

A government source said that Peters took holiday leave a few weeks ago in order to finalise her preparation to leave the island.

With the February 19 victory at the polls of the New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, there were reports that some supporters of the ruling party were not comfortable with her remaining in the top position.

A government insider told this newspaper that Peters was not trusted because of a close relationship with a former top official of the Congress government of defeated Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas

The New Comptroller of Inland Revenue returned to the island a few months ago after a stint in Africa on a contract funded by an international institution.

Stephens is considered in local political circles to be a strong supporter of the Mitchell-led administration.

$100, 000.00 gone missing!!!

Garvey Louison says approximately $100,000.00 gone

Garvey Louison says approximately $100,000.00 gone

Promoters of the successfully staged “Saving Souls” concert were robbed in excess of $100,000.00 as one of their own, “CJ Thomas” whose real name is Cornelius Thomas, allegedly raked in the ticket sales and fled the country.

Two weeks after The New Today’s exposure of “Osron Irwen Dennis, “Mr. King”, “Mr. Matrix”, local law enforcement officials were called in to investigate allegations that the Vincentian national in cahoots with Thomas fled the country with the proceeds from the sale of tickets.

The show, which attracted thousands of patrons, was staged at the National Stadium on June 15, with the highlight being a performance from international famed Pastor Donald McClurkin and his full choir and band.

Accountant Garvey Louison, who was involved in the planning and execution of the show, confirmed to The New Today on Tuesday via a telephone conversation that approximately $100,000.00 was allegedly collected by Thomas.

He said the organisers have every reason to believe that the man believed to be the mastermind of the scheme was working “in cahoots” with “Mr. King” or “Mr. Matrix” whichever name he uses.

According to Louison, Thomas was associated with the staging of the Savings Souls Concert as part of a group of people called “Committee For Good Movement,” a local group that worked together with the sponsors – Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN), RUSH TV and “The Grenada Association of Evangelicals”.

Louison said he himself is a member of the Evangelical body and Thomas’ responsibility as part of the group was mainly public relations.

He told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that information gathered is that Thomas and “Mr. Matrix” boarded a LIAT flight at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) destined for Barbados on the same day of the show (around midday).

He said that what is not known is whether the two remained in Barbados or traveled to another destination separately or together.

Louison could not determine the true nationality of Thomas but said he is believed to have linkages in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Accountant, a former Accountant-General in the Ministry of Finance, told this newspaper that without the consent of the promoters, Thomas collected monies from the eight ticket outlets throughout the country for the popular Saving Soul’s Concert.

He said that while they have concrete evidence regarding Thomas’ involvement in the illegal act, there is only suspicion that he was working in concert with the other suspect in picking up the monies and then moving out of the country.

Louison disclosed that the matter has been reported to the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) with the hope that both civil and criminal charges could be brought against anyone implicated in the theft of the funds.

Osron Irwen Dennis, Mr King”, “Mr Matrix”

Osron Irwen Dennis, Mr King”, “Mr Matrix”

Another group member, Godson Thomas who spoke to THE NEW TODAY said that “Mr. King”, “Mr. Matrix” and “CJ” have been long-time friends.

The name “Matrix” generated a level of suspicion following a series of articles published in neighbouring St. Vincent and the Grenadines, prompting THE NEW TODAY to investigate the man who fronted as Fun City boss, located in the south of the island (the new location for Carnival City).

In investigating the published articles from St Vincent, it was discovered that “Mr. King’ is also the same “Mr. Matrix” who allegedly short-changed Vincentian nationals after a show he promoted failed to materialise leaving thousands to lose their monies due to a no-show of the top performing artiste.

Patrons reportedly paid thousands of dollars to attend the show, featuring the top Jamaican artiste, Jah Cure in March 2012.

The no-show of Jah Cure led to a near riot at the venue as patrons smashed up the place and resorted to firing weapons into the air after paying top dollars only to be duped of their monies.

When two members of THE NEW TODAY visited “Mr. Matrix” at his Fun City location on the Maurice Bishop Highway on June 4, the promoter admitted that something had gone wrong on the neighbouring island and that he planned to make up with the patrons possible sometime next year with a free show.

He said that he had been lying low in Grenada over the months following the controversial show and was now in the process of trying to rebuild his career in the promotional business.

He suggested to our news team that there could be problems if the paper went ahead and carried the reports about the Vincentian incident.

When asked if he was issuing a veiled threat, “Mr. Matrix” said: “No, no, I was only saying that there could be problems for both you and me”.

The Spice Mas Corporation (SMC) admitted to THE NEW TODAY newspaper that it had dialogue with “Mr. King” with respect to the hosting of Carnival City at Fun City along the Maurice Bishop highway.

 

GG welcomes two Foreign Diplomats

Her Excellency Ou Boqian happy to be posted in Grenada

Her Excellency Ou Boqian happy to be posted in Grenada

Governor General, Dr. Cecile La Grenade has received Letters of Credentials from two foreign Diplomats who have taken up residence in Grenada.

The first to present her credentials was Ambassador-designate of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Her Excellency Ou Boqian last week Thursday, then on Tuesday it was the turn of the Ambassador-designate of Venezuela, His Excellency Jorge Alfonzo Guerrero Veloz.

Her Excellency who warmly received both Ambassadors to her Office on the Carenage, St. George’s highlighted the benefits Grenada has been receiving from their respective countries.

Dr. La Grenade who accepted Ambassador’s Boqian credentials thus accrediting her as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the PRC to Grenada said the country had received assistance from China in the areas of healthcare, agriculture, education and housing.

The Governor General noted that over one hundred Grenadians have had the opportunity to pursue degree courses and short-term training programmes in various disciplines in China.

Following the passage of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, Taiwan was dumped by the then ruling Keith Mitchell-led Administration in the face of a more lucrative offer from the PRC.

At a recent meeting held with Caribbean Leaders in Trinidad, new Chinese President, Xi Jinping promised Grenada $20m in grant aid.

Dr. La Grenade indicated that the most visible example of the cooperation between the two countries is the rebuilding of the National Cricket Stadium at Queen’s Park, St. George’s.

Hurricane Ivan destroyed the first stadium and reconstruction of the sporting facility was facilitated by a group of Chinese construction workers.

Jorge Alfonzo Guerrero Veloz presents his credentials

Jorge Alfonzo Guerrero Veloz presents his credentials

The female Head of State assured Ambassador Boqian that the concessionary loans, grants, technical support, human resource development opportunities, medical personnel, humanitarian relief and debt relief given by Beijing are appreciated by the Grenada government.

“Your Excellency, Grenada will continue to work together with the People’s Republic of China in multilateral fora on issues of mutual concern, as we work towards deepening the relationship between our two governments and people,” Dr. La Grenade said.

Ambassador Bogian recognised Grenada as being “an important country in the eastern Caribbean”, noting that since the island attained political independence on February 7, 1974 from Britain, Grenada has played a positive role in international and regional affairs.

Ambassador Bogian said her government attaches great importance to growing the relations with Grenada.

She said since the resumption of diplomatic ties between Beijing and St. George’s eight years ago, China and Grenada have maintained frequent exchanges and deepened mutual understanding and political mutual trust.

The Chinese Ambassador indicated that both countries have conducted fruitful cooperation in the fields of economics, trade, culture, education, health and agriculture, and supported and cooperated with each other in international affairs.

In accepting Ambassador’s Veloz’s credentials, the Governor General highlighted the work that is being done by the Venezuelan Institute.

She said while the Institute fosters cultural links, it promotes the knowledge of Spanish in Grenada.

In addition, she said students have been receiving scholarships and financial aid for studies at colleges and universities in Venezuela.

Grenada has also been benefitting from the PetroCaribe initiative, which has been offering petroleum to Grenada on concessional terms through a financial arrangement.

Grant aid in the sum of US $30m from the Government of Venezuela was expended in the areas of the Grenada Youth Upliftment Programme, housing assistance, the hospital project, and the La Calome Housing Project at Westerhall, St. David’s.

Additionally, in 2010, grant aid was provided in the sum of US $6.1m for completion of the St. George’s Market, refurbishment of the Tanteen Pavilion and construction of the NCB Angel Harps pan house, construction of a community centre and Pavilion in St. Patrick’s, construction of a community centre and pavilion at Mont Toute, St. George’s, repair of roads and bridge at Ford in St. Andrew’s, and construction work at the General Hospital.

The Spanish-speaking Ambassador Veloz who spoke through an interpreter said he has come to give continuity to the dialogue and also to further deepen the relations existing between the peoples of Grenada and Venezuela.

Ambassador Veloz said the importance of Grenada for his country is expressed and manifested in the various agreements and cooperation projects between both countries over the years.

Grenada and Venezuela established diplomatic relations in 1977.

 

Building a professional Police Force

The group of junior Police Officers who were exposed to the training

The group of junior Police Officers who were exposed to the training

As the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) continues to ensure that professionalism is central in its operation, a group of low-level Police Officers have been urged to live up to what is expected of them.

The Police Officers concluded a Junior Constables Development Course last week Friday that was geared at creating higher learning, developing analytical reasoning skills, and guide towards a discretionary thinking of Officers at the Police Training School at Camp Salines which is the location for the Special Services Unit (SSU).

Deputy Police Commissioner Franklyn Redhead who was the Guest of Honour at the closing ceremony indicated that ethics is a central pillar of being a professional Police Officer.

The high-ranking Police Officer also indicated that one of the facets of being a Police Officer is confidentiality because when a report is given to a Police Officer, it has to be treated with the strictest confidence.

“Too Often within our culture we talk too much. We divulge things that should not be divulged, and that is also part of being a professional Police Officer,” he said.

Deputy Redhead stressed that training and development are central to the efficiency of institutions such as RGPF.

The Deputy Commissioner reminded the young batch of Police Officers that they have a critical role to play in how they contribute towards the transformational process of the Institution.

He said the fact that they are among the lowest rank in the forces does not diminish their contribution in transforming the RGPF as training and development are central in arming them with the tools to ensure that they move forward and do what is necessary in building the Institution.

Chief Instructor, Inspector Loxley John who reviewed the course reiterated that the training given to the young Police Officers was geared towards building professionalism and equipping them to meet the needs of the society, and urged the participants to put value to the training that they received.

Insp. John admonished the young Police Officers to adhere to the principles of the RGPF.

He said it is intended that the knowledge that the junior Police Officers would have acquired would serve to help them to continue developing themselves, and to ensure that those who work along with them are also developed.

The Chief Instructor stressed that training is of extreme importance to RGPF, which he said is evident by its Mission Statement.

According to the RGPF Mission Statement, one of the objectives is, “To maintain a professional Force, emphasizing modernization through training and development of personnel by making use of science and technology to meet the needs of a changing society.”

“If the Force is to develop and become modern, and if the needs of the society are going to be met then training must be at the centre of the Force’s agenda,” Insp. John said.

As part of the programme, the junior Constables were treated to a small form of exercise by having to participate in drills on the SSU parade square.

However, Insp. John regretted that more time was not available “to take some more weight off the Police Officers.”

He spoke of the need for the young men and women in uniform to be more physically active.

“You cannot have a four hundred pound Police Officer chasing a one hundred and fifty-pound prisoner in St. George’s. It just wouldn’t work,” he said.

One of the trainees, Police Constable 415 Sampson Sylvester who gave a perspective of the course said although they came unprepared mentally and physically for the course, they were determined that perseverance was “the vehicle” to take them through.

Constable Sylvester spoke of the group having been exposed to wide range of subjects that included ethics and ethical behaviour, community policing and problem solving, use of force, modes and power of arrest, and first aid.

The junior Police Officer promised that they would use the knowledge and skills that they have acquired to persevere up the ranks.

One of the Course Instructors, Sergeant Adrian Peters who chaired the ceremony spoke of the junior Police Officers having performed well.

The two-week training exercise commenced on June 10 with 38 Police Officers, 29 males and 9 females.

Twelve of the trainees came from the Central Division of RGPF, twelvefrom the Western District, seven from the Eastern District, three from the Northern District, Police Headquarters, the Grenada Coast Guard, Immigration, and Traffic Department each having one representative.

 

Professionals engaged in illegal and dishonest practices

Ombudsman A. Argar Alexander (photo compliments grenadianconnection.com)

Ombudsman A. Argar Alexander (photo compliments grenadianconnection.com)

Grenada’s Ombudsman, Argar Alexander has lashed out at some professionals operating in the service sector on the island.

In presenting his annual report to Parliament, the Ombudsman accused some professionals without identifying them of engaging in illegal and dishonest practices against the public.

Alexander, a former Cabinet Secretary also expressed dissatisfaction with the level of disrespect meted out to his office by some senior managers within the public service.

The Third Annual Report of the activities of the office for the Ombudsman for the period 1st January, 2012 to 31st December, 2012 was laid recently before Parliament.

Following is the full contents of Alexander’s general comments:

 

The Ombudsman experienced the unfortunate evidence of disrespect on the part of a senior manager within the public service. Having made an arrangement to sit with the manager more than four weeks prior, a couple of days before the actual meeting he was informed by the manager’s secretary that the meeting had to be postponed and unilaterally so by the senior manager. Such behaviour bespoke a degree of impropriety with which the Ombudsman was unhappy.

There is a seeming tendency for some senior managers to give the appearance that they are above the law and that, as mentioned by one such individual, the Ombudsman should find better things to take up his time rather than resorting to writing to them.

The people of Ghana have a word in their language, which they translate as humility. That word is “hay-shi-bah” which when transliterated means “bringing oneself down.” It would do the Public Service a world of good if senior managers were to begin using in a very concrete way, such an idea.

The Ombudsman was of the view that there was evidence of arrogance among a class of such officers. Such a disposition did not in any way auger well for the social development of our fair country. The message needed to be repeated time and time again that nobody was above the law regardless of the status, which one may enjoy at a particular time.

On the other end of the continuum was seeming evidence of lethargy demonstrated by or through the apparent laid back disposition of some senior officers. Regrettably this was a complaint made to the Ombudsman by some of the complainants.

Demonstrating respect for our institutions through the ways we worked at our tasks was by far the best way in ensuring that our country will grow and develop: recognizing all the while that charity began at home.

Another matter of grave concern to the Ombudsman is the fact that there are among us some members of certain professional bodies who do great injustice to those citizens coming before them for assistance. It is obvious that some lack the bare essentials of Christian living and do not seem to subscribe to the tenets of ethic nor integrity.

Some of our citizens are hurting from the wounds being inflicted on them by those who call themselves professionals when their dealings are in fact illegal and reeks of duplicity and dishonesty.

Justice and fairness will continue to suffer grievously at the hands of such persons: but it must be remembered that in God’s own time, in the fullness of time He shall call us to account for what we are doing to our brothers and sisters who are unable to deal with matters themselves.

The prophet Amos (5:24) reminds us that we must “let justice fall down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” This must happen if our country is to become a place where everyone enjoys peace and tranquility. Peace cannot reign where there is no justice.