Additional funds for Parliament building

Lalsingh says additional funding secured for construction of parliament building

Lalsingh says additional funding secured for construction of parliament building

The Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) Government says it has secured additional funding to enable it to construct the new building for Parliament later in the year.

Addressing a recent sitting of the Senate, Leader of Government Business, Kenny Lalsingh informed the house that Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Business, Nickolas Steele was successful in securing the $3 million dollars that was needed to construct a permanent facility for the country’s Parliament.

“Our Foreign Affairs minister has been able to secure possible funding for the Parliament building … the project that sat there waiting on additional funding”, said Lalsingh who added that, “very soon we will have the additional funding so that the project can be started”.

Lalsingh did not say who was supplying the money.

The New Today contacted Clerk of Parliament, Raphael Donald who indicated that the NNP administration has “a solid pledge” of some $3 million for the Parliament project but indicated that he did not know the source of the funds.

The former Congress administration of Tillman Thomas also announced while in office that it had received a commitment of $US 2 million from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the Parliament building project.

Grenada’s original Parliament building located at York House in the town of St George was destroyed during the passage of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.

Since its destruction, the Grenada Trade Centre at Morne Rouge has been used to facilitate meetings of Parliament.

The previous NNP government of Dr. Mitchell, which demitted office in 2008, and the subsequent government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have both given commitments to secure funds to restore the dilapidated facility for government’s use and to construct a modern building to house Parliament.

In the 2011 Budget Presentation, Finance Minister Nazim Burke told the nation that, “the preparatory works will continue having received re-assurances from the Government of Australia that it is still committed to provide US$5 million for this project.”

In the 2012 Budget Presentation, Burke announced the signing of a grant agreement between the Government of Grenada and Australia with the receiving funds slightly higher.

“Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to note that the grant agreement between Australia and Grenada for A$5.2 million was signed by our Prime Minister in January of this year. This sum will go a long way to finance the new parliament, which is estimated to cost US$7.5 million. Government is actively pursuing additional grant financing for the entire project cost.”

In the 2013 Budget, new Prime Minister Mitchell in his capacity as Finance Minister told the nation that the new building to house the Grenada Parliament “will cost appropriately $30 million and be funded with significant grant assistance from the Government of Australia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) … “

In October 2012, the Caribbean Office of Cooperates Architecture (COCOA) was awarded the contract for the designing of the New Grenada House of Parliament building.

The next steps towards the realisation of Parliament Building would be the completion of the designs then the short-listing of contractors, tender submissions by the contractors and the contract award.

Construction is anticipated to start by the end of the second quarter of this year.

The site for the new Grenada House of Parliament building will be at the Governor General’s Property at Mt. Wheldale.

During the sitting of the Senate, Lalsingh also addressed the construction of the Bus terminal of the Greater Grenville project.

He claimed that the project has halted due to “unnecessary” interference from the administration of former Prime Minister Thomas.

“Mr. President, first phase has been completed, the second phase should have started and we are told by the CDB (Caribbean Development Bank) that we cannot access the loan right at this point in time because of two reasons, one is that government was defaulting….”, he said.

“… We have started taking care of that aspect, secondly it takes a process to take place so that we can access the funds and we are doing just that. Grenville needs the bus terminal, so, Mr. President, we would have to make a decision as to what exactly we will do in respect to the bus terminal.

“It’s very clear that if a project is on and we must never let that happen, and it is interfered with unnecessarily, you will have delays and so like the Grenville market and the bus terminal, these projects should have (been) completed three years ago.

“The Grenville market will be completed shortly, but the bus terminal, we have to access funds for the second phase. The Abattoir is almost completed, and soon the two members would travel to St. Kitts for the necessary training so that they can operate the abattoir and maintain it properly”, Lalsingh said.


Structural adjustments

Brian FrancisWhether individuals, companies, or governments appreciate it or not, the reality is that economies go through periods of booms and bursts that are typically consistent with what some refer to as business cycles. Hence, the need to make minor or major adjustments to financial and economic policies on a regular basis is simply one of the rudimentary facts in the socioeconomic life of a country. And that scenario is precisely what we have been witnessing in several regional and international economies in recent history.

Given the extent to which macroeconomic policies have to be adjusted to correct perceived or real imbalances in the economy, the government of a country usually turns to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) not only for monetary assistance but also for technical support to facilitate the design and implementation of “programmes” to correct the deficiencies in certain macroeconomic variables, restore internal and external balances, and hopefully return the country to its social and economic growth and development paths. These “programmes” that typically comprise several financial and economic measures are generally labelled “structural adjustments” packages.

Structural adjustments programmes suggested by the IMF often reflect a theoretical base featuring the monetary approach to the balance of payments. In the design and execution of these programmes, there is an almost unquestioning commitment to the nexus of linking net local assets of the monetary authority or system to the net foreign assets, within a financial accounting framework. By paying close attention to the balance between the sum of these two aggregates and the level of monetary liabilities in the system, the IMF attempts to stabilise both the internal and external imbalances in the economy.

While it is important to stabilise the economy in the short run, possibly within the agenda usually suggested by the IMF, it is equally important to move the economy towards a balanced medium to long-term position. This must be done with a reasonable level of income which, by extension, can only be achievable through an expansion of economic activity within the local economy. Thus, once the economy is stabilised, the process of restructuring begins.

A basic question remains: do countries actually need structural adjustments programmes? The simple answer is yes. These programmes are necessary to cushion the effects of external shocks such as increases in oil prices, hurricanes, earthquakes, and global recessions; to address weaknesses in the structure of the local economy (for example, dependence on a single crop such as banana, or service such as tourism); and to overcome any flaws in domestic policies (for example, excessive external borrowing as is the case in most Caribbean countries at the moment).

Since Caribbean economies will always be subject to the vagaries of the international market place, it is really our responses to external shocks, which, ultimately, will determine the viability of our economies in the medium to long run. Structural adjustments programmes are designed to assist our countries in their responses to adverse economic circumstances and are consequently here to stay. The sooner we recognise and accept that fact, the better are our chances of reaping the real benefits of such programmes.

(Dr. Brian Francis, the former Permanent Secretary in the local Ministry of Finance, is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics at the Cave Hill Campus in Bridgetown, Barbados of the University of the West Indies)

Over to Commissioner James!!!

That unfortunate incident at a police sporting event three weeks ago has again served to cast a dark shadow over the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).

THE NEW TODAY is referring to the action of a junior member of the force to confront in a demeaning manner, the man who officially still holds the post of Commissioner of Police, Willan Thompson.

The force was brought into public disrepute because some members of the public who attended the event were able to witness something that can be considered as unheard of within a police force.

It is not uncommon to hear police officers bad-mouthing their Commissioners behind their backs but not openly confronting them in a hostile manner in a public place.

This is an issue that crosses the political divide in Grenada. The Commissioner of Police – regardless of which administration is in power – should be duly respected by all especially those under his command.

The ball is now in the court of Acting Commissioner of Police, Winston James to fully investigate the incident that took place at the Roy St. John playing field at Tanteen and to take the appropriate action in the circumstances.

Mr. Thompson has sent in a report to Mr. James to give his version of the incident. It would be interesting to see what statement would be given by the junior officer in his defense.

The information in our possession is that the police officer under scrutiny is one who seemingly lacks proper decorum and is prepared to show disrespect to his superiors.

He was found guilty sometime ago by a Senior Police Officer for verbally abusing one of his superiors. It was the same Commissioner Thompson who gave him a reprieve following representation made on his behalf by the head of his division, Superintendent Rodriquez James.

How much weight will Acting Commissioner James place on this piece of information in looking at the latest incident involving this junior member of the force?

Mr. James himself is already under the microscope for one or two of the decisions taken since he was brought back to the force in the aftermath of the February 19 general elections and change of government on the island.

As a mater of fact, Mr. James did not exit the force in the best possible manner after the National Democratic Congress (NDC) took office following the 2008 general elections.

Several middle ranking police officers took him to court on the issue of promotions. These officers who are still members of RGPF felt that they were overlooked based on political considerations under the former NNP administration.

This action by the police officers against their Commissioner was again a first within RGPF.

Now, the most contentious issue involving James relates to his role in the decision that was taken to bring back into the force, one Sergeant Karl Caton, a clear political activist for the governing New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Mr. Caton had served in the Parliament as a Senator after being appointed as the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture after the 2003 general elections.

As a matter of fact, the same day on which Mr. Caton left the Police Force, he was selected by the NNP as its Caretaker Candidate for St. Patrick East to run against the then Opposition Leader, Tillman Thomas of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Mr. James has to take full responsibility for bringing a clear political operative back into the force.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has nothing to do with Caton’s appointment as it is only responsible under law for police officers from the rank of Inspector and upwards.

Who took the decision to open the door for Mr. Caton, a clear political person to be brought back into active duties as a member of RGPF? Mr. James was also at the helm when Caton resigned his position and entered frontline politics with NNP.

It is doubtful whether former Police Commissioners, Nestor Ogilvie and James Clarkson would have bowed to political pressure and take back into the fold someone who had crossed the line.

This newspaper would be watching very carefully the decision that is taken by Mr. James on the Willan Thompson incident.

There is a feeling in some quarters within the force that the individual should be dismissed forthwith for the manner in which he sought to belittle Mr. Thompson who is still the legitimate Commissioner of Police on the island.

THE NEW TODAY is not advocating any such drastic action in light of the current economic and financial hardship in the country but some form of punishment in which the officer would feel the pain through less money entering his pocket at the end of the month.

Finally, it looks like some of the chickens are apparently coming home to roost. The reported theft of $EC100, 000.00 from the ticket sales of the much-publicised Gospel Concert at the National Stadium is only laughable given the characters involved.

This newspaper will only make the following comment at this time, “Stay Tune” because there will be more breaking news about the incident.


CXC introduces online exam for 2014

The Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) created history in Grenada with the completion of the first ever CAPE Digital Media Syllabus orientation video.

The video was successfully completed last week Friday following a region-wide multi-stakeholders process.

It features a new CAPE-level Digital Media Syllabus for implementation in schools in September and first examination in May or June 2014.

The strategy for the syllabus was developed in collaboration with CXC’s civil society partner Congress WBN, a Trinidad-based international non-profit organisation.

Under a collaborative partnership agreement, the organisations, have partnered to use technology to improve the delivery of education in the Caribbean.

The accelerated CXC CAPE Digital Media Syllabus implementation strategy is a direct product of this collaboration.

BrightPath Foundation, a Trinidad-based technology education non-profit and a team of teachers, CXC officers and volunteer digital media specialists working together to produce the orientation video facilitated the recording of the CXC CAPE Digital Media Syllabus.

Assistant Registrar/Syllabus and Curriculum Development Caribbean Examinations Council, Cheryl Stephens, said the production of the CAPE Digital Media Syllabus is another offerings at the CAPE level to cater to not only computer science and Information Technology students but also anyone interested in digital media.

The Syllabus consists of two units, Unit 1, Digital Media Fundamentals and Unit 2, Applied Digital Media.

The syllabus breaks new digital ground for the Council, as students will be allowed to share knowledge, review case studies; and create solutions; all using digital media.

The CXC External Assessment will also be delivered electronically for both the multiple choice and practical tasks components of the paper. This is another first for the Council.

Bevil Wooding, Chief Knowledge Officer, Congress WBN’s Executive Director, BrightPath Foundation (Video Production Coordinator for the initiative) says that technology has transformed the region over the years thus impacting the people with continued reliance on technology.

He said that this issue prompted discussion on educating the region’s children in relation to the movement of technology, and the development of the Syllabus is in response to the growing technological advances using more Caribbean digital content.

Wooding is impressed with the record time in which the syllabus was completed with the use of technology.

He said that the production of the syllabus in a little more than a year is the fastest ever created by the team as the process takes some two to three years to be completed.

In addition to the syllabus orientation video, Wooding and his BrightPath team of volunteers are putting together Caribbean-centric reference texts, digital and physical teaching aids targeted at teachers, students and parents.

The goal is to increase the cadre of digital media practitioners, such as creators, animators, web developer, graphic artistes and mobile app develop, and secure the skillsets and knowledge base to support the emerging Caribbean digital economy.

Telecommunications provider, Columbus Communications, Grenada, made its CC6 Community Station studio resources available to CXC for the occasion.

Country Manager, Gail Purcell said that “over the years CC6 has played an integral role in local media production, and therefore working along with BrightPath on this initiative is a natural extension of our commitment to supporting local and regional production that hold relevance to teachers and students … in technology-based education.”

She said that FLOW sees the importance of this initiative in the long-term development of the region’s human resource and did not hesitate to be a part of the process when approached by CXC and BrightPath.

CXC is exploring the possibility of applying the approach taken for the Digital Media Syllabus to other subject areas.

Dr. John Andor, Assistant Registrar Caribbean Exhibition Council, EDPD Barbados says that the certification from this online syllabus will be valid throughout the world and the judging criteria’s remains the same.