The spy game continues

NDC Executive members Shane Ross, Nazim Burke and  Halim Abdulwali

NDC Executive members Shane Ross, Nazim Burke and Halim Abdulwali

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) is toying with the idea of releasing photos of two members of the Special Branch of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) engaged in acts of espionage against the party, which was heavily defeated in the February 19 general elections.

The threat was made by Shane Ross, Assistant General Secretary of NDC for the Southern Zone and executive member of the South St. George Constituency branch.

Ross appeared alongside Deputy Political Leader, Nazim Burke and Halim Abdulwali, Chairperson for the St George South Constituency Branch to address reporters on the issue surrounding the Special Branch officers.

The NDC executive member Ross, characterised the acts of the officers as despicable behaviour but warned that the NDC will not be intimidated by such acts against the party.

“We are not afraid of intimidation, trust me. If it is their intention to intimidate us tell them it will have a different effect. In fact we are motivated. When coming to intimidate us physiologically and otherwise by coming to spy on our meetings, trust me, we are not going to back down, we are going to stand up and fight as the NDC”, he said.

According to Ross, the strategy was not to force the police officers to leave the meeting but to allow them to remain for the entire proceedings.

“We saw them, we knew they were there, but we were smarter than them because we have specially trained people who were in that meeting and we planned how we were going to deal with them and we (were) successful in dealing with them. Maybe later on down the road you all might hear about it”, he told reporters.

Ross and some other members of the NDC branch in the south were active members of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution and were exposed to military training.

The political activist said he would like to hear a response to this development by former NDC members Glynis Roberts, Peter David, Arley Gill, Karl Hood, Michael Church and Joseph Gilbert – some of whom are now enjoying close political association with the rival New National Party (NNP) outfit.

Ross disclosed that photos were taken of the two officers at the South meeting and might be distributed to social media and others depending on a decision of the executive of the party.

The Chairperson for the St George South Constituency Branch also addressed the meeting.

In the face of claims from some quarters in the country that the Special Branch officers should have been put out of the meeting, Griffith said he would take full responsibility for allowing them to remain in the meeting

According to the NDC official, he was merely extending an NDC courtesy to the lawmen.

“I was completely distraught with the presence of the police at the meeting, but however I choose not to throw them out and I take full responsibility for that because I knew before the meeting started that they were there, but you see rather than respond in panic, I thought it was best to let’s see what they are up to so we allowed them to sit throughout the meeting not because we were afraid of them but we just wanted to extend our NDC courtesy to the police,” he told the media.

“…In our meetings we are always open. My position is that we have nothing to hide, but because we respect the constitution which gives us the right to operate and have meetings and not be molested or be intruded by members of the security branch forces who should be (there) if ever to protect us rather than to intrude and try to create confusion”, he said.

The NDC faced a similar “Police Spy Case” situation on February 26, 2008 on Lucas Street involving a member of the Special Services Branch, under the watch of then spy chief, Superintendent Anthony De Gale.

Police Officer 77 Kelon Noel was apprehended while secretly recording a closed door meeting in the lead up to the July 8, 2008 General Election.

He was allegedly caught after placing a tape-recorder underneath the window of an adjacent building where a session of the National Executive of Congress was in progress to discuss among other things matters relating to the upcoming poll.

Noel subsequently claimed that some senior executive members of the party beat him and civil lawsuits were filed against nine members of the NDC including Burke, Arley Gill and Joe Gilbert.

No criminal charges were laid against the executive members.

However, civil charges were filed against the NDC members in the names of former Attorney General Elvin Nimrod for special damages and false imprisonment for $1,000.00 and $1,650.00 for the Special Branch officer.

Trinidadian Lawyer, Ramesh Maharaj was retained to represent the police officer.

Since its defeat at the polls in February, the NDC has been conducting regular constituency branch meetings to regain the confidence of the electorate and to attract newcomers to the party.

THE NEW TODAY understands that a final decision has not been taken to determine whether or not the photos of the alleged “spy officers” of the branch should be released to the media for publication.

 

LIME surprises lucky mothers

LIME's Mother Day's winners

LIME’s Mother Day’s winners

It was a day full of surprises at LIME stores last Friday as lucky mothers were presented with flowers and gift baskets.

The first mother completing a transaction at each of the retail stores received a lovely Mother’s Day gift basket.

Floral arrangements were also given out to other mothers during the morning period.

LIME’s General Manager, Angus Steele made the presentations at the Bruce Street and Spiceland mall stores and commented, “we recognise the hard work, sacrifices and selfless contributions that mothers have made and we take the opportunity to wish all mothers of the nation a very Happy Mother’s Day”.

LIME also announced the winners of its Mother’s Day promotions.

To enter, customers simply had to sign up for any new Internet, Landline Mobile service, activate any LIME data plan, Top up $15 or more or activate Talk 24, SMS 24, Talk XL or Text XL promotion.

The winners included Eileen McSween, who won lunch for two at the Flamboyant hotel and Joan Daniel, winner of Lunch for two at Mt. Cinnamon hotel.

Claudia Mitchell received a shopping voucher valued at $500 at Real Value supermarket while Samantha Hossle, winner of Movie Palace tickets and Marilyn Peters, winner of a Spa Massage at La Luna Resort.

Earlier in the week, customers won tickets to the Sunshine Promotions, ‘A Night of Love’ concert once they activated a postpaid plan, purchased a laptop or computer or a Blackberry Z10 device.

The specials continued with a Crazy Friday promotional offer on World Talk cards at $8, the Alcatel OT-296 at $80, special offers on smartphones with the sign up of a postpaid plan and $5 bonus credit with a Top up of $15 at any LIME store.

LIME’s Crazy Friday and Wacky Wednesday promotions offer customers great deals such as discounts on devices, installation offers, IDD and local calling rate specials and more.

Customers can log on to the LIME Grenada Facebook page, check their text messages or visit any retail store to take advantage of the in-store specials.

Steele and Human Resources Manager, Jeneil Alexis-Browne, also took the opportunity on Friday to present gift vouchers from La Heliconia to every mother on staff, as part of the ongoing colleague engagement initiatives.

Scotiabank celebrates Golden Anniversary

Elie Bendaly – the bank understands the  community it serves

Elie Bendaly – the bank understands the
community it serves

A local financial institution whose parent company is based in Canada is beaming with satisfaction that it has been of value and service to Grenada.

This year marks the Golden Anniversary of the operations of Scotiabank to the people of Grenada.

To celebrate that milestone, the bank which has three locations in Grenada has planned 50 days of activities which commences today (Friday May 17) with a customer appreciation day.

Other activities throughout the next 50 days include a Thanksgiving Church Service, business seminars, mortgage clinics, and a health clinic focusing on the AIDS epidemic.

Kelly Roberts, Assistant Manager, Personal Banking who took the media through the planned celebration at the Grand Beach Resort at Grand Anse, St. George’s on Tuesday said that as part of the bank’s ongoing commitment in the fight against the threat and stigma of HIV and AIDS, the financial institution will continue working with the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership.

Scotiabank, on an annual basis conducts a regional testing day. This year it takes place on June 28, the actual launch set for May 30.

Assistant Manager for Small Businesses, Sterl Lyons addressed the media on the non-banking services that the bank offers to the community by enhancing the lives of children and women in the areas of sports, culture and health care.

In what is known as the “Bright Future Programme,” Lyons said it is experienced through the bank’s involvement in sports, education, youth and community groups.

In the area of sports, the annual Intercol Games has been sponsored for the past 33 years by Scotiabank in Grenada

Commercial Banking Manager Kingsley Ashby - customer convenience underpins Scotiabank’s service delivery promise

Commercial Banking Manager Kingsley Ashby – customer convenience underpins Scotiabank’s service delivery promise

The annual Kiddy Cricket Festival is recognized as an important investment in the lives of the youth and sports.

Since its inception in 1999, Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket is now the longest running cricket sponsorship in the Caribbean. In Grenada alone approximately 65 schools are engaged in the programme.

The bank also offers a scholarship programme at the University of the West Indies (UWI). The programme which commenced in 1997 offers a scholarship for three years to a successful applicant.

Sponsorship is also provided in the area of sports tourism in the form of the annual Billfish Tournament and the Grenada Sailing Festival.

Country Manager Elie Bendaly indicated that the bank makes it a priority to understand the community it serves so as to help customers discover the possibilities in their lives and to support causes that are meaningful to the society.

Scotiabank opened its first branch on May 17, 1963 on Halifax Street, St. George’s.

In 1966, the bank opened a sub-branch in Grand Anse at what is now known as Wall Street. However, it was closed in 1974. A new branch was later reopened in 1991 at the Steele’s Commercial Complex.

The third branch of Scotiabank was opened in Grenville, St. Andrew’s in 1997.

Commercial Banking Manager Kingsley Ashby said customer convenience underpins Scotiabank’s service delivery promise.

Ashby stated that computer was introduced in 1987 to the bank, which he said changed the banking landscape to the point where the mobile banking technology is being utilized.

That form of modern technology has caused the bank to earn the award as best internet bank for 2010 and 2011 from Global Finance, and in 2012 it was voted Bank of the Year by America’s Bank Magazine.

Scotiabank currently has a staff of 75 persons.

 

G’da and IMF relations

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar fraternally greet each other

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar fraternally greet each other

Port-of-Spain — Grenada Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, who was in Trinidad last week told reporters in Port-of-Spain that his New National Party (NNP) administration is prepared to deal with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) but would only accept “what is best for the country”.

His remarks comes against the backdrop of a release issued by holders of Grenada’s bonds that they would like the IMF to be part of a programme to be worked out with Grenada to repay millions owed to them.

The three-month old government in St. George’s has signaled its intention to renegotiate for a second time in 10 years, Grenada’s debt estimated at EC$2.3 billion with its creditors.

The Mitchell government was forced to take the decision after Grenada defaulted on a coupon payment with its creditor, estimated at EC$19 million dollars in March.

The cash-strapped government said it did not have any monies to make the payment and as a result the credit rating agency, Standard & Poor downgraded the island’s creditworthiness to “SD”.

During his trip to Trinidad, Dr. Mitchell was asked by reporters in Port-of-Spain to comment on Grenada’s agreement with the IMF and he made it clear that the island had recognised that it must deal appropriately with the international community.

“We have signaled to the IMF that we need their support, but of course we are only going to accept a programme that is in the interest of Grenada and Caricom,” he said.

Noting that he had been in government before and the IMF knows him and he them, he said: “We know what is best for our country. So we are

going to be discussing this new formula in the context of what is best

for the country. We’ll work things out. But Grenada would be in charge

of the process.”

On the repayment of loans to Taiwan, Dr. Mitchell disclosed that the problem has lessened considerably and meetings would be taking place soon to reduce the tensions between the two countries and to work out an appropriate formula to meet Grenada’s responsibilities and the Taiwanese expectations.

“Things are moving in an appropriate direction. And the United States and the Chinese are helpful in that respect,” he said.

Dr. Mitchell said he was informed while in Trinidad of a third major drug bust as a result of the radar system which Trinidad and Tobago has set up with Grenada.

He stressed that Grenada faced the same problem of cellphones being used in jails, as Trinidad and Tobago does.

“When I came into government, I found out that the problem was quite massive. A senior official of government responsible for looking after the system indicated that they received a call from a person asking for a top up of his cellphone. When they asked ‘where are you?’ The person said: ‘I am in the prison’.”

Dr. Mitchell stated that his government had appointed a new Commissioner of Police. He added that there were two occasions when people were scaling walls to go inside the prison.

“Usually, people scale walls to get out of the prisons,” he quipped.

He said his government had sent the message that it was not going to tolerate this kind of situation.

During his trip to the neighbouring twin island republic, Prime Minister Mitchell confirmed that he would be among Caribbean leaders to meet with United States Vice President Joe Biden later this month at which security-related issues would be one of the prime areas of discussions.

Titus launched attack on Tillman Thomas

Former President of the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG), Rawle Titus

Former President of the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG), Rawle Titus

Head of the Government Information Service (GIS), Rawle Titus has accused former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas of having sinister motives in getting his National Democratic Congress (NDC) government to decriminalize libel in Grenada.

Titus led a broadside against Thomas at a session held on the Dutch Caribbean island of in Curacao that brought together scores of regional media workers to participate in the 20th Anniversary of World Press Freedom Day and Caribbean Media Summit under the theme, “Safe to speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media”.

He accused the former Grenadian leader of outlawing criminal libel as a special favour to help out former Editor of the defunct Grenada Today newspaper, George Worme who is considered to be a close political friend of Thomas.

“It was widely felt that then PM Thomas’ push for the change in defamation laws was motivated by his personal relationship with Worme”, Titus told the regional meeting of journalists.

“…Editor Worme, a friend and supporter of former Prime Minister Thomas would have benefited since he can no longer be arrested under a new Keith Mitchell administration which in its previous life had a list of court cases against media workers”, he said.

According to Titus, Worme was arrested and charged in 1999 with criminal libel “after writing an editorial that accused then – Prime Minister Keith Mitchell … now Prime Minister … of bribery”.

In reacting to Titus’ charges, Worme said that he would like the head of GIS to get all of his facts right and in good order before making misleading comments.

He said it was totally wrong for Titus to inform regional journalists that he was arrested for writing an editorial, which accused Mitchell of bribery.

“This is quite misleading and Mr. Titus should know better than that. He could have called me to verify the facts before peddling that kind of propaganda in Curacao. The case history is lodged in the Supreme Court Registry and Mr. Titus as a responsible journalist could have checked the files.

“As a matter of fact, Mr. Titus has unfettered access to his new boss who is Dr. Mitchell himself and could have double checked the facts with him. I hope that when he addresses the issue in future that he would do the proper homework and get the facts correct.

According to Titus, although ex-PM Thomas had given commitment while in opposition to the need to decriminalise libel and many believed that he had a passion to do it, there are those who queried his motives at the time for going ahead to fulfill the promise.

He said: “…His (Thomas’) motives for exercising the political will to decriminalise defamation quickly, months ahead of a general elections as his government tottered on the brink of collapse amid rampant infighting, was questioned by his critics…”.

Titus also took a potshot at former Prime Minister Thomas for taking action, which resulted in his dismissal as Editor of the Barbados-owned newspaper known as the Grenada Advocate.

He said the action on the part of Thomas had done only one thing and that is to undermine the ex-Prime Minister’s own legacy as a supporter of a free and independent media, something which he went to jail for under the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution of late Marxist leader, Maurice Bishop.

Titus told the media meeting: “I was the editor of the Grenada Advocate who started the reports of early infighting within the Thomas government as well as Thomas’ own move to head into the next election without some of his own MP’s. Thomas’ administration bullied the owners of my newspaper, the Barbados Advocate into dismissing me as Editor.

“That was about a year ago. My vindication came when all that was written about in my article unfolded as infighting reached a high in the Thomas government which collapsed as it plummeted into a general election it lost last February”, he said.

Titus along with reporter at The New Today newspaper, Cherrian Blackman-Stephen were the two representatives from Grenada attending the

Curacao get-together from May 3-6.

The keynote address at the session, “Safety of journalists and Criminal Defamation” was delivered by Alison Bethel McKenzie, Executive Director of the International Press Institute.

She spoke of the ongoing campaign against criminal defamation laws, inherited from European colonial powers, still remaining in 16 independent Caribbean territories with the exception of Grenada.

“Criminal defamation and seditious libel laws are threats to journalists and their ability to do their work,” McKenzie stated, as she noted that in almost all cases, such laws carry a prison sentence of at least one year”.

She reported that some progress has been made in repealing such laws with Grenada leading the way to become the first Caribbean country to repeal criminal defamation in July.

Trinidad & Tobago’s Parliament is now considering repealing this legislation.

Jamaica’s parliament tabled a proposal in March to repeal criminal defamation and this is also under consideration in Antigua and Barbuda.

Director of the Caribbean Institute for Media and Communication, University of West Indies, Professor Hopeton Dunn dealing with the safety of journalists, issued a call for media owners and managers to prepare for the “very real threats” to the safety of reporters and called for the establishment of a personal injury insurance and appropriate attire for journalists in crisis situations.

President of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), Wesley Gibbins believes that while journalists in the Caribbean are not killed as compared to fatalities in international countries, most abuses of journalists and media workers remain uninvestigated and unpunished which leads to impunity that perpetrates the cycle of violence against journalists.

The Caribbean Media Summit was organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Curacao National Commission for UNESCO, the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) and the Curacao Media Organisation.

 

A Brazilian WTO Head: An opportunity to make trade work?

SAUNDERSThe World Trade Organisation (WTO) is now set to appoint a new Director-General. He is Roberto Carvalho de Azevêdo, Brazil’s long-serving Ambassador to the Organisation.

His appointment is good news for developing countries in so far as Carvalho de Azevêdo is from a leading developing country that has shown itself not to be averse to taking on the countries that have dominated the WTO. Those countries are the United States and the collective 27-Nation European Union.

But, while a WTO Director-General from the developing world is to be welcomed, his appointment in itself should not be cause by smaller developing countries – particularly the small states of the Caribbean and the Pacific – to assume that there will be a sea-change in WTO rules and procedures to treat them more fairly. There should also be no rejoicing that the traditional agenda of the US and the EU will be pushed any less strongly. That agenda has a very limited focus which is to get a narrow agreement easing the movement of goods throughout the world. Having grown their own economies on protectionism from competition and built up their manufacturing and services sector on the back of it, they now want access to the markets of the developing world in particular China, India and Brazil.

The US and the EU are two big players accustomed to getting their own way when they act together. Even when they have rivalries over agricultural subsidies, they have managed in the past to devise a bargain which maintains their advantage over developing countries.

Getting movement from them to enlarge the WTO agenda so that, while it advances a broad global trade agenda that improves the flow of goods and services around the world, it also gives developing countries the right to protect and grow local businesses and industries for a period of time that would reasonably make them competitive, will not be easy.

And, it should not be assumed that there is harmony in the interests of the large developing countries such as China, India and Brazil with the small states of world.

Thus far, in the Doha Round of negotiations at the WTO, small and vulnerable economies have had to fight every inch of the way for concessions that they have won in negotiating Committees. It should be understood, however, that while these concessions have been noted, they are not enshrined or implemented.

The Doha Round of negotiations is now in its 12th year. The world has witnessed no negotiation of such length that has produced so little.

If the sums were done on how much countries have spent on these negotiations, the total figure so far might have made a huge difference to combatting HIV/Aids or non-communicable diseases in very many countries.

The Round was supposed to be a “development round” – a recognition that “the majority of WTO members are developing countries” and that there should be efforts to “place their needs and interests at the heart of the work programme”. Small and vulnerable economies, such as those in the Caribbean, have good reason to be disappointed that developed countries have not fulfilled their commitment to place ‘development’ at the centre of the Round.

Of course, in the intervening 12 year-period, China, India and Brazil

have emerged as powerful economies. China is now the second largest economy in the world; India is third, and Brazil seventh. The US has remained the largest single economy, but if the European Union is taken as a single bloc, it would be the world’s top economy at $15.65 trillion.

What is significant is that China, India and Brazil have grown significantly without any settlement of the Doha Round negotiations.

This fact makes the ‘development’ component of the Round far more important to smaller developing countries that lack population and resources, but they are now caught in the middle of the struggle between the big two – the US and the EU – and the big developing countries China, India and Brazil especially.

The negotiations, so far, have also been based on the concept of a “Single Undertaking” which means that ‘nothing is agreed, until everything is agreed’. Well, the likelihood of everything being agreed was a false ambition from the outset, and its impossibilities are at the root cause of the lack of progress.

It is that concept of ‘nothing is agreed, until everything is agreed’ that Carvalho de Azevêdo will have to tackle before he can begin to make a difference to the WTO. Both a different ambition and a different modality of negotiation would have to be agreed. And, if these are agreed, then the arduous task of scrutinising a negotiated text would have to be undertaken to be sure that its clauses can

actually deliver on development. Developing countries – and particularly small states – have been parties to many declarations and agreements whose texts have been rich on promises, and poor on delivery.

These are huge tasks for Carvalho de Azevêdo assuming that he holds the view that the negotiation objective and the modalities for negotiation require to be changed. In any event, he will need to hear the voices of small and vulnerable countries, and he will also need them to solicit the support of the larger developing countries and the developed nations in this quest.

Over the period of the Doha Round, small and vulnerable economies – including those in the Caribbean – have done very well to participate

in the negotiations, albeit the burden has fallen on only a few. Many Caribbean countries individually do not have the resources to deal effectively in the negotiations; others are not represented at all.

But, apart from resources at the WTO, Caribbean countries also need a pro-active agenda of forward looking proposals. Such proposals should be devised at a pan-Caribbean level, and they should be advanced by a strong and joint team of WTO-based negotiators providing solid and compelling arguments for their individual country representatives to put forward.

The appointment of Carvalho de Azevêdo is an opportunity for Caribbean countries in which they should invest collectively as a region.

 

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

 

Waiting for the action to begin

Lloyd NoelNow that we have all the Ministers and other Chief Public Officials in place – including our First female Governor General, duly sworn in as the Queen’s Representative in the Tri-Island State – all the attention is now focused on when will the action begin, and how much longer those waiting in the queue of expectation will have to hang on.

Many of the hangers-on are commenting, that the promises during the Election Campaign were around the timetable of ninety days in control, and that time period will expire come nineteenth May in the next few days.

Of course the new Controllers are pointing out, that the situations they inherited are far more critical in some cases, and desperate in many others; to the extent that the remedies they had in mind for an early turn around, just cannot make ends meet.

There has been some post-Election Statements backing up the promises, and keeping the hopes and expectations very much alive but patient.

But the silence in general on when things can be expected to get moving, so that the thousands of Job-seekers can look forward to earning a wage anytime soon – that expected foreign influx of investors are not as positive and ready to come ashore as initially promised.

Whatever the true position maybe, and how ever those in control hope to get around the problems that exist, on the whole issue of new investors coming to our shores in the near or distant future – the silence and the delay in their coming, may very well have to do with a change of plans – because the promises on either side have not being as forthcoming as was expected.

Whether or not the conditions that have been discovered, upon the new controllers taking over the reins of power, have in fact turned out to be far more onerous and challenging than were anticipated, and as a result thereof the generous promises of relief or concessions of one kind or another, have to be reconsidered and in some cases amended to assist the critical situation – only those in control can answer.

But whatever it is or maybe, the many glib promises to have the economy actively operating, and jobs and business opportunities available and ready to take off in the first ninety days or thereabouts – these have so far not been forthcoming, and the waiting game continues.

The movement of finance in the local economy is so slow, and the volume decreasing every week – that even the small shops are complaining that the situation is becoming almost intolerable, because the goods are on display at reasonable prices, but no customers to purchase them.

And now that the cruise ships have more or less stopped calling for the next three months or so – the situation is looking grim on all sides.

Only last week I saw a small storekeeper on Television with his goods on display, and he was expressing the hope that the upcoming Carnival season will attract some visitors from the U.K. and the U.S.A. to buy those goods; and the season is still three months down the road, so the hope is far-fetched.

And talking to folks all over the countryside, the situation is Islandwide – and because of the extended dry season, our farmers are also having problems in their lands from the lack of rainfall, and there is nothing anyone can do about that.

The general state of affairs means, however, that the new controllers have a whole lot more problems on their hands, than was envisaged during the Campaign, and in all the cases more and many more millions are required to help solve them.

So it is a clear case of dealing with the most urgent ones upfront, while the others have to wait in the line up – and because they all need finance to bring about any solution, the task ahead is not going to be resolved anytime soon.

After the grand occasion of the swearing in ceremony of our first female Governor General, Her Excellency Dr. Cecile La Grenade on the Seventh of May – I noticed that all the papers had statements dealing with the occasion, and stressing that the last Governor General Sir Carlyle Glean did not attend and no explanation was given for his absence.

I found that was rather strange, so I took the time to enquire from the very source and was reliably informed – that no invitation was given to Sir Carlyle and Lady Glean to attend the Ceremony.

Whatever was the reason for that omission, only those responsible for so doing can answer that – but the powers-that-be could not have expected the Ex-Governor General to show up at the Trade Centre for the Ceremony, without having received an official invitation, only three days after having vacated the Governor General residence.

The way the story was published, made the absence look as though the out-going Governor General was deliberately failing to recognise the new Lady Governor General, and that is sheer nonsense.

I hope that whoever it was that failed to deliver the Official Invitation, will be courteous enough to tender an apology to Sir Carlyle Glean.

The Ceremony was a grand occasion in itself – but it would have been fitting for the outgoing Governor General to have been present and welcoming his successor on the taking of the oath of Office.

So how those who were responsible for sending the invitation to Sir Carlyle and Lady Glean – failed or neglected to do so – beats my simple mind, but leaves many unanswered questions about the motives.

Joint Statement issued by the Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Right Hon. Keith Mitchell and the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC following their meeting last week Thursday in Port-of-Spain

The two Prime Ministers reiterated the close cultural, social, economic and familiar relationships which bind their people.

Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar congratulated Prime Minister Mitchell on his overwhelming Feb 19th, 2013 election victory. Prime Minister Mitchell responded by saying that his visit to Trinidad and Tobago was his first overseas visit since assuming office in February of this year.

The following are discussion points of the meeting held today between Prime Ministers Persad-Bissessar and Mitchell:

 

Trade

 

Trinidad and Tobago is Grenada’s largest trading partner accounting for approximately 36% of merchandise trade and 49% of banking services. Insurance services are also significant between the two countries. Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada agreed to intensify their working relationship on all aspects of the trade agenda.

 

Framework Agreement for Cooperation in Energy Sector Development

 

Both Prime Ministers expressed a commitment to implement the Framework Agreement for Cooperation in Energy Sector Development.

It was agreed that representatives from the respective Ministries of Energy will meet at the earliest opportunity to finalise agreement on the joint exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the maritime areas of Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada.

 

Tertiary Education and Technical Vocational Skills Training

 

It was recognised that building internal human capital serves to propel externally driven growth.

Trinidad and Tobago committed to assist:

 

*In the maintenance and management of Grenada’s National Training Agency

 

*In the development of an indigenous and responsive national occupational standard of competence leading to certification in high priority areas such as yachting and maritime services. This will be certified through the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ).

 

*Trinidad and Tobago indicated its willingness to partner with Grenada to build skills competency and capacity in the energy sector through the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and the National Energy Skills Centre (EITT).

 

Investment

 

The two Prime Ministers discussed recent changes in Grenada’s investment thrust particularly the recent decision to eliminate the Alien Land Holding License for CARICOM nationals and initiatives to implement an investment code focused on attracting private sector investment and realising public private partnerships.

 

Agriculture Development

 

Both countries agreed to develop a joint project in the agricultural sector with transfers of technology that would lead to significant leaps in productivity.

 

Transport

 

There was an acknowledgement of the challenges facing the Region in respect of air and maritime transport for both goods and passengers. The two Prime Ministers agreed to work closely together on alleviating these challenges.

 

National Security

 

On the issue of regional security both Prime Ministers discussed the operations of the Advanced Coastal Surveillance Radar System which provides maritime surveillance of the waters between Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada. The Prime Ministers agreed to further cooperate in this area.

Real stupidness!!!

I voted for Dr. Keith and NNP in the last election not because of the promise to deliver goodies to the people.

My vote was based on what Dr. Keith was saying on the platform that

he was a changed man and victimization of persons perceived to be his opponents will not happen. This was a good thing to bring healing to the nation.

Today, I am not sure that the Doc is sticking to the promise. I could

understand the decision to remove the Commissioner of Police because National Security has to be conducted on the basis of trust. Even the removal of the Cabinet Secretary could be understood.

However, there is talk among the NNP high ups that the lady in Inland Revenue would be removed because of her association with a member of the former government. If that happens then it is wrong.

Doc, it is high time that we look at people in terms of performance

and not perceived political affiliation. If the lady is doing her work and not engaged in acts of sabotage then no one should victimize her.

Even in his first speech as Prime Minister, the Doc made it clear at the Trade Center swearing-in ceremony that there will be no victimization and no witch-hunting from the NNP clean sweep at the polls. He called on people to do their work and have no fear about NNP victimization. I still want to give the Doc the benefit of the doubt.

However, my position will change if the lady in Inland Revenue is removed from her post because some people in NNP believe that she is

too close for comfort to a certain person in the NDC.

Even the recent decision to bring back the Senator as a member of the police force is a dumb move by the new government and the Acting Commissioner of Police.

This man crossed the line between a public officer and a political operative. I am not against the good Senator “eating a food” like all other Grenadians. It would have been better to put the man in a job in the Ministry of National Security rather than bring back a politician in the police force.

The NNP might also be making some blunders by bringing back a set of old people to do jobs that should have been given to some younger

persons who might be capable of doing the same work.

The talk on the ground is that the retired engineer might be going back to the Ministry of Works as CTO or in some similar capacity because Cecil Harris will not get a new contract.

Doc, the people are watching you with a hawk’s eye and please be careful of what you do and how you do it. Your actions are beginning to give out certain signals that it is back to the same kind of stupidness once again.

The Eyes

Art Exhibition with a difference

At 6 pm on Friday May 10th 2013 the ECIP art exhibition opened at the Grenada National Museum. Thirty five (35) paintings, the art work of children with special needs, were put on display and offered for sale by a bidding process. By 8pm, on the exhibition’s opening day, all thirty-five of the paintings had been sold. The exhibition continues at the museum until May 17, where all of the art work including some of the volunteers’ pieces would remain on display.

Most of the people attending the show’s opening day, including myself, were both surprised and highly impressed with the quality of the art work created by the children. But then again, art is supposed to be an expression to be nurtured by anyone who is given the opportunity to be creative.

The St. Georges University Grand- Anse Playgroup (GAP) began the (ECIP) Early Childhood Intervention Program in 2010. The program aims specifically at the development of children, appx ages 2-8 years old, with special needs. A customized play based therapeutic program has been developed for the children that is run by volunteers who are trained by the administrative team at GAP. The art work displayed at the exhibition was done by the program’s children. The funds raised from the sale of the art would be used for the purchase of occupational therapy equipment for the on going program.

As an invited guest, I want to express my admiration, and offer my congratulations to Tammy Martin, Sacha Lewis, Stacey Byer, the other ECIP volunteers, parents, friends, Angus Martin and the museum staff, for making the event a rollicking success. I understand that the live band, and the food and drinks that we enjoyed were all provided by generous donors, free of charge. The band played lively music, and the children enjoyed themselves, as they danced enthusiastically and responded to the festive activities like children from anywhere would. It was nice to see the visible outpouring of care and affection for this wonderful effort by all concerned.

For far too long we have ignored and even scorned people who we deem to fall short mentally or physically, on our society’s normalcy scale.

This art exhibition is palpable proof that with a little effort and some open mindedness, we can cultivate and bring to the fore latent talents that may have been lying idle without much hope of being provided with requisite ventilation.

The stars of the ECIP exhibition were indeed the young special needs children. The girls and boys, who by their impressive effort, produced credible works of art, at the first opportunity they were given to do so. They are, in my opinion, well on the way towards proving that they deserve to be referred to in the future, as just children.

 

Roger Byer