Caribbean Court of Justice delivers for the Caribbean’s people

SAUNDERSFor years nationals of the 15 nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have complained of the discrimination they’ve experienced at the border controls of each other’s countries. This discrimination has ranged in many cases from extensive questioning before being allowed entry for a limited period, to arbitrary refusal of entry and immediate expulsion.

This unpleasant treatment has galled CARICOM nationals causing them to question the benefits of being part of the organisation which was set up by Treaty and which stipulates the obligations of its member states with regard to the freedom of movement of their citizens.

On October 3, in a landmark decision, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) brought at least a legal end to discrimination and denial of right of entry to Caribbean Community nationals. If such practices continue in member countries of the Community they will be unlawful, and affected persons can seek redress from the CCJ.

According to the CCJ decision, nationals of the Caribbean Community are legally entitled to enter and stay in each other’s countries for up to six months without restriction, unless deemed as an undesirable person. Border officials also cannot arbitrarily deem a CARICOM national as “undesirable”.

The CCJ is not yet the final appellate Court for civil and criminal matters for all CARICOM countries, but it is not in that form that the Court made its watershed judgement. The decision was issued by the CCJ as the Court of original jurisdiction in relation to the CARICOM Treaty. In that form, its decisions are binding on the Community member countries and they cannot be appealed.

The occasion for the CCJ’s judgement was a complaint brought by a Jamaican national, Shanique Myrie, against the government of Barbados. Myrie claimed that in March 2011 the border authorities in Barbados violated her right to free movement under the CARICOM Treaty when she sought to enter the country.

She further claimed that she was illegally detained and deported and her human rights were violated when she was subjected to a “cavity search” described as a “finger rape”.

In a lucid, well-presented and easy to read judgement, the CCJ found for Myrie against the Barbados government on the strength of the credible evidence in her favour. She was awarded US$38,700 in pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages. Her legal costs are also to be met by the Barbados government.

But while the case gave redress to Myrie for her grievances, it was far more significant for its establishment of the rights of the people of CARICOM and for eliminating misconceptions of the supremacy of “national sovereignty” over “Community Law” under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas – the CARICOM Treaty.

As the CCJ stated in its judgement, among the issues of Caribbean Community law with which the case dealt, was “whether and to what extent CARICOM (or Community) nationals have a right of free movement within the Caribbean Community”.

On this matter, the CCJ was guided by the 28thMeeting of CARICOM Heads of Government in 2007 at which they agreed that “all CARICOM nationals should be entitled to an automatic stay of six months upon arrival in order to enhance their sense that they belong to, and can move in, the Caribbean Community, subject to the rights of Member States to refuse undesirable persons entry and to prevent persons from becoming a charge on public funds”.

In arriving at their judgement, therefore, the CCJ did nothing more than give judicial acknowledgement and authority to a decision by CARICOM Heads of Government – the supreme decision making body of Community law.

The Court also clarified the matters of “undesirable persons” and persons who might become “a charge on public funds”. Up until now, both these categories of persons have been determined by border authorities based on individual country guidelines that, for years, CARICOM nationals have publicly argued discriminates against them and makes a mockery of the CARICOM Treaty.

The Court has now ruled that for a CARICOM national to be validly excluded on the basis that he or she poses a realistic threat to engage in conduct prohibited by national law, “the receiving state must show that its own nationals who engage in such conduct are routinely prosecuted or otherwise subjected to some legal sanction”.

Further the Court has ruled that no CARICOM national can be refused entry by border officials without being informed “promptly and in writing not only of the reasons for the refusal but also of his or her right to challenge that decision”.

CARICOM countries are also now required to provide “effective and accessible appeal or review procedures with adequate safeguards to protect the rights of the person denied entry”.

While all of this will bring relief to all CARICOM nationals and represents a triumph for the Caribbean people in their often expressed desire to travel in the region “hassle free”, the CCJ judgement does two other very important things.

First, it establishes that being a member of CARICOM does give enforceable legal rights to every Caribbean national in relation to entry to CARICOM countries for a period of up to six months. In this sense, it is an occasion for real celebration of Caribbean regionalism at the level of people – it is a rare occasion, but it will help to lift the worth and meaning of CARICOM.

Second, it has established that there is CARICOM Community law – devised and agreed by CARICOM Heads of Government as the principals that the Community’s peoples have elected to represent them – and that such Community law cannot be invalidated by the failure on any country to incorporate those decisions in their municipal laws.

The immigration and law enforcement departments of all Community countries should now be ensuring that the regulations and instructions given to their border officials reflect CARICOM Community law and the decision of the court.

With regard to the CCJ, the objective, impartial and learned judgement it has given should now cause all doubters to welcome and embrace it as the region’s final court of appeal in all matters. In the case of Jamaica that argued to stay with the British Privy Council as its Court of final appeal on the basis that Jamaicans could not expect justice from a Caribbean court, Shanique Myrie stands as the symbol of that deeply flawed position.

 

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

 

Athletic Stadium to be restored

Sen. Sheldon Scott exchanges the signed agreement with PRC Ambassador Ou Boqian

Sen. Sheldon Scott exchanges the signed agreement with PRC Ambassador Ou Boqian

Work on the reconstruction of the Athletics and Football Stadium at Queen’s Park, St. George’s is likely to commence towards the end of the year or early 2014.

The work will be financed by the Government of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) under an agreement signed by former Sports Minister, Patrick Simmons under the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Tillman Thomas.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, Veda Bruno-Victor and Deputy General Manager of China State Construction Company, Meng Chao last Friday signed an additional agreement for the restoration work

on the multi-million dollar project which is expected to last 20 months.

Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, Senator Sheldon Scott and Chinese Resident Ambassador Ou Boqian witnessed the signing of the new agreement, which was done at the Ministry of Works Conference Room at the Ministerial Complex.

According to Sen. Scott, the signing ceremony is the culmination of a lot of background work that has been done, and it was a moment that was looked forward to for a long time.

He said the young people of Grenada have been looking forward to the restoration of the stadium that was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan nine years ago.

“One of the things that would have affected our young people in the worse way would have been after Hurricane Ivan when they saw the destruction to the athletic stadium,” he added.

Sen. Scott said while the facility was still being used, it was not the best place to have the athletes running.

The Government Minister commended the Chinese government for its continued effort in looking after the interest of the people of Grenada

Ambassador Boqian said the PRC has always placed great importance on the bilateral relations it established with Grenada in 2005.

The Chinese Ambassador indicated that the signing ceremony also marked a big day for both countries.

She said since taking up her ambassadorial post in Grenada earlier this year she saw how much Grenadians looked forward to the athletic stadium being rebuilt.

The female envoy promised that her government will try its best to do what it can to try to help the government and people of Grenada in seeing the fruitful construction of the stadium.

She said she believes China State Construction Company can do its best to provide a suitable stadium,

Deputy General Manager of China State Construction Company, Meng Chao who spoke to Reporters through an interpreter said some restoration work will first be carried out.

He added that the original areas that are still useful will be kept, and those that are in bad shape will be demolished.

TUC calls for consideration of the tax measures

Kenny James – cellular phone is a luxury

Kenny James – cellular phone is a luxury

As it becomes imminent that more Grenadians will now have to pay Personal Income tax, the Grenada Trades Union Council (TUC) is calling on government to thread cautiously in its approach in making increases on the tax level.

Second Vice-President of the TUC, Kenny James said if the income tax ceiling is to be lowered there must be some considerations on the manner in which it is being done by government.

James who was at the time participating in a National Social Partners Forum on the planned debt-restructuring programme by the seven-month old Government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell said government must bear in mind that people already have mortgages and are currently struggling with very little disposable income.

“We have to come to the realisation… that we have what we can call ‘the working poor’ in our society who are just able to operate from pay cheque to pay cheque, paying the basic utility bills and who can’t even afford medical insurance,” he told the forum.

James, a past President of the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT), acknowledged that in most of the territories in the region the threshold of income tax is lower than in Grenada.

Currently, the income tax threshold stands at $60,000 annually.

However, James called on government to make a greater effort in revenue collection by incorporating other groups into the tax net who, he said, in some instances have been delinquent.

He stated that the TUC is of the conviction that the country’s tax system must be just and fair, and the collection must be more effective.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has often pointed an accusing finger at persons in the professional services especially lawyers and doctors for

not paying their fair share of income taxes.

The TUC Second Vice-President also urged government to ensure that there will be no retrenchment of public workers as the regime attempts to tackle with a national debt of just over EC$2.3 billion.

The Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government in St. George’s has decided to default on debt payments due to international creditors and wants to engage them in debt restructuring.

James said that in an economy where the unemployment rate is forty percent, any further loss of jobs could have catastrophic socio-economic consequences on the society.

The TUC proposed that government redeploy civil servants through the use of a proper human resource audit that would serve as a job-saving measure.

James also proposed that a levy on cellular phones be introduced by the State as a means of increased revenue collection.

He believes that for most people, the cell phone is a luxury and not a need.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine who was one of the panelists reported that on a monthly basis there is a shortfall of $18M to cover government’s expenditure.

Antoine disclosed that government collects an average of $35M monthly, but spends an average of $53M.

He said that for every dollar the government collects, seventy cents are spent on wages and pension, while the other thirty cents are used on debt payment.

Most of the island’s debts were created by Dr. Mitchell in his earlier stint as Prime Minister from June 1995 to July 2008 when it moved from EC$373.3 million to EC$1.8 Billion.

Executive Director of GRENCODA, Judy Williams who chairs the Civil Society groupings said that the Non-Government Organisations (NGO) are in daily contact with the people who are hurting most and are in need of relief.

“I am talking about single parents, farmers, women, the elderly, the disabled,” she told the Forum.

Williams charged that the financial debt management of the country has been poor and this is a reflection of the broader issue and malaise of governance and accountability.

“We (the NGO’s) feel compel, therefore, to ask for an examination of the process which lead us to the current reality, for if we don’t, the likelihood is that we will repeat it, it will come back to haunt us somewhere down the road,” she said.

The Mitchell government has approached the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) seeking its support for what it referred to as a homegrown programme of “fiscal adjustment and structural reforms” as the cornerstone for debt restructuring.

Speculation is rife that the eight-month-old administration in St. George’s has not yet formally submitted a letter of intent to the fund for the official start of talks to garner support for the programme.

 

A disappointed Seetahal quits MWAG post

President of the Association, Shere Ann Noel

President of the Association, Shere Ann Noel

The Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG) has been hit with the resignation of a senior executive member.

First Vice President, Kirk Seetahal last week Thursday delivered his resignation letter to President of the Association, Shere Ann Noel via email.

The New Today was able to get a copy of Seetahal’s resignation letter in which he expressed dissatisfaction with the direction and decisions being taken by the association and suggested that MWAG revamp its executive and consider constitutional reform.

Seetahal offered his assistance to the Asssociation despite his resignation and gave assurances that he is also willing to attend any planned meeting to discuss a new way forward.

His resignation comes two months ahead of MWAG’s annual Media Awards and Banquet carded for December 8 at the Grenada Trade Centre Annex at Morne Rouge, St. George’s.

Digicel – Be Extraordinary is the title sponsor of this mega event. Seetahal is employed by Digicel as its Marketing Manager

The MWAG Executive was elected in March with Noel being elected as the Association’s second female president.

Known for her exemplary work in the media as Producer, Presenter and News Reporter presently at CC-6 Television, Noel was nominated unopposed during the association’s Annual General Meeting at the Presentation Brothers College (PBC).

The new MWAG boss first entered the media with the National Public Relations (NPR) outfit that was controlled by the New National Party (NNP) of current Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Kirk Seetahal is willing to continue working with MWAG Executive despite resignation

Kirk Seetahal is willing to continue working with MWAG Executive despite resignation

However since her election as President of MWAG, accusing fingers have been pointed at Noel who is believed to be going “soft” on a number of media-related issues due to her perceived support of the Mitchell administration.

The silence of the MWAG President on the controversial Electronic Crimes Bill, which carries a section that could lead journalists and other persons into prison, was called into question.

The issue grabbed regional and international attention resulting in promises by Prime Minister Mitchell to rescind the controversial clause at the next sitting of Parliament.

Many Grenadians including local media colleagues were concerned that the interest of the local media fraternity was not being safeguarded under the leadership of Noel.

In response to Seetahal’s resignation, the MWAG President issued a letter stating that while her colleague’s letter did not give specifics of his resignation, “he was very much a part of all the decisions taken by the association thus far”.

Noel expressed gratitude to Seetahal for his input in the decision-making process for the upliftment of the media in Grenada.

Seetahal was elected First Vice-President of MWAG to fill the position left vacant since the passing of popular radio personality, Anthony “Jericho” Greenidge more than two years ago.

There are unconfirmed reports that Seetahal is concerned that “behind the scene forces are influencing the President and the work of MWAG”.

Fingers are pointing at a so-called Communications expert that operates from the Office of the Prime Minister.

Following is Seetahal’s resignation letter:

 

Shere Ann Noel

President

Media Workers Association of Grenada

St. George’s

Grenada

 

Dear Ms. Noel:

 

I would like to inform you that I am resigning from my position as 1st Vice President of the Media Workers Association of Grenada, effective October 10th.

At present I am not satisfied with the direction and decisions taken by the organization. It is my recommendation that there be a revamp of the executive and a constitution reform.

With this in mind, I will be willing to attend meetings to discuss a way forward. Alternatively, accept this as my official resignation as 1st Vice President. If I can be of any assistance during this transition, please let me know. I would be glad to help however I can.

 

Sincerely,

 

Kirk P. Seetahal

Marketing Manager

Digicel Grenada Limited

 

This is the response from the MWAG President to the decision of her second in command to quit his post:

 

October 13th, 2013

 

Re: Resignation of First Vice President

 

The executive of MWAG wishes to inform its general membership that Kirk Seetahal has resigned as 1st Vice President of the Media Workers Association of Grenada, via email, on Thursday, October 10th, 2013.

 

While his letter did not give specifics of his resignation, he was very much a part of all the decisions taken by the association thus far.

 

Mr. Seetahal in his letter says however that he still has interest in helping with the development of the media fraternity in Grenada.

 

MWAG wishes to place on record its profound gratitude to Mr. Seetahal for his input in the decision making process for the upliftment of Media in Grenada.

 

Shere-Ann Noel

 

President MWAG

 

Female ‘journalist’ removed from NDC General Council

Young Female – caught spying on NDC General Council

Young Female – caught spying on NDC General Council

A young woman who claims to be employed with the “Caribupdate Newspaper” was asked to leave the closed-door session of the General Council of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that took place Sunday at the Hermitage Government School in St. Patrick’s.

The young lady, clad in a red blouse and jeans pants, was spotted by a delegate of one of the constituency branches in St. George’s recording and taking photographs of what was taking place from outside.

The young reporter was seen standing close to an open window as she recorded the proceedings.

She was approached to leave the area just as reports to the General Council by the various constituencies were coming to an end.

When confronted, the reporter allegedly said that she was sent to cover the meeting by Hamlet Mark who is the brainchild behind the weekly Caribupdate newspaper.

According to the young lady, her mission was to take pictures of the delegates attending the NDC meeting and to write a story about the General Council session.

Mark was a key member of the NDC Public Relations Team in the 2008 General Elections due to his association with the party’s expelled General Secretary, Peter David.

The Munich-born journalist switched sides in the last general elections and rejoined the New National Party (NNP) of Dr. Keith Mitchell which won all 15 seats in the February 19 general elections.

He was soon appointed to the post of Senior Advisor on Communications in the Office of the Prime Minister.

A member of his media team, Keisha Grant-Alexander also landed the post of Press Secretary to Prime Minister Mitchell.

Sunday’s incident involving the female journalist associated with the Caribupdate newspaper created a stir among the over 300 delegates who seemingly became annoyed over the intrusion into their party’s private indoor meeting.

There has been no immediate reaction from Mark on the episode.

 

 

Walters calls for more attention to be paid to boys

Deleon Walters – look after the boys

Deleon Walters – look after the boys

A male member of the Courts Marketing Team, Deleon Walters believes greater effort should be made toward to the educational development of young boys in the country.

Walters made the suggestion during the final of the Courts Reading Competition held last week Friday at the auditorium of the Grenada Boys Secondary School (GBSS) at Tanteen, St. George’s.

He suggested that the same level of attention that is shown to the young girls must be done for the boys.

Walters who is Courts Senior Marketing Officer indicated that in the previous four Courts Reading Competition, girls emerged as the winners.

However, this year one of the two boys, Dean Bedeau who was among the seven 2013 finalists, actually won the competition.

Walters said previously the boys have not been playing their role in the competition.

“We blame everything when we see the boys going astray… but we have to ask ourselves are we playing the role we (are) supposed to play when looking after our boys?” he asked.

Noting that a child’s educational development starts at the home, Walters said it is not the job of the teachers to teach a child to read.

“You need to start that platform, you need to prepare the child first,” he remarked.

According to Walters, the investment Courts has been making over the last five years in the children means a lot to the furniture company in terms of their development.

He encouraged the rest of the business community to support education in any form.

Deputy Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Patricia Felix who addressed the function indicated that the annual reading competition has impacted positively on parents, students, as well as the schools.

Felix believes that most parents are now taking a keener interest in encouraging their children to become excellent readers.

The Education Official said there is evidence that the primary school students who participate in the reading competition continue to excel at the secondary level, and are actively involved in the activities at their schools.

IMF and Grenada’s Debt Restructuring

The ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is seemingly no longer blameing the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) for the economic and financial crisis now plaguing Grenada.

THE NEW TODAY has obtained a letter allegedly sent by a senior government minister to a major international funding agency.

The letter points to the ongoing global financial crisis for Grenada’s woos.

The letter was sent to the funding agency against the backdrop of moves being made by the Mitchell-led government in Sat. George’s to engage in debt restructuring with the hope of getting creditors to take a major cut in the millions of dollars owed to them for loans extended to the island over the years.

The letters reads as follows:

 

Dear Sir,

 

Our tiny island of Grenada, with not many more than 100,000 inhabitants, is saddled with a debt that cannot be sustained. We have been hard hit by the global financial crisis because it affected our cruise ship clientele in the US. A slow recovery from hurricanes in the last decade as well as the reduction in development assistance have also played a part. We are committed to bearing our share of the cost while finding a way out that is both equitable and sustainable.

 

First, we are seeking social consensus by listening to our people. The government has consulted the churches and other civil society organisations. The International Monetary Fund has just completed a two-week visit.

We have also become aware of new approaches:

 

(1) We are committed to reducing costs and waste and to enhancing revenue;

 

(2) We would explore options for a comprehensive solution: an independent debt sustainability assessment, external mediation and a creditor’s conference;

 

(3) We seek a substantial financial haircut to prevent getting involved in the kind of piecemeal process that has failed over the past two years;

 

(4) We will try to balance the legitimate interests of all our creditors with the interest of our country.

 

At this week’s meeting of the World Bank and the IMF in Washington, we have been discussing with stakeholders fairer and more efficient ways of dealing with sovereign debt crises. We are prepared to become pioneers of a new debt-restructuring model that would spare countries from protracted entanglement in the debt trap. Grenada urgently needs debt relief from all its creditors.

Dame Cecile: Brace yourself for the IMF

Grenadians are again called upon to brace themselves and prepare to make aserious sacrifices as the cash-strapped island awaits the word from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) whether it will give support to the home-grown fiscal adjustment and structural reforms to be undertaken by the Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s.

The country’s financial plight was a key component of the 2013 Throne Speech delivery last week Friday by Governor General, Dame Cecile La Grenade.

She disclosed Government’s intent to pursue a homegrown programme of fiscal adjustment and structural reforms with the support of the IMF, and other development partners such as the World Bank, European Union, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Department for International Development, Canada and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).

Since April, Grenada has been defaulting on payments to international creditors on its national debt of EC$2.3 billion.

Dame Cecile said that the main objective of the homegrown programme to be initiated by the Mitchell government is to create conditions for higher economic growth that is both sustainable and job creating.

“This programme demands strong policy actions and will require all citizens to make some sacrifices. In doing so, we must be mindful of the sacrifices being asked of Grenada’s creditors, at this time, and the financial and technical support of development partners,” she told a joint sitting of Parliament.

The female Head of State said that the NNP regime would ensure that adequate safety nets are maintained through its homegrown programme to protect the poor and vulnerable in the country.

In seeking to justify government’s exorbitant national debt, the Governor General said, “Government spends 30 cents of every dollar on debt. This is the second largest expenditure after wages and salaries. Nevertheless, it must never be forgotten that a significant portion of the Public Debt was contracted for reconstruction of our country following the devastation of Hurricanes Ivan and Emily”.

Dame Cecile did not give a breakdown on the debts that were contracted after the passage of the two hurricanes.

However, the then ruling Mitchell government has often been accused of embarking on a borrowing and spending spree for a number of ill-conceived projects like the Garden Group of Hotels in the south of the island and the Marketing & National Board (MNIB) project at the Lagoon in St. George’s.

Dame Cecile announced that the Mitchell government would proceed with a major restructuring of the Public Debt that will result in a significant reduction in debt servicing costs, a reduction in the debt to GDP ratio and a reduction in debt per capita.

“This means Government will be able to spend a larger proportion of revenues on investing in the Grenadian people including training and support for small business development as well as providing key infrastructure”, she said.

“These investments will raise the long-term growth potential of Grenada. As a result of the debt restructuring, there will be a stronger economy, higher growth, more jobs and timely debt servicing”, she added.

The female Head of State, a close cousin of former leftist Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop, described her administration’s top priority as building a New Economy for Grenada to provide jobs for those who wish to work, as well as business opportunities for those who choose to invest, opportunity for wealth creation and prosperity for those prepared to sacrifice and play by the rules and social justice for all who believe in equality and human rights.

She said that Government’s plans and programmes for the New Economy would soon be presented in the new Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy.

This strategy, she added will include a Core Public Sector Investment Programme for the next five years.

Dame Cecile pointed out in the speech that is normally written by the government itself that the eight month old administration has already started to engage citizens and social partners on Grenada’s challenges and the way forward for the structural transformation of the country.

She said that the pace and scope of these consultations will intensify in the coming weeks leading up to the presentation of the 2014 Budget scheduled for December.

 

Innovations in China’s Diplomatic Theory and Practice Under New Conditions

by Yang Jiechi
(Final and Third Part)

3. Putting forth the right approach to upholding justice and seeking interests with a view to enhancing friendship and cooperation with neighboring countries and developing countries.

To strike a balance between upholding justice and seeking interests is at the heart of traditional Chinese culture and a moral benchmark observed by the Chinese nation throughout the centuries. This important principle governs both personal conduct and China’s relations with other countries.

Inheriting the fine traditions of Chinese culture and the diplomacy of New China and keeping in mind the new tasks in the new period of China’s relations with other developing countries and its neighbors, Comrade Xi Jinping underscores the need to adopt the right approach to upholding justice and seeking interests in growing relations with these countries.

Politically, we should uphold justice and fairness as a guiding principle. Economically, we should pursue mutual benefit and common development. In growing relations with our neighbors and other developing countries that have long been friendly towards China yet face daunting challenges in development, we will accommodate their interests rather than seeking benefits at their expense or shifting troubles unto them.

We will follow the right approach to upholding justice and seeking interests in strengthening relations with our neighbours and other developing countries. During his visit to Africa, Comrade Xi Jinping had sincere and cordial discussions with African leaders, in which he expounded on China’s Africa policy and stressed China’s commitment to cooperation with Africa with sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith. In particular, he emphasized the win-win nature of China-Africa cooperation.

He reiterated that China will fully honour its commitment to Africa, attach no political strings to aid to Africa, help African countries translate their strength in natural resources into progress in development and achieve diverse, independent and sustainable development.

Comrade Xi Jinping’s remarks struck a chord among African leaders and people. Many of them said that China’s help to Africa is sincere and aims at boosting Africa’s development and that Africa has full trust in China.

During Comrade Xi Jinping’s visit to Trinidad and Tobago and Costa Rica, a large number of major co-operation projects were agreed upon, which testifies to China’s sincerity in helping Central American countries to achieve development.

Comrade Xi Jinping announced that China would provide preferential loans and special infrastructure loans to Caribbean countries having friendly ties with China, and this was warmly received. Comrade Xi Jinping’s visit to Mexico boosted bilateral business ties, and the two sides announced the upgrading of China-Mexico relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

4. Proposing stronger top-level designing and strategic planning in diplomatic work including the bottom line thinking with a view to resolutely upholding China’s core interests.

Comrade Xi Jinping has repeatedly called for stronger top-level designing and medium to long-term strategic planning for China’s diplomatic work.

The Party Central Committee, demonstrating a long-term and broad vision and bearing in mind the underlying trend and major events, has stepped up such efforts by integrating China’s relations with the world’s major countries, its neighbours and other developing countries and multilateral diplomacy through a series of major initiatives.

This has promoted an all-round growth of China’s relations with various parties, meeting our target of a good start and solid layout in our diplomatic work and setting the stage for the medium and long-term pursuit of our objectives.

The Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary attaches great importance to the details of implementing China’s foreign policy. It calls for the need to follow new trend in strategic planning, to make timely policy adjustments in light of shifting international developments and the changing external environment, and to properly address new issues and problems in our diplomatic work.

We must keep in mind the bottom line, working for the best but preparing for the worst. Comrade Xi Jinping has stressed that while firmly committed to peaceful development, we definitely must not forsake our legitimate interests or compromise our core national interests.

No country should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit that undermines our sovereignty, security and development interests. In our diplomatic work, we will not dodge disputes or problems as there may be. Rather, we will endeavour to properly handle the differences and problems with relevant countries, while working to promote exchanges and co-operation in various fields to expand common interests and maintain good relations with neighboring countries and peace and stability in the region as a whole.

5. Putting forth the need for enhanced coordination in diplomatic work to ensure unified central leadership over the operations.

To better coordinate the country’s domestic and international agenda, the Party Central Committee attaches great importance to a holistic management of foreign affairs.

It calls for balanced considerations, overall planning, unified command and coordinated implementation. It requires the central and local governments, non-governmental organisations and all foreign-related agencies to work together to form synergy, with each performing their respective functions.

We should fully motivate all the parties involved and spark their creativity, and at the same time subject their activities to the unified management guided by national interests. Efforts should be made to ensure the smooth exercise of leadership by the Party Central Committee in decision-making, management and specific handling of foreign-related affairs so as to realise its strategic intentions in diplomatic work.

In the past six months, by strengthening institution-building, sorting out relevant systems and mechanisms and formulating clear-cut regulations, the Party Central Committee has succeeded in improving the management of foreign-related work with stronger and better coordinated operations.

III. We must earnestly study and apply the achievements of innovations in diplomatic theory and practice to make new progress in diplomatic work.

China’s diplomatic work under new conditions, which got off to a good start, has proceeded from a stage of planning to one of all-round implementation. Taking stock of the overall developments, we find ourselves still in an important period of strategic opportunities in which much can be accomplished. Yet we also face complex and daunting challenges.

The important achievements of innovations in diplomatic theory and practice made by the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary have not only laid a solid foundation for our diplomatic work in the immediate future, but also pointed out its correct direction.

We should earnestly study and fully appreciate the essence of these innovations, draw inspirations from them and apply them in our diplomatic practice. We should build on the good beginning and forge ahead in a pioneering spirit. While continuing to improve on the strategic planning, we should give greater play to the leading role of leadership diplomacy, vigorously grow relations with other major countries, step up friendship and win-win cooperation with our neighbouring countries and other developing countries and move the international order in a more just and equitable direction.

We should work hard to popularise the new thinking and new ideas of Chinese diplomacy, implement the Party’s mass line and people-oriented diplomacy, and endeavour to make new progress in our diplomatic work, thus creating a more enabling external environment to make the Chinese dream, the great renewal of the Chinese nation, come true.

(Yang Jiechi is State Councilor and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Leading Group of the CPC Central Committee.)

 

Changing the tune!!!

Eight months ago, it was a different tune from those now running the affairs of Grenada.

The charge of the then opposition New National Party (NNP) was that the Tillman Thomas-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) was the problem and had to be removed because it lacked vision and could not create jobs and wealth for the country.

The plethora of campaign ads promised thousands of construction jobs in the first 100 days of government, and plenty of investors who were waiting on the return of Dr. Keith Mitchell as Prime Minister in the Botanical Gardens.

The NNP seemingly had all the answers to the country’s problems and promised the building of a brand new economy for the Spice Isle.

The architect of the NNP manifesto, Dr. Patrick Antoine called on the international community to run come down to Grenada with their cheque books because the island was once again ready to do business because a new Sheriff was in town – the Rt. Hon. Dr. Keith Mitchell because Tillman Thomas and NDC was booted out 15-0 by the electorate.

The constant theme throughout the country was, “We will deliver”.

Eight months later, a different song is being sung by the new NNP regime and it surrounds a nine letter word, “Sacrifice”.

Where is Dr. Patrick these days? Is he still around? As the architect of the economic plans of the government for the building of the promised new economy, did he accompany the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Mitchell to Washington to meet with the IMF and World Bank officials?

Was Dr. Antoine a member of the government team that met recently in St. George’s with the visiting IMF mission? If the Chief Policy Adviser was not on the team then why was he left out?

And more importantly, what is the relationship existing between Dr. Antoine, the Chief Policy Adviser to the government and the current Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine?

Whose advice is the Prime Minister heeding – PS Antoine or Dr. Patrick Antoine? Could it be neither of them or both of them?

If Dr. Antoine feels slighted in the new dispensation then he should not continue to make noises underneath the surfaces but come out of the closet and speak out or forever hold his tongue.

As the new rulers seek debt forgiveness of their own massive debts that helped to make Grenada declared as bankrupt and uncreditworthy by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), they are no longer telling the international community that the island’s woos were created by the NDC.

THE NEW TODAY was able to lay its hand on a letter by a senior government minister, Oliver Joseph that appeared in a leading British newspaper in which the government was trying to sell a message to the British government which is very influential on the IMF Board of Directors.

The letter was not blaming the NDC for anything but pointed at issues such as Hurricanes Ivan and Emily for Grenada’s current economic and financial crisis.

This is what Minister Joseph wrote in part: “Our tiny island of Grenada, with not many more than 100,000 inhabitants, is saddled with a debt that cannot be sustained. We have been hard hit by the global financial crisis because it affected our cruise ship clientele in the US. A slow recovery from hurricanes in the last decade as well as the reduction in development assistance have also played a part. We are committed to bearing our share of the cost while finding a way out that is both equitable and sustainable”.

This newspaper calls on Minister Joseph to tell us what is the way out of the current crisis that the country has found itself.

As Minister of Economic Development and Planning, we have never heard from Mr. Joseph about his Economic Plan for the development of the country.

During the campaign, his frequent utterances was that the job at hand was easy and that all the government had to do was grow the economy because the role of government is to provide the environment for people to earn and spend money because with more disposable income in their hands to spend, it means that the government will collect more dollars in revenue.

This newspaper is looking forward to the presentation of the 2014 budget when Mr. Joseph will get an opportunity as Member of Parliament for St. David to fully inform the nation of his economic plans for the building of a brand new economy for Grenada.

In addition, THE NEW TODAY cannot make any worthwhile and meaningful contribution to the ongoing debate on the current debt crisis and the approach to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of the debt restructuring exercise.

It will not worth the while to offer a serious comment in the absence of the austerity measures to be implemented by the Mitchell government. The comment will only be made after the government issues its letter of Intent to to the IMF and makes a pronouncement to the people of Grenada on the direction it will follow.

Finally, THE NEW TODAY wish to differ with the views being extolled by the Head of the civil Society Grouping that the issue at hand is not who is responsible for creating the national debt but one should be more concerned with ensuring that there is better governance.

The records will show that in its 13 years in office during 1995 to 2008, the NNP administration of Dr. Mitchell was characterised by one thing – borrowing and in some cases at ridiculous high interest rates and hence the escalation of the national debt.

What are the mechanisms in place to ensure that in its future dealings the current government engages in what can be determined as a sustainable level of debt.

How do we know that the NNP might not agree to do everything that is expected of them by the Social Partners that they are now quoting and once the situation is normalised that it will be back to business as usual – another fresh round of the borrowing and spending spree.

The Social Partners must understand that knowing our history will help us to chart the course forward.

The NNP and its leadership in their previous stint must accept most of the responsibility for the precarious economic and financial crisis facing the country.

It is hard to see NDC’ites coming on board with a willing heart to make the sacrifices that are being talked about if and unless the NNP accept responsibility for their gross mismanagement of the country’s affairs in their 13 year stewardship.