Watch your steps

I have read on more than two occasions in your newspaper articles attacking the Permanent Secretary and the Accountant General in the Ministry of Finance labeling them as NNP Supporters. So why is nothing written about a top man in the office of the Accountant General? It is no secret that he is an NDC supporter.

This man seems to think he is superior because he went away and came back with a Degree but it is more than two years since he has been back and the question is what has he done to improve the Accountant General Division?

We can pick from an abundance of people with better accounting skills who can perform his job much more efficiently and effectively. There is nothing that he brings to the table that a common worker does not possess. A standard two primary school student could do what he does.

There is nothing of substance to be learnt from him. He is very sleek and seems to use subtle ways to upset the work of the current government but eyes are on him. Watch your steps Mr. Man, we are monitoring your every move.

 

The Vindicator

What about the Syrian people? Do they count?

The last month’s chessboard politics about Syria and the use of chemical weapons have done nothing to stop the large-scale suffering of the mass of Syrian people, but they have underscored the inadequacy of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Throughout the last two years of the civil war in Syria the veto-privileged members of the UNSC continue to show that they each place higher priority on their own narrowly-defined national interests than on the welfare of people in affected countries.

The Syrian statistics speak for themselves: over 2 million people have fled from the country and many of them are refugees in bordering states; over 6 million people have been displaced from their homes; and over 100,000 people have been killed, including children. These figures are not disputed but in their cold statistics – huge though they are – they fail to portray the full scale of suffering being endured by the Syrian people.

A UNSC, concerned with global peace and the welfare of people, would have joined together at the outset of the Syrian conflict to avoid its escalation and to promote and enforce a solution. Instead, the 5 veto powers on the UNSC – in particular the Russian government – did everything possible to advance their own interests. In the result, the civil war escalated, fuelled in part by two regional neighbours, Iran and Saudi Arabia, who are fighting a proxy war in Syria of Sunni against Shia Muslims.

There have been many instances in the past that starkly revealed the absolute necessity to reform the UNSC, especially to remove the wholly undemocratic veto powers of each of the five permanent members – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States of America – that have consistently paralysed the body. Once again, the utter failure of the UNSC to act together in Syria has emphasised how poorly it serves the people of the world in its present form.

It is unlikely that the veto-nations on the UNSC will act with any greater sense of global responsibility as events over Syria unfold in the coming weeks. The potential proposal to avoid a military strike by the US is extremely difficult to implement. It should be recalled that it is Russia that responded to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s suggestion that a US military strike could be avoided, if Syrian President Bashar Assad gave up his chemical weapons under international supervision. Assad has seemingly agreed to do so after years of denying that his government had any chemical weapons at all.

It is also important to remember that both the Russian government and he jumped on this potential solution only in light of US President Barack Obama’s threat of a military strike.

The process of identifying the location of stockpiled chemical weapons requires the fullest co-operation of the Syrian authorities, including those elements of the military that would be strongly opposed to it. Additionally, quarantining the stockpiles and guarding them necessitates the use of external forces authorised by the UNSC – this calls for close and meaningful collaboration by the veto-5 nations.

In the best of circumstances, this would be a feat difficult to accomplish; in a country beset by a civil war where movement is a major challenge, it is almost impossible. Add to this already poisonous brew the mistrust that exists on all sides and the difficulty of the situation assumes enormous proportions.

And while these manoeuvres take place, the war in Syria and its terrible consequences for the Syrian people continue. The only good thing that might have come from them is that they should deter the further use of chemical weapons. The cruelty and prolonged agony chemicals inflict on victims cannot be hidden. Any further use might arouse enough anger in a world community – that has so far been content to be spectators to the conflict in Syria – to demand action by their governments. But, of course, ending slaughter by chemical weapons does not end carnage by other means.

Public opinion on whether their countries should intervene in Syria has been influenced by two things. The first is the deceit by governments – in particular the US and British governments under George W. Bush and Tony Blair – about weapons of mass destruction held by Saddam Hussein to justify the invasion of Iraq; and the second is the widespread view held in many parts of the world that Muslims are terrorists.

Therefore, even though no government or political party dares to say it publicly, they are keenly aware that the overwhelming sentiment in their constituencies is that the Muslims in Syria should be left to get on with their war against each other.

Many governments around the world have concluded that military intervention in Syria by any country or group of countries would be illegal in the absence of authorisation by the UNSC. This position is, of course, legally correct. In stating their position, these governments have also rightly condemned the use of chemical weapons. They have called for a diplomatic and political solution to the civil war in Syria.

But, while a diplomatic and political solution might have been possible at a very early stage of the internal Syrian conflict, history of other civil wars instruct that in the midst of current intense conflict, such a solution cannot be achieved especially as governments of major countries within and outside the Middle East have a stake in who wins.

Therefore, the death count that is already over 100,000, the displacement of millions of people from their homes and the millions of refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries and even across the globe will continue relentlessly until one of the many groups in Syria bludgeons the others into submission.

Much Syrian blood will be spilled and many innocent Syrians including children will die while the world watches on. This would be a terrible stain on the conscience of all mankind. As the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon recently observed: “Our collective failure to prevent atrocious crimes in Syria over the past two and a half years will remain a heavy burden on the standing of the United Nations and its Member States”.

As the UN General Assembly is set to convene, at the very least the governments of the world should call on the 5-veto nations of the UNSC to act responsibly and together in Syria, and that should not exclude a credible joint UN military intervention to end further slaughter.

 

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

 

EX – G.G. laid to rest

Lloyd NoelThe heights great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flights – but they, while their companions slept, were upward toiling through the night.

As I listened to the many Tributes rendered by the various Speakers last week Thursday, at the funeral of the late Sir Paul Scoon in his hometown R.C. Church at Gouyave, the above statement from one of Shakespeare’s plays – that we studied at the St. John’s Anglican School, which we both attended as boys many moons ago – came back to mind as the glowing tributes reminded me of the hardworking school boy Sir Paul was.

The church was packed for the occasion, and the yard and adjoining street also full of those who could not find space inside.

It was truly a State Funeral with all the Government and other important officials present, and the full Security brigade in attendance.

Sir Paul who served for Fourteen years as G.G., was also Head of State during the Service of Seven P.Ms – and at his funeral two Ex- G.Gs, Sir. Daniel Williams and Sir Carlyle Glean were present as well as the current G.G. Dame Cecile La Grenade, and P.M. Dr. Keith Mitchell and Ex. P.M. Mr. Tillman Thomas.

It was a most fitting ceremony for the late Ex-G.G, and all the dignitaries walked to the Cemetery to witness his body placed in the Tomb – after a touching guns salute by members of the Police Service, while the Police Band played appropriate Hymns in between.

A great son of the soil was finally laid to rest at the Dougaldston Cemetery – but he was from Gouyave Estate in St. John, and not from “Dougaldston” as the Funeral Service Booklet stated. May he rest in Peace.

All the above had its happenings in the times between Independence in 1974, and in particular from the appointment of Sir Paul as G.G. in 1978 – up to his retirement as Head of State in 1992.

But there can be no doubting – that the happenings in our Tri-Island State from the mid-nineties right up to the present time, those took a turn for the worse.

And as the situation appears now-a-days, on the political horizon in particular – the picture, or the outlook, or the very happenings leave a whole lot to be desired – and where we going from here onwards, and how we hoping to get where ever, leave us as a people in a state of grave uncertainty.

And if we listen to the findings of the recent IMF Survey of our Economy – which stated that it is Bankrupt with no visible signs of improvement any time soon – then it must mean that we are in desperate straits as an Independent Nation, with no ready-made alternative resource to fall back on.

The days of our Agricultural resources, with Nutmegs and Cocoa and Bananas as the backbone of our Economy, that kept our people employed and the state receiving its fair share from Taxes and duties and so forth – these days are gone and only the Nutmeg Farmers seem to be recovering lately.

And that is why the promise of so many jobs by Foreign Investors coming to our shores – and employing our people at much lower labour costs than in their own countries, that prospect was so attractive, it enabled the NNP campaigners to sweep the polls of all the seats.

But here we are over seven months since that victory, and from all appearances the promises remain just that. But what is even more disturbing, the powers-that-be seem to be going about the Nation’s business as though things are in order, and all we are hearing from the Controllers are nice-sounding speeches, but no action to back them up and quite naturally no results.

The CCC Roads maintenance and debushing program seem to be on hold, but so far no words about why the in-action, and the very needy people who were looking forward to that source of employment, and put their Xs by the “House” rather than the “Heart” last February, they are left in limbo with no explanation from the Controllers to ease the pain, or to give them hope of relief any time soon.

And now we are waiting on the magical figures of millions and hundreds of millions, in the promised Budget to be delivered on December Sixth for 2014.

In the meantime the Nation’s debt keep on rising – because those in Control cannot even pay anything towards the interest, never mind the Capital hence the reason I suppose the IMF report stated that our Economy is Bankrupt – and from all appearances there are no signs of any improvement in the foreseeable future.

Whether the current Controllers persist in blaming the ill-fated NDC lot, which more or less destroyed itself while occupying the seats of power, that tactic will make no difference to the Economy, nor the state of our affairs as an independent mini-nation. The need now is for positive action to produce results – not blames.

I got the news a week or so ago, that the P.M. Dr. Keith Mitchell, and one or two of his Cabinet colleagues were in Gouyave walking around and greeting the people; and a day or so before or after, the NDC Leader and a colleague or two were also in the fishing town greeting the people.

The question to me was whether Election may be soon in the air – because a new Government might be needed, if conditions do not improve very much sooner than later.

Not likely, I suggested – power is not relinquished so easily and so cheaply. Those in control nearly always feel, that something or someone will turn up to help ease the burden, and thereby provide the space for them to carry on.

There can be no doubt that the economic situation is very rough Island wide, and the Government Controllers as well as the ordinary people are feeling the pressure and finding it very difficult to make ends meet.

And if something does not come to our rescue anytime soon – to ease up the pressure and give those in charge some breathing space to try and make some difficult ends meet, then the last stage could end up a lot worse than what now exist.

The people who fell for the Campaign promises and voted for the winners, they are very embarrassed and keeping cool – but those who did not and now also feeling the pressure, they are looking on and commenting quietly.

But overall people are becoming restless, because the hard times are becoming overbearing and the tolerance really running out.

So the powers-that-be have to pull out all the stops and get something moving very much sooner than later – because time is not on their side.

Governor-General urged to veto law

An influential global media group is urging Grenada’s Governor-General, Dame CÈcile La Grenade to refrain from putting her signature on a recent bill passed by the island’s Parliament to give effect to the Electronic Crime Act.
According to Reporters Without Borders, the controversial act that was passed by the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government in St. George’s is a danger to press freedom.
Following is the petition letter that was sent to Dame Cecile:

 

Dame Cecile La Grenade

Governor-General

St. George’s,

Grenada,

 

Dear Governor-General La Grenade,

 

Reporters Without Borders, an international organisation that defends freedom of information, would like to express to you its concern about Parliament’s final approval of the Electronic Crimes Action 9 September.

We do not dispute the principle of this law or some of its provisions. The Internet should not escape the authority of the law altogether and we believe that it is perfectly legitimate to sanction such crimes and offences as the theft of documents or data, online identity theft or, even more serious, child pornography.

However, we regard some of the clauses in this law as extremely damaging to the free flow of news and information and to public debate. For example section 6 (1.a) of Part II says: “A person shall not knowingly or without lawful excuse or justification send by means of an electronic system or an electronic device information that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character.”

Offenders can (be) sentenced to up to a year in prison and/or a fine of 100,000 East Caribbean dollars (37,000 US dollars).

Under what criteria can information be considered “offensive,” regardless of factual accuracy (which this clause refrains from mentioning)? This provision could very easily constitute an obstacle to the dissemination of information of public interest. It could, for example, provide any demonstrably corrupt public figure with a strong argument for refusing to be held accountable.

We are also concerned about the range of the law’s applicability. Clause 3(e) of Part 1 says that it applies where “an offence under this act was committed by any person, of any nationality or citizenship or in any place outside or inside Grenada, having an effect on the security of Grenada or its nationals, or having universal application under international law, custom and usage.”

Here again, the lack of precision about the nature of the security to which this clause refers could result in significant obstacles to freedom of information.

The danger posed by these provisions is, in our view, all the greater because the law gives the police and judicial authorities a great deal of scope to access the personal data of someone who is being investigated.

For all these reasons, we urge you not to sign this act into law in its present form and to ask parliament to amend the most sensitive clauses.

We thank you in advance for the attention you give to this letter.

 

Sincerely,

Christophe Deloire

Reporters Without Borders

Secretary-General

Call for Entries for Media Awards 2013

The Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG) announces the staging of the 8th annual Media Awards ceremony on December 8th at the Trade Centre Annex.

This year’s awards will adapt the theme of Media Week celebrations, “Unification and advancement for professional development”, as the executive continues to strive to unite all media workers.

Preparations for the red carpet affair that celebrates the work of media practitioners in the country are progressing well.

The media awards this year will once again feature a “People’s Choice Award”, where media houses will be asked to participate in the short listing of its popular personalities.

The call for entries has now been issued and practitioners have until October 24th, 2013 to submit entries.

Trophies will be awarded to the winner in each category.

This year will once again see the presentation of a special award called the “Anthony Jericho Greenidge” award, where a young and upcoming media worker will be honoured.

Media workers are advised that to be eligible for the awards, their status must be regularized with MWAG, through the customary annual fee of $60 per member.

More information on the awards will be rolled out in the coming weeks as part of MWAG’s Public Relations plan.

Final rites for Sir Paul

The voices of past students, belting out the words of their alma mater – Grenada Boys Secondary School (GBSS) reverberated the walls of St Peter’s R.C Church last week Thursday as hundreds turned out to pay their final tributes to Grenada’s longest serving Governor General, Sir Paul Scoon, GCMG, GCVO, OBE.

Te Ex-GG who served his country with distinction and enjoyed the highest of respect was laid to rest in his hometown in Gouyave, St John, after tributes were aid to him by close family members and friends.

The small St Peter’s R.C Church was filled to capacity as Grenadians from all aspects of life gathered to pay respect to Sir Paul who gained international recognition in the wake of the October 25,1983 military intervention by U.S and Caribbean troops to end a blood bath in which Marxist Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop was killed.

Apart for his leadership role in Grenada, Sir Paul’s role as an educator and a stickler for doing things properly also featured prominently during the funeral’s tributes.

Close family member, Dr. Edward Cox characterized Sir Paul as a man who lived by example and fully committed to life-long learning.

He recalled Sir Paul’s decision to become Grenada’s Governor General, which he made in the interest of the nation.

Dr. Cox believes that Sir Paul “has fulfilled his task on earth”.

Nephew of the deceased, Michael Church, a former senior government minister under the National Democratic Congress (NDC), shared some of his personal encounters with his uncle, all of which left indelible examples to be emulated.

Church said that Sir Paul “is the best example of self service”.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell recognised Sir Paul for his lifetime of service to the nation.

“We celebrate the legacy of a statesman in every way”, he said.

Governor General, Dame Cecile La Grenade, echoed similar sentiments, that Sir Paul was a courageous and honourable man who served Grenada with distinction.

Sir Paul succumbed to a period of illness at his home in a village in St Paul’s, St George known as “Africa”.

Born on July 4, 1935, in the fishing Mecca of Gouyave, Sir Paul, the son of a butcher served his country from as GG October 4, 1978 to 1992.

He was educated at the St John’s Anglican School and at the Grenada Boy’s Secondary School.

He studied as an external student of London University acquiring a Bachelor of Arts degree and later attended the Institute of Education at Leeds University. He also holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Toronto.

Sir Paul taught at the GBSS before serving as Chief Education Officer and later as Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office before being appointed Cabinet Secretary, the top post in the Grenada Civil Service.

In 1973, he was seconded to the post of Deputy Director of the Commonwealth Foundation in London, which he relinquished in 1978 to become Grenada’s Governor General.

LIME provides education support through broadband

Grenadian students are being given the opportunity to pursue online education through Caribbean Exams.

Head of Customer Solution Delivery, Glendon Langaigne told members of the media on Tuesday that CaribbeanExams.com is used for training, teaching and coaching children from the primary school level from Grade One right through to Grade Six, and then into secondary school.

Langaigne said that as the children enter primary school they are able to get on to the online system and are coached using various tools.

LIME considers broadband service as one of its key pillars in the educational drive.

Langaigne indicated that the telecommunication provider which reviewed Caribbeanexams.com realised that it has great potential for its customers.

He said earlier this year LIME formalised an agreement to partner with Caribbean Exams and that Grenada will be one of the first business units to launch the service.

Langaigne said every new broadband customer with LIME will receive CaribbeanExams.com package that is equivalent to US$15.00 per month.

LIME’s General Manager Angus Steele who also addressed the educational programme said although new broadband customers are the first set of people to benefit from Caribbean Exams, the programme will eventually be made available to all customers in the near future.

Steele said this is a great opportunity for both parents and teachers to tap into that resource material.

He gave the assurance particularly to parents that the programme is safe enough for use by the children who will be using the internet.

 

Keens-Douglas wins with GRENLEC

Playwright Ricardo Keens-Douglas is the Grenada Electricity Services Limited (GRENLEC) “BFF Bill For Free” Promotion grand prizewinner.

Keens-Douglas was presented with his winning symbolic cheque on Tuesday morning during a brief ceremony at the GRENLEC Bruce Street office.

The lucky customer will have his bill paid for the next year at a maximum of $400.00 per month.

In his acceptance speech, Keens-Douglas said that he is happy to be awarded the prize and encouraged customers to “switch on and switch off with GRENLEC”.

The promotion by the island’s sole electricity company was launched last year to assist customers during this economic challenging time to pay their monthly electricity bills.

During the launch of the promotion, Manager, Corporate Communication, Prudence Greenidge said that GRENLEC introduced the promotion with this in mind, “the best things in life are free”.

To qualify, eligible customers must update their GRENLEC contact information, pay their bills on time, make their account current and drop the panel of their bill into the provided treasure chest at any GRENLEC location at the end of each month.

Customer Service Manager, Cassandra Slocombe said that already nine monthly winners were awarded and customers are reminded that the promotion continues until November and they are still eligible to win with GRENLEC.

 

The new Nissan Urvan

One of Grenada’s leading automotive companies displayed a new set of wheels over the weekend introducing the NV350 Urvan Bus.

The launch of the new fleet of vehicles took place last week Saturday at the Huggins Automotive Division, Maurice Bishop Highway.

According to the company’s Divisional Director, Royston La Hae, the new Nissan Urvan riding under the banner “Innovation That Excites”, buses come in two versions – the narrow body and wide body.

The Nissan Urvan was described as a facelift model, which came out in 2003.

La Hae said that the new fleet of diesel vehicles has larger interior space, is equipped with 2.5 litre turbocharged diesel engine, electronic control system, stylish exterior design, new grill design, 15-seater with more space for cargo and leg room with a reclining passenger seat.

However, the divisional director warned potential customers, particularly bus drivers to look at purchasing a bus as a business and to allow them to “stay on the road.”

He said that too often some drivers are interested in speeding to make a quick turnaround, which often results in greater wear and tear of the vehicles.

He disclosed that the company delayed the importation of the vehicles due to some adjustments requested of the manufacturing company regarding the windows, fog lights, CD player, mirrors and air condition.

La Hae said that while some adjustments were made to the buses, they are not fully satisfied that all the adjustments requested were complete, but said that they are working with the manufacturers to make the changes.

He stressed that buying a diesel vehicle comes with many advantages particularly relating to fuel cost, as the diesel is cheaper and lower fuel consumption.

“Diesel engine gives good talk”, he quipped.

The divisional director is confident that the new fleet of vehicles will give their owners longer working hours, as well as a longer time-span for repairs.

The vehicles are fuel injected; pollution emission controlled and profitability should be better.

Customers making their purchase from the time of the official launch to October 31 will automatically receive 20% discount while the first 10 lucky purchasers would receive coupons valued $600.00 to be used for tire purchase in addition to $5,300.00 discount off the cost price of $139,300.00 and complementary service on the vehicle’s first 12,000 miles service.

The event was also used to pay tribute to Crofton Samuel, long-serving customer of Nissan vehicles who died earlier this year as well as to recognize loyal customers.

 

Grenadian nurses explore foreign opportunities

A number of unemployed Grenadian trained nurses could soon find gainful employment in Trinidad and Tobago, as the Governments of Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago explore another avenue in its joint cooperation agreement.

Grenadian health administrators view this new development as a worthwhile venture with many personal and economic benefits to the nurses and the country as a whole, especially in relation to the quality of the Grenadian nursing education program.

According to the Chief Nursing Officer in the Ministry of Health and Social Security, Nester Edwards, a three member delegation from the Ministry of Health in Trinidad and Tobago had completed interviews and set the stage for the recruitment of more than three dozen nurses earlier this week.

She told the Government Information Services (GIS) that from all indications, the delegation was satisfied and that the process is being fast-tracked to have the hiring process completed before year-end.

Forty nurses including ten Cuban trained – were among the candidates vying for positions. Edwards said a detailed report including the selected candidates is expected by September 27.

GIS said the move to assist the nurses to find employment was started by Prime Minster, Dr. Keith Mitchell when he attended a high level meeting in the twin island Republic after taking office in February.

Discussions along that line were further intensified by Health and Social Security Minister, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen when she attended and met with Trinidadian health officials at Health Ministers Assembly in Geneva a few months ago.

On her return, Dr. Curwen-Modeste indicated that the discussions were favourable, and that the objective was to create opportunities for trained nurses to utilise their skills and services where there was a need.

In recent times, GIS said Minister Curwen-Modeste has been identifying and creating opportunities to utilise the skills of trained medical caregivers and has mandated that many of the nurses be observed in the Ministry’s Primary Health Care program which was launched in July.

During the recent recruiting exercise, the nurses were informed of a proposed financial package, working conditions, skill-sets and other important matters including the duration of the contractual arrangement which is likely to be three years in the first instance.