MNIB sees increase in farmers’ registration

Farmers are reportedly demonstrating greater confidence in the state-owned Marketing National and Importing Board (MNIB).

MNIB CEO - Ruel Edwards

MNIB CEO – Ruel Edwards

According to Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of MNIB, Ruel Edwards, additional 600 farmers are currently doing business with the board.

“We have moved from 1400 farmers on register in 2012, to over 2100
farmers that are now doing business with MNIB,” Edwards told THE NEW TODAY last week Thursday.

He also reported an “increase in banana production and the consumption of local fruits and vegetables,” boasting that the “MNIB is attracting a lot more customers now (and is) linking better with the tourism sector.

“We have just started our River Road building, which is being renovated to include a lab where we would introduce greater cold storage and repair the infrastructure to ensure that we can better accommodate farmers’ produce when they come through,” Edwards said.

“So we are proud of the direction we are going…those are things that I think we could be really proud of,” he added.

The CEO pointed to some “critical investments” that have been made by the 40-year old institution within the last three years to “improve on the building, (but also) on old equipment that has been there for over 10 -15 years.”

Edwards expressed confidence that “as we go forward the MNIB is going to be stronger (and) better able to serve the farming community.”

According to the MNIB CEO, approximately “4 million pounds of produce is purchased a year” from local farmers and the board is “striving to meet the industry standard of 3% wastage of all purchases.”

“I am confident that we can achieve that,” he said.

MNIB was set up by the 1979-83 left-leaning People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop to help boost agricultural production on the island.

CUSTOMERS EMBRACE FLOW LEND

Customers who need to top up their phone’s credit but are short on cash, or simply can’t make it to a top-up station, no longer have a problem.

Prepaid mobile customers now have an easy way to top up with the innovative Flow Lend App.
Using the App, which is available for Android and iOS smartphones, customers can now request credit advances or recharge “loans” if their accounts are nearing a low balance and they can’t afford to pay for a top up or aren’t near a top-up center.

Once the loan is approved, the amount is added to the customers’ account and they can call, text and even access data.

Customers are encouraged to pay back the loan within a week’s time, but no more than 30 days after they got it.

James McElvanna, VP Products, Cable & Wireless Communications, operators of Flow, said, “Flow Lend is an innovative way for us to support our customers and ensure they’ll never have to worry about running out of credit in any situation. Whether they have big news to share or have an emergency, they’ll never have to miss that important call or text. It’s a unique advantage for Flow customers, and it’s all part of our goal to totally revolutionise the customer experience and keep them connected, especially when it matters most.”
Explaining how the App works, McElvanna said, “Any prepaid mobile customer can request a loan! Once their phone is topped up on a regular basis for at least 3 consecutive months, they’ll be invited to download the app and become eligible for a loan. Then, if they consistently payback the loans through normal recharge vouchers or top ups, they’ll have the chance to ‘level up’ their lend status and increase how much they can borrow. It’s like a video game – the better you play, the more you level up!”

The key is, don’t forget to pay back the loans because accounts that are not paid within 30 days and are inactive will be disconnected.

Then the outstanding loan will be treated as bad debt.

Pay on time and you’re good to go!

Since its launch, one Flow customer has called Flow Lend the “best app from Flow, always reliable, simple and easy to lend credit, automatically repays your loan once you top up.”

Others have said Flow Lend is “very easy and quick to use” and “good when you need the extra credit.” Another simply said, “Love it!”

The bottom line is Flow Lend is becoming an invaluable service for our customers when they need a bit of help to meet their mobile needs.

Flow Lend is currently available in all Flow mobile markets.

(Submitted by Cable & Wireless)

Leader of Dominican Order visits Grenada

As the Dominican Order of the Roman Catholic Church celebrates 800 years of existence and 115 years of Service in the Diocese of St. George’s, the local order was visited by a 4-man high-powered delegation headed by Master General of the Order, Fr. Bruno Cadore who is based in Rome.

Master General Fr. Bruno Cadore Chief Celebrant at Sunday’s Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Church at Roxborough

Master General Fr. Bruno Cadore Chief Celebrant at Sunday’s Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Church at Roxborough

The Master was accompanied by Socius for the United States, Dominic Izzo who is also an Associate to the Master General, as well as Fr. Richard Olinswarth, the Provisional Bursar for England, and Fr. Martin Ganeri, who holds the post of Head of the Dominican Order with responsibility for England, Grenada and Barbados.

The delegation arrived in Grenada last Friday and left on Monday for Trinidad for the final leg of the trip to the region.

In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper on Monday at the headquarters of the local Dominican order at the Priory at Roxborough, St. Paul’s, Fr. Cadore said the primary purpose of the visit was to ensure that the teachings done by the local priests are in keeping with the Dominican Order.

The 62-year-old French-born Priest said he is impressed with what is being presented to the faithful by the Dominican Order in Grenada.

“As you know more than 100 years ago, the Brothers came here to help the church to establish in this territory and some Brothers from Europe came and began with others to establish the church. When you look at Grenada or Barbados, you see very good preaching and good service which we can use because we can meet all the Catholic community and parishes and all the social work around human promotion, around what the church has to do, because it’s what the church has to become,” he remarked.

The Head of the Order whose father is from Martinique and who said that this was his first trip to the English-speaking Caribbean, described the region as “the world in between” and felt that the preaching of the Dominican Order will do well for the region.

“So I am very impressed by that, by the mission…we are in a very important place in the world…the Caribbean region, a sort of paradigmatic place in the world, a place where the population is coming from very different kinds of history, different kinds of culture, different kinds of languages too,” he said.

When asked what message he left with his Dominican Brothers serving in Grenada, he said it is the preaching of peace as they continue on their quest to do the work of Christ.

“…The message of the Dominican Order… it is an order to preach the gospel of peace, so the main message is to promote peace and communion. We don’t have anything else to do (but) to promote peace and communion, to trust that (the) human being is able to be lectured on communion in all humanity.

The influential Roman Catholic cleric was also asked to comment on whether he could envisage the church under Pope Francis making a revolutionary change and allowing priests to get married, as was the case with other religious sect.

He brushed aside the issue, saying there are far more important issues that priests need to concentrate upon than getting married to someone.

According to Fr. Cadore who has been a priest for over 30 years, a priest getting the opportunity to marry is not the most important issue facing the Catholic Church.

“For me the most important issue in the church is to give the floor to the Ecclesial community, to help each community to understand that without this community the church would miss something.

“So, this is to me (is) the main issue, the main goals, the main challenge for the church, to help everybody to understand if I am not committed to the life of my church, my church will miss me.

Other Clergy members at Sunday’s Mass

Other Clergy members at Sunday’s Mass

“…We need ministers in the church, we need communities…the ministers are not those who make the church, those who make the church are the communities and then the ministers are serving the communities.

Fr. Cadore lauded Pope Francis for the work he is doing and for leading the Catholic Church in today’s world.

He described Pope Francis as one who is prepared to give his life for the Catholic Church.

“He (The Pope) is preaching what he believes and he is doing what he is preaching and by this his Ministry is very impressive for all of the believers of the church, more than that too, for everybody in the world”, he said.

“It’s very impressive to see one manifest such faith  …which seems to be so easy to express and to (be a) testimony to the others in very simple words which are words of everyday… so he is giving his life,” he added.

Father Cadore was the chief celebrant at Sunday’s evening mass at the Roxborough Church which was attended by many Catholics in the diocese including acting Governor-General, Sir Daniel Williams and his wife Lady Gloria who are devoted Catholics.

The Catholic community in Grenada is presently waiting on information from Rome on the selection of a new Bishop to replace Grenadian-born Vincent Darius who died in April.

PM Mitchell to unveil budget in November

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell will unveil Grenada 2017 budget on November 25.

The government is now engaged in consultations with various stakeholders including the private sector, labour movement and civil society groups.

“The consultations have been very engaging and many interesting and practical suggestions have been put forward”, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Finance.

The Government will be assessing the suggestions to determine what is practical to implement in 2017 and what may require further research and analysis,”  it added.

The statement also said that discussions are being held with other government departments and that “consultations are also being planned with other stakeholders including stakeholders in Carriacou and Petit Martinique”.

Grenada’s Homegrown Structural Adjustment Programme which had the support of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international donor comes to an end on December 31 this year.

Prime Minister Mitchell, who is also the island’s Finance Minister, has already indicated that his administration would be seeking consultations with the various interest groups on the way forward.

Political observers sees the presentation of the budget in November as a clear sign that the Prime Minister is setting the stage for an early poll – sometime in the first half of the new year.

Mitchell’s is seeking an unprecedented 5th term in office as the country’s leader.

He has won elections in 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2013.

Historic amendment in Parliament

A special sitting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday ensured that there is a transfer of names of former police officers form the Police Voters’ List to the current list to make for an easier voting process.

This was made possible through amendments made to the Representation of People’s Amendment Act 2016 during the sitting of the Senate on September 9.

The amendments were agreed upon in the Upper House  without amendments at Tuesday’s sitting at the Trade Centre.

This Bill seeks to make provision for the re-registration of the names of persons whose names have been lawfully removed from the Police Voters List and to update the forms to facilitate proper administration of the Registration of Electors Rules.

The bill indicates that a person who was issued a Voter Identification Card and whose name has been included in the Police Voters’ List ceases to serve in the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), the name shall be transferred from the Police Voters’ list to the current list.

Once the name is transferred to the current list, the Voter Registration Card that was issued while being a member of the RGPF shall be cancelled.

It will then be the responsibility of that individual to approach the Supervisor of Elections to be registered as an elector who is not serving in the RGPF and the Supervisor of Elections will issue a new Voter Identification Card to the person in accordance with  the rules.

The affected person will be exempted from any requirement to pay a prescribed fee with respect to the issue of a new card.

Likewise, if a new member of the RGPF has been registered to vote before joining the RGPF, that individual name shall be transferred from the current list to the Police Voters’ List, unless it may be impractical to do so.

If it is indeed impractical, that individual may take it upon themselves to make a request to the Supervisor of Elections to be registered as an elector who is serving in the RGPF in accordance with the rules.

Once that is done, the name shall be removed from the current list and the Voter Registration Card cancelled.

The Supervisor of Elections will issue a new voter registration card with no cost to that individual.

A call for greater sensitisation on Constitution Reform

“This is not a political issue. This is an issue to advance the governance of the country and therefore people must be informed so that they can make an informed decision when they go to cast their ballot”.

Those were the words uttered by outspoken Attorney-at-Law Anselm Clouden, who called for more detailed sensitisation on the bills that are to be decided upon in the upcoming referendum poll.

Clouden told reporters last week Friday that he would like to see a more “aggressive dispensation or distribution of information on certain aspects of the referendum”.

His call came just one day after the Grenada Bar Association (GBA) staged a two-hour session as part of accelerated sensitisation efforts on the upcoming referendum poll at the Public Workers Union (PWU), Tanteen, St. George, which was attended mainly by members of the legal fraternity.

The lawyers were later joined for a brief period by some law students attending the T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC)

According to Clouden, there appears to be a lack of widespread public education on the upcoming referendum and this “must be accelerated in every village, secondary school, and hamlet to achieve its purpose”.

Noting that not many people have a copy of the Grenada Constitution, Clouden expressed the view that the Constitution should have been printed in preparation for the referendum a year or two ago and distributed throughout the country.

This, he said would have enhanced the debate on the island as to why the amendment and how the people should vote with respect to those proposed amendments to the constitution.

The long-standing Barrister-at-Law told reporters that “it is not too late” and cited the need for a “massive public information distribution of the constitution and the amendments of the areas that are being addressed”.

However, Clouden expressed his support for the constitutional amendments in the proposed Human Rights and Freedoms Bill, which includes protective mechanisms to particularly deal with the issues surrounding the area of due process of law among other significant areas of contention that the amendment is seeking to address.

He said that “in the past much ado has been made of this (due process of law) because we never had it in our Constitution and we had to by implication under the fair trial doctrine under Section 8 of the Constitution that speaks of fair trials, we attempted to incorporate the principles of due process, which is procedural fairness at every stage of the proceedings especially, in the criminal jurisdiction of the court. That is now included as part of the constitutional amendment”.

He cited “the right to counsel, where someone who has been apprehended by the police must be advised without delay of his right to have a lawyer present before he is interrogated or made to speak to the police and the right to counsel, as two of the protective mechanisms that enhances the human rights aspect of the Constitution”.

Attorney Clouden also registered his support for abolishing appeals to the Privy Council in London and recognising the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the final appellate court in the jurisdiction.
The lawyer who once voiced reservations about the CCJ called on the electorate to vote “yes” on referendum day for the court.

Clouden also told reporters that as far as the other bills are concerned, such as term limits for the Prime Minister and the appointment of an Opposition Leader at all times in Parliament, he would “put them down for further discussion’.

The noted criminal attorney expressed his firm belief in democracy and the democratic principles upon which these policies exist.

“I think the will of the people when expressed ought not to be withered out,” he declared. (What does this mean – vox popele vox de).

“When the people say they would give one party everything, that is the wish of the people, it may change subsequently but I don’t think that the appointment of an opposition is the way to go – if the people decide not to elect an Opposition Leader that’s the people’s wish”, he added.

On the issue of term limits, Clouden said this should be properly discussed and ventilated by the people and it then enshrined in the Constitution to ensure that there is no injury to democracy.

“If the people decide that they would want to restrict the leader to two consecutive terms then they must be told that this is part of our democratic process/and therefore enshrine it and the culture would develop as a consequence but I don’t believe there should be an appointment of an opposition”, he remarked.

Clouden was in disagreement with the notion having a one-chamber parliament with both elected and non-elected members.

“I have always advocated having an elected Senate of seven and they could act as a check on the Lower House. They would be a law making body very much akin to the Senate in the United States so that you have internal checks and balances within the parliamentary body itself”, he said.

Clouden suggested that it is not too late to have “massive public information distribution of the Constitution and the amendments of the areas that are being addressed” in the upcoming referendum and called on the authorities to do more in this regard.

Edwards: Allegations are ridiculous and untrue

Chief Executive Officer of the Marketing National Importing Board (MNIB), Ruel Edwards, has dismissed reports that the state-owned body is refusing to export produce to a major food importer who is based in the Brooklyn New York area.

“That is news to me”, Edwards told THE NEW TODAY newspaper in an exclusive interview last week Thursday in which he brushed aside an accusation made last week Monday by Political Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Senator Nazim Burke.

The Congress leader who made the charge at the weekly NDC press conference told reporters that the information in his possession is not hearsay but came directly from the affected importer himself.

“I have no reason to lie. I was in New York a few weeks ago and I spoke to the gentleman who is the largest importer of food in the Brooklyn area”, said Burke.

He did not identify the individual by name but said he “is a Grenadian by birth, who imports large quantities of food from Grenada”.

According to Burke the man claimed that the Marketing Board “is refusing to sell him produce”.

However, Edwards denied having knowledge about the allegation.

“I would like to know who that importer is and that importer should give us the list of requirements that he has so that we can reach out and sell to him right away”, he said.

“We have one customer in New York, we have customers in Boston, Miami (and) Huston and what we are seeking to do is to increase exports from Grenada”, he added.

Edwards also pointed to challenges being experienced as it relates to exporting food items out of the country to New York.

“We have some challenges in terms of flight connection (as) there is no direct flight (from Grenada) going to New York. So we have to use American Airlines (AA) or Caribbean Airlines (CA) to try to get produce into New York”, he said.

The MNIB boss also explained that “when there is embargo with American Airlines it is not possible for you to ship into New York.”

“I think it is critically important that we address the airlift scenario for cargo for exports coming from Grenada at the airport- and have other logistics in place to facilitate greater exports but certainly any opportunity to export we would gladly accept it because that’s our mandate”, he said.

“What we want to do is to increase exports coming from Grenada. So if there is that particular customer I would love to meet him and he should give us his requirements so that we can work with the farming population and create a production plan to satisfy his requirements”, he added.

Burke also used the Congress press conference to address concerns over reports about MNIB’s failure to sell the produce purchased from farmers and was dumping large quantities of produce due to spoilage.
Burke said his party is getting these reports from MNIB outlets in River Road, St. George’s and Grenville, St. Andrew’s.

“…If the reports we are hearing are correct then perhaps as much as hundreds and thousands of dollars are being lost in spoilage each year”, said Sen. Burke at the press conference.

He went on to say: “I spoke to one farmer a few days ago, who reported to me his horror to personally witness tons of oranges being placed in a garbage truck and when the compression device was employed, gallons of orange juice were falling off from the truck as the truck drove off.

“This is a farmer who sells oranges to the MNIB telling me of this.

It is an unacceptable situation and it is unacceptable at many different levels.

“The issue of dumping fruits after it is spoiled cannot be justified under any conditions.

Sen. Burke suggested that if the food cannot be sold then the MNIB should give it to schools, hospitals, elderly and children’s homes in the country.

“They can even use the spoilage to feed animals. It would make sense rather than throwing it away”, Sen. Burke said.

In response to this, Edwards said he is not aware of such incidents, adding that “because you are dealing with fresh produce there will be waste and spoilage”.

“What we have done that people are not aware of (is) whatever produce that is not acceptable for consumption those have been going into composting. We have a number of composting sites that we have been working with and that compost is actually going to go back to the farmers”, he remarked.

According to Edwards, there are farmers who are involved in animal husbandry and “we (MNIB) have been supplying them with feeding material for their animals”.

Another issue that was addressed by the MNIB CEO relates to statements made by Sen. Burke concerning sugar purchased by Marketing Board through “a middle man” at higher price to local consumers as it moved away from buying sugar directly from suppliers in both Trinidad and Guyana.

“We are hearing that the sugar being purchased by the MNIB is being brought in through a middle man (who is) buying the sugar and selling it to the MNIB at some kind of profit, whereas in the past the MNIB used to buy the sugar directly from suppliers in Trinidad and Guyana,” Sen. Burke said.

However, Edwards affirmed that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GYSUCO) is the main supplier of brown sugar for the MNIB and that Trinidad does not produce brown sugar.

“So certainly people need to understand the nature of the business and if they don’t have information, find out than to spread things that (are) absolutely ridiculous and not true”, Edwards said.