Healthcare a catastrophe in St. Patrick’s

If Grenada has a national health crisis, St. Patrick’s has a health catastrophe.

About three years ago, a young woman died on the grounds of the Sauteurs Health Complex because there was no oxygen at the facility. Earlier this year, an elderly lady from Mt. Rich died at the same facility because there was no trained person to administer oxygen to her. Just a few days ago, the Mt. Rich Medical Station was closed down without any prior notice.

On the night of September 23, a young woman gave birth in Darvey. She was unable to pass the afterbirth. Given that there is no ambulance in St. Patrick’s, the woman’s relatives called the nearby police station for assistance with transportation. The police said that they had one vehicle which they were keeping in case of an emergency.

Finally, a young villager was found and he decided to take the patient to St. George’s. When he got to Gouyave, he met an ambulance which had been called to pick up the young lady. The ambulance driver turned back without the patient, reportedly claiming it was a “hospital case”.

The residents of St. Patrick’s are fed up with the callous disregard shown to us by this NNP government. We have two parliamentary representatives and a senator, yet nothing meaningful gets done to improve the lives of the people.

Mr. Boatswain became an MP in 1999 and we have become the poorest and most neglected parish since then. Rather than taking steps to upgrade the level of health care in the parish, he is begging for a final term to watch De Caul put big stones into the sea in Sauteurs.

Since Boatswain, Pablo and Pam Pam are afraid of Dr. Keith, St. Patrick’s will always get the dirty end of the stick as long as NNP is in power. For health care in our parish to improve, the three stooges have to be removed.

Sick and Tired

Positive change needed in St. Patrick’s

After almost 20 years of NNP rule and Boatswain misrepresentation, I have observed the following:

*St. Patrick’s is now the poorest parish in Grenada;

*Unemployment, especially among youths, is sky high;

*The road from Prospect to Sauteurs is a disaster.

A few months ago, Dennis Jeremiah’s bus, full of school children, capsized when it hit a crater while going uphill from Darvey towards Prospect. Thank God, there were only minor injuries.

*Corruption is rampant in all government programmes;

If you are an NNP big boy or girl, you can be accused of fraud, rape or any other offence and nothing will come of it.

*Housing material scandal, radio station loud mouth, lumber for lumber;

*If you support NNP, you can eat, if not, you must starve;

*There is no ambulance, only two of Steele’s rusted out Tuk Tuks at the Health Complex;

*Mt. Rich Medical Station closed down;

*There is a fire station but no fire truck;

*St. Patrick’s RC School is almost in ruins;

*Chantimelle RC is in urgent need of repair;

*St. Patrick West is in need of proper representation;

Is there an alternative? I have observed the NDC deputy leader, Joseph Andall, very closely over the last 5 years. He offers some solid ideas for developing this parish.

What we need in the parish are the following:-

*Embrace agriculture and agro industries;

*Implement a meaningful skills training and apprenticeship programme for the youths;

*Promote the formation of cooperatives and small businesses;
*Introduce nature and community tourism, themed village festivals/activities;

*Revitalise culture and sports;

*Separate NDC office and activities from the functions of the Parliamentary Rep;

*Be an MP for all, not just selected supporters;

*End corruption so that people’s tax dollars can be used to uplift communities, rather than enrich crooks.

Mr. Andall has been engaging the people and is an influential member of his party, so St. Patrick West should give him an opportunity to serve.

Aniker Mc Leish

Caribbean bowed but far from beaten

This week I was asked to provide an answer to a question posed by an influential Washington-based publication regarding the future of tourism in the Caribbean in the wake of the damage wreaked, in quick succession, by two Category 5 hurricanes.

The question was disturbing. Its inference was that tourism in the Caribbean could be fatally affected by the recent storms and by more frequent and intense storms in the future, and, further, tourists would now have to consider alternative destinations.

I did not regard the question as idle speculation and I pondered whose interests would be served by spreading the notion that tourism to the Caribbean has become dangerous.

I provided an answer to the question for the publication. I reproduce below both the question and the answer that I gave.

The question was: “How have recent events (the massive earthquake that toppled buildings and killed many in Mexico City) affected the outlook for tourism in Mexico and elsewhere in the region? How badly damaged is the Caribbean basin’s tourism infrastructure, and how long will it take to recover? Will some countries of the region, spared from damage be able to accommodate more visitors, or will trends see tourists choose entirely different parts of the world to vacation altogether?”

The answer I gave was as follows: “I am unable to speak for Mexico in this matter, but I would imagine that both the Mexican government and the private sector will act swiftly to correct any impression that the earthquake prohibits the country from welcoming tourists. Tourism to Mexico is not to Mexico City alone.

With regard to the Caribbean, while the tourism infrastructure in some countries in the Caribbean has been damaged by the recent hurricanes, this is not true of the entire area. Many destinations for both air and sea arrivals are open and functioning normally.

The countries that were not impacted by the hurricanes recognise that there will be greater demand and they have taken measures to accommodate this development, such as earlier opening of resorts that had closed for the summer.

Some of them, such as Antigua and Barbuda, have already entered agreements with airlines, cruise ship liners and yachting companies for more calls at their ports. Several cruise ship lines, such as Royal Caribbean and MSC cruises have organised their schedules to allow their clients to proceed seamlessly with Caribbean cruises by increasing the number of their berthings at non-affected ports.

Both Caribbean countries and the airlines and cruise ship companies have a vested interest in preserving and promoting the Caribbean. They are already adjusting their marketing campaigns to reflect that reality.
Tourists have the entire world from which to choose for their holidays, but the Caribbean has a special appeal whose lustre has not been lost because of the damage caused to a few destinations. The damage is not permanent and the Caribbean has a record of swift recovery”.

It is important to note that while territories, such as the British and US Virgin Islands, Anguilla, French/Dutch St Martin/St Maarten, Puerto Rico and Dominica, were damaged as well as the small island of Barbuda (the other island of the State of Antigua and Barbuda), other Caribbean destinations weathered the storm and are operating normally. These include the Bahamas, Jamaica, St Kitts-Nevis, Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados and Tobago.

The unimpeded operations of these countries and the readiness of their ports and resorts to welcome visitors are messages that their tourism authorities should be broadcasting in the tourist markets loudly and clearly.

In tourism competition, as in all forms of competition, underhand propaganda that hurts contestants is par for the course. The undermining by challengers of contenders for the same prize is subtle, but widespread.

The international media coverage of the awful damage done by hurricanes Irma and Maria help unconscionable contestants to try to grab as much business from the Caribbean as possible. In their quest to increase their market share and to benefit at the Caribbean’s expense, few would be privately troubled.

Of course, the region wants the international community to recognise the enormous damage that has been done to the gravely affected islands and their peoples. Rebuilding in these countries will require an international response in many ways. But, at the same time, the region must also let the world know that damage to some islands has not closed the area, and the damage is not permanent or irreparable.

Tourism now accounts for at least sixty percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the Caribbean. Retaining the region’s share of world tourism is vital to economic growth and development and the well-being of the Caribbean people.

We must tell the world that the affected countries – especially those that are not dependencies of the US, Britain, France and the Netherlands – need international help. But, we must also let the world know that the Caribbean is resilient and determined, and remains a little bit of paradise on a planet troubled by terrorism, conflicts and disease.

After Hurricanes Irma and Maria ripped through parts of the Caribbean, following basically the same path, there were whispered suggestions that life on these islands was becoming unsustainable, and it might be prudent to abandon them. That fatalistic notion must never be an option for Caribbean societies. Caribbean civilisation must not be made extinct – not even partly.

Recognising the increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes, Caribbean countries must rebuild damaged infrastructure and property – and construct new ones – at much more resilient standards.

Modern day building materials make the achievement of such standards possible.

The region may be bowed, but it does not have to be beaten.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States and the OAS. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and Massey College in the University of Toronto. The views expressed are his own)

The QC protocol!!!

In the past two weeks, THE NEW TODAY has been reporting on a matter that should be of grave concern to the Public – the attempt by government to give Queen’s Counsel status to private lawyers outside of the protocol set down by the Chief Justice of the OECS Supreme Court.

This vulgar attempt by the government sends a clear message that the administration is prepared to violate the well-established tenets of the Constitution about the separation of powers.

It is a given that the Executive ought not to impose its will on the Judiciary, as well as the Legislative arm of government.

The Judiciary has put into writing a protocol for lawyers in the private bar to follow in order to be considered for QC ranking in the jurisdiction.

A critical aspect of the protocol is the following:

“The award of Queen’s Counsel is for excellence made to experienced, senior practitioners who have demonstrated their competencies to a standard of excellence”.

The protocol went on to say the following:

The qualities required to a high degree before appointment as Queen’s Counsel include: Learning: Queen’s Counsel must be learned in the law so as to provide sound guidance and to assist in judicial interpretation and development of the law”.

The intention of the CJ is to ensure that only the best of the best should be bestowed with QC status in order to separate the goats from the sheep in the legal profession.

It is our understanding that over the years a number of persons became QCs based on an unwritten convention.

However, it was felt that too many lawyers who were not worthy to be ever considered for “silk” were applying for the status and needed to be put in their place.

The then Chief Justice, Hugh Rawlins spearheaded a consultative process involving lawyers and Bar Associations in the respective territories to come up with a protocol that would guide lawyers in making applications to become a QC.

This protocol did not exclude lawyers in public service such as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Attorney-General or Solicitor General from being elevated among the ranks of QCs.

It should be noted that several lawyers who became the Attorney-General in their jurisdictions were conferred with the status of QC in their capacity as Chief Legal Advisor to the government.

However, the government-of-the-day never crossed the line by making incursions into the private bar and single-handedly pulling out specific lawyers and making them QC.

This newspaper holds the view that the attempt and manner of approach by the Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government to award QC status to Derek Sylvester and Ruggles Ferguson is seeking to create its own pathway to elevate lawyers in private practice.

A clear message is being sent to members of the legal profession in private practice that there is another route to take you to QC status and that is by doing business with me.

This is chilling and quite frightening. How can an ordinary member of the public trust a lawyer who might be prepared to “sell” his/her case before the court involving the government because a QC is at stake?

Will a Prime Minister who is prepared to interfere with due process not try to lure lawyers with the offer of a QC at the expense of their clients and to leave them naked and totally exposed before a court of law?

The Chief Justice has taken steps to put a system in place for lawyers to follow in order to govern the affairs of members of the legal profession and that should not be tampered with for ulterior motives.

The Sylvester/Ferguson QC issue can be interpreted as a challenge to the Judiciary that the State has the power to set up its own guidelines to award lawyers in private practice with “The Silk” and not only the CJ.
Equally important is the question of what criteria is being used by a Prime Minister to identify lawyers for QC status?

The Prime Minister is not an officer of the court and is also lacking in the necessary qualifications to be a barrister-at-law to truly recommend any legal practitioner for QC status.

The country really needs constitutional reform to curb the influence of the Prime Minister and to limit the office holder to only that which is endowed to him and nothing more.

It is not unusual in the Caribbean for a Prime Minister to step outside bounds and abuse power given a timid and weak civil service in place in which many Permanent Secretaries are willing to facilitate wrong-doing in order to preserve their jobs.

At least Mr. Ferguson seemed inclined not to fall for a government QC if the protocol being used by the regime excludes the Chief Justice and also the system already in place to confer QC status on lawyers in private practice.

This newspaper hopes that good sense with prevail and that Mr. Sylvester will follow suit and send a message to government that the protocol that is already in place by the CJ should be followed and not violated.

GUT awards TAMCC grants

Twelve first year students at the T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC), have had their first year of studies fully covered financially by the GUT Credit Union.

General Manager of the GUT Credit Union Retesha Boyd along with the 12 grant awardees

The ‘TAMCC scholarship grant,’ run by GUT Credit Union was created with the vision of giving students an opportunity to pursue a higher level of education.

The students were awarded during a brief handing over ceremony held last week Friday at the Horizon Plaza in St. George’s.

The grant is open to needy Grenadian students who have completed secondary school and gained acceptance to the college.

Addressing the ceremony, General Manager of the GUT Credit Union, Retesha Boyd said the financial institution has “been doing this grant for a number of years because we understand that as parents you have a financial strain…and sometimes you need a little help and GUT Credit Union is happy to help”.

She told the grant recipients to “take the opportunity and make the best of it” because a number of persons were interviewed since a lot of applications were received.

“…You are the privileged selectees, so don’t let that opportunity go to waste take it, nurture it, use it, so that you could grow from strength to strength…”, she said.

Boyd urged the recipients to grab the opportunity provided and run with it because in today’s world of work, tertiary education is a requirement for a wide range of career paths.

“You have to step up your game and become more and more qualified,” she told the awardees.

Communications Manager, Camille Goddard, stated that since 1983, the GUT Credit Union has been helping persons to achieve their dreams both big and small.

“Today we are pleased to assist in getting you one step closer in making your dreams a reality. So, whether you are just joining the GUT family or you have been a part of this family for a while, we want you to remember that the GUT Credit Union is where you belong,” she said.

The GUT Credit Union will be monitoring the performance of the students and those maintaining a Grade Point Average of 3.0 or higher will become eligible for a renewed scholarship to complete their second year of study at TAMCC.

Insp. Antoine Pleads Not Guilty

Suspended Inspector of Police Clevroy Antoine made his first court appearance Monday to answer two (2) counts of Indecent Assault brought against him in connection with an incident last month involving a Grenadian-born Canadian citizen, Eleanor Peterkin-Walters who was vacationing on the island.

Suspended Inspector of Police Clevroy Antoine (C) in discussion with defense attorneys Dr. Francis Alexis QC (r) and Ruggles Ferguson (l) and outside of the court house on Monday

Supported by his wife and daughter, the 55-year old middle rank officer who is currently on $8, 000.00 bail pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The officer appeared to be very well composed and confident as he appeared in the St. George’s No. 2 Magistrate’s Court when the charges were read out to him by sitting Magistrate, Tahira Gellineau.

Insp. Antoine has retained the services of Queen’s Counsel, Dr. Francis Alexis and attorney-at-law Ruggles Ferguson of Ciboney Chambers.

Insp. Antoine, who has been employed with the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) for more than 30 years allegedly committed the offences on August 16.

THE NEW TODAY understands that Peterkin-Walters who has retained the services of experienced Queen’s Counsel Celia Clyne-Edwards, filed the complaint the following day of the encounter at the South St. George Police Station on the advice of her lawyer.

The woman claimed that Insp. Antoine sexually assaulted her when she visited the Police Station to file a child abuse complaint against someone.

“She stated on Wednesday 16.08.17 about 09:30 hrs she came to the station to make a report on a young lady (name withheld) about a (suspected) child abuse when she was directed to Insp. Antoine and while in his office he held her in his arms and assisted her to a standing position, stuck his tongue in her mouth, took his left hand, placed it on his private part and said, “you look like you have a lot of romance, I need some of your saliva,” a police informer told this newspaper.

Speaking with the media assembled outside the court room, Attorney Ferguson said the matter was adjourned to December 19 and 20 for the purpose of taking evidence.

He stated that the police prosecution indicated its intention to call “several witnesses in addition to the 8 or 9 that are (already) listed in the charge sheet”.

“We basically addressed some of the administrative matters related to the case…there is some disclosure that we also need to receive as defense,” he said.
Speculation is rife that the prosecution might be calling several female witnesses to give evidence in the case against Antoine.

After entering his plea, Inspector Antoine exited the court house accompanied by his wife and daughter who displayed very strong support for him.

“Take the picture, it will make a nice front page”, the wife said to reporters as she left the court compound.

NDC: Transparency needed in oil and gas exploration deal

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has called on Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to stop playing games of secrecy and be transparent with information surrounding the exploration of oil and gas in Grenadian waters by a Russian company.

Claudette Joseph – calls for transparency

Addressing the issue at Monday’ weekly NDC press conference in St. George’s, the party’s Caretaker for the Town of St. George, Claudette Joseph commented on a report in the Trinidad Guardian newspaper, dated September 21, 2017 that natural gas has been found in Grenada.

She noted that the article states that the find was made by the Russian outfit known as Global Petroleum Group “near our border with Venezuela”.

According to the article, serious drilling is taking place in Grenada, but yet Joseph said that “astonishingly, not a word of such news from the government to our people”.

“This discovery should be big news as far as we are concerned,” she declared.

“The question is therefore why is this a secret? Why is this being reported in the regional and international press and not in our local press?”

The NDC Caretaker spoke of the March 31, 2008 production sharing agreement signed between the then New National Party (NNP) administration and GPG “against legal and other expert advice”.

She said that “the consensus of all of those experts, legal and otherwise was that the agreement was largely disadvantageous to Grenada (and) was not in the best interest of Grenada at the time, yet it was signed”.

“When the NDC came into government in 2008 it sought to get a second opinion from another oil and gas exploring group, the Global Dynamic Group, which expressed the same view as the advice given by the legal advisors to the former NNP government, prior to signing the March 2008 agreement with GPG”.

Stating that this agreement had “expired in 2012”, Joseph said that in 2012 another independent group of experts, Global Dynamic Group advised the Government of Grenada much like the experts before that this production sharing agreement and the exploration license granted to GPG “was a most disadvantageous agreement and the greatest departure from industry standards that they have seen in all of their many years in the field”.

“There was no provision for example, for windfall profit sharing (or) oil profit …plus the amount of government receipts as a percentage of total revenue was the lowest in the world ranging from 38% to 52%, when industry norm in terms of what government would get as their share of the revenue was in the range of 60% to 70%,” she remarked.

According to Joseph, “when the agreement expired in 2012, the then NDC government was in the process of renegotiating to get a better deal for Grenada.

However, that came to a halt when Congress was voted out of office in the 2013 general elections.

She felt that when NNP came back into office there was an opportunity for them to renegotiate for better terms for the country.

“We don’t know whether this was done because everything is a big secret”, she said.

Joseph said if it is true that the government is proceeding with the old disadvantageous agreement that was signed in 2008, “we would find it an incredible and unforgiving wrong committed against the people of Grenada.”

She called on Prime Minister Mitchell “to immediately shed the cloak of secrecy surrounding the manner in which our patrimony is dealth with”.

“He (The Prime Minister) needs to tell us please, what is the deal between the Government of Grenada and GPG, has there been a natural gas find as being reported in regional and international press? If yes, what will be revenues to be realised by Grenada and how much would GPG get out of it?”

The NDC caretaker urged the Mitchell-led government to “stop handling our affairs as though it is their private little business”.

“Tell us the truth about the exploration and exploitation of our oil and gas resources, the CBI programme, publish the reports as required by law. Tell us the truth about the sale of Camerhogne Park and Grand E’tang, about the Grenada Postal Corporation and while you are at it, tell us why Mr. Tafawa Pierre continues to occupy the position as head of FIU when the law clearly says he is not a qualified person,” Joseph declared.

The NDC executive member expressed deep concern about the oil and gas matter and several others in which Congress believes that “the New National Party administration has treated with secrecy (and) absolutely no transparency, leaving us in the dark”.

Dealing with the issue of Child Abuse in Grenada

I must first state categorically that I am totally against the abuse of our children be it sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse or neglect. Roma Finley started the campaign against child abuse in Grenada approximately 35 to 40 years ago and as a result she was affectionately referred to as “the child abuse lady.”

Prior to that, many people felt that child abuse did not exist in Grenada.

Since her retirement, the issue of child abuse is talked about conveniently. After all these years it seems as though we are just starting. We still don’t have a plan on how to move forward.

I am amazed at the way child abuse is being dealt with these days. Emphasis is placed only on child sexual abuse and it appears as though the other types of abuse do not exist.

Many of our children are also victims of physical abuse, verbal abuse and neglect. The Child Protection Authority, the agency charged with the responsibility of ensuring that our children are cared for and protected is overwhelmed with the number of cases that are reported. So, the question is how do we deal with this problem?

I am amazed at the comments made in the media by child rights activists and many of the media personalities on the issue of sexual abuse against minors. It is time that you stop giving misinformation to the public.

Women are perpetrators too. They are having sexual intercourse with under aged boys. Stop giving the public the impression that it is only men who have sexual intercourse with under aged girls. This is far from the truth.

In this modern society, our girls are sexually abused by lesbians. Besides this, many of our boys are introduced to sexual intercourse by older females. After they are “broken out” into sexual intercourse by these older women they then look for girls within their age group.

In Grenada today many women are in relationships with the older men “sugar daddies” for financial gain and they are using the young boys to satisfy their sexual fantasies. They are buying these boys gifts and take them out to parties while the sugar daddies are home sleeping.

These boys are not reporting because they will be laughed at by their peers. Others feel macho because they are having sexual intercourse with an older, experienced woman. But, according to our laws this is a crime and it should be dealt with. Those who are leading the campaign against child sexual abuse need to condemn it; don’t pretend that it does not exist.

For example, ask the Child Protection Authority, the GNCRC, the media and those Child Rights Activists – why they did not take any action or come to the media and talk about the 35-year old St George’s woman who had a 15-year old school boy living with her in her house as her lover while he was attending one of the secondary school in St George’s. She also gave birth to a child for him.

Where was the media then, sleeping? From my investigation the Child Protection Authority was aware of this. Why was no action taken? There is no statute of limitation on rape so she still could be charged and her name should be on sex offenders register.

The maximum sentence that a perpetrator can receive for rape is 30 years. When men are sent to prison for 5 or even 15 years for having sexual intercourse with girls under 16 years I hear all sort of noise in the media.

Some influential persons are even advocating that bail should not be granted. Some say these men should be sent to prison for life. Others say that the men should be castrated but last year October while we were celebrating child month a St George’s woman was sent to prison for just two (2) years for raping a school boy and taking his $5.00. She will be in prison for only 18 months.

In another nine months she will be released from prison. Up to this time I didn’t hear the Child Protection Authority, GNCRC, Child Rights Activists or even the media make any comment about that. This is one of the reasons why we have not made any progress in curbing the problem.

We are hypocrites. We only want to take action according to who commits the crime. If we have to curb this problem, those who are responsible for leading the campaign must get rid of the hypocrisy and stop being gender bias.

Women sexually abuse boys and girls too. Those in authority must prosecute them.

We should also avoid giving publicity to the negatives. Let the Police and the Court deal with the child molesters. The media should not pay attention to them. Instead, there are many good men in our society who are playing the role of both father and mother. Yes, they are singlehandedly caring for their children and other men children while the mothers of these children are not around.

The media need to promote these men, as well as encourage our boys to emulate these men.

There are men in our society who people laugh at and say they are maintaining “bad child”. Many of them are aware that they are not the father of these children but they will tell you if they stop supporting the children they will suffer. These are the men who need to be emulated.

There are men who are supporting their children financially either voluntarily or through the court but they are denied the opportunity by the mothers to interact with their children. The only medium of forcing the women to allow the men to interact with their children is through the high court and this will cost thousands of dollars.

These are the things the child rights activists need to work on. Advocate for these men. Make it easier for them to interact with their children. Every child need to interact with their father.

On a call-in programme, the issue of raising the age of consent from sixteen (16) years was discussed. The general feeling was that the age of consent should be higher than 16 years to give the children the opportunity to complete their secondary school education.

The Government of Grenada has signed the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child. The convention states that a child is anyone under 18 years, so the Grenada National Coalition on the Rights of the Child should be lobbying the government to ratify the convention and to increase the age of consent to 18 years.

There are parents who prostitute their children for economic gain. These parents should be prosecuted for being accomplices of the crime.

Finally, the school girls who leave their parents home with clothes and go to spend a night or weekend with a man are not foolish. They are very intelligent and are fully aware of what they are doing.
Sending the men to prison alone will not solve the problem. When one man is sent to prison they will go after another man. These girls should be penalised for their action. They should be made to suffer the consequences for their action.

Concerned Parent

The sister of Maurice Bishop?

Ellen Bishop-Spielman claims to be Maurice Bishop’s sister. In fact, she was adopted by Maurice Bishop’s parents and has never been mentioned by Maurice’s sisters to me nor by Maurice although I only saw him on rare occasions.

A contemporary tells me he can remember this rather precocious teenager who somewhat scandalised the straight-laced bourgeoisie of the period by taking part in some film. That may have been the beginning of her career in films.

Well, she has re-appeared in Grenada of late, selling herself to all and sundry as Maurice Bishop’s sister. She runs an outfit calling itself the Maurice Bishop Institute of English though nothing is ever heard of this.

She was promoting this film, The House on Coco Road, which appears to be about the experiences of an American family with Grenadian connections but apparently much less vague connections with the far left.

Only seeing the film will clarify this but I have seen a review, which informs that the film is about the ghastly experience of being invaded by the Americans. (It would be the only negative report of suffering by Grenadians during this invasion, apart from those militarily involved in the counter attack.)

Most regrettably, Grenada’s Minister of Tourism, Brenda Hood, travelled to San Diego, California, to attend a premiere of this film.

So Ellen Spielman now teams up with Havana to show to the Grenadian public at least two films that are intended to influence naïve Grenadians under 40-years-old (the majority) to support the very ideology that nearly destroyed Grenada in 1979 to 1983.

We have only to look at what is going on in Venezuela to understand that Cuba intends their fate to be Grenada’s too.

Gregory Bishop

NDC opposes additional tax proposal

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has publicly expressed strong objection to the 5% tax proposal by Independent Candidate for South St. George, Terrence Forrester to help boost relief efforts for countries hit hard by two devastating hurricanes, Irma and Maria.

Speaking on the issue at the party’s weekly press conference in St. George’s on Monday, NDC caretaker for the Town of St. George, Claudette Joseph commented on Forrester’s call for the government to “impose a 5% tax on services and utility bills for a short period of 3 months to help raise much needed funds to our sisters and brothers.”

According to Forrester, government can pass through Parliament an emergency bill, which will give authorisation to utility companies, Grenlec and NAWASA and telephone companies FLOW and Digicel, to charge each Grenadian 5% for the next 3 months on top of their bills.

He is optimistic that the island can raise just over $5 million a month toward the relief assistance for the affected islands.

However, the NDC Caretaker said that “while this is indeed a noble suggestion” by Forrester, as an opposition party, Congress is “acutely aware that our people are already heavily overtaxed”.

Joseph pointed to the almost 30 new taxes and duties that have been imposed on Grenadians with the implementation of the just ended three-year International Monetary Fund (IMF) supported Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).

She noted that since the structural adjustment programme ended about 8 months ago, none of the taxes or measures that were imposed have been removed “and we have not gotten relief as a people”.
She said, “it is for those reasons the NDC cannot support the call for an additional tax on the people of Grenada at this time no matter how small”.

Instead, the NDC is proposing for the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration to use funds emanating from already imposed taxes as another avenue to raise money to assist neighbouring islands.

“Having regard to the fact that the 5.5% tax paid on every gallon of gasoline and diesel, (which) is by far the highest in the OECS countries…we therefore suggest that for the next three or four months, government set aside at least $1.50 from every gallon of gasoline or diesel sold and apply these monies to a special disaster relief assistance fund to be donated to our affected Caribbean brothers and sisters,” Joseph said.

“That way, we will be able to make a meaningful and tangible, substantial contribution, without further burdening the people of Grenada with another tax. By our estimation such an initiative would yield about $1.5 million per month,” she added.

Government has already announced a one-million dollars aid package for the islands in the northern Caribbean that were affected by the first hurricane – Irma that devastated Anguilla, Barbuda and some of the U.S and British territories.