Gov’t committed to referendum on the Constitution

Governor GeneralThe seven-month old Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration in Grenada has signaled its intention once again to make changes to the island’s 1974 Constitution.

In the presentation of the 2013 Throne Speech on the occasion of the Second Session of the Ninth Parliament, last week Friday, Governor General, Dame Cecile La Grenade announced that as plans commence for the 40 anniversary of Independence, the government intends to put to the people, a referendum on a new Constitution for Grenada.

“Accordingly, my Government, in our Nation’s 40th Anniversary of Independence, will put to the people, a referendum on a new Constitution for Grenada. The matters for contemplation and decision will include the structure and composition of our Parliament, accession to the Caribbean Court of Justice as Grenada’s final Appellate Court and other relevant issues”, she told Parliament.

This referendum, according to the island’s first female Head of State “will be a defining moment in our Nationhood and an opportunity, which must be fully grasped by all citizens”.

A 2003-2008 NNP government of Dr. Mitchell has introduced the topic of Constitutional reform but it did not reach far given its slim 8-7 majority in Parliament.

The July 2008 to February 2013 Congress government of former Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas had appointed the late University Law professor, Simeon Mc Intosh to spearhead moves for Constitutional Refrom.

The Governor General in delivering her maiden Throne Speech that is written by the government itself reminded the nation about the overwhelming 15-0 mandate given to NNP in the last general elections.

Dame Cecile said that the people of Grenada spoke in “clear and unmistakable terms” seven months ago when they voted back into office Dr. Mitchell and his party in the polls.

“They voted for hope, jobs and economic revival. Seven months later, the political environment is stable, confidence is rising and hope is being restored,” she added.

The Governor General told Parliament that on the initiative of the Mitchell-led administration, the Integrity in Public Life Act has been revised to facilitate the commencement of operations of the Integrity Commission.

She announced that new instruments of appointment have been issued to the members and the Commission, headed by retired high court judge, Lyle St. Paul expects to receive its first declarations before the end of this year.

“The first persons to file will be members of Parliament. They would be followed by Permanent Secretaries and other senior managers, Chief and Deputy Chief Executive Officers of statutory bodies and Chairmen of statutory bodies,” she said.

The female Head of State identified the Government’s priorities in the upcoming sittings of Parliament as building the New Economy and “investing in our people especially our youth; and uniting our Nation”.

She said the administration will continue its cooperation with private partners for oil and gas exploration including partnering with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and other neighbouring countries.

Prior to losing the 2008 general elections, the NNP regime had signed an oil and gas exploration agreement with a Russian outfit known as Global Petroleum Group.

The issue of high electricity cost was also addressed in the Throne speech with Government giving a promise to amend the Electricity Supply Act.

“The matter of the high cost of electricity cannot be ignored because it is now a binding constraint on Grenada’s growth and competitiveness”, Dame Cecile said in the speech.

She went on to say: “Accordingly, my Government will bring to Parliament, amendments to the Electricity Supply Act. The areas for amendment will include tariff setting, use of renewable sources of energy and provision for the Eastern Caribbean Energy Authority to become the regulator.

“Consistent with this thrust, my Government intends to purchase the majority stake in GRENLEC. The main goal is to reduce the price of electricity by encouraging competition at the levels of generation, transmission and distribution. Let it be understood by all that my Government has no interest whatsoever in directly managing GRENLEC,” Dame Cecile announced.


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