By Lloyd Noel
It has been very widely documented and accepted by those who seek power to serve the community that the duty of those in power to serve the people must work for their common good, and not just for the interests of themselves or their party to remain in power.
Lloyd Noel is a former attorney general of Grenada, prominent attorney at law and political commentator
Indeed, the state and those in authority exist for the benefit of the individual and family – not the individual and his family for the benefit of the state.
In today’s developed world setting, governments are expected not only to provide social services and infrastructure, but also to stimulate economic growth – because the well- being of the citizens of the state, and the happiness of the families who live therein depend very largely on the dedication, efficiency and high standard of integrity of those elected to hold high offices.
The dependence of the people on the high standards to be practiced by those who hold positions of authority does not mean that the ones in authority have to be always handing out goods or services freely.
But the rulers must set the standards and lay down the conditions that will enable the people who depend on them to pursue their ambitions without undue problems and barriers.
It is also understood that it is no easy thing for a Caribbean government to carry out its task with today’s social and economic problems existing all over – and in our case in the Spice Isles, where we have had much more that our fair share of economic, social and political problems, it clearly is much harder to handle.
In spite of all the foregoing, however, it is still my considered opinion that a government like the one now in control of the nation’s affairs must be more considerate, far more tolerant and permissive in its dealing with those in greater need – and be prepared to make that extra allowance to help the poor and underprivileged.
From that position therefore, I find it is rather insensitive and a very tough decision by the government simply to announce that the free barrels project will be discontinued from this Xmas – and all and sundry will have to pay duties on barrels received from overseas.
It must be well known by those in control that a whole lot of our people in dire need look forward to that once a year gift from their relatives and friends in the USA especially.
And to just stop the project a month or two before the barrels start arriving is heartless punishment on those needy ones.
I will be prepared to concede that a few senders in the US also include goods that are for sale by some in receipt on the Island but I am far more convinced that the great majority of those families who receive those Xmas barrels are in desperate need of their contents, and this sudden action will leave them in greater need because they cannot afford to pay duties.
At least the controllers could have said pay a barrel landing fee of fifty dollars or so – and the senders in the US could have helped with that for those at home.
But to stop the program so abruptly is in my opinion very insensitive, and will leave a whole lot of very needy families, with very empty cupboards and shelves this Xmas – and the very young and old folks who look forward to that Xmas gift will not be praising the controllers this year.
And to think these are the very winners who spoke so fluently about the plight of the needy and unemployed struggling families – and made so many promises of how they were going to change their economic problems in the first hundred days – now at the end of the second hundred days they have deprived them of an Xmas gift that so many families depend on and look forward to from relatives and friends in the US and elsewhere overseas.
I could very well imagine the comments and description about those controllers, as coming from the many deprived and needy young and old alike.
As one member of such a needy family who are expecting a barrel put it to me, the family members supported and voted NNP, and now look how they are being treated over such a prime necessity.
Recently the report was published that the IMF members who were in discussion with our government in Grenada had disclosed that the government is bankrupt and the economic situation is in serious problems.
That report was not surprising, because the state of the economy is public knowledge, and we all must be expecting the new controllers to take the necessary actions to try and put the economic ship back on course.
But no one I spoke to ever envisaged the stoppage of the duty-free barrels to head the list of necessary actions to help remedy the grave problems.
To date I have not heard of, or seen any proposals by the powers-that-be to bring that ship on course.
But last week I saw a television program, where a government senator was disclosing that Cabinet had decided to rent out four government estates to local investors, with the hope that the scheme will boost our agricultural production and provide very needy jobs.
He did not say anything about the Citizenship by Investment Law, which was recently passed through our Parliament, and intended to attract foreign investors who will be granted Grenadian citizenship before starting any Investment in Grenada.
The idea crossed my mind, because I cannot imagine there are local investors on the island – or Grenadians who are resident overseas -- and who will be prepared to lease or rent an estate from the government in Grenada or Carriacou as an investment.
Those estates have been covered in bush and woods in many areas, and have not been in production of any crop for years, and to bring them back to a state of active production will take some time and a lot of finance in the process.
Except for our nutmeg estates, all our other agricultural lands have been more or less lying idle, and crops like cocoa and bananas, which we once exported and earned our people a very good financial return, have been in limbo for many years.
There can be no doubting that our many thousands of unemployed Grenadians are in serious need of some form of work to earn a living wage and how attractive work on an estate will appeal to the majority of them, only time and the wages in return will determine in due course.
I could not help thinking why the government itself cannot source loans from outside the island, for re-opening those estates and providing jobs for people in the respective areas, and eventually making some profits for the benefit of our people as a whole.
Agriculture has been the backbone of our economy for years and this maybe an opportune time to try and revive the industry and create those very much needed jobs to again produce the nutmegs, cocoa and bananas we were famous for.