By Lloyd Noel
Just like any birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion that, as individuals or families or as a nation, we always celebrate and look forward to the next date of importance, our 40th independence anniversary come February 7 is no different for us as a people living in peace despite our many shortcomings.
Lloyd Noel is a former attorney general of Grenada, prominent attorney at law and political commentator
But the question what next and where are we going from here onwards cannot be ignored or pushed aside indefinitely.
For a nation of our size and population, we have created or are faced with more trials and tribulations than very many of the world’s much larger and vastly more populated countries than our tiny tri-island state.
And looking back at where we came from, the many countries we have been involved with on the world stage, and the opportunities that were created or presented themselves from those encounters over the years, one would have imagined that, as a people, we really should have benefitted a whole lot more from those relationships.
But here we are, 40 years since gaining our political independence from England and Great Britain, and the question remains hanging in mid-air, what have we achieved from the many relationships created in all those many years?
Or to put it in another form – are we any better off as a result of the many happenings we faced over those years, or can we as a people look forward to better days ahead in the upcoming years?
The answers would all be very debatable, and depend to a great extent on which side of the four-cornered fence one is standing.
But whatever the answer may be, those in control of the nation’s affairs at this stage – and it is their fourth time as such controllers, and the second time in total control of the reins of power since our independence in 1974 – will have to perform a whole lot better, and ensure that the promises they made are fulfilled so as to achieve the results.
The many jobs that were promised to come on stream after the elections last year are still being waited upon by the thousands of unemployed who voted the NNP back into power.
The winners were faced with a grim economy upon regaining control of power in February last year, so they introduced measures to raise revenue and at the same time reduce expenditure to ensure sound economic management.
It was reported that significant progress was made in reducing wastage and bringing down non-personal expenditure, and the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) was due to come on-stream in early 2014 to help achieve that goal, but to-date the SAP is still being waited upon.
But what is very disturbing after nearly one year in control is that unemployment has gone much higher rather than downwards and, with the increased property taxes especially, a lot of people will have very serious problems to make economic ends meet.
Where the jobs will be coming from and how soon, so as to help those facing the problems to meet the increased taxes, is the major hurdle confronting the controllers after having enacted their nearly one billion dollar budget.
So that as we celebrate the 40th independence milestone, and get ready to meet the increased taxes in the budget for this year, the economic problems confronting our people are not getting any better, and instead in every sector are becoming even more burdensome.
After all the speeches and celebrations and motorcades, the powers-that-be will have to come up with some serious and practical plans to get the situation moving in the correct direction, because time is not on our side as a people.
Nothing of any serious relief has taken place in the nearly one year since the clean-sweep winners have been in control of the nation’s affairs and, instead, the people are now faced with increased taxes on salaries and properties – even though the unemployment situation has become more critical in the same period.
From all appearances, therefore, the economic conditions are destined to go from bad to a whole lot worse after the 40th independence celebrations.