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Letter: Keith Mitchell's 16 months of turbulence
Published on July 11, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

In the 16 months since the Keith Mitchell NNP electoral victory, there is nothing offered in the way of political excitement. There is no one-size fits all explanation for why the goals and promises of this government are failing. There has been no careful analysis. I can, however, identify some over reaching reasons why their goals are not being achieved.

One of the problems is poor governance, marked by corruption, poor economic policy choices, denial of human rights. This is a poverty-trap problem. Economic development has been stalling in Grenada because the Mitchell government does not make appropriate public investments, support civil society organizations, including those representing poor people in national decision making.

Keith Mitchell has not awakened to the reality that the economic situation is beyond his control. Conditions are at its worst and hunger and want are the daily lot of hundreds. People are losing spirit and might have foreseen that Grenada would soon rise again from the ashes of unemployment, bad policy and the worst economy in our history. Grenada’s economy is in a serious state of complete disintegration; Mitchell is only concerned with raising taxes on the poor population, with no time to give any thought to the future.

Grenada has not been self-supporting in basic foodstuffs and has been forced to depend upon substantial imports to feed its people. The people of Grenada, moreover, have suffered a serious shock through all the taxes imposed upon them by this tax-monkey, who promised not to raise taxes. Our people are making great sacrifices; they are enduring much suffering and hardship in the unemployment situation, and in the face of this most adverse economic condition. Crime is up, social order is not preserved. In connection with these facts, we cannot overlook the significance of the role played by Nazim Burke, as he sees our country being driven to the brink of economic disaster.

He does not hesitate, but boldly exercises his authority to hold peaceful demonstrations to ward off further bad policy, including more tax demands from this government. Nazim Burke by his example has sustained and is bolstering a country that is on the point of collapse, he is calling upon our people to work in unison towards achieving Grenada’s rehabilitation.

The rule of law involves honesty and transparency in government functions and predictability of government according to law, but here in Grenada upholding the rule of law requires institutions for government accountability, and those institutions are missing. The poor must have a meaningful say in the decisions that affect their lives. The government is stumbling, the economy is floundering and the country finds itself in a state at least worst than it was before.

Grenadians continued to have faith in democracy after the NNP victory when democracy flared up, only to sputter out once again. Within this government, democracy has always had its critics, but now there are doubts and very little respect about this government and the fragility of its influence, have become increasingly apparent.

The people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, are not satisfied with our country’s direction. Keith Mitchell is using democracy to make simple things overly complicated and frivolous and is misleading the people. This NNP government has lost their luster; they have become progressively more self-serving.

Raising taxes to provide money to stimulate the economy by public spending, theoretically generating additional tax income from prosperous businesses and taxpayers, seems like a logic approach, but we must keep in mind that the government must pay interests to its creditors and at some point the borrowed money must be repaid, this is not an effective way in reducing long-term government debt.

Our economy is in pain, we are suffering from very high levels of unemployment. The Mitchell government is not doing enough to spur economic growth and aid recovery from this crisis.

They have no idea how to stimulate the economy. Generating tax revenue will not reduce the national debt. This will not prove to be a panacea for Mitchell’s debt-ridden government. For example, Canada by reducing its budget deficit to zero within three years was able to cut its public debt by one-third within five years, and they did this without raising taxes.

In theory, Grenada’s government could emulate this example. In reality, the beneficiaries of tax-payer fueled spending often balk at proposed cuts. I do not know Grenadians are waiting to get this mess of a government out of office.

The constituents are angry, and this government does not have the political will to make necessary cuts. Too much tax increases, this is a common tactic with this Mitchell government, despite this, Grenada still face large and growing debts, and it is largely due to the failure to cut spending, because cash flow increase and spending continues to rise, the increased revenue make little difference to the overall debt level.

North Korea, Russia, and Argentina have all employed this strategy, debt default, it can include going bankrupt, or restructuring payments to creditors, it is a common and very successful strategy for debt reduction.

To quote Mark Twain, “There are three kind of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to the Mitchell government debt and fiscal policy.

At least if the yardstick of success is debt reduction rather than good relations with the global banking community, overall, perhaps the best strategy is the one espoused by Shakespeare when he said “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”.

For our country and government to be successful, to begin with, it is crucial to evaluate the importance of education, since intelligent people with knowledge and understanding are the basic of a successful country, that is why the Mitchell NNP government priority should be to invest in our youths. Furthermore, modern technologies and scientific research are worth exceptional attention, because without an appropriate approach to the future Grenada would not be able to sustain any stability.

In addition, Grenadians should be encouraged to have their own business, but with all these extra killer taxes placed upon them by Mitchell, how can they? Enterprise is a characteristic of the people of Grenada, which this government does not properly appreciate. Those who create a work place not only for themselves, but also for others surely it’s a vital part of the economy. The success of a country and government depends on various conditions. Nevertheless, it is essential to have a strategy and to plan the development of a country for few decades in advance, this government should try to deal with present problems, but also to make necessary decisions to prevent future difficulties.

Agriculture and farming were the two most important in the economy of Grenada, farming gave the people food to eat or they could trade food for other things to keep the economy going. As you can see trade was very important to the economy but also to the government.

Agriculture is an industrial economy; this government must learn to believe in working people, local food and working lands. From the nation’s earliest days, farming has held a crucial place in Grenada’s economy and culture. Farmers played an important role in any society, of course, since they feed people, but farming has been particularly valued in Grenada. Early in Grenada’s life, farmers were seen as exemplifying economic virtues such as hard work, initiative, and self-sufficiency. Grenada has some of the richest soil in the world, so why are we wasting time, what is holding us back?

It is time for the government, ministries and sectors to sit down and analyze the problem and discuss how to build back our economy based on agriculture. Furthermore, the Mitchell government should adopt policies that could enable farmers to produce high quality products for home consumption and export. To my knowledge, the Mitchell government has not allocated much money to agriculture in the budget; actually their investment in agriculture is quite low. Mitchell must reconsider this matter carefully and develop ways to help fix it.

Agriculture should be the foundation stone for Grenada’s economic advancement, Ms Irene (Joy) Rathan, Mr Allie Mathura has described in detail on social media the necessity and advantages of Grenada’s agriculture, so they are helping it to maintain its position. Grenadians agree that to date, the topic of agriculture has not been well treated by this government.

Grenada must return in integrating deeper into the world market, if we want to produce more products for export, so no doubt, our government and people have to focus efforts on improving the quality and value chain of the products. We have more comparative advantages than many other countries, we are Spice Island, and we need a good strategy to be competitive.

We need to have young people entering agriculture and learning agriculture to help feed this country and others; it’s been the backbone of our economy for many generations. Our climate makes it possible to produce virtually all agricultural products in the tropical areas of the world. Our government must encourage industrial agriculture, revitalizing our economy is important to all Grenadians.

Mr Prime Minister, it is high time you put in place a vision to transform our country. The agriculture sector must be at the core of this vision and it will play a huge role in its success. Let’s rid Grenada of all the begging, and rid it of the shame of hunger and to develop it into a middle income economy, irrespective of the severity of the constraints in place.

Grenada is a country that represents great hope for its people, it reminds us of the old saying “Where there is a will, there’s a way”. If there is any country that is up for the challenge, it is Grenada.

Grenada has a backward economy with government almost always in deficit and with a vast number of its productive and consuming population, calculated in hundreds of unemployed workers in the parishes and communities, living in deplorable and primitive conditions. This disequilibrium in the rhythm of Grenada’s economy, painfully slow is causing frictions and resentments among our less fortunate.

The development of our economy is devastating, Mitchell must take a page from Maurice Bishop, he must initiate a new epoch in assuming its responsibilities with respect to agriculture. Grenadians cannot afford to leave aside the most vital aspect of our economic and financial support to areas in Grenada that demands and needs it. This would be concerted advance toward economic and social improvement of the lives of the people and government in the process of development. This goal must be achieved, the anticipated pace of external and internal investments has not been attained, the goal of this government have not been achieved, so far it has been a failure.

Grenada’s economic advance is slow and with pronounced fluctuations, as long as it depends so completely upon foreign trade, as long as its growth is exclusively “outward”. Another facet of the Grenadian economy is the meager per capita income which does not keep pace with the violent unemployment growth.

We need to produce exportable merchandise, Grenadians are intelligent, educated, industrious and hard working, the long siesta and “Let’s leave it for tomorrow”, is over. Grenada is not a lazy population. We cannot continue to remain prisoners of underdevelopment, who is coordinating Grenada’s economy, who is seeking any kind of defense of our democratic structures and our representative systems of government?

Something more profound and audacious must be done. It is necessary that this prime minister take a really effective step toward overcoming underdevelopment, economic insecurity, limited well-being, concerted and popular anxiety and uneasiness resulting from social tensions.

It cannot be said that the idea to get back to the land, invest in agriculture is only a romantic dream of the people of Grenada, who, out of an excess of idealism, do not have their feet on the ground or cannot grasp reality.

There is an urgency to invest in Grenada’s agriculture. It is a question of returning to the path of self-sufficiency by this liberating generation, with the concrete objective of making themselves and Grenada stronger in the economic field, more enlightened in the cultural field and more heeded in the political field. Grenada is a small country but it is important that we lift our heads.

Helen Grenade
 
Reads: 3546





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