I am writing with some interest into the current affairs of Grenada. Recently they have been a lot of concerns expressed by various media sources and some individuals about the state of affairs such as the debt crisis the country faces; the renegotiation of outstanding loans; the IMF involvement followed by austerity measures the current government was told it must draw up (policies) and implement; finally we understand that agreement has been reached with the IMF for further loans that will be spread over a period of years; however, terms and any special conditions relating to defaults such as penalties to my knowledge are not in the public domain.
I believe Grenadians in the homeland as well as those in the Diasporas should be alarmed and should start asking questions about the conditions of these loans, including their period in terms of years. We should be told what plans are in place for their repayments; when do we start paying them back and at what rate of interest; also exactly where the money for repayment is expected to come from. Something is brewing in the Spice Isle and frankly, I don't like the smell of it.
We are told that Dr Mitchell is a brilliant economist, perhaps the best in the country. This man is no fool so what does he know that he is not sharing with us the stakeholders of Grenada?
The last government, despite their predicament, made great strides in trying to pave the way for Grenada to benefit from its marine resources of oil and natural gas. We were told of deals (working partnership) at the now established marine boundary with Trinidad and Tobago. The latest information I recall was a statement by the then minister for gas and oil Nazim Burke in which he as much said that a three-way deal was struck at which an international company will carry out drilling; Trinidad and Tobago will carry out the refining and, after costs, both countries will share the proceeds. That was about 18 months or more ago.
This government has been in office since February, 2013 and up to now I cannot recall any statement in this regard from the present minister or the department responsible for our oil and natural gas. So what the hell is going on?
I am calling on the prime minister of Grenada to demand that the minister responsible for oil and gas to put out a statement telling the people of Grenada exactly what is happening with the drilling that we know has been taking place in the waters between Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago.
I am also calling on the prime minister to explain to the public why no other sector in what is Grenada waters has been contracted out for exploratory drilling also; what is his government doing in terms of negotiating the marine boundary with Venezuela?
I read with great interest the article by Hudson George published on 31 March 2014 entitled: "The IMF cannot rescue Grenada." However; I found the response to this article by Anthony David even more fascinating and very much in tune with my thinking. I have watched the inefficiencies in government departments in Grenada for years. The waste in terms of man hours (top heavy, overstaffed and out dated practices) at considerable cost to us the taxpayers, which if tackled could perhaps bring in savings to the government of up to 40 percent.
The austerity measures put in place on the recommendation or perhaps most likely the insistence of the IMF is only the tip of the iceberg. A hell of a lot more needs to be done to make the civil service of Grenada leaner, efficient and considerably more effective. The government has to be bold and go for efficiencies savings within the civil service including the Royal Grenada Police and the Fire and Rescue Service (a complete review of this poor and ineffective service is urgently needed -- minister for fire and rescue take heed).
The government should be aiming at a five-year programme to reduce civil service costs by up to 40% and with the emphasis of creating an environment for considerable job growth and job opportunities in the private sector to of set redundancies. Efficiency savings should be front loaded, bringing in the greatest amount of savings in the first two years. Jobs for life in the civil service should be a thing of the past, as well as jobs for the boys and girls along political party line. People should be appointed on merit and good and efficient workers should be retained if the job they do is available and necessary regardless of their political affiliation. Training is important, therefore those deemed to be ineffective but show signs of potential professionalism should be given a chance with additional training.
The IMF intervention and the support this will enable the country should not be sneezed at; however, the government should make it quite clear that the monies talked about are loans not handouts or gifts and they have to be paid back with interest. The government must also make it absolutely clear to Grenadians that the government cannot be expected to go around the globe with a begging bowl, hoping that the rest of the word would be sorry for us; we have to stand on our feet and this mean paying our way in the world.
Hudson George talked about a mentality problem; however, I see it as a culture problem, just as I suspect Anthony David, who talked about the youths being the future of our country and how they should be educated.
Education in the sense of the word is the key. Ever since I was a child I have been hearing about Grenadians ripping off their own people, sometimes family members -- running off with other people's money; cheating them out of their savings; properties and so on. This still happens today with the older generation. I could not believe how dishonest and deceitful some people can be. Since returning to Grenada, my wife and I have been victims on more than one occasion -- people taking our money and promising to purchase materials and finish off jobs; however, on our return we find nothing has been done and these swindlers cannot be found and if you are lucky to find them they want more money to finish off jobs they should have finished months ago.
Government needs to bring in laws to make it easy for law officers to pursue these villains who prey on decent people; they should be branded as rogue traders. Small claims courts should be set up for individuals to pursue claims against those who swindle people out of their money for up to EC$20,000.
Attorneys at law, as they are called, should be forced by the courts to deal with cases more effectively and efficiently -- put an end to these people having cases upon cases postponed time and time again at their request as a result of their incompetence. If they cannot proceed within a certain time then the case should be thrown out of court or the ruling should be made against their clients and they should be liable for all costs.
We need to see tougher action taken on thieves; violence towards the person, including women and children. The criminal justice system has no excuse for not pursuing incest or rape, and that relates to either gender. Our youths should be taught that one has to pay their way in life; that money doesn't grow on trees, one has to earn it.
Finally, we need to see government investing into infrastructure, some of which should take the form of public/private partnerships. One such project that comes to mind is the 'Zublin St George's Renaissance Project'. Why is this government not pressing on with it? Doc, for heaven sake, what is your problem?