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Letter: The Mitchell-led NNP government is delivering for Grenada
Published on January 7, 2017Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

After reading your published articled entitled: “Why do Grenadians trust the British Privy Council but are afraid of British modern laws” by Hudson George, I decided to take up his (George’s) challenge to write an article on how I see the politics playing out in Grenada at this moment in time as I complete my ninth week in the country.

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The country is in danger of entering a period in its political history as a one-party state as the main political opposition party seems to be headed by a leadership that appears to be in no man’s land and swimming against the tide.

Of the nine weeks I have lived here so far, week after week in his so called weekly press conference, Nazim Burke, the leader of the NDC, Grenada’s main opposition political party, contributions consist of historical criticism of the Mitchell-led government and sustained personal attacks on the prime minister.

We are yet to know what his party stands for or see some alternative policies that are likely to help improve the country’s ills such as health and welfare; reduction in youth unemployment; increase growth to help further reduce overall unemployment and the country’s debt ratio.

The only positive opposition to the government when it comes to policies that are likely to affect the day to day lives of our people comes from Senator Ray Roberts. Roberts speaks up for the people and the topic he chooses to highlight puts the main opposition senators to shame. If these senators were paid by results Burke and his miserable lot that he leads in the Senate would be on the breadline.

Burke is a nice enough chap but is no match for Keith Mitchell; he better recognise this and learn to live with it. The fact that he continues to make regular personal attacks on the prime minister is a clear indication that he has nothing to offer the people of Grenada and deep down he knows he is leading his party to another crushing election defeat should the government fortunes continue.

No decent politician in my book refers to another as a liar especially when the individual referred to is the prime minister. It is unbecoming of the leader of a national political party and someone who is hoping one day to become prime minister himself. Economical with the truth perhaps, but a liar?

We had many experts comment on the referendum before, during and after the vote so my contribution will be limited.

Both my wife and I arrived in the country in time to participate; however, despite the fact that we did register as voters at the same time, at the same place and we both reside at the same address, it turned out that I was officially registered to vote in Mt Parnassus, which is correct but registration officials registered my wife to vote in New Hampshire so she was unable to vote locally after travelling 5,000 miles to do so and at cost to ourselves.

I found the questions on the ballot paper diabolical – written by lawyers no doubt and therefore not in plain and simple English that every ordinary man or woman in the street could clearly understand. Also, they were too many questions on the ballot paper.

I voted yes to all questions with the exception of one asking should we change the name of our country because I cannot understand why such a small country as ours should be burdened with such a long-winded name. It is time politicians stop fooling our people by making stupid and unnecessary demands for name change; do people truly understand what such a name change will cost? Just think for one moment what would happen if the people of The Bahamas decide to add the names of all their islands to their passport. I rest my case.

If you were born in Carriacou or Petite Martinique, you are Grenadian; accept it and learn to live with it. One country; one people and be proud to be Grenadian.

It is at this point I support a lot of what Hudson George has written. When the current opposition NDC was in power they (NDC) raised the issue of constitutional reform so when the present government brought forward the idea they (NDC) were all for it. They brought forward a shopping list, one of which was proportional representation, which the government dismissed out of hand, so this particular opposition party, through their leadership, decided not to support constitutional reform but did not have the guts to come clean about it and instead campaigned opposing the referendum using ridiculous excuses but at the same time leading the vote no campaign.

Without the main opposition support and some church leaders with hidden personal agendas, as Hudson George described, it was always unlikely that the government would get the two-thirds majority that is needed. Once the result of the referendum was announced, the blame game started. Back to the old tit for tat. You have to ask yourself; do these people really care about the future of our country and the quality life of our people, especially our youths? One individual also had an article published stating that NNP supporters stayed away. How stupid? It was the majority of Grenadians that stayed away.

I am against proportional representation, especially so in such small countries as ours, where strong government is needed not lame duck ones. I also believe that it is important to know the kind and choice of people who are likely to represent you locally before you vote and not a bunch of handpicked party puppets following an election.

When people fight hard to win a parliamentary seat they are likely to fight equally hard to keep it by providing proper representation in parliament and on the ground with individual casework and empowering local community groups working in partnership to get things done for their constituents.

On a local level, when I had published a complaint about potholes, I got them patched up; when I had published a complaint about the lack of road markings at official road crossings, I got them done; when I wrote about a dangerous wall in Tempe, the wall was removed. Our drains are cleaned and clear of debris at regular intervals and so is the cutting of grass verges and bushes at the roadsides.

I have received good service to date from this government on things publicly highlighted. When Nazim Burke was my MP and I complained we got no response even when he was our deputy PM and finance minister.

Nationally, the economy has picked up considerably; there are more cranes in the skies of St George’s than I can ever remember. We are having more arrivals of planes and passengers at Maurice Bishop International Airport, also an average of two cruise ships per day in St George’s. More people are in employment since the Mitchell-led government took office and, most significantly, the country’s debt ratio has fallen from 107% of GDP to 84%.

The St George’s hospital is currently being extended/re-built. A number of roads that were left in a collapsed state under NDC have now been re-constructed with fitted safety crash barriers. The new Houses of Parliament is under construction. I say this government is delivering to its people here in Grenada and, although there is still a lot more to be done to increase growth, create new sustainable jobs and reduce our national debt, make no mistake, fair is fair; this government ought to be congratulated.

What we need to see is the government engaging in meaningful dialogues with organisations such as the Willie Redhead Foundation to identify; record and protect historical buildings and sites. A specific government department perhaps culture and arts should be given the role of engaging an individual full time with the task of approach overseas institutions with the sole purpose of raising funds to support the preservation of our country historical buildings.

Our government should also engage in meaningful discussion with stakeholders on the future of Camerhogne Park. I am personally in support of the campaign to leave the park in its present location and have the entire area upgraded, with the ambition of turning part of the area into a square renaming it Grand Anse Square.

Grenadians in the Diaspora in the UK need a commitment from this government to restore chartered flights from the UK to Grenada. Before the EU referendum we found scheduled airfares stinging, since Brexit, with sterling sinking to two-thirds of its value against the US dollar, we are likely to see a sharp fall in the numbers of visiting tourists and nationals living in the UK. This government needs to be proactive on this issue.

Finally, I would like to thank Caribbean News Now for the support they have given me throughout 2016 in publishing my letters, most of which brought successful end results for the people of the community where I reside in Grenada. May I also take this opportunity to wish your contributors and readers a very Happy New Year!

Winston Strachan
 
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Comments:

Julius Gabriel:

Winston, thanks for this very easy to read and balanced article. I feel very refresh after reading your well put together letter. I often read articles from residents in the diaspora who unlike you write primarily on hearsay information which oftentimes do not reflect life on the ground in Grenada. I am encourage that my diaspora friends will have a better understanding of the real issues in the country. Thank you for sharing your experience.

I turn now to one paragraph in your letter which I am happy you raised.
"What we need to see is the government engaging in meaningful dialogues with organisations such as the Willie Redhead Foundation to identify; record and protect historical buildings and sites. A specific government department perhaps culture and arts should be given the role of engaging an individual full time with the task of approach overseas institutions with the sole purpose of raising funds to support the preservation of our country historical buildings."
This is a very important observation/suggestion. I am a campaigner for the very same thing. I have been reliably informed that the government will be making some announcement in this regard very shortly. This is in keeping with a recognition from UNESCO that St George's is one of the prime heritage sites in the region.

I look forward with great anticipation to this announcement. I guess you might be as well.


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