By Lloyd Noel
While we are waiting for the opening of our Parliament, for the record second time that the NNP and Prime Minister Mitchell have won all the seats in the national election to take charge of the people’s business for the next five years down the political road, we also passed the historical milestone of March 13, 1979, when our tri-island state created history, by becoming the first English-speaking Caribbean island to take over political control by armed revolution from an elected government.
So that, in the two months of February and March thus far, we celebrated 7th February as our independence anniversary, the 19th February as the second time the same party and prime minister won all the parliamentary seats in an election, and the 13th March as that historic armed revolution anniversary, when the Eric Gairy elected GULP government was overthrown by the Maurice Bishop (NJM) New Jewel Movement in 1979.
On that said 13th March last week, the Roman Catholic cardinals in Rome elected for the very first time a new pope from the South American continent — Argentina – so maybe the merciful father was reminding us all that not only wars and revolution take place on that memorable date.
So now that we have the elected government, with absolute power in our parliament to do as it pleases, and no one at that level to raise any objection against any proposal put forward by the party in power, I just wish to remind those 15 MPs that the very constitution which gives that power also lays down that the people of Grenada expect conditions to be created whereby every one may enjoy his economic, social and political, civil and cultural rights.
And provision must be made for ensuring the protection in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique of those fundamental rights and freedoms – regardless of which colour jersey he/she was wearing during those rallies and political meetings.
From all that the people encountered during the past three or four years – when the economic and employment situation was chaotic worldwide, and we in these parts had no alternative to fall back on, since our agriculture industry in nutmeg and bananas and cocoa had been so badly damaged by the Ivan and Emily hurricane disasters – no one can be expecting economic miracles overnight to solve our many problems, but at least those in dire need expect to see some worthwhile improvement in the near future to ease up the pressure.
A whole lot of promises were made by the winners now in control, and some of them would take more time to come on stream,– as the new controllers find their way in sorting whatever was left by the losers, especially because of the disunity that existed among the defeated group in the last two or more years in control.
In sorting out the leftovers from the losers, one of the areas I heard mention of during the campaign was that of too many staff on government payroll, and the need to retrench some of them to cut costs.
I very much hope that the winners do not misuse their clean sweep authority to victimize government workers whom they feel were supporters of the losers in the elections. This victory already speaks for itself in no uncertain terms, and there is really nothing left to prove.
It has been widely exposed that the government debt is huge and payments have not been met for some time now, and those now in control had to go begging the creditors for more time to raise the overdue payments.
Those debts did not only come about since after the 2008 elections, when the recent losers won control of government – so that the winners have nothing to prove, and should not be seen to be taking measures that tend to penalize suspected NDCites.
The voters heard all the promises of jobs and more jobs if they voted NNP – and the great majority relied on those promises, and created the double-winners’ political history for our Tri-Island State.
The worldwide economic recession is by means over, and the jobless situation in the third world setting we live in will not get better overnight, while the first-world countries are still struggling to stabilize their own economies, and provide jobs for their very own unemployed.
All the above must mean, therefore, that our people cannot expect the promises made before the elections to be fulfilled in a couple of months, because these things take time.
At the same time, however, in areas where jobs can be provided by the government itself, to do with the long-standing roads and bridges projects for which funding was available, these should be implemented to help ease the pressure on so many families who have been struggling to make ends meet for some time now.
In other words, it is a matter for both sides to exercise patience and understanding, to enable those in charge and those in need to get things going, so that the system as a whole can be seen to be moving along.
There can be no denial that nothing was happening on the jobs and investment fronts for the two years or more before the elections, and not only the government debts were increasing every month, but the people were ketching hell to make ends meet – and to remedy that state of affairs will take some time before we can see improvements to shout about.
Having said all the foregoing however, and despite being well aware of the critical conditions now existing across the islands – as well as the facts that those now in control of our nation state were also the same leader and party in charge back in the days of those questionable investors – we still have to make allowances and permit time to get things moving.
I still hasten to sound the fundamental and very critical warning that those in control whose responsibility it is to select and allow to come into our islands as investors to provide those needed jobs are duty-bound to ensure that the newcomers have clean hands and good records.
We have had much more than our fair share of very unsavoury characters and con-men who have made huge sums from trading in our lands and beaches and good weather conditions, and leaving our treasury empty and the unemployment situation no better than before.
If we have not learnt our lessons from all those experiences – when those now in control were in full charge then — we never will again.