By Ian Francis
There is no doubt that budget anxiety and impatience exist amongst Grenadians at home and in the Diaspora. The level of anxiety is understandable but there must be a reminder that the New National Party (NNP) budget will be fair and geared to recouping the ills that have confronted the nation for the last four years by the Thomas-led National Democratic Congress (NDC).
|Ian Francis resides in Toronto and is a frequent contributor on Caribbean affairs. He is a former Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Grenada and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org|
There is no doubt that that the six-week-old government of Prime Minister Mitchell and his team faces many challenges. These challenges stem from a high rate of unemployment; crime and lawlessness and a general decline in the quality of life. At the same time, many local columnists and commentators continue to focus on the state of the national debt, pointing fingers and asking many unnecessary and illogical questions about the commencement of Grenada debts and which government contracted them.
It was quite reassuring and promising that, two days after the NNP assumed the helm of governing in the nation, Prime Minister Mitchell and his able team at the Ministry of Finance clearly stated, “There is a national debt problem in the nation. It has to be addressed and this is not the time for pointing fingers.”
Based on my observation and discussions with various public policy players in the government, it was not difficult to conclude and understand that Prime Minister Mitchell had an in-depth understanding of the situation and immediately embarked upon the task of addressing the situation. To many, it was a sign of NNP maturity and desire to restore the devastated economy left by the NDC gang. Grenadian voters expect no less.
Grenadian voters fully recognize and understand the challenges facing the nation. At the same time, those at the helm of government leadership also recognize that they have to be diligent, work hard and restore the quality of life in the nation. This is why, the finance and economic team in the government has clearly relegated the notion that debt blame is not on the agenda and the visuals on the radar screen clearly point to where the administration wishes to take the country. Based on this observation, there seem to be an understanding amongst voters that, while sorrow exists, there is eagerness and commitment to move the development process forward.
It is evidently well known by Grenadians that there was a general election on February 19, 2013, and the NDC was severely trounced and sent to rest. As further evidence indicates, they left a battered economy as well as many institutional wreckages, which included the health services across the nation. Thanks to Dr Modeste for immediately embarking upon this institutional task to rebuild health services in Grenada.
The Mitchell administration has a very clear and well defined understanding of the needed development process in Grenada. Between 1995-2008, they managed extremely well and, although governance and policy mistakes were evident, the people were never ignored, as they had jobs, families prospered and they lived an acceptable good quality of life.
As I perused the column written by columnist Lloyd Noel, I was quite disappointed in his written comments regarding the NNP election manifesto. As a supporter of the NDC, I have no doubt that he had the opportunity to compare both election manifestos and there is no doubt that NNP came out with a more accepted manifesto. I do not accept the narrow and illogical notion of Noel that the NNP was victorious because of the many promises made to voters in its manifesto.
The NNP election manifesto was a qualitative document that offered voters hope and opportunity for the future. As Noel has privately conceded to other NDC colleagues, it was extremely difficult for his party’s manifesto to have gained traction with voters after having spent four years in government (2008-2013) with no visible achievements to show. Therefore, there is no need for voters to be alarmed because they recognize and understand the global economic situation which will continue to impact on the current administration and ultimately the population.
Given the current challenges facing the Mitchell six-week-old administration, one cannot resist expressing admiration and confidence. The government’s early decision to pursue debt restructuring is courageous and a clear indication that, in spite of mounting debts, the needs and expectation of voters must be met. Therefore, there are many other accolades that must be shouldered on the Mitchell administration. The resumption of the feeder roads project that will strengthen connectivity between communities; create jobs and re-empower families are all promises that were in the NNP manifesto and are being implemented. Many more implementation of manifesto promises will no doubt follow in the future.
This is the second time in the political history of Grenada that the NNP has all seats in the lower house. During the first period of the lower house control, the government functioned efficiently, the economy performed and the population was pleased with the performance of the government. Therefore, it is time that Grenadian voters ignore the various iguana constitutional scenarios being put forward by the lame duck and dishonest legal community in Grenada. Grenadian voters at home and supporters in the Diaspora understand the governance dynamics in Grenada and remain quite positive that the NNP will deliver what they promised.
Finally, the Mitchell bashers; iguana constitutional experts and defeated NDCites must come to the realization that the NNP has embarked upon nation building and it is an opportune moment to become part of the process and build an inclusive nation. Expressing doubts; displaying one upmanship and I know it all for the nation is certainly losing fervor in Grenada .Those who continue to use various medium vehicles and display party grass-hopping must realize there is game change in Grenada.
The expected budget will be people oriented and seriously crafted to address the ills of Grenada society including those that are suffering. The budgetary consultation process was well designed and executed. We can only continue to look forward to a prosperous and sensitive government managing the affairs of Grenada.
Let’s join together in building an inclusive and strong Grenada.