By Lloyd Noel
When the Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell announced last week that Dr Cecile La Grenada would be the new governor general upon the retirement of Sir Carlyle Glean at the end of this month or thereabouts, that appointment more or less completed the total changeover from the persons who were holding top positions in the defeated NDC administration to the new winners and controlling office-holders of the NNP administration for the next five years or thereabouts.
In addition to the strictly political positions held by the winners in the various ministries, we also have a new commissioner of police, a new attorney general, and now our first female governor general after forty years as an independent state.
And by pure coincidence, or the sign of the times, around the same time of the new female governor general’s appointment, our first governor of Grenada as an associated state of Great Britain – Dame Hilda Bynoe — who was living in Trinidad and Tobago, passed away in that state.
Dame Hilda was appointed in the sixties when Grenada gained associate statehood with England and she held that position until independence in 1974. May she rest in peace.
It is to be hoped, and the prime minister has given his word, that other public servants in key positions would not be subjected to political discrimination simply because it may be felt they were more NDC than NNP sympathizers.
There will be positions that are considered very sensitive, and those in power will need to have sufficient confidence in the holders thereof to keep them in place – and these will have to be addressed and treated with due consideration for their many years of service.
The statements coming from the new prime minister after his almost five years in opposition seem to give the definite impression that he has gone through some changes himself during the years in opposition, and he is ready and willing to put those changes into practice.
And after all those years of struggle, and political ups and downs and squabbling, it is far more than enough time to bury many of those out-dated practices and move into the changing times for a truly new beginning.
We just cannot keep on finding fault, and or trying to justify obvious mistakes or very clear wrongdoing – for whatever reasons.
A whole lot of our people are in dire need of one thing or another – and in particular the thousands of unemployeds have been in that state for some considerable time now.
Helping them to find employment, by attracting Investors to our shores, must be the number one priority for those in control of the nation’s affairs. And it would follow naturally that, once the people can find jobs to earn a living, and have the funds to spend, the economy would also begin to move in the right direction and development would follow.
No one expects the new government to provide all our people’s needs either in the short term or long term, but at least the people who voted for the absolute winners naturally expect them to take some positive steps to improve their living conditions as soon as possible. The longer term provisions for building a stronger economy, and ensuring that we do not fall back into the same desperate situation we are faced with today will take a lot longer and our people have to be patient.
I know both sides made a whole lot of nice-sounding statements, and the winners also made many promises of what they planned to do once they regained the seats of power – and by the second time landslide they have succeeded in doing just that.
And, while it is just two months this week since that victory, all eyes and ears and out-stretched hands, are wide open and listening and very anxious to begin receiving the promises.
But according to some of the statements and the reports coming out of the various ministries, the economic situation facing the new government is a whole lot more critical than was initially envisaged.
And now we are also hearing of a huge sum of retroactive salaries due to some government and unionized workers that the losers of February 19 promised to pay those workers by the end of this month.
It is not in dispute that those workers are entitled to the payments – which date back two or three years in some cases – but the sum of nearly $40 million I am advised, is by no means easy to raise by the winners at this time, or any time soon.
But the much bigger issue raises the whole series of questions of accountability, responsibility, and the good governance we heard so much about in the last months of the defeated regime.
The story behind the promise to pay these workers is that it was made a month or so before the general elections on the 19th February – although the payments were due for the previous three years.
The obvious inference to be drawn from that so very close to the election date promise to pay is that it was a vote-catching exercise to woo those voters to support NDC. And on the other side of the same coin of the promise to pay – should the Government lose the election, as it was very widely anticipated would have been the case – the new government would be the one lumbered with the debt burden, upon taking over the control of the nation’s affairs – as it is the case to-date.
Some may very well argue that, when the last lot took over control in 2008, they also inherited huge sums due and owing by government – so a straight case of tit for tat.
Well whatever it may be, or however the effects therefrom may hinder the anticipated progress towards better days ahead, only time and the efforts of the new controllers will determine.
And now we would have heard all the grand promises, and the big sums allocated to the various ministries by the Minister of Finance, in his Budget presentation on Tuesday 16 April, for the current year.
It is all very nice-sounding to hear about the plans and programs by the controllers, and now we can only wait to see the performances, before we are able to assess the results and judge whether or not they are in the best interest of our people, and especially those most in need in these trying times.
So with two months now behind them, since that historic victory on the 19 February – and their first Budget merely days away from being passed through Parliament – we are all anxiously waiting to see where we going and how soon.