We Mix Business with Pleasure.

Dear Sir:

The Grenada ruling New National Party and the NDC politicians rarely agree on anything these days. But in recent months almost everyone in Grenada seemed to have coalesced around the notion that our economy and former government was broken and needed to be fixed. That meant getting them out of their comfort zone. The people of Grenada were losing confidence and hope. The New National Party brought people back and reminded them why the battle was worth fighting and why we were in a position to win.

The NDC former government was cowardly, incompetent and good for nothing; being clueless, leading our country was not an option for the people of Grenada. I believe there was something happening inside Grenada which was making the NDC politicians act in an irrational manner. Tillman Thomas and Nazim Burke basically took the country and fumbled it like a football on purpose, blaming everyone but themselves.

Some people have said the former prime minister’s silence on the disastrous state of the economy and the high unemployment situation, plus proroguing Parliament caused the situation to deteriorate, leading to the NDC downfall; and making it ever worse is the point that they lost the general election, not even getting one seat. They keep making the point that they got votes; of course, getting votes is not winning seats.

Whenever anyone talks about the need for more stimulus — monetary and fiscal — to reduce unemployment, the response from people who imagine themselves wise is always that we should focus on the long run, not on the short-run fixes. The truth, however, is that, by failing to deal with our short-run mess, we’re turning it into a long-run, chronic economic malaise.

And if you think about it for a minute, you realize that this is a vicious circle, in which a weak economy leads to too-low inflation, which perpetuates the economy’s weakness. And this brings us to a broader point: the utter folly of not acting to boost the economy, now.

By allowing long-term unemployment to persist, we’re creating a permanent class of unemployed Grenadians. By letting short-run economic problems fester we’re setting ourselves up for a long-run, perhaps permanent pattern of economic failure.

The point is that the former NDC government failed miserably in responding to our economic challenge and they will be paying for that failure for many years to come. The result, the political bargain that had sustained the fragile NDC party and politicians broke down and the political collapse of the party was a disaster of the worst kind. The end result, the NDC lost the general election, adding additional misery to the party and posing enormous challenges for Thomas and the NDC politicians.

The people of Grenada wanted a stable prosperous country and government to lead them. Grenadians were calling on the former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas to step down, because they knew that Grenada’s Parliamentary democracy could survive a resignation. It is normal for a prime minister to step down and be replaced by another figure elected by Parliament, but Thomas refused, elections were called and a new government was elected, and a capable prime minister is now leading a national unity government, which is a symbolic victory for all Grenadians. We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture, but as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups are more immoral than individuals.

Virtually every NNP elected official is doing a spectacular job. I don’t think there’s anyone that’s had an administration of competent people like that. Thank God the majority of the people voted overwhelmingly, because we would have been in far worse trouble if they didn’t.

Achieving even the modest goal was proving an unexpected challenge for the NDC government. I believe former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas was not the best leader we’ve had, but I also believe that he’s an exceptional individual.

The New National Party government to be sure is already making economic strides, and the early signs of growing prosperity will abound. But the country will nonetheless need millions in financial aid to cover its spending. I am confident the government would get its finances in order.

The Budget is straightforward, includes no tricks and provides the government an opportunity for transformative change. For his part, the prime minister seems reflective about his fourth term in office. He says that vision without execution is hallucination and he believes in vision, he believes in big ideas, he believes in tackling problems that are complex and fighting battles that are worth fighting and trying to in his case, create jobs-employment for all Grenadians.

“Vision is really important — but execution is really important too. Having a good idea is not enough. You have got to figure out some way to balance that and complement that with a great execution,” says Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith C. Mitchell.

The reason the NDC government failed was because their execution wasn’t up to the vision, and the primary reason was that there were no relationship, unity and trust. Ultimately, it came down to poor execution of what they thought were good ideas, and that was largely attributed to relationships and resentments and pride and egos. In retrospect, the NDC politicians were perceived as arrogant and indifferent.

If instead they had spent time building relationship among themselves and the people they represented and listened to their perspective and concerns, and shared some of it, I like to believe that would have made a huge difference and created a better context in terms of trust and more alignment in terms of strategy. If they had done that, the outcome in the election would have been different.

That’s why the majority of the people fired the entire NDC government and hired the NNP politicians, who have brought new perspectives and are looking at the situation through the focus on the future, not the rearview mirror.

During the last general election, with the two main campaigning parties, the NDC and the NNP, the NNP had to fight fire with fire. Fair play was out for the NDC, dirty tricks, propaganda, and lies were in. The realpolitik during the campaign has raised an ancient philosophical question: if you adopt the underhanded tactics of the enemy, if you stoop to his level, do you become like him?

The NNP did not seem to have been troubled by the NDC tactics. Mitchell and his team wanted to replace the hate with unity, peace, justice, freedom and democracy for all Grenadians. We couldn’t afford five more years like the last five experienced under the NDC government. To truly reform our country and people, we needed a fresh start.

This is a group of smart, intelligent and hard working people. We are proud of our new government and what they are doing so far. Business confidence is stronger, the outlook looks better. We have to create more jobs than what we have been seeing created to move the economy back to where we need it to be. Mitchell is the best person both to win and to govern in a manner to lead the country into the future.

The new government’s approach in dealing with the state of the economy and the unemployment crisis, grand development plans that will alleviate the Grenadian problems have taken a front row seat as the new government focuses on keeping the lights on and taking care of its citizens.

The primary issues are job creation, employment, housing, health care. There are growing concerns in Grenada about the state of our health care system. Too many people are dying in our hospitals, especially the young, from lack of proper care and medications. Available health care for the sick is woefully insufficient. Our health care system is in a deplorable state and we need some urgent help from outside Grenada.

Grenada as a whole has brilliant and capable doctors, nurses and health care providers, but our hospitals lack the necessary essential medications and health equipment necessary to save lives, and that makes our health services particularly grim. The good thing is our new government is working on it, and everyone is aware.

A few medications and a little equipment have started to make its way to our hospitals, but that’s not enough, that’s just a drop in the ocean. Our hospitals are in a state of despair. Improvements must be made in saving lives and that will prevent incalculable suffering from families in Grenada.

There is no doubt that in the entire country this is a matter of concern. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. What really matters in Grenada are its people rather than cities and all the other material things. While we may not be the richest country in the world, neither are we the poorest. Our people have a dignity and grace and character that is very moving, and we are a most beautiful country with beautiful people. Let’s save the lives of our people from unnecessary death, because of the lack of some simple medications, and access to appropriate health care services. I hope that we could make some progress in that direction.

Prime Minister Keith Mitchell pledges that his administration is working to bring about much needed resolution to the existing problem at hand and to restore the people’s confidence in our health care system.

I am troubled by the deafening silence from our neighbours in the Caribbean, and countries that can help us with this alarming problem. We are asking the governments of the United States, Cuba, Venezuela and others to assist us, the government and people of Grenada with medications, and much needed medical equipment that will help to save lives at our hospitals.

Helen Grenade

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