By Lloyd Noel
The four months since February 19th passing by this week – as we come nearer to the end of six months of this year and five years since the last government won the polls – while the economy remains in limbo as we wait and hope for some better days ahead.
True enough, the government delivered on its election promise of some badly needed jobs in one hundred days in the roads maintenance program – but so far these have only come to light in the eastern parish, with the hope that they will spread island-wide in the very near future.
|Lloyd Noel is a former attorney general of Grenada, prominent attorney at law and political commentator|
The Budget of Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure passed by Parliament before the end of April – as required by the public Finance Management Act – remains just that for the time being.
The local economy remains at a standstill Island-wide, because nothing is happening to boost the movement for years now – and unless there is some positive action in the near future, I cannot see anything taking place to change the picture for the remainder of this year.
And this where the many promises by the government now in control come into play – because the people fell for those promises, and voted accordingly to give the incumbents total responsibility for all aspects of our public affairs.
There have been some positive actions by the new controllers to get things moving, but in the current economic situation across the globe, these will take a lot more time to materialize and produce results.
How much time the controllers have is a real issue in itself – but they will have to improvise.
In any case, they have a long time in office, and must utilize that time to show the people they are achieving results, in the very interest of the people themselves.
A positive step was the payment of their salary increases to public servants last month. These payments have been due for about five years, and although the last government promised to pay the back-pay if they had won election, those losers knew very well the funds for so doing were not available – so the promise was not relied on and now cannot be met.
There must be many such promises that were made by the losing lot, who did not live up to them, and now these will fall to be met by the new leaders.
I suppose the same situation was left by the losers in 2008, so that they are now getting some of their own political medicine by their victory – a case of what goes around comes back around.
But all the above notwithstanding, those now in control have a heavy task on their hands to deal with and, although they have five years with a clean sweep team to do the job, it is not going to be easy to achieve.
And while the patience and understanding of the people will be needed in the process of achieving that goal in the given time, it will not be an easy task in the circumstances.
The debt is not going down but increasing, as they have to borrow to meet some current expenditures, and the payments that have to be made even as interest cannot be met, so it is a straight case of from the frying pan into the raging and escalating political fire – but the ball is now in their court and they will have to play it around as best they can.
The major and most pressing promise is that of providing employment for that group of persons who depend on the casual roads maintenance daily jobs to care for their families – and the contractors were back on the roads in St Andrews in the hundred days.
A few small groups were hired to clean the drains in the past two weeks or so, and the bigger gangs were supposed to be starting work by mid-June in other parishes.
The story now making the rounds is that such work would not be starting until late July or thereafter.
That would be further hardships for those depending on that type of work, and who do not have the means to fill the gap; I hope the story is not true, or if there is to be a delay it is only a week or two.
The effect of massive unemployment is really hurting the local economy, and shop-keepers in particular, who have to reduce their staff numbers to remain in business.
And that is precisely why the controllers have to take extraordinary steps, and make some bold decisions about how they attract foreign investors to come to our Islands, and start new business ventures that will in turn attract holiday-makers to come calling – and spending their dollars in the facilities provided by the investors.
We heard from the prime minister about the many shortcomings his winning team met upon taking over control of the administration from the losers – although they were always boasting about integrity, transparency and good governance – so now they have to take some unusual steps to bring things back in line, because our people are under serious pressure.
We are also hearing about problems brewing at GRENLEC, both with the workers and their union on the one hand, and the government on the other hand, because the company wants to increase the cost of electricity to consumers.
The brand new government cannot afford either disruption at this stage, and efforts must be made to ensure that peace and stability prevail without fail.
There can be no doubting the facts that things are rough, and may very well become a whole lot worse before beginning to get any better.
And no matter who support whichever party in the existing circumstances – unless the situation is properly handled by those in control at this time, the end results could be detrimental to the people and the political state of affairs down the road.
The Prime Minister’s hundred days’ address to the nation was very positive and enlightening, and listed a whole lot of avenues for future development – we now wait with great expectations to seeing as many of them coming to fruition in due course.
The great majority of voters gave him and his team total control of their affairs – they are now waiting with hope that concrete action will follow the nice-sounding promises he made to bring them better days and years ahead.