The New Today

Commentary

How sound is Grenada’s new NDC government transformational push? – Part IV

Despite electioneering is also being about diverse schemes for obtaining State Power, including manipulating and exploiting the minds and wishes of the people especially the naive and zealous youth, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) had set itself an admirably high standard for politics and governance with its “Transforming Grenada! Let’s Move Grenada Forward” 2022 manifesto.

It should therefore not be seen as unreasonable, irrelevant and premature for good patriotic citizens to observe, identify and raise any inappropriate performance, stance and trend of an NDC administration from the 23 June 2022 general elections; proactive ‘checks and balances’ by the people is critical in exercising and saving Grenada’s Democracy.

In fact, what level of ‘understanding and tolerance’ must be extended to this new Administration given that the party had boasted about being invigorated, and that a revelation is to have each ministry boosted with a committee of ‘resource personnel’ including diverse specialists from the diaspora and what is termed “Transition Leads” having political acumen and bureaucratic experience.

Critical aspects of the ‘foundational and settling’ process of the ‘transition period’ of an incoming administration should also be about managing the anxious expectations of its party as well as of the population; about accessing and assessing the doings and deals of the governmental system as well as asserting the administration’s position but with a focus to safeguard against unwarranted mistakes and malicious wrongdoings; and about listening and responding to the thoughtful criticisms and genuine calls of the various sectors of society.

To forward or to portray any arrogant attitude of taking ‘appeasing and pleasurable’ decisions and if they turn out to be wrong then can be remedied and try again, over ensuring cautious aptitude and application concerning the ‘roles and responsibilities’ of national leadership, would not be signaling a sound transformational push.

Within this framework of Executive Civil relationship, will be the thorough preparations for elevating to or for laying in the Parliament the political plans and promises of the party for debates and legality. Indeed, this adopted transition period gives a good opportunity for the people to ‘sample and gauge’ early the unfolding intention, temperament and performance of a new administration, as well as for determining its worth and chance for re-election.

The Ceremonial State Opening of the First Session of the Eleventh Parliament on 31 August 2022 took extraordinary ‘curiosity and anxiety’, essentially due to the tremendous upset at the recent polls with the victory of the NDC after almost a decade of absence in Parliament and being led by a relatively new team, and with the elections resulting in having representatives of an opposition in Parliament.

However, was the 2022 Throne Speech to the Joint Sitting of the Houses of Parliament by the Governor-General, Her Excellency Dame Dr. Cécile La Grenade, which outlined the overarching socio-economic pillars of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell’s NDC-administration extraordinary?

The content and tone of those presentations, as well as the reactions and expressions which erupt are traditional; the real essence and value of the policies and programmes which have been enunciated will be proven by the effectiveness of implementations, the scope of beneficiaries, and the influences on the prosperity and sovereignty of the nation.

Although the Speech may not have been exhaustive but that pertinent issues and specifics would emerge with time and circumstances, and that the needs and desires of all stakeholders and interest groups cannot and will not be met at once, there are some weighty and imperative areas which should have been given extraordinary prominence towards the paradigm shift in the culture of the local Politics and Governance and thus establishing the platform for holistic transformational development.

In accordance with the internet-circulated article “Is The 2022 Elections Manifesto of Grenada’s Main Opposition Complete?”; does the failure by this NDC administration to register promptly in Parliament a meaningful devotion for advancing the 1974 National Constitution mean that the sore ‘fashion and flow’ of governance will be business as usual?

During the public fora on the 6 November 2018 constitutional referendum, former NDC’s acting political leader and now Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Export Development, Joseph Andall, piloted the excellent point for amassing interests, efforts and resources to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Grenada’s Independence on 7 February 2024 with the ushering in of a new constitution.

Isn’t this point a most appropriate and compelling reason to have initiated or activated in the Throne Speech a ‘planning mechanism’ for the special Jubilee occasion and to include giving serious attention on the civics and history of Grenada? Specifically, invitations need to be extended to civil society groups, such as the Independent Caucus for Constitution Reform, to spearhead the educational requirements on the pertinent venture.

In fact, there is a pledge in NDC’s 2018 manifesto to “Establish a Constituent Assembly to complete the reform of the existing Constitution after comprehensive public consultations on the Constitution with the citizens of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique both at home and in the diaspora”. Has this commitment been shelved; and why?

A heartening article by Rev. Vonnie E. James entitled “Grenada Politics: Five Interlocking Ideas Toward Constitutional Reform” appears in the Grenadian Voice E-paper of Friday 19 August 2022, summarising reasons for Grenada to push once again toward Constitutional reform or redrafting. James’ position compounds the longtime cries of stalwart citizen John Rullow for anchoring Grenada’s sovereignty with a Constitution Act via a constituent assembly.

Rullow has been relying strongly on the Decolonisation principle of the United Nations (UN) relating to the fundamentals of “equal rights and self-determination of peoples”, derived from the United Nations’ General Assembly 1960 Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples.

Is the lack of concern by the Administration to address the unresolved issues on the Constitution because of an impending signing of a global constitution which will make ineffective indigenous constitutions, with the UN Charter forming the lead directives?

The fact then is that articulations about discarding allegiance to Her Majesty, fostering people’s empowerment, dignity and patriotism, as well as about seeking reconciliation and justice with reparations by the colonial rulers such as the British, without genuine efforts towards a ratified new constitution, would be crude hypocrisy.

Quite noticeable and perplexing also with the Throne Speech is the apparent ‘no interest’ of this NDC administration to revert to or to embark on addressing allegations of corruption which can instigate prosecutions accordingly.

Shouldn’t it be wisdom that by exploring for ‘accountabilities and answers’ concerning the governmental system with the catalogue of critical issues which have been annoying and eluding “We The People”, there is the instructive demonstration of ‘firmness and reinforcement’ regarding the promotion of “integrity and accountability in public life” with “zero tolerance for unethical conduct”?

What is the drawback, or why the refraining in the pursuit for ‘People’s Justice’? Is this situation highlighting NDC’s meaning and application of “Let’s Move Grenada Forward”, synonymous as “let bygones be bygones” and ”forward ever backward never”, in order to cover known individuals who may be implicated?

Or is the situation testimony about the invaluable role, repute and recognition of the Integrity Commission especially that Grenada is the Regional Center to provide training in Anti-corruption Best Practices on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretariat since 2017?

Why shouldn’t the Grenadian people expect the perpetuation and fortification of malfeasance with potential arrangements for Conflict Of Interest; especially following the precedent already set for no prosecution for corruption?

Contrary to the impressions coming from NDC’s campaigning, even including its premier document, the ‘validity and value’ of the 2020-2035 National Sustainable Development Plan was reflected in the Throne Speech.

The visit to Grenada during the week of 22 August 2022 by a delegation of the United Nations for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, headed by Resident Coordinator Didier Trebucq, and the pledge “to support and amplify the transformative agenda …. set out” by the Government, should be ‘gratifying and welcome’.

Indeed this consultative engagement by the UN will boost the ‘spirit and confidence’ of the NDC-administration. However, the announcement of the pledge within the framework of the UN’s Implementation Plans, “geared towards promoting the acceleration of the country’s sustainable development goals”, should not be taken by “We The People” without reservations and concerns, especially based on the unpleasant historical experiences and the questionable signals received so far from NDC with its transformational push.

Is the new Administration set to update the population on the terms and conditions, as well as the current status of the various programmes and projects of the UN’s agencies, on the extent of the knowledge and involvement of civil society groups in such undertakings, as well as of any monitoring mechanism for accounting about the pertinent objectives and funds; and what is the ‘real transformation’ going forward in the execution of those programmes and projects?

Should credit be given to the NDC’s transformative agenda for the cooperation of the UN; or, isn’t the UN’s diplomatic visit demonstrating the principle of ‘continuity of governance’ in terms of institutional relations and arrangements which is similar to the merit for respecting the constitutional provision of the Public Service?

The fact remains that on 27 January 2022 former Prime Minister Keith Mitchell of the administration of the New National Party (NNP) signed “a new United Nations Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework (MSDCF) for the Caribbean for the years 2022 to 2026.

The Framework, which will align with individual Country Implementation Plans, will govern UN collaboration in the region for the next five years, to support countries to recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, climate shocks and other vulnerabilities in a sustainable way that leaves no one behind”. …. “The MSDCF identifies four key priorities for achieving resilient sustainable development in the region: increased support to the economic resilience agenda; intensified efforts to ensure realisation of human rights for all; strong commitment to enhancing inclusive disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation; and scaled up support to ensure that Caribbean societies remain peaceful and just societies”.

The present and projected fiscal position of the Government raised in the Throne Speech is ‘superficial, confusing and lacking’.

However, by acknowledging that “total public debt at the end of June 2022 stood at 2.1 billion dollars or 66.2% of GDP, and the full year estimate is 67.6% of GDP”, what factors would contribute to the increase of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) within the remaining six months?

Along with the forthcoming 2023 National Budget presentation and debate, it would indeed be ‘extraordinary and appreciative’ at least “by making public a thorough assessment of the total public debt and terms and conditions of the debt. …. include all Central Government debt, all debt guaranteed by Government, the debt of all statutory bodies, state-owned enterprises, and that of public/private partnerships. …. also include outstanding judgment debts and outstanding payments due to agents for the provision of goods and services to the Government”, according to the Transformation Manifesto.

Moreover, pertinently required is information on the financial capacity of Grenada, including the Consolidated Fund and others such as the National Transformation Fund for the Citizenship By Investment programme.

J. K. Roberts