The New Today


How sound is the new NDC government transformational push? – Part II

The People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of ‘violent palace-coup’ slayed Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, during March 1979 to October 1983, set aside the 1974 National Constitution and ruled by decree.

The PRG was ‘welcomed and supported’ with great expectations based on its new political philosophy of governance. Governor-General Sir Paul Scoon was, however, retained at that time of the PRG, and eventually was assisted to restore constitutional democracy following a foreign military intervention which ended the reign.

The stunningly defeated Keith Mitchell at the recent general elections, who had two lengthy stints as Prime Minister from June 1995 to July 2008 and from February 2013 to June 2022, governed virtually with no respect for the rule of law which features sharp indications of the suspension of the Constitution.

It would be an uncontrolled ‘blatant travesty of democracy with its gradual erosion’, if the 23 June 2022 ‘elected Prime Minister’ Dickon Mitchell pays no heed to or takes no stock about the experiences of the abuses of the Constitution.

There is the outstanding need for the ‘meticulous and meaningful observances’, as well as ‘transformation and advancement’ of the constitutional provisions.

Part one of this article questions the validity of the functioning of the installed Ministers of Government on 30 June coming from the elections, and the viability of the realigned ministries especially the created “super” Ministry of Mobilisation, Implementation and Transformation.

Notwithstanding the customary practices, the previous piece called for ‘goodwill’ clarifications to the Grenadian people concerning the correctness of Governor-General Dame Cecile La Grenade to perform the ceremonial acts which were done from the dissolution of Parliament on 16 May 2022 to at this moment in time with no evidence of the summoning of Parliament.

Are the Governor-General, and the designated Attorney-General and Prime Minister very confident about the correctness of the performances, such as the appointment of a Minister of State instead of a Parliamentary Secretary (section 64, Constitution), by holding that the Governor-General acts in his/her “own deliberate judgment” (section 58) and “may constitute offices for Grenada” (section 69)?

Consistent with section 7 of the Bank Holidays Act (Cap 25) as mentioned in the Interpretation and General Provisions Act (Cap 153), shouldn’t the Governor-General have caused a Proclamation in the Gazette, appointing 24 June 2022 a public holiday for ‘hailing the elections victory’?

As an empowering, consultative and directional mechanism, the Ministers of Government are outfitted with Transition Leads as appropriately. Based on the so-called requirements and roles of the Transition Leads, this decision seems to be a heightening and institutionalising of an adopted trend for ministers especially the Prime Ministers, to assign themselves apart from political and security details, executive and/or technical personnel, ‘outside’ of the Public Service’s bureaucracy.

Considering that the 2022 “Transforming Grenada!” Elections Manifesto of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) outlines that the NDC values the public service and aims to create ONE public service, and will align government ministries to meet the developmental needs of the country and build capacity for strategic policy management and coordination, and that the intention is for the Transition Leads to be committed to the Transformative Agenda of the NDC and “to sign an Oath of Affirmation” so as to be privy to and be able to request and handle government official information, the Governor-General may also be advised to prepare such offices of Transition Leads and to make appointments as per section 69 of the Constitution.

The rationale for and significance of the mechanism of the Transition Leads may prove to be positive, especially because of having a relatively inexperienced Ministers of Government (that is the Cabinet of Ministers, section 59 of the Constitution) and which includes a political novice, about nine months from private practice, as the Prime Minister.

Indeed an appropriate mechanism to engage and remedy the “broken” governmental system which is pervaded with malfeasance, corruption and inefficiency has been the dream of all good patriotic citizens.

However, careful ‘approach and application’ of such a mechanism is crucial so as not to bring more severe ‘disturbances and destructions’ to the Public Service and other democratic institutions, and which ultimately would add stress and sacrifice on the nation.

Moreover, there ought to be grave concerns about the extent of the incorporation of this mechanism of Transition Leads into the operations of the governmental system, as well as about any agreed compensation-package to be kept. It is the overriding stance and efforts globally over many decades for encouraging small Cabinets, and Grenada has had harsh sanctions to deal with a bloated Public Service.

The governmental system spans ministries and departments, statutory bodies and ambassadorial posts.

The Public Service is a constitutional organ, consisting of the ministries and departments and provides the mainstay of capacity and protocols for ‘continuous and stable’ governance; the statutory bodies and ambassadorial posts function as extensions and are under the control of this central bureaucracy.

The Cabinet of Ministers, as the political directorate, sits for the “business of the Government of Grenada” in the Public Service; sections 58, 59 and 60 of the Constitution.

The assertions of missteps with the newly ‘installed’ NDC-administration, which may be excused due to ‘over’ ambition and zeal, and/or ‘extreme’ ignorance and negligence, seem to be of confirmation on the basis of the 3 August 2022 Post Cabinet Press Conference; particularly about the purported establishment of the office of the Ministry of Mobilisation, Implementation and Transformation and the appointment of the responsible Minister.

Unlike the adequately appointed officials in the Public Service, the appointees to statutory bodies and ambassadorial posts are supposed to resign as the case may dictate accordingly, especially when there is a change in the political administration. In fact, any new administration has a right to recall such appointments to ascertain the credentials and representations of the individuals, and the performance and relevance of the entity.

Related:  How sound is Grenada’s new NDC government transformational push? - Part IV

A sound transformational push at this taxing economic juncture should also involve an extensive evaluation on the Value-For-Money of all regional and international relations of Grenada, with the objectives to boost the Foreign Exchange Reserves, to reduce the financial burden on the people, and to preserve its sovereignty.

The ‘fitting’ early open invitation during the Prime Minister’s inaugural address on 24 June 2022 for interested individuals to be Board Members, as well as the calls by a 1980’s NDC Senator for developing a “cadre of career diplomats”, should be vigorously pursued without superficiality.

Could the Administration have avoided the negative accusation about ‘conflict of interest and nepotism’ with its appointed directors for the Grenada Electricity Company and Grenada Citizenship By Investment programme? Are there qualified responders to the Invitation being appointed? Would such appointments be also guided by the legislations related to conduct (integrity) in public life?

The utterances at the referred Press Conference by the Minister, Businessman Andy Williams, should be revealing about the ‘paradox, confusion and uneasiness’ surrounding the Ministry of Mobilisation, Implementation and Transformation; and this reinforces the pertinent queries.

Does the position to “launch the ministry in the upcoming weeks”, with the revelation on the “setup of the financial accounting system inclusive of the vote, associated programmes and accounts for the ministry”, mean that the legality of any transaction of performances and commitments by this ministry would be retroactive to 30 June 2022?

Is the Ministry properly operational in compliance with section 77 of the Constitution which addresses the conditions for a Supplementary Appropriation Law by the House of Representatives; or is it that the occasion for the Ministry satisfies “an urgent and unforeseen need for expenditure” to have advances from the Contingencies Fund (section 79)?

This scenario of apparent violation of the financial rules, especially with Parliament stands dissolved and in the absence of a Public Accounts Committee, is offensive and definitely not concurrent with sound transformational principles.

Despite the intrinsically related aspects of serving or delivering to the people, Public Administration and Implementation, have had the resources and oversight at the highest level in the governmental system, with the former Prime Minister Keith Mitchell being responsible at some point in time for these critical specialties, yet the incumbent Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell was able to identify an ‘implementation deficit’ as a major setback to the development of the country and this has spurred for the existence of the Ministry of Mobilisation, Implementation and Transformation.

At the 3rd August Post Cabinet Briefing Minister Williams also explained that the ministry has the mandate to lead Grenada’s policies agenda and is at the heart of the Government transformative agenda and that integral to doing this is also the mandate to reshape Grenada’s mindset by inspiring and engaging the citizens on the transformative agenda; the ministry will be in everyone’s (‘all ministries, departments and agencies’) business to ensure that things get done in a timely manner.

With this insight, it seems that the mechanism of the Transition Leads would be concentrated at this ministry with efforts on coordination and clearance of all projects.

Whilst acknowledging that Implementation Deficit may have been causing Grenada to lose much funds for various projects, a sound transformational push should seek to analyse the fundamental reasons, including any controversies and resistances faced.

Professional competence and political expediency are leading factors for attention, especially as there is also evidence that ‘dedicated’ Project Coordinating Units (PCU’s) have been in existence in some key ministries including Ministry of Finance; the procedures and performances of those PCUs must thus be explored.

Most critical is that the interest of and the response to this dire disadvantage should not be restricted to construction undertakings but holistically toward the daily cries of the ordinary Grenadian for reliefs from the injustices, abuses and shortcomings of the public and private sectors.

To add insult to injury, despite institutions such as the Ombudsman Office and National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, there is virtually no effective recourse for complaints about the prominent deficits affecting the immediate socio-economic necessities.

Typical are the low operationalisation and enforcement of laws including on consumers protection, the unregulated (or, poorly regulated) banking and insurance companies, and the hostile and unconscionable treatments.

Whilst it can be appreciated that the Dickon Mitchell-led NDC-administration would wish to realise and defend its transformative agenda, genuine questions must arise about the regard given to the 2020-2035 National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP).

Recognising that the NDC’s transformative agenda has been promoted without reservations as Grenada’s (absolute) transformative agenda; is there any reference or aspect of the NSDP embedded or captured in this transformative agenda, or what are the NDC’s deviations from or consistencies with the NSDP?

Has Dickon Mitchell invalidated the widely consulted and internationally assisted NSDP of which the NDC had also actively contributed and signed?

Furthermore, what’s the status and role of the Committee of Social Partners (CSP) of Grenada, in the ‘new paradigm’ transformative agenda? Has the CSP been denigrated and discarded by the ruling NDC, as a political brand of the past administration under Keith Mitchell’s New National Party, and that any requirements for collaborations and negotiations with stakeholders will be activated by the mechanism of the Transition Leads through the Ministry of Mobilisation, Implementation and Transformation?

J.K. Roberts