The 90-day marker has been reached by the new National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell and the public can start to judge for themselves the performances of some of the ministers and the manner in which they have been able to acquaint themselves in their new environment.
THE NEW TODAY will refrain from engaging in any exercise like others who have chosen to give the government a “Grade A” pass mark as these are really and truly early days in the life of the administration.
Our intention is to look in the direction of those areas where Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell and his ministers need to shape up as quickly as possible in their quest to provide better government to the people of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.
The immediate area of concern is the failure of the new leadership to put in place the team of Ambassadors to be dispatched overseas to represent the country in high profile places like the United Nations, Washington to serve both the United States and the Organisation of American States (OAS), Beijing, London, Caracas and Havana.
The Prime Minister should give Foreign Minister Joseph Andall and his team at the ministry a cut-off point by end of October to come up with a list of names for serious consideration to fill these positions.
The Foreign Minister is a very highly intelligent individual and should know that he has to approach the job more so now than ever with caution especially after the dismal performance of his Permanent Secretary at the recent press conference and her unfortunate utterances about the timeframe for recalling ambassadors.
Minister Andall should look elsewhere for serious advice in his quest to take greater control of the ministry and also putting into effect the transformative agenda that Congress promoted during the recent election campaign.
The NDC was in government during the 2008-13 period and has at its disposal many persons who served in Foreign Affairs and are quite knowledgeable about the do’s and don’ts in this important field that can help to make or break a government.
The Minister should pull together a team of competent Grenadians at home and overseas and begin the serious task of identifying all of those persons with credibility and integrity who might be willing and capable to serve the country at the Ambassadorial level.
It appears that the policy of the new Dickon Mitchell government is not “jobs for the boys” in Foreign Affairs as was the case under the former regime and that the new trust is to recruit persons who have the interest of Grenada at heart and not to engage in just dollar diplomacy.
This will be a welcome change as Grenada became the laughing stock with its cadre of Chinese ambassadors who were given diplomatic status under the Keith Mitchell-led government.
THE NEW TODAY strongly believes it is time to bring back home those persons from the last regime who will not be kept on board in the overseas missions with the Transformation Team now in place in St George’s.
The governments of China, United States and Great Britain will refrain from engaging in any serious discussions when it comes to aid and technical assistance to any lame duck diplomat.
These countries will also be judging the seriousness of Grenada by the manner in which the island sets about putting its foreign relations into play.
There is no good reason for the new government to have the former ambassadors of the defeated regime still in place as the face of the transformational agenda that was bought about by the electorate to effect the change of government back on June 23.
These persons should have been back home weeks now and replaced immediately by a Charge d’affaires pending the arrival of the new Ambassador.
The last Congress government did not wait as long as two months to install the current President of the Senate, Dr. Dessima Williams as our Ambassador to the United Nations under the leadership of former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.
Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell should also be commended for the manner in which he has been bringing along the Permanent Secretaries that are responsible for the day-to-day running of government ministries to press conferences to face questions from reporters on their stewardship.
The public are getting a first-hand opportunity and chance to see the quality of those persons who are at the top of the scale in the Public Service and judge their performances to determine whether the country is getting value for money from these officers.
The one officer who has performed below par so far is the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who looked to be out of sorts with those comments on the changes in the diplomatic field when it comes to recall of ambassadors from overseas assignments.
This individual has a lot of work to do in order to redeem herself in the eyes of many Grenadians who were not amazed at her apparent lack of knowledge in the business of diplomacy.
The new government has to be mindful of the fact that the rest of the world will not be waiting on Grenada as it attempts to put its house in order.
If the Dickon Mitchell administration plans to stick to its campaign commitment to look in the direction of Career diplomats and to recruit basically Grenadians at home and in the Diaspora to serve as Ambassadors then three months is sufficient time for the country to begin to see some kind of results in this policy.
Our foreign policy initiatives can bear very productive fruits especially in acquiring the kind of technical assistance from overseas in order to arrest the lack of capacity in the public service to address the dismal 37% implementation rate in projects that took place under the former NNP administration.
Grenada needs as much of this help that it can get in order to fully make use of grant funding and other forms of aid from friendly foreign countries and international organisations in helping with the development of the country.
Minister Andall needs to put his foot on the pedal and start to speed up the process to prevent Grenada from getting left out from its fair and just share of assistance from other more prosperous nations.