It can best be described as a “very hold statement” the remarks made this week by soon to retire Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) for Crime, Trevor Modeste that the time has come for government to change course in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and to re-open the local economy for money to circulate on the island.
THE NEW TODAY is sure that the statement will cause some degree of concern from other members of the High Command of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) who have been rather timid over the years to challenge the status quo.
Many of these officers would be afraid to vent such feelings in public out of fear of possible retaliation from their political boss, the Minister of National Security who is the Prime Minister of the country, Dr. Keith Mitchell.
As a former national sportsman and champion in the Javelin event for over 15 years in Grenada, along with being a seasoned police officer in crime and forensics, ACP Modeste seems to understand better than most of his colleagues the correlation between human behaviour in a lockdown situation and the need to release some energy during a period of curfew.
It is clear that the incident in Bathway in which hundreds of persons were seen last Sunday engaged in a beach picnic and flouting the Social Distancing regulation would have caused tremor on the island.
The authorities should not rule out ACP Modeste’s recommendation for a return to some normalcy in the local economy in order to allow Grenadians to use their creativity to make money and to spend the proceeds from their activities in order to keep the economy ticking and bubbling.
The proof in the eating of the pudding is right next door to Grenada where Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves adopted a far different scientific approach to fight COVID-19 by refusing to go the curfew route and to allow Vincentians to engage in trade to keep the country alive.
The “Comrade” should be congratulated for his management of the situation and being able to keep his ship stable and earn enough money to put into his national Treasury.
The Vincentian leader has been able to do this unlike his colleague Prime Ministers in member States of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) like Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts/Nevis and St Lucia that are trying to build economies heavily reliant on proceeds from the sale of passports.
PM Gonsalves has always put forward a national development agenda for his country in which Food Security is given high priority and not the uncertainty of the so-called Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme of these other OECS islands.
It is our information that one of the other Prime Ministers in the OECS who was relying on passport sales to keep his Treasury afloat approached Prime Minister Gonsalves for a loan of EC$9 million dollars a few weeks ago to allegedly help pay the salaries of public officers.
The St Vincent approach to the coronavirus pandemic should be a lesson to our Political Directorate in Grenada to change course and adopt more pragmatic policies that can help the island to manoeuvre its way in times of crisis like the raging virus around the world.
This newspaper gets the sense that our ageing Prime Minister is at a loss in finding a way out of the Coronavirus crisis.
Over the past five months, the New National Party (NNP) administration has failed to outline an action plan or programme to take the country out of the present dilemma and to set the economy on a trajectory for real growth and development.
The Prime Minister has been flip-flopping – one day he talks about rebuilding the economy with agriculture playing a more critical role and the next two weeks he is talking about investor confidence in what has collapsed due to the virus, passport selling and building hotels.
It is virtually impossible to see our hotels being able to absorb the hundreds of workers who have been laid off since March due to the fact that the worldwide travel industry has taken a serious hit from COVID.
The United States is our major source market for visitors and with the virus still raging in most of the States, it is foolhardy to expect tourist movement from up north.
Prime Minister Mitchell also has another major problem on his hand with the lack of talent within the Ministry of Finance itself.
There appears to be no stability within this key ministry that collects most of the revenue for the State.
Today Quinta Charles is the Accountant General, next week, she is the Acting Permanent Secretary in Finance, and in another two weeks she is out on vacation at a most critical time.
The same applies to the person who was brought in from retirement to act as Accountant General because in short order that individual is now allegedly serving in the capacity of Deputy PS Finance.
Today, long-serving civil servant Patricia Clarke is back at the helm in the Ministry of Finance – a lady who has served in that capacity before.
The departure of the trusted and long-serving Timothy Antoine from the post of PS Finance to take up the prestigious job of Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has resulted in instability in this key ministry that has not been adequately addressed.
THE NEW TODAY is forced to reiterate its call for the emergence of a much younger person to step forward to take over the affairs of running the country from Dr. Mitchell who has certainly passed his best years in public office.
Grenada is at the crossroads and needs a much younger leader who can be felt and be seen in person leading from in front with a clear programme for national development.
Our current leader has failed in the past five months to inspire hope in the nation with anything that can be felt as positive for the rebuilding of the economy due to the pandemic.
It is of concern to us that nothing much is happening in the country under the current NNP leadership where the economy is concerned.