The New Today

Letters

Treasury funds financing NNP party strategy

The New National Party (NNP) is, without question, the most notorious political outfit in Grenada’s history for using taxpayers’ contributions to the State for the sustenance and electoral success of the party. Some ill-advised individuals have considered the practice as smart politics on the part of Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Could you imagine what the reaction of those same persons would be if they found out that rather than paying the utility bills, their teenage children redirected the home’s scarce financial resources from paying the home’s utility bills, as directed by their parents, to financing themselves and their college friends on a Kentucky fried chicken spree after school?

The bellowing disappointment of those parents would be heard throughout the country. They would be lamenting the irresponsible behaviour on the part of their kids. Parents would be expressing their bewilderment over the lack of accountability on the part of their kids whom they thought should have been endowed with a greater sense of practical sense.

Parents would, for a long time, remain confusingly perplexed by the exhibition of the absence of understanding of the principle of best interest by, their hitherto intelligent offspring – the future leaders of our society. And, undoubtedly, in many instances, those young adults will be pointed to the repercussions, real and potential, arising from their improper and unacceptable decisions and actions.

One of the possible and interesting features within the construct under discussion is that many of those parents characterised here have never extended the same level of thought and investigation when similar acts are committed by government. They appear to be even more dismissive of those unethical and unconstitutional actions, if they happen to belong to the party that is in government at the time.

Why are the reactions so different for the individual Grenadian when at the personal level in contrast to when he/she is at the civic and societal level? Who is culpable? Is there still hope for us to repair the problem?

A significant contributor to the problem is the artificial compartmentalisation process that has dominated the decision-making process of too many Grenadians to the extent that we have come to accept the appropriateness of an action to be determined by the regularity with which they have come to be accepted rather than by the basic test of right and wrong.

Over time, persons occupying positions of leadership encourage citizens to pay homage to their national leaders without insisting on the need to hold those same leaders responsible for the functions and roles that they must execute because of the very offices that they hold.

Let me hasten to establish that I am not advocating the disrespect of anyone. However, it is the holder of public and civic offices to act in ways that would attract respect to the offices that have been entrusted to them.

As a society, we cannot boast to have done justice in that regard. In fact, many of the unethical practices that threaten and erode our democracy are accepted as normal – so normal that we do not even notice their commission and the deleterious effects that they are having on our society.

We are made victims of the undemocratic and unconstitutional practices of politicians, once in control of the state power apparatus, continue to make decisions in the interest of their political party but use state funds to finance them.

The recent recall of former minister, Alexander Otway-Noel as an adviser to Prime Minister Keith Mitchell serves to demonstrate the point being made. On her recall, Mrs. Otway-Noel publicly declared that her mandate would take her across all sectors. More interestingly was her assertion that she had always remained loyal to the NNP cause.

Note as an adviser to the chief servant of the state, the Prime Minister, she did not highlight Grenada’s cause but she singularly referred to “the NNP cause”. That was very instructive. It is maybe not too late for the Leader of her Majesty’s Opposition, to request on the behalf of the people of Grenada an official copy of her terms of reference.

After all, notwithstanding her suggestion that she is in the service of the “NNP cause”, we, the people are of the understanding that she is a recipient of public funds in the form of salary and possibly other perks and that gives us the right to know for what we are paying her. Who knows? She might just be serving the “NNP cause” in retention as a candidate for the next general elections.

A more recent case is the appointment of Mr. Victor Phillip as a Parliamentary Secretary, a position that is paid for out of the State’s coffers – our national treasury. When the NNP chose Mr. Victor Phillip about two months ago as its caretaker for St. Patrick West it was a clear signal that he had received serious consideration for his candidacy at the upcoming general elections.

In a democracy, no one should take issue with that. However, the citizen may ask for the justification of appointing Mr. Phillip to the post of Parliamentary Secretary.

Let us quickly remind all and sundry that this appointment has taken place when thirteen of the fourteen NNP parliamentarians in the House of Representative and another three senators with ministerial postings. Given that reservoir of ministerial assets, what argument of justification can Prime Minister Keith Mitchell offer naming the gentleman as a parliamentary secretary?

The public is very clear that the decision to make Mr. Phillip a Parliamentary Secretary is purely party political. It is to further profile Mr. Phillip which is part of the long-term campaign strategy of the NNP. As Mrs. Otway-Noel would say, “…always serving the NNP cause.”

As Grenadians, we, too, must actively serve the Grenadian cause. We must make it abundantly clear that we refuse to continue to entertain any practice of using taxpayers’ contributions to the national coffers to pay for the electioneering actions of the NNP. I forcefully request that the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition to motion in parliament the people’s disgust, dissatisfaction and call to the NNP Government to immediately desist from using public funds to finance its electioneering strategies.

Clearly, the NNP cause is inconsistent with the Grenada cause. Simply put, the NNP cause is concerned with winning elections at any cost and, in the process, create a dysfunctional state. The NNP cause is tied up in the conscious effort of mongrelising our parliamentary and legal institutions.

The NNP cause is designed and being implemented in a manner to ensure our young people on leaving school are immediately retired to the retirement home of the IMANI. The NNP cause is the ultimate realisation of having an entire nation of people whose survival would be dependent on the extent to which they are willing to grovel at the feet of Dr. Mitchell.

In stark contrast, the Grenada cause is to make accommodation for everyone, irrespective of gender, age or socio-economic standing, to actively and meaningfully participate in our national reconstruction which must be undertaken if we are to erase the blueprints of Dr. Mitchell’s foundations of under-development.

The Grenada cause is the conscious push to establish and maintain that everyone must share from the fruits of our national labour based on merit and not political affiliations. The Grenada cause is about becoming self-reliant and applying suitable technologies to our domestic assets of spices, fruits, fisheries and the creativity of our people to grow wealth for our people.

The Grenada cause is rooted in constitutionality, rule of law and order, respect for our civic and democratic institutions so that our citizenry can go about their business in social harmony and without fear of reprisals of any kind.

We, the Grenadian people, must become more vigilant and interested in our country’s affairs. The times in which we live require that of us. What happens if you were to awake in the morning and discover that we have fourteen senators and not the constitutionally appointed thirteen?

Let us wake up and take charge of our future and our country!

Michael A. Church
Former Minister of The Environment, Foreign Trade and Cooperatives