THE 100 DAYS ALERT
Don't Just Listen To What They Say; Look At What They Do!!
Sister and brothers of Grenada, Thursday May 30th, 2013, marks 100 days since the New National Party (NNP) took over the reins of Government in our country on February 19th 2013. They did so amidst an atmosphere of hope and optimism among large sections of our population. That atmosphere of hope and optimism found its roots in the campaign promises of the NNP.
During the campaign, Grenadians were told that the real problem facing our country was mismanagement of the economy by the NDC administration.
The NNP Political Leader and now Prime Minister Mitchell told the nation that our present economic circumstances had nothing to do with the global economic crisis. The NDC government was incompetent, not doing anything and just didn't care.
The NNP promised the Grenadian people that a vote for the NNP would put an end to what they referred to as " the dark days of economic mismanagement, inertia, joblessness, no investments, lack of transparency and accountability, an end to uncaring government and a "jobs for boys" culture.
As the elections approached the NNP Leader promised Grenadians that once elected he would fix the problems:
Ø He had a plan to rescue Grenada-NNP TO THE RESCUE;
Ø The top priority of his Government was the building of "the new economy";
Ø This new economy would provide jobs for those who wish to work; JOBS, JOBS AND MORE JOBS;
Ø His Government would provide at least 1000 jobs in the first 100 days in office;
Ø The new economy would provide business opportunities for those who choose to invest; INVESTORS ARE ALL LINED UP WAITING TO COME
Ø The new economy would provide opportunity for wealth creation and prosperity for those who are prepared to sacrifice and play by the rules.
Ø In the new economy, we would give the young people what they want.
Ø Each young person would be given a tablet (computer)
WE WILL DELIVER!!!!!
The NNP got the majority of the Grenadian electorate to buy what they were selling.
· In our first public appearance following the general elections, we of the NDC pointed out that in our view, NNP had sold Grenadians a fairy tale during the election campaign and now elected, they would be trying as hard as they could to dance out of the fairy tale promises.
· Within a matter of weeks of winning the elections the NNP Leadership began to change their tune
· Before the Election they were saying
“WE WILL DELIVER”.
Now, they are saying:
Ø BE PATIENT;
Ø IT WILL TAKE TIME;
Ø WE HAVE TO SHARE THE BURDEN;
Ø WE ARE LIVING BEYOND OUR MEANS;
Ø IT REQUIRES SACRIFICE ON EVERYBODY'S PART;
Ø THE ECONOMY IS STILL SUFFERING FROM THE RAVAGES OF HURRICANES IVAN AND EMILY;
Ø GRENADA CONTINUES TO BE VERY NEGATIVELY AFFECTED BY THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS
Ø THE PROBLEMS THEY ENCOUNTERED UPON ASSUMING OFFICE WERE OF A GREATER MAGNITUDE THAN THEY HAD EXPECTED
· At the same time, in an attempt to keep the public's confidence, they continued doling out more promises to the nation. Prime Minister Mitchell promised:
Ø There would be no witch-hunt of civil servants
Ø Immediate steps would be taken to cut out waste and reduce expenditure
Ø People who were working on contract would be allowed to complete their contracts
Ø Priority would be given to creating jobs and opportunities for the youth
Ø Everyone would be included in nation building regardless of political affiliation once they had the competence and were willing to work.
Ø Our democratic institutions would be protected and respected.
Ø The new government would work closely with the private sector in nation building.
· It is no secret that the first 100 days in office was set up by the NNP as a watershed by which it would distinguish itself from the NDC- in terms of what it would do and not do.
· The 100 days are now upon us. It is therefore an appropriate time for us to take stock of what has happened since the NNP came into office on February 19, 2013.
· At this time Grenadians must ask themselves whether Dr. Keith Mitchell and the NNP have so far kept their promises to the nation and whether that government can be taken at its word.
· We must ask ourselves:
ü Where are the 1000 jobs that the Prime Minister and the NNP promised to deliver in the first 100 days?
ü What are the projects that this caring NNP government has brought to Grenada so as to create jobs for the young people?
ü Where are the investors that were lined up waiting to come in to invest in new projects once the NNP won the election?
ü Where is the plan that the NNP told the nation they had to rescue Grenada
· We in the NDC have expressed the view that the NNP gave Grenadians “basket to carry water” during the election campaign.
· That is why we in the NDC say:
DON'T JUST LISTEN TO WHAT HE SAYS; LOOK AT HE DOES.
· However, in the end, it is for Grenadians to judge for themselves. We in the NDC have been following the developments since February 19th 2013 and the following is what we have heard and seen in the first 100 days of the NNP in office:
TREATMENT OF PUBLIC WORKERS
"There will be no witch- hunt of public officers."
· Within 24 hours of being sworn in as Prime Minister, it was reported that the PM advised the Commissioner of Police told "I can't work with you”. The Commissioner was subsequently sent on an undetermined period of long leave as is still being paid as Commissioner, while another officer is being paid to act as Commissioner of Police
· For no stated reason, the Cabinet Secretary , who was appointed under the former administration was sent on administrative leave and replaced by one of the Permanent Secretaries whom it is felt is less experienced and less capable to act in the role.
· The head of the Department of Immigration who led a program of reform at the department resulting in that Department been recognized as one of the best run departments in the world was removed from the Department and given a desk at the fire station.
· The Officer in Charge of FIU was told by a junior officer that he had to hand over the keys for the FIU office to him within 48 hrs of the swearing in of the PM. He has since been shipped to Carriacou.
· There has been a continuous shifting around of established and appointed public officers and the public service is in a state of uneasiness. In every ministry there have been staff movement at all levels- SAOs, AOs, SECRETARIES, EXECUTIVE OFFICERS AND CLERKS. The ministry most affected is Ministry of National Security, Public Administration and Home Affairs, Disaster Management where the majority of the staff has been changed.
· The net result of this is that more than 80 middle level and senior public officers have been moved in the last 2 months affecting the operation of almost every ministry.
· Some Permanent secretaries have been effectively marginalized and placed in ministries and departments viewed as lesser in importance because they are believed to be supporting the NDC.
· Three (3) senior public officers perceived as NDC supporters have been returned to their substantive posts as acting Clerk of Parliament and Acting Permanent Secretaries.
· At the same time, there have been a number of appointments to the public sector- in the Ministry of Information. So far, at least 4 appointments have been made, including the high level appointment of at least two journalists who have done little to disguise their allegiance to the NNP.
· In Carriacou, it is reported that letters of dismissal were issued to Vote 340 employees perceived to be NDC supporters, some of whom had in excess of 5 years service in Government.
· The constant movement of these officers has resulted in an unsettled feeling among public servants. Tension is high and morale is low. This is affecting productivity in the public sector at a time when every dollar counts.
MOVES TO CUT OUT WASTE AND REDUCE EXPENDITURE
"As a country, we have spent more than we can afford on current operations...The size of government has grown beyond our capacity to sustain. While in Opposition, time and again, we cautioned against expanding the government bureaucracy. The new economy requires that Government puts its fiscal house in order. That process must begin now. With laser-like focus, I have led a determined effort to cut recurrent expenditure in the preparation of the budget"......To facilitate economic revival, it is imperative that government cuts wasteful expenditure. We have commenced this cutting exercise."
· 18 ministers of Government have been appointed- 12 elected MP'S and 6 parliamentary Secretaries who hold ministerial portfolios.
· There are 2 Cabinet Secretaries.
· There are 2 Commissioners of Police
· There are 2 Commissioners of Prisons
· Despite all the talk about the NDC wasting money on overseas travel, to date the Ministers have been traveling frequently and on occasions with sizeable delegations. The PM recently travelled to Necker Island, BVI accompanied by 2 Permanent Secretaries, technical officers and his Press Secretary.
· Government is currently paying full salary and allowances to 2 highly paid officers, the Cabinet Secretary and the Commissioner of Police while they are at home and paying the persons who occupy the positions.
· Persons who are sent home before the end of their contracts have to be paid full salary and allowances to the end of the contract, in one case the contract had more than 1 year to completion.
· At least 3 Parliamentary Representatives are paid full salary and allowances as ministers of Government while they have no ministries to report to.
· The number of persons carrying Blackberry smart phones paid for by government has more than doubled.
· Despite all the criticism of the NDC, the NNP administration has found Jobs for the boys on an unprecedented scale:
Ø The hiring of Ashley "Ram" Folkes as Commissioner of Prisons,
Ø Winston Gabriel in the Ministry of Works,
Ø Ann David Antoine as Advisor on Health,
Ø Joslyn Whiteman as Ambassador to London,
Ø Claris Charles as Ambassador to Cuba
Ø Former Senator Karl Caton rehired in the police force as an inspector and placed in charge of the Sauteurs police station.
HANDLING OF CONTRACT WORKERS IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE
"People would be allowed to complete their contracts"..We have kept our promise so far of saving the jobs of everyone......We have repeatedly said that our approach to building this nation is not to replace one band of workers with another..."
· Aside from persons whose appointments may be viewed as political, several contract officers who provided important service to the various ministries have had their contracts abruptly terminated and sent home- even though this would have to have been done at a cost to Government, in some cases where the workers had to be pay in lieu of the notice period under the contract.
· Among those who were sent home are
Ø Community Liaison Officer at the BNTF,
Ø Building Technologist at the BNTF,
Ø Project Manager- SEED
Ø Program Manager, Department of Energy
Ø Chief Technical Officer, Ministry of Works
Ø Director of ICT
Ø Program Manager, MAREP
Ø Supervisors of the Youth Empowerment Program
Ø Outreach Officers
THE TREATMENT OF THE YOUTH
Priority will be given to creating jobs and opportunities for the youths"....The future of our country is at stake. Our nation is in serious risk of losing a generation of our young people if we do not act swiftly and decisively.....Our young people need education, training, scholarships, jobs and opportunity. Above all, they need hope."
· 1,500 youths under the Youth Upliftment Programme were sent home.
· Thousands of youths were called up to the Grenville Bus Terminus after incurring expenses for photograph, photo copies and transportation only to be told that there were insufficient forms for registration. They are now been told that they have to call for an interview. The telephone numbers they were given to call are constantly busy.
· The PM and the Minister for Youth both pretended to be surprised that the number of youths who showed up at the bus terminus exceeded the 2,000 to 2,500 they had provided for, after they increased the age limit to 38 and at least 4,000 persons showed up.
· To date, the young people are still awaiting the promised Laptops which would later be switched to Tablets.
· There has been rehiring of retired persons including the Commissioner of Police, the Commissioner of Prisons, the Chief Technical Officer in the Ministry of Works, and the Advisor on Health, and ambassadors to London, Venezuela and Cuba. Some of these persons are reported to be in receipt of as many as 3 monthly pensions. No consideration was given to hiring young, educated, bright, competent persons who are unemployed and without an income. And this is done by a government that claims to be committed to providing opportunities for young talented people to advance themselves. This is cronyism, plain and simple.
CREATION OF CONSTRUCTION JOBS
"At least 1,000 construction jobs will be created within the first 100 days in office of the NNP....I am pleased to announce that Government will deliver on its promise to start the Agriculture Feeder Roads Project Phase II within 100 days of our assumption of office. This project will commence in May 2013."
· To date, not a single construction job has been created.
· Since the swearing in of the cabinet, first the Minister of Works said within 3 weeks CCC workers would be seen on the job, then the PM announced that the CCC project will commence in May. To date no work has begun and there is no sign of any new activity at the Asphalt plant/ quarry at Mt. Hartman.
· While a so called launching ceremony of the project has taken place, it has been the practice of the NNP over the years to stage launches to give the impression that work is about to begin only to discover that nothing happens.
· All works on community development and housing projects were halted and directives were given to remove all material on the sites to some central location. To date there has been no resumption of work and no official word on the storage and safe keeping of the material.
· All de-bushing and road repair works have been halted since the election.
MANAGEMENT OF THE ECONOMY AND ATTRACTING INVESTORS
"NDC can't manage the economy or attract investors. Only NNP can take Gre nada out of its present economic woes".
· Within the first 6 weeks of taking office the PM and Minister of Finance announced that Grenada stopped paying its debts, telling the world that the NNP Government just couldn’t repay its debt and they would be seeking debt restructuring.
· While he has said nothing about this to the Grenadian people, at a recent cabinet press briefing held in Trinidad he indicated to Trinidadians and the rest of the world that Grenada would be going to the IMF for an IMF program. This will no doubt have important implications for wages, taxes, employment and business in Grenada.
· To date, the unpaid claims in the treasury, which the Prime Minister reported was $92 million, remains unpaid. The private sector will look with interest to see how this administration manages this matter, since they made so much propaganda over it while in opposition
· Investors were reported to be lined up and just waiting on the NNP to assume office. Since the elections, there have been no signs or reports of any projects coming from these lined-up investors. Shortly after an overseas trip the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Business announced that most of the investments so far are in the real estate sector. It should be noted that this Government Minister has more than just a passing interest in the real estate sector! On a radio programme he announced that the Government will be seeking to attract investors. when a caller to the programme told him she was a bit confused because the investors were supposed to be lined up and waiting to come after the elections, he told her those who were lined up are already here but he is referring to additional ones they now have to attract. One is left to conclude that these investors are an invisible group of people.
POLITICAL INCLUSION AND NATIONAL UNITY
There will be inclusion of all regardless of political persuasion once you have the competence and you are willing to work........The elections are over. The task before each of us is to build a nation of which we can all be proud not just for ourselves, but for our children and grandchildren. As a small nation, Grenada needs all her sons and daughters in this task of nation building."
· The effective appointment of two members of the same household- husband and wife- on 5 boards- GRENLEC, NIS, NAWASA, POSTAL CORP AND HOUSIG AUTHORITY.
· The appointment of a Director on the Board of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) whose family members have financial interests in a company which owes over $10.0 million to the NIS and is currently in arrears to the NIS in respect of its debt service obligations.
· Persons with experience and training in corporate governance were replaced by inexperienced NNP supporters as a reward for their loyalty to the party.
· Appointments to the state boards are being used as a source of financial reward to NNP supporters.
· In at least two (2) cases persons -known to be very close to the NNP- with questionable past experiences with certain state enterprises- as former board member or employee) were appointed to the boards of the same enterprises. This, no doubt will affect the morale of the workers in these entities.
· The termination of the security contracts of the company responsible for security at the botanical gardens and their replacement by persons close to the NNP.
· The termination of employment of many persons who are believed to be supporters of the NDC.
RESPECT FOR DEMOCRACY AND NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
"We have restored the value and worth of all local institutions not just in words, but in deeds....A fresh breeze of democracy (sic) is blowing through our dear land."
· To date, over 100 officers ( more than 10% of the police force) have been subjected to internal transfers some of which is reported to be the result of undue pressure been placed on the Police High Command.
· The failure or refusal to send an official invitation to the Former Governor General Sir Carlyle Glean to the swearing in ceremony for the new Governor General in a timely way resulting in him being called upon publicly in a certain newspaper known to be supportive of the NNP administration to account for his absence from the swearing in ceremony for the new Governor General when in fact an official invitation was not even sent to him. To date there has been no official apology to this statesman.
· There was the report of the recent spying incidents at two private meetings of the NDC. This was followed by the denial by the Police Force of any spying on the NDC. The statement from the police also included an admission that plain clothes officers were at the scene of the meetings.
· The recent rehiring of the candidate for the NNP in the 2008 elections for the St. Patrick East constituency into the Police Force and his placement as Officer in Charge of the police station in the said constituency.
· A police officer who was reportedly dismissed for stealing gasoline was rehired in the force.
· Moves are afoot to reincorporate into the police service an officer who was removed from the force due to the demoralizing effect of his presence on other officers who are aware of his guilty plea and conviction for the crime of forgery
· There is no full time Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Business. This comes with the announcement in the budget of the appointment of a Committee headed by the Attorney General to oversee the sale of Grenadian passports.
· Effective dismantling of the FIU
WORKING CLOSELY WITH ALL STAKE HOLDERS IN NATION BUILDING
"In this period of economic revival, our mantra ought to be consultation before con frontation."
· No prior discussions with the owners of the Rivera Hotel, but an announcement was made in the budget that the hotel will be developed by investors who are ready to commence bringing construction jobs that were promised. The owners are reported to be taking legal action to protect their interests in the said property. This may very likely lead to the state having to pay compensation more than is necessary which is a repeat of the NNP's way of doing business in a high handed manner.
· No consultation with the public and in particular the religious community on the Government granting casino licenses which was presented in the budget as a final decision made by the Government.
· Despite all the support which the NNP then in opposition had given to the unions when WAGE negotiations were taking place with the NDC administration, now that the NNP has to implement the agreement for salary increases they are demanding an extension of time to the point where teachers at an area meeting to discuss the issue walked out in disgust over the attitude of the Government representatives.
Sisters and brothers, a careful review of the record of Prime Minister Mitchell and the NNP administration shows clearly, that they cannot be taken at their word. They have embarked on a massive game of conmanship, with the intention of deceiving the Grenadian people.
We are in for a very rough ride with this administration and Grenadians must brace themselves for it. We expect that it will get worse with no assurance that it will get better under this NNP administration. It is important that Grenadians unite and hold the Government accountable for its actions and promises. After all, Grenada belongs to all of us, including the over 22,000 who voted against the NNP and the thousands who chose not to register to vote or to vote. Grenada does not belong to the NNP. It is true that the majority of the Grenadian electorate elected the NNP to form the Government. However, they are expected to govern the country in the best interest of all Grenadians- not only those who voted for the NNP.
We must say:
· NO to Deceit!
· NO to Victimization!
· NO to Spite!
· NO to Vindictiveness!
· NO to intimidation!
We call on all patriotic and democratically minded Grenadians to speak up against what is happening before it gets out of hand.