Home

OPPOSITION LEADER ADDRESS TO THE NATION

E-mail Print PDF
Image
DR. THE RT HON. KEITH MITCHELL
The Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, Dr. the RT Hon. Keith Mitchell on Thursday, August 26th, 2010

 
Ladies and Gentlemen, Brothers and Sisters, Fellow Grenadians,
 
As we begin our third year of service to the nation in the role of members of Our Majesty’s Opposition, and as we close the festive carnival season, I take this opportunity to address you on what has transpired in our nation during the last two years.
 
After observing these two years of backward movement, of broken promises, of internal turmoil and confusion, two years of missed opportunities coupled with a downright disregard for the welfare of the Grenadian people, and in particular the poor and vulnerable among us, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot keep silent, that it is very important to address you on the current state of affairs in our dearly beloved country.
 
Fellow Grenadians,
 
No one can honestly doubt that two years ago things were looking much better than they look today.  The prospects for continued growth and development were very promising indeed. In spite of the international situation then, and the problems we faced, things were generally looking bright.  Several projects were on stream and several were in the pipeline, ready to start. There were very positive projections for employment generation and for continued social and economic development. Confidence in the country was indeed high.  Investors were paying attention and were willing to invest.  Today things are totally different.  Since this present Government took office, some of these flagship projects have been stalled, some are left in limbo and some have been stopped before they could see the light of day. Unemployment and underemployment have increased; the mood of the nation has become very negative. In short sisters and brothers, the nation is really down, down, and the prospects for the next three years are not looking good,
 
The challenge before us is daunting. There are troubling times ahead. As a people, we need to prepare ourselves to weather even more difficult times should there be another three years, god forbids of this bad economic management, lack of foresight and poor governance. But though the prospects are gloomy we know as a people that we are a strong and resilient. We have come through tough times before and we have emerged victorious. Though the prospects are gloomy and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, we must live with the confidence that we indeed shall overcome.
 
But while you the people are forced to endure this darkness, I wish to renew to you my unwavering commitment to keep you informed on all important developments and where possible to advise you on ways and means of surviving this unprecedented social and economic meltdown ( for what is happening can only be described as a meltdown).
 
In the midst of this season of despair, I wish to give the assurance that with the help of the good lord that I will be with you in the struggle until better times are here.
 
In order to help you to fully understand why we are in this mess today, it is important to undertake a recollection of the actions of the present Government, and of course not forgetting its inaction, procrastination and almost complete paralysis when critical action and decision-making are required.  
 
I could have conveniently timed this address to take advantage of the presence of visitors during the Carnival season.  But I refuse to internationalize embarrassing information that could harm the image of this country further. I absolutely refuse to do as others did before as they tried to gain cheap political points in their time.   I refuse to damage the image of my country by employing gutter politics and malicious propaganda. We, of the New National Party will always uphold the responsibility of putting Grenada first…not only in words but in deed.
 
Though our roles are reversed, the NNP Party conducts itself with utmost responsibility, respect and patriotism.  We shall not condone and shall not engage in the character assassination that is the regular practice of the other side. We view that kind of behaviour as being unproductive and destructive.  In fact, in some matters of political discourse we allow the people of the country to take the lead.  They are the ones that are crying out for better governance as they openly express their frustration and regret.
 
Back in 2008 when the wind of change was blowing regionally and internationally, we knew that we were up against stiff odds.  In addition, the propaganda machine of the then opposition NDC and their backers were full in gear. Lies and half truths were openly propagated and often repeated.  Most significant of all was the claim by the present Government, when they were in opposition, that my government was corrupt and a number of us would be jailed if and when they got into power.  That was the ‘biggest lie’ that fooled a large number of people and undermined the integrity of our administration.
 
They employed everything in their arsenal to paint an ugly picture in the minds of the people.  Their strategy was to destroy the credibility of the leadership of the NNP, because they all agreed that they could not contest us on issues relating to performance and governance.  They privately acknowledged the achievements of our Government and tactfully decided not to debate such.  So they embarked on a programme of lies and innuendoes. This has now backfired enormously.
 
They got the keys to the country on the basis of those lies, and a whole range of empty promises.  Integrity, accountability, transparency and good governance became NDC’S promise and clarion call.  But in only two years they have proved that they cannot honestly lay claim to these virtuous principles. They have all begun to unravel. They are now showing the nation the full extent of their shortcomings and the darkest side of their political character.
 
My dear Brothers and Sisters, This Government has failed miserably to deliver on its promises to all segments of the population, including our farmers and market vendors, our teachers, our business owners, our medical workers, our public servants, our fishermen and fish vendors, our road workers, our bus owners and operators, our Police men and women and the workers in private sector organizations. In fact, every segment of our population and sector of the economy is now feeling the impact of those empty promises and broken dreams.  Even their promises to the students and young people of the country have not been kept.
 
We are now very familiar with the lamentations, the cries of the farmers as they are unable to find a market for their crops. Many market vendors say they are forced to return home with the goods that they take to market, making it difficult for them to support themselves and their children.  We see empty buses plying our roads; they are suffering the effects of the drop in economic activity obviously. It is widely known that as a result some are unable to service their loans. Again the net result is destitution and an inability to make ends meet.  We see construction workers sitting on the blocks all day, because they can find nothing to do. We see fishermen and fish vendors with fish they are unable to sell because people are unable to buy, when we go into the stores we see clerks and sales staff standing or sitting idly by because there are no customers, some of them are even asleep. These are signs of the malaise that is now affecting our country. The pain of this economic disaster is like an octopus with tentacles that reach everywhere throughout the length and breath of our country.  It is like a virus that leaves no one untouched.
 
My dear Brothers and Sisters, we have to pray together and work together to ensure that this meltdown does not continue or else before too long our population will be in a very sorry state indeed, if we have not reached there already.
 
Fellow Grenadians
 
Tell me, who among us can honestly say that we are better of today than we were two years ago? Tell me honestly, who among us can honestly say that the prospects for growth and development are better today than they were two years ago? The plain truth is that we are all worse off and the prospects for the immediate future are not good; only the few privileged boys are enjoying this today.
 
Today because of this Government’s misguided policies; including the introduction of a 15% Value added tax in the worst of economic times, the people have to contend with continuous price hikes and a consequent reduction in their standard of living. The fact is that the Governments tax policies have not worked and will not work. They have been hurting people and they have stifled economic activity.  In particular, they have badly affected everyone especially the poor and marginalized
 
To add insult to injury, this Government has spitefully and indiscriminately disbanded or altered some of the fruitful programmes our Government implemented which had a focus on the poor and the unemployed. The IMANI programme and the food basket Scheme were good examples.  They are in fact victimizing both the young and the old, while continuing to worsen our people’s economic plight.  People all over the country are saying that this Government should have move beyond the talk and the blame, and take measures to halt this steep decline a long time ago. But now obviously confidence is gone. People are just waiting, hoping for an end to this state of disaster.
 
The open question is: Does the present administration have what it takes to lead this country out of this mess that is in large measure, its own making?  And I follow up by asking:  When will these jokers realize that they are causing serious injury to people’s lives?  When will they stop the Tom Foolery and uphold the responsibility they were given to serve the people of this land?  When will they stop making excuses for their incompetence by pointing fingers at Keith Mitchell, the New National Party and the so-called global economy?  This Government is running the risk of being remembered in the annals of our history as being the first administration to be more destructive than constructive causing more economic damage than hurricanes Janet, Ivan and Emily combined.
 
They were forewarned going into the elections of 2008 by the New National Party that  running this country, especially in these times, calls for experience, competence, fortitude and love – none of which they unfortunately possess.  We must note that economic problems did not begin when the NDC came into Office. Our Government has also had to face such problems, but because of our skilful management and our undying love for the people we were able to achieve success with our initiatives. As experienced and competent leaders we must address problems with confidence and vision. Every leader and every leadership must expect to face challenges. To sit back and complain or blame will not help. Throughout history my dear friends, it has taken leadership with vision and confidence to lead nations out of hardship. Great leaders know instinctively that complaining will not work.
 
Fellow Grenadians, in this situation, our Party could have chosen to sit back and go through the motions while the pretenders in government self-destruct.  But that is not what we are made of.  That is not why we chose to be of service to this Blessed country of ours.  We pride ourselves on being able to deliver, and will do what a good Opposition Party does in seeking the people’s interest.
 
The claim on the ground is that some of these guys are more interested in power than in people. Their desire is to exert the same kind of control as they did in the days of the revolution, when they had total control over the media, police, and legal system.  But they should know that the world today is different and that the things that some of them did and will love to do, are now frowned upon at home and by the international community.
The realities of 2010 are far different from those of 1979. Therefore, when Gregory Bowen had to face trumped-up charges by a notorious Gold digger, some of the present Government members joined in the mischief by attempting to make Gregory the villain. They did so even when Grenada stood to lose if justice was not served.  They have proved time and time again that they really don’t care about the image of Grenada as well as the concerns of Grenadians.  They know only one thing and that is to ‘destroy and rule’ - Power it's all about.  They did all that they could in making it world-wide news when they were spreading their propaganda. Now that Gregory is vindicated there is a loud silence as if directed by a serious gag order.
 
I have repeatedly advocated that the provisions of the Integrity in Public Life legislation, particularly with regard to the declaration of public assets be observed by all and sundry. That request continues to be ignored even though our present administration promised transparency, accountability and all others. There must be something in the mortar other than the pestle.  Maybe there are personal holdings that cannot be disclosed.
 
Imagine my dear brothers and sisters, in these hard times, this government has decided to create more ministries and jobs for the Boys and Girls, to the extent that in two years the wage bill has increased by approximately 8.0 million dollars monthly, even without an increase in public servants pay, Policeman and teachers salaries, and at a time when the wages of road workers have been cut and more and more people are forced to survive on less. The very sad thing about it is, there has not been a commensurate increase in productivity and production. In a very real sense, this is money down the drain.
 
Members of this administration are travelling all over the world with delegations that are bigger than those of bigger richer countries.  In only two years they are close to spending more on travel and advances than my administration spent in thirteen years.  Our people have wised up to this gamesmanship and will not be held spell-bound by a government that talks the talk, but does not walk the walk.
 
I was heartened when a well-wisher recently said to me “Dr. Mitchell thank God that your Government did an excellent job of developing this country and putting us on auto-pilot, because in spite of all the foolishness done by the jokers we have in government today,  we are still able to ride on the successes of the former administration”.  I can relate to countless similar expressions of gratitude and love but time would not permit me, and I am certain that all of you can appreciate the sentiment conveyed.
 
My dear Sisters and Brothers, this Government is certainly is not living up to its promises. It is doing a poor job in all respects, and it is our responsibility as Our Majesty’s Opposition to report it. An opposition is therefore bound to be a watchdog and a partner. We will fulfil these roles to the best of our ability.
 
Poor governance and lack of business acumen as exhibited by the Government’s botched handling of the Zublin Grenada Ltd. Renaissance proposal, the mishandling of the Louis Hamilton Grand Beach project proposal, the stalled CDB Grenville Project, the stalled Kuwaiti funded CCC Farm Roads project, the stalled Sauteurs Port Development project, and the now stalled Athletic Stadium’s reconstruction – to name a few. The experience and knowledge needed in negotiating major business deals cannot be conveniently co-opted, especially among cohorts.  This is an insular, ad-hoc wishful thinking approach that they are pursuing. Therefore, you either have it or you don’t, and it is quite obvious, that they don’t have it ….Plain and simple.
 
I am reliably informed that Prospective investors, who have sought consultation with some senior Government ministers have come away appalled at the naivety and lack of insight. I am merely reporting what is now public knowledge.  My Brothers and Sisters, embarrassed as I am, my compassionate side reaches out, but these are serious times and there is just too much at stake.
 
This government really does not have the people’s interest at heart and continues to send the wrong message.  A case in point is that they have refused to give experienced and qualified citizens the opportunity to serve. They have kept them out or sent them away on the basis of cheap political considerations.
 
Did we hear somewhere and at sometime that there would be no victimization? What has really been the case?
 
This Government has done a disservice to our country, by maliciously creating a climate of mistrust and corruption in the political arena….a mess that others will have to clean up.  And by gaining power through lies and propaganda, they are dangerous examples for our young people and aspiring politicians.
 
When a government obtains office and attempts to operate on the basis of lies, it is doomed to FAIL. You cannot build a good thing on an evil foundation.
 
Fellow Grenadians
 
Is spite of this grave situation, I am of the belief that as patriots we must all contribute our best to the fulfilment of the Grenadian dream.
 
Let us therefore commit ourselves to the task ahead.  Let us renew our commitment to make the relevant sacrifices and to faithfully and selflessly serve our beautiful people as we look towards a new and brighter day.
 
Let us go forward with the conviction that "EVER CONSCIOUS OF GOD, WE SHALL BUILD AND ADVANCE AS ONE PEOPLE"
 
May the God Bless our beautiful people
 
Thank you
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 September 2010 09:03