As one gave thought to the presentations at the recently concluded budget debates, the prevailing thought of the lack of policy guidelines reverberated with each presentation. While Representative after Representative posited on achievements and accomplishments one could not help but observe, with some chagrin, the lack of workable solutions to very obvious problems plaguing all of the Constituencies and Grenada on a whole.

One after the other Parliamentary Representatives lamented the poor road conditions, the lack of adequate housing, problems within the education system, the poor health system, just to highlight a few. And while one could be sympathetic to the plight of the Leadership of the Country, the lack of properly laid plans, of policy guidelines to steer the country toward a point of economic stability, toward a decent standard of living for its Citizens, are glaringly lacking.

But alas, the thinking and utterances of one Parliamentary Representative might have provided proof of the way forward. Based on the utterances of the Minister of Foreign Affairs – we beg and then accept what is handed down to us. No policy is needed for that! In fact, according to her logic even if it means learning a new language, to quote her (a fervent Shortknee player) ‘you can’t play mas and ‘fraid powder’.

And following that same unfortunate line of thinking we can forsake Heritage, ignore Cultural customs and even disregard that which establishes our true Grenadian identity for some ‘huts by the lake’ or any other hand-outs we can successfully beseech another sovereign state to bestow upon us.

One can remain hopeful that the crass, astringent and insulting comments are withdrawn in the very near future, which will also signal the beginning of a new way of thinking, especially among those elected to represent the masses.

A health policy, for example, would see less lamenting in the Houses of Parliament about what people choose to eat, but instead well laid out plans that would influence the entire nation to consume more local and healthier foods. A health policy would also seek to influence the types of foods available to school kids and reduce on the import of processed and unhealthy foods. A policy would also set timelines and establish review methods to ensure effectiveness.

To just use the People’s House to complain is sadly an exercise in diminishing returns and a waste of time for all involved.

Conversely a Cultural Policy has already been approved by Cabinet, the challenge remains putting into effect the guidelines set out by the policy. So for example, the Cultural policy clearly states that ‘Our culture heritage is the platform on which we build our identity’, therefore reference to and consultation with the vanguards of the Cultural Policy might have resulted in the provision of some ‘huts’ in Grand Etang, that reflected our heritage and prevented the unfortunate comments of a Minister of Government, who represents an Independent and Sovereign State.

Another area that needs policy protection is the sector that deals with paying homage to and recognizing our stalwarts, our heroes, our citizens of substantial worth who have sacrificed immensely to represent and make Grenada proud. The present formula seems immersed in political agendas and as such we continue to do grave injustices to those duly deserving of proper recognition and at the same time deny Grenadians the opportunity to acquire more acknowledge of those who paved the way, those who make Grenada the delightful gem it can be, when we all remove the political blinders.

In recent times there have being calls for the renaming of the Maurice Bishop Highway to Eric Gairy in recognition for Gairy’s vision that led to the development of True Blue etc. And while one is not in any way questioning those who are now sounding the trumpets for Gairy’s recognition, the query has to be who named the highway after Bishop and what is the precedent and criteria for such doings.

Conversely, one can also question whether renaming Lagoon Road and the Round-a-Bout at Tropicana is appropriate for Kirani James and Alleyne Francique. Only a proper policy can provide directives in that regard and end the debate about the new Stadium which, with any criteria used will point to the obvious conclusion that, with what Kirani has done for Grenada he more than deserves to have his name emblazoned across the new facility not unlike what Trinidad has done for Hasley Crawford.

Laws and Acts are needed to govern the Country, however real and sustained progress can only be realized through policies, with strict guidelines, reporting mechanisms and accountability structures built-in. Another advantage of policies is the flexibility they provide to make changes in accordance with rapidly changing times, in a fast-paced Global Village.

Maybe, just maybe there is now the need for a policy to deal with erratic and nonsensical outbursts while conducting the business of the People. With built-in sanctions more of our Representatives might be more inclined to err on the side of caution by not uttering in public their sordid and warped thoughts.

The Late Maurice Bishop reminded us that we must move forward on our feet, not on our knees. One would also add that it is our hands that must feed us so in that case we would never have to worry about biting the hand of anyone else.

Dexter Mitchell – Proud Citizen of a Free and Independent Grenada





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