April 23, 2014

Grenada PM defends government, says ‘ready for the fight’

Grenadian leader Tilman Thomas

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has reiterated his support for the economic direction of the Grenada government, warning that he would singlehandedly defend his administration’s record if he has to.

Thomas, who is also leader of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), issued the warning on Wednesday in his contribution to the 2012 budget debate.

In three days of debate, criticism was leveled at the budget by some NDC Members of Parliament.

They complained about being unfairly attacked by some of their own party members, and appealed to government to try and meet the constant demand of Grenadians for more jobs, and for the adoption of measures to ease the cost of living burden.

However, the prime minister defended the budget, calling it “realistic,” “positive” and “fair,” as well as “unique in its sincerity and sensitivity to the Grenadian people.”

“We have done a fairly good job for this nation,” Thomas said of his NDC administration, which was elected to office in July 2008.

“I am proud of the record of the National Democratic Congress. We have implemented over 80 percent of our manifesto.”

Thomas said he is “ready for the fight” to defend his government’s record, even if he has to do it alone.

“Unfortunately,” he charged, “not all members are enthusiastic to take on the fight in the national interest.”

In his presentation on Wednesday morning, Tourism Minister Peter David appealed for an end to political “tribalism,” urging that efforts be made at achieving national consensus and national unity.

But Thomas downplayed the idea of tribalism. Not because one is “competitive,” said Thomas, “doesn’t make you tribal.”

Thomas reserved his most scathing attack for the opposition New National Party (NNP). He listed several projects with which the NNP was involved while in government, and which left many outstanding debts in the name of the state.

Thomas accused the former government of “negligence” and “reckless conduct,” and of inflicting “major economic injustices” on the Grenadian people.

House Speaker George McGuire was forced to call for order as the prime minister and opposition leader, Keith Mitchell, exchanged remarks directly at each other.

NDC backbencher Michael Church, MP for St John, also rose on a point of order when the prime minister, in attempting to demonstrate that his party was inclusive of all members, said Church was invited to be part of the discussions on the budget.

“I was never part of the budget discussions,” said former environment minister Church, who resigned from government in 2010.

He said last Friday evening, Cabinet Secretary, Gemma Bain-Thomas, invited him to attend a meeting on March 10, one day after the budget presentation by Finance Minister Nazim Burke.

Church said not only was the invitation late, but he told the Cabinet Secretary that she knew the way he was “treated” when he sat in cabinet before his resignation.

The budget was passed with seven NDC MPs voting in favour, with all four opposition parliamentarians casting negative votes.

Four MPs were absent during the voting. They were Church; Labour Minister Glynis Roberts; Youth Empowerment and Sports Minister, Patrick Simmons; and Housing and Lands Minister, Alleyne Walker.

Caribbean News Now

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