VOLUME 1 NO. 1 WEEK ENDING JUNE 13, 1981 Price 50¢
E D I T O R I A L
THE GRENADIAN VOICE has been born of the express wish of countless citizens, in every stratum of life in our community, for an independent newspaper as a symbol of freedom of expression, as a vehicle dealing with the issues of our time in a frank, free and unbiassed (sic) way, and as a medium to champion causes which may not be championed elsewhere.
The policy of this paper is to practice the highest standard of journalism, to encourage and promote freedom of expression in a free Grenada; to raise and ventilate issues which are important to the progress and development of our country, our nation and our people; to assist in creating an informed public opinion; to support those policies and programmes of Government which, in our opinion, are beneficial to the nation and the people as a whole - but to be ready to counsel caution or offer constructive criticism when we differ from Government.
Our principle is to keep our columns open to the widest freedom of expression within the limits of the law and the bounds of good taste while retaining the ancient editorial right to make the final decision regarding articles, letters or any other material which will appear in our newspaper.
Our legal right to exist as a newspaper, and our careful compliance with the requirements of the law, are dealt with on pages 3 and 4. Our moral right is dealt with here.
As declared by the leaders of Government when they assumed power, and frequently since, FREEDOM is what the events of March 13th 1979 are all about. If the appellation "FREE" attached to the important public media owned and controlled by Government - a newspaper, a radio station and a television station - is to mean anything, then it is important that Government shows that freedom is for all the people and not only for certain sections. It is only in this way that all Grenadians can be united to move forward together, for indeed, a united people can never be defeated!!
We wish to state categorically that we have neither the wish nor the intent to sponsor, motivate or support counter-revolution in any form. We reject the perpetuation of the idea of the use of force as a means of changing Government and look to the People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) to keep its promise of "early, free and fair elections".
We reject, even at this stage, any potential charge of destabilisation. We do not, in any way, see the publication of a free and independent newspaper, nor even the criticizing of Government, as acts of destabilisation. In fact, we hold firmly to the opinion that a country which does not boast a free press is fundamentally unstable.
More than this, we believe that the PRG, in the absence of a Parliamentary Opposition, should welcome the advent of THE GRENADIAN VOICE as a vehicle through which the Administration will have the benefit of a flow of independent ideas.
We have no axe to grind except the axe of the people who want a medium for free expression; of the people who want unit, peace and progress for our country; of the people who want to be free to enjoy the rights and privilages (sic) which, with public support, were demanded by members of the PRG themselves in the turbulent years of 1973/74; of the people who want to be able to participate in a meaningful way in the decision making process in our country.
It is this context that we have proudly adopted and nailed to our masthead the memorable and inspiring motto which was created so many years ago by that great Grenadian, Theophilus Albert Marryshow, the acknowledged Prince of WestIndian journalism, "The right alone is right, the wrong is always wrong!"
These, then, are the tenets of our creed!! This is where we stand!! And this is our opening statement to which all the original shareholders of our Company are proud to subscribe their names:-
Rawle A. Charles
Benedict La Qua
Many patriotic Grenadians are concerned about the state of free expression in our free Grenada and feel there should be another voice besides the one expressed in the "Free West Indian", the voice of the Government of the day.
Some of these persons (whose names appear on page 2) acting in the best interest of their beloved country, and in compliance with the law of the land, got together and formed themselves into a Company called "Spice Island Printers Ltd." One of the object of this Company is publication of a newspaper under provisions of the Newspaper Ordinance as amended, and "The Grenadian Voice" is that Company's publication under and by virtue of the Laws of Grenada.
The Newspaper Ordinance Chapter 197, sections 3,6 & 11 of the Laws of Grenada, contained in Volume II, page 2584, lays down the conditions which must be met before publication. Section 14 of the same chapter sets out the requirements which must be met after a newspaper has been published and there are certain general requirements which must be met under Peoples Law Number 81 of 1979. Details of these requirements are set out on page 4.
With reference to the requirements which must be met before publication, the law has been complied with in every detail and, concerning those to be met after publication, the Company will scrupulously fulfil every demand of the Law.
With particular reference to Peoples Law Number 81, as will be seen on page 2, there are more than 25 shareholders in the Company, and as is recorded at the Registry, no shareholder holds more than 4% of the paid-up share capital of the Company. In fact, the Memorandum filed with the Registrar, the Company's Constitution, sets out requirements which ensure that the Law is complied with.
First, the Memorandum stipulates that no one can every hold more than 4% of the Company's shares. Further, it is laid down that no foreigner, foreign company or foreign partnership may hold any shares in the Company and Spice Island Printers Ltd. cannot amalgamate with, hold or acquire shares in any foreign Company.
Spice Island Printers Ltd. has been conceived as a vehicle to satisfy the need and desire of Grenadians for free expression of their opinions. The implementation of this concept has been achieved legally and, through its Memorandum filed officially, the Company has bound itself to operate strictly on this basis.
No person shall print or publish, or cause to be printed or published, any newspaper unless there has been file with the registered at the office of the Registrar a statutory declaration, as hereinafter prescribed.
No person shall print or publish or cause to be printed or published any newspaper published at intervals not exceeding twenty-six days unless and until the proprietor, printer and publisher thereof have entered into and delivered to and registered with the Registrar, a bond to Her Majesty, Her heirs and successors in the sum of one thousand dollars together with one or more sureties, as may be required, and approved by the Registrar. The conditions of such bond shall be that each proprietor, printer and publisher shall pay to Her Majesty every penalty which may at any time be imposed upon or adjudged against him or them upon any conviction for printing or publishing any blasphemous or seditious or other libel at any time after the execution of such bond, and also any damages and costs on every judgement for the plaintiff in any action of libel against such proprietor, printer or published and all other penalties whatsoever which may be imposed upon or adjudged by any court against him or them under the provisions of this Ordinance.
When a Company is the proprietor, printer or publisher or a newspaper, any statutory declaration required by the Ordinance shall be made and signed by the secretary or one of the directors of the company, and the bond required by this Ordinance shall be given and executed by such company under its seal and by such surety or sureties as the Registrar may require and approve.
Section 14 (1)
(1) The printer or publisher of every newspaper in the Colony shall, within six days after each publication of the newspaper, deliver, or cause to be delivered, at the office of the Registrar one copy of that newspaper free of cost, with the name and place of abode of the printer or publisher thereof signed and written thereon by his proper hand and in his accustomed manner of signing, or by some person appointed and authorized by him for that purpose, of whose appointment and authority notice in writing signed by the printer or publisher has been delivered at the office of the Registrar.
Section 5A "prescribed limit" means four per centum (sic) of the paid up capital of a company that is the proprietor, printer or publisher of a newspaper;
Section 5B No person or unincorporated association or body of persons or related persons shall hold more shares than the prescribed limit.
Section 5F (1) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary no alien shall hold shares or debentures in any company that is the proprietor, printer or publisher of a newspaper.
BELFON:-"MORE POSITIVE ATTITUDE NEEDED"
Miss Jane Belfon, Grenada's Tourism Director, said in an interview this week, that, generally, the Caribbean is suffering from a decline in both stay-over and cruise liner visitors.
"People are still traveling", she said, "but they tend to concentrate on areas closer home and where they do not have to spend additional funds to get to."
For instance, she said, the Bahamas have suffered a drop in visitor statistics but not as severe a drop as that being experienced in the Southern Caribbean.
Miss Belfon said only three Caribbean destinations have shown slight increases in their tourist arrivals and these are the Cayman Islands, St. Kitts and St. Vincent. In the case of St. Vincent, she said, the increase is due, definitely, to the introduction of night landing facilities at Arnos Vale Airport.
In St. Kitts, that island has undertaken a vigorous marketing of its International Airport and this is paying off with BWIA now having a scheduled stop at the island. The increase in the Cayman Islands reflects the wish of North Americans to spend their vacations at a destination nearer home to which it is less expensive to travel.
Referring to the negative and hostile press which has been directed against Grenada by some sections of the media the Tourism Director said there had been a marked decline in the number of attacks on the island, but a recent TV "special" by the Colombia (sic) Broadcasting System ( CBS) had harmed Grenada's Tourism Industry.
"Such deliberate misrepresentation of Grenada does not represent integrity of the press", she said, "and I hope that, now that the print media is showing a more positive attitude towards the island, other sections of the media will adopt a similar attitude."
Speaking of the future of Tourism, Ms. Belfon said the signs are good because, for the first time, there is increasing co-operation between the private sector in Tourism and Government.
"I am very optimistic about the future", she said, "but I think it is going to take time and a lot of hard work to create a viable Tourist Industry here."
G.H.A. - OPTIMISTIC
The world situation today discourages hopes for early recovery of the Tourist Industry, but the Grenada Hotel Association (GHA) is optimistic that steps now being taken will put the Industry on its feet again.
That view was expressed by Mr. Royston Hopkin, President of GHA in an interview this week, and Mr. Hopkin thought that, by the 1982/83 Tourist Winter Season, signs of recovery will be obvious.
"For the first time in our history", the GHA President said, "the Government of Grenada has recognised that Tourism has to be approached and run as a business, and that means injecting dollars into it if it is to make money."
In the 1981 Budget, Mr. Hopkin said, the Peoples Revolutionary Government (PRG) has allocated nearly ¾ million dollars for Tourism; and this represents an increase of more than 400% over last year's figure. Promotional activity will absorb a large share of this allocation and as much as 30% of it is being spent on counteracting the negative and hostile press which has damaged the island's Tourism.
Mr. Hopkin pointed out, however, that the island's faltering Tourist Trade is being affected by much more than the distortion it has suffered in some sections of the media. Recession in North America and Europe is having serious adverse effects on all tourist destinations in the Caribbean and Grenada is not alone in experiencing a down-turn in visitor arrivals.
"With the exception of one or two destinations, there has been an overall drop in hotel occupancy in the Caribbean", he said, "and some 80% of the islands have experienced between a 5% and 30% drop in tourist business.
In the case of Grenada, he pointed out, this is particularly serious because the island has never enjoyed an overall annual hotel occupancy rate of more than 30%, so that the present severe drop in occupancy is "disastrous" for Grenadian hoteliers who now face considerable losses.
"No hotel is making money now", Mr. Hopkin said, "and the situation is so bad that some hotels can't pay even the interest they owe the Banks. But the Banks cannot foreclose. The hotels owe so much money that the only hope the Banks have of collecting it is to carry the hotels and wait for improved conditions."
Those improved conditions will come, the GHA President said, with the better flight arrangements the International Airport at Point Saline, will make possible. For instance, he said, with night landing facilities, visitors will not be forced to overnight in Barbados on their way to Grenada. He felt that, not only will this encourage more vacationers to the "Isle of Spice", but Grenadian hoteliers will no longer lose the overnighting revenue which now goes to Barbados.
Another factor which will improve conditions, Mr. Hopkin said, is the Bi-lateral Agreement the PRG has signed with Viasa, Venezuela's National Airline. According to Mr. Hopkin, when the first phase of the Point Saline Airport is completed, it is expected that Viasa will have a regular schedule into Grenada, opening up "tremendous possibilities" for developing visitor traffic from Venezuela.
"The Venezuelan market is a very expensive market to promote in", Mr. Hopkin said, "but it is right at our door-step and, if we have the Venezuelan Government taking the initiative and instituting a schedule for their National Airline into Grenada, it will not only open up the Venezuelan market, but will give us another gateway into Grenada."
Mr. Hopkin said, at the present time, most European visitors must fly from London and use Barbados as a "gateway", connecting with LIAT to get to Grenada. However, the German National Airline, Lufthansa, flies out of Europe to Caracas, he said, and "we are enthused that this will open up a market where people can get to Caracas on Lufthansa and, with Viasa, connect into Grenada on the same day."
The GHA President said the relationship between his Association and the PRG is excellent and, from his experience with working with the Ministry of Tourism, he is convinced the new planned approach to the Tourist Industry, will prove of benefit to the island.
"We cannot predict what further adverse effects inflation and recession will bring us", he said, "but I am confident hat, even though we have to struggle through this coming Winter Season with a continuing low hotel occupancy rate, the Winter Season of next year will bring marked improvements."
GRENADA A technical mission from the World Bank paid a three day visit to Grenada this week to help in the preparation of documents for a meeting of the Caribbean Group for Cooperation and Development (CGCD). The meeting is scheduled for Washington at the end of this month. CGCD is a special Commission set up by the World Bank for coordination of assistance to Caribbean countries.
GRENADA The participants of the National Inservice Teachers Education programme (NISTEP) are currently conducting small scale research on various topics as part of an assignment. The purpose is for the teachers to get exposure to research skills for their final examination. Topics include Teenage Pregnancies, Nutricion (sic), Local Industries and the Rastafarian Cult.
GRENADA The proposed Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is to be officially launched on July 4th and the Peoples Revolutionary Government (PRG) has expressed its support for this Organisation. This support was restated by Minister of Education George Louison as he addressed a one day seminar called this week to inform Grenadians about OECS. Mr. Louison felt that if OECS is to achieve its objectives, member Government will have to reach common agreement on the matter of peace in the region.
BARBADOS Controversy has arisen in two area in the Barbados election campaign for General Elections to be held next week. The Barbados Labour Party, led by former Prime Minister Errol Barrow, reported that copies of his Party's election manifesto were stolen at Grantley Adams Airport recently. The Party claimed also that their first pre-election recorded broadcast over national media had been unilaterally edited.
DOMINICA Dominica's Prime Minister Eugenia Charles said this week that persons detained in the country for an alleged plot to overthrow the Government will be charged when the cases against persons arrested in the United States of America in the same connection have been resolved.
ST VINCENT The St Vincent National Committee in the Defence of Democracy has written to Prime Minister Milton Cato giving his Government until Thursday of this week to withdraw two pieces of controversial legislation currently before the St Vincent Parliament. The Committee considers the pending Essential Services Act and Public Order Act as repressive. Up to the time of going to press, there was no news of a reply to the Committee's letter.
CARICOM Mr Kurleigh King, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General, said this week that the CARICOM council of Ministers decided some time ago that there should be no effort to convene a Heads of Government meeting until the Report of the "Group of Experts" had been studied. That Report is now being studied and will be discussed by the Council of Ministers next month.
Much has been said recently about Cuban engineers coming to Grenada to solve the problems of the electricity service. We welcome this news. Anything that will help to relieve our problems is a step in the right direction.
However, the presence of Cuban engineers must not cause us to forget the sterling work done by the Generation Engineer Mr. George Pursoo, the Generation Supervisor Mr. Bruce Bain, and others, all Grenadians, who over the past 18 months or more have been 'making bricks without straw' to keep the service running.
The hard facts of life are that, until such time as new generating equipment is installed, the service will never be satisfactory.
The year 1981 has been designated the year of Agriculture and Agro Industries and since Agriculture is our major foreign exchange earner the responsible expectation is that the agricultural sector would be given priority by way of reasonable incentives, but unfortunately these incentives have not reached the farmers as yet and the inequities and inconveniences that have always been features of the farming community continue to prevail.
One of the inconveniences the small farmers have to contend with is that of transportation to get their bananas to the various Boxing Plants. In some areas the small farmers' investment goes down the drain because after going through the process of planting and maintaining those bananas they remain in the field and rot. Sometimes it is due to lack of transportation, on other occasions it is due to bad roads. In the early months of 1981 farmers in the Barrick (sic) [Barique] mountain in St. Patricks suffered heavy losses because the roads leading to the mountain were so bad that owners of trucks and Land Rovers refused to use their vehicles on such roads. Where such a problem exists it would seem that the appropriate measure is that representation should be made by Farmers' Organisations to the Ministries of Agriculture and Communications and Works on behalf of the farmers that are affected.
Another problem the small farmer is confronted with, especially those in the cultivation of bananas, is that his returns for his labour are not as guaranteed as those of other workers in the Banana Industry in that when his bananas are rejected at the boxing plant or when his bananas are destroyed by high winds as they often are, it is his income that is affected and he alone suffers the losses.
Recently there has been an increase in the wages of agricultural workers which was long over due. Having regard to the enormous rise in the cost of living, however, one cannot ignore the low prices farmers get for their products. At the present price for bananas a Farmer would have to sell 200 pounds of bananas to buy one bag of fertiliser. It does not appear that farmers who employ agricultural workers are in any way objecting to the increase in wages. However, it does appear that the farmers are strongly objecting to the proposal that workers should get one-third in their profits and the objection is a reasonable one because the proposal is discriminatory and irrational. Discriminatory in the sense that no other group in the society has been called upon to give their workers one-third in their profits. Why the farmers and not the banks? Why the farmers and not the Insurance companies? Why the farmers and not the owners of the Lance Aux Epines Cottages who pay their maids $7.00 per day and charge Guests exorbitant prices. The proposal is irrational because if a person chooses to borrow money from a bank and invests that money in Agriculture and employs agricultural workers, his workers are no way obligated to pay back on the investment money, and if the property is destroyed the worker suffers no losses. What the worker is likely to do is offer his services to another employer. Furthermore, a person who puts a price tag on his services has no basis for asking for one-third of the profits. There may be situations where this one-third profit to the workers is justifiable but not with private farmers.
If this one-third profit sharing is to be applied in our society at all it should have started in another industry and not the agricultural one, because the farmers as a group are more saddled with taxes than any other group in our society. The Farmers pay excise tax or export duty, they pay tax on consumption goods, they pay income tax and now they are asked to share their profits.
Agriculture, as originally mentioned, is our major foreign exchange earner and it is in our interest to promote agriculture and increase production without victimizing anyone in the process. One of the areas in which there has been some improvement in recent times is in the production of food crops. With the emphasis on agriculture and good some farmers and co-operatives have been producing a reasonable amount of vegetables, though there is no guaranteed market for such vegetables and an over supply could put the producers in some economic difficulties. It must be noted that though there is no guaranteed market the Grenada National and Import marketing Board is a regular buyer of such vegetables and it also sells at reasonable retail prices.
The problems of the farmers are numerous. Besides those previously mentioned there is the problem of praedial larceny which is now rampant in our society. Certain elements in the society have no respect for the fruits of the farmer's labour. These elements distress the Farmers by stealing agricultural crops from the farmers' land and such stealing creates undue economic hardships for the farmer and his family because the land is the only source of income for farmers. There is also the problem of the inability of the farmers to influence the direction of the various Boards (Nutmeg, Cocoa and Banana). The farmers ought to have the right to elect representatives on the various boards, and these boards should be legally obligated to account to the farmers about the assets and finances of the Nutmeg Association, the Cocoa Association and the Banana Society. For instance before a decision is taken by the Cocoa Association to buy new Land Rovers the farmers should be in a position to influence that decision because some farmers may be of the view that it is better economics to repair the old Rovers and keep them going instead of buying new ones, and there should be a proper forum for this view to be expressed. The Farmers should also be informed in more detail as to the marketing operations of their products. For instance, whenever shipments for bananas are being announced the farmers should not only be told the price he is getting per pound but he should also be told what price Geest is paying to the Association.
If agriculture is a priority then certain practical measures should be implemented to bring better rewards to those who directly derive a livelihood from agriculture. Production is important, but production without guaranteed market is vain. The Cocoa, Nutmeg and Banana Boards are important but if there is no machinery for the farmers to influence the direction these Boards take, then the Boards would be sham Boards and the purpose for which they were intended would have been defeated. However, if honest efforts are made by those involved and those that are affected to implement the necessary measures all the problems would not be solved, but at least they would be minimized.
Throughout the Caribbean, the village standpipe is a place where people often gather to exchange ideas and pass on news as they wait their turn to fill their containers.
We, therefore, consider "The Village Standpipe" to be an appropriate name for the column in which readers can express their views on issues raised in our paper or on any matter on which they wish to write.
Send your letters to, The Village Standpipe, The Grenadian Voice, P O Box 3, St. Georges. Please note that letters should not be unduly lengthy, should preferably be typed but may be acceptable if written clearly and legibly. Please note especially that letters MUST be signed by the writer who must also provide his or her address. However, a "nom de plume" may be used for the publication, if desired.
MIDDLE EAST World news this week has been dominated by the reaction of Governments throughout the world to the Israeli bombing of nuclear reactors in Iraq.
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin claims that the act was a defensive one as the potential of Iraq to produce nuclear weapons posed a threat to his country. However, even staunch ally, the United States of America has condemned the action and has delayed delivery of four F16 jet fighters which were to be delivered to Israel this week.
The rising chorus of condemnation by world Governments includes the Peoples Revolutionary Government of Grenada.
In later reports, Mr Begin disclosed that the air attacks of the Israeli Air Force also destroyed a secret Iraqui nuclear installation built 130 feet below the ground to escape detection by the International Atomic Energy Authority.
Mr Begin said it will take Iraq at least 5 years to rebuild the plant and, if this is done, Israel will destroy it again.
IRAN The Iranian Prime Minister has said that between 1500 and 3000 people died in the earthquake which struck a southern Iranian province this week. The number could rise higher, he said, as there were still several thousand people still buried under the debris.
The Governor of Golba, one of the worst hit areas, said that more than two-thirds of the area had been devastated.
POLAND Poland, which has been in the grip of industrial unrest for several months, has received a warning letter from Russia and this act has been criticised by the United States of America as being interference in Poland's internal affairs.
Earlier this week, the Central Committee of the Polish Communist Party met in special session to seek a "vote of confidence" for the Government of Prime Minister Karl Gunia. Instead, however, the Committee passed a Resolution declaring the Party's commitment to the process of Socialist renewal, and promising to take firm action against anti-socialist activity. The resolution said, also, that controls on the mass media will be tightened.
NAMIBIA United States Deputy Secretary of State William Clark is now on a visit to Namibia in an attempt to break the deadlock in negotiations for Namibian independence.
LONDON The prices of coffee and cocoa have fallen sharply again on the London Commodity Market and are now at their lowest levels in five years. It is reported that both products are being affected by excess supply.
The "printer's devil" crept into our article on, "The Economy, A Cause for Concern":
In the final paragraph on page 13, please read, "Total exports fell …….. while total imports rose ….."
We apologise for this "devil".
Grenada's present economic situation offers grave cause for concern. In the absence of adequate statistical date, an accurate assessment is not possible, but indications are that there is now a serious down-turn in business activity and there is mounting unemployment.
With a very small manufacturing sector, agriculture remains the backbone and stay of the island's economy but, over the past few years, several factors have conspired to reduce earnings from our main export crops. In the case of cocoa, sources close to the agricultural field say that adverse weather conditions in the 1979/80 Cocoa Year caused a drop in production of over one million pounds as compared with the previous year.
Added to this set-back is that a fall in world market prices brought reduced export earnings. Revenue from the Cocoa Industry in 1979/80 dropped by over $9 million from the figure of the previous year, a loss of some 33 cents in every dollar.
The Nutmeg Industry has fared little better. In 1978, the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA) reported a record year with export earnings of over $16 million. In 1979, however, that figure dropped by a little less than a quarter to $12.4 million and, last year, there was a further drop of over half a million dollars.
In its 1980 Report to producers, the GCNA Board expressed concern. In both 1979 and 1980, funds were withdrawn from the Association's reserves to pay a $4 million "bonus" to producers, but this placed the cash liquidity position of the Association's Reserve Fund at an uncomfortably low level. The Board's Report warns producers of a continuing poor state of the market, and it is unlikely that the economy will receive any assistance from the nutmeg "bonus" this year.
Bananas' vulnerability to hurricanes was demonstrated last year when the Banana Industry of the Windward Islands was devastated by hurricane "Allen". Of the four islands, Grenada suffered the least loss but, according to the Minister of Agriculture Mr. Unison Whiteman, some 40% of the crop was destroyed.
In spite of this, our export earnings last year increased by 8.5 cents in every dollar over the earnings for 1979. This appears encouraging but must be considered in the light of other factors.
Since 1976, the island's banana production has dropped steadily. From a figure of 37 million pounds of fruit in 1976, exports dropped in 1980 to 27 million pounds but, in spite of this, earnings have increased every year. Last year, these earnings reached a record $10.6 million, but this indicates the marked effect of world inflation and does not reflect a corresponding increased return to the farmer.
During the first quarter of 1981, the weight of bananas shipped was down by over 10% from the first quarter of last year. This drop Is somewhat more than the Industry has been experiencing and, no doubt, reflects losses from hurricane damage. Informed sources say banana production should be back to normal by mid-year but 1981 has been said to be a critical year for the Industry.
Outside of Agriculture, Tourism remains Grenada's number one foreign exchange earner and the Grenada Hotel Association and the Chamber of Commerce have expressed concern over the sharp decline in both stay-over and cruise ship visitors. Earnings from Tourism in 1980 are estimated to be $54.3 million, an increase of nearly three quarters of a million over the 1979 figure, but the prospects for the current year are not good. The present decline has been estimated to cost the economy $4 million.
In 1980, the position worsened. Total exports fell to the frightening low of $45.8 million while total exports [corrected to the word 'imports'] rose to $135.8 million, leaving Grenada with a visible trade deficit of $90 million. Representing, as this does, a loss of some $900.00 each to every man, woman and child in Grenada, this barometer of our economic well-being should create grave concern in the minds of every citizen.
Wise words from Abraham Lincoln ……………….
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence. You cannot help man permanently by doing for them what they could or should do for themselves.
The Taxes Management (Amendment) Law or People's Law No. 10 of 1981 was passed by Government on the 3rd of April, 1981, and comes into force from the 1st of August, 1981, but with retrospective effect to 1st January, 1981.
As its title says, it is an Amendment to the main Ordinance, Chapter 290 of The Laws of Grenada and the various other amending Acts over the years, the last one being No. 8 of 1978.
The Taxes Management Law deals mainly with Rates and Taxes on Land and houses which under the new Law are simply called "property".
There has been a lot of talk which in turn has generated unnecessary fear about this amending Law, and I feel that Government owes a duty to the public to explain such pieces of legislation when passed, either on Radio Free Grenada and/or The Free West Indian and now The Grenadian Voice. This I feel is necessary partly because the new Amendment increases taxation and is too technical for the layman to understand by merely reading it himself [Web Administrator NOTE: Peoples Laws, No. 10, 1981] but mainly because it is in the Government's own interest that its Laws are understood by all and sundry, so that the wrong impression and interpretations are not allowed, through ignorance, to become the accepted versions.
The impressions and interpretations making the rounds in this case are many and varied, but two deserve mention to demonstrate the point. One is that the new Law imposes a Tax on the Value of Property, so that, for example, if a property is worth $40,000.00 then a 10% rate will make the owner liable to tax of $4000.00 per year on that property.
This is ridiculous because as a result of this mis-interpretation a number of persons who wanted to buy houses or other property were afraid to do so for fear of this new tax.
This interpretation is quite wrong. The Law makes the tax or rates payable on the Rental Value of the property, and makes provision a varied number of ways for arriving at the rental value in an ascending scale, depending on whether the Land is used for agriculture or bought by speculators for selling as building land when prices increase; or whether the house is of concrete or wood structure, and used as a residence by the owner or rented out as investment.
Another impression or interpretation making the rounds is that the tenant of a rented house must deduct the tax or rates from his rent and pay it into the Government Treasury, because if he doesn't he will be held responsible for such tax or rates and will not be given a tax clearance if and when he wishes to leave the island.
There is no such provision in the new Law.
The payment of taxes or rates on property is the responsibility of the owner, unless of course, under a lease of property one of the conditions of the lease is that the lessee must pay the rates, and the law makes ample provision to deal with such owner or lessee if he doesn't pay the rates or taxes fixed by the Valuation Officer. The owner, or person responsible for paying such rates, has the right to object to the rate fixed by the Valuation Officer, and if still dissatisfied he can appeal to the District Magistrate where the property is situated and ultimately to the High Court of Appeal.
There is no doubt that the new amendment increases the tax or rates on property by the new method of arriving at the rental value of all property liable to rates. Perhaps it can be argued that this will in turn increase rents, but I would expect Government to follow-up this progressive piece of Legislation by new regulations for dealing with excessively high rents on the one hand, and quite unreasonably low rents of property which come under the Rent Restriction Ordinance, on the other hand.
It is my opinion that in order to bring social and economic justice to the less fortunate and poorer members in our society, than the principle of "those who have more should pay more" or as is said in Income Tax Law "Pay as you earn", must be implemented, and quickly.
I can see nothing wrong therefore, with the owner of a four, five or six bedroom house of concrete structure paying more rates than the man with a one-room wooden house; nor the owner of a house which is rented out paying more rates than the man who has one house in which he lives; nor the owner of lands bought and held simply for selling at a profit as building lands paying more rates than the owner of purely agricultural lands used for that purpose.
I am not saying that the person or company who buys or builds houses for sale or rent, or develops lands for building purposes, should not be making a profit because if he doesn't than there would be no incentive to invest and all sorts of adverse economic consequences will follow. I am merely saying that he who can afford to pay more because he earns more, and also because of his greater holding or bigger house he benefits more from the utilities and services provided by the State, then he should pay more.
Next week I will be dealing with another topic concerning you and the Law.
Editor's note . . . .
"You and the Law" is a regular feature of this newspaper written by prominent barrister and former Acting Attorney General in the People's Revolutionary Government, Mr. Lloyd Noel. The opinion expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of this paper of its publishers.
Grenadians were thrilled when, after more than 20 years, our tennis players carried off the Barnard Trophy for lawn tennis in the Windward islands this year. The standard of tennis in the island has improved steadily in recent times, and we look forward to many more successes in this field.
Although we did not carry off the "Heineken" Cricket Competition trophy this year, our "men in white" performed very creditably and we are proud of them. They moved us from the bottom of the table (a position we have occupied for too long) and placed us in second place behind Dominica. Our hopes are now raised and we look forward to great things next year.
Where we did take top place was at the Whitsuntide Games last weekend. With a bag of 10 gold, 3 silver and 11 bronze medals, Grenada beat Cuba into second place, that country capturing 4 gold medals plus a number of silver and bronzes. Other countries competing were Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Guyana, St. Lucia and St Vincent.
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