Referendum for a new Constitution to be done in 2014

A referendum for a new Constitution, legislation to deal with tax avoidance, as well as the fundamental pillars for the new economy, are activities which Grenada will be focusing during 2014 — the year of its 40th Political Independence Anniversary.

This was disclosed by Governor-General Dame Cécile La Grenada when she delivered the traditional throne speech today to signal start of a new parliament session. “Our Nation will turn 40 next year. Forty years signifies growing maturity and a coming of age. It is therefore right and proper that our Nation considers the type of constitution that should guide our development for the next 40 years and beyond,” she told the packed Trade Centre in her address.

“Accordingly, my Government, in our Nation’s 40th anniversary of Independence, will put to the people, a referendum on a new Constitution for Grenada. The matters for contemplation and decision will include the structure and composition of our Parliament, accession to the Caribbean Court of Justice as Grenada’s final Appellate Court, and other relevant issues,” she said.

Since the 1999 general elections when the then ruling New National Party won all fifteen seats in the House of representatives, the process to conduct constitutional reform commenced, and there were consultations with various stakeholders. The issue became an important talking point following the February 2013 general election when once again the NNP won all 15 constituencies.

“This referendum will be a defining moment in our nationhood and an opportunity which must be fully grasped by all citizens,” said the Head of State who also disclosed that very soon a new policy for tax delinquents will be instituted.

In the area of tax avoidance, she said: “My Government is extremely concerned about the level of tax delinquency in our Country and will address this issue with strong resolve. Accordingly, a new policy for tax delinquents will be instituted in our Country. In this regard, legislation will soon be introduced in Parliament to give legal force to this new policy,” she said while reminding those in attendance that all taxpayers must pay their fair share.

“Grenada cannot continue with the situation where the majority of taxes are paid by a few citizens, while many others refuse to live up to their national responsibility,” she said. Of great concern to the Governor-General is the lack of ethical standards in some revenue collection agencies of Government.

“These standards must be raised immediately.  There will be no safe haven in the Public Service for persons whose job it is to collect Government’s revenue but whose daily dealings deprive the Government of taxes to provide services to the people,” she said.

by Linda Straker

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