by Sandra Williams
Around the world people are clamoring for their leaders to take responsibility for their words and their actions. From the United States to Italy traditional governance is giving way to a more radical approach as people remove those who want to continue with business as usual.
Take the high-handed approach that our government in St George’s is taking to deal with a foreign investor even as they call for other foreign investors to throw their money into the national economy to “create jobs” and rig prosperity to the people of this island nation.
Statements such as “too little too late” in response to the announcement from the management of Rex to spend $12M to upgrade the hotel cannot be a responsible approach to development or the efforts of a “foreign investor.”
The statement suggests arrogance and a “don’t care attitude” to those we are trying to woo to our shores to set up shop. It also sets precedence that should be concerning to other investors that their investments are not safe since one government can use their parliamentary majority to reverse the decisions of former administrations, exactly what is happening in Washington as we speak.
The bully pulpit that Parliament has become, should concern all Grenadians. The issue is not whether there are public officials who are dissatisfied with the performance of the hotel. There is always room for improvements but the public threats and intimidation rather than a responsible, adult and business-like approach sends the message of a hostile investment atmosphere. Investors who come to a country want to do so without the possibility of having to face hostility from the citizens, much less from the powers that be.
Today it’s the Rex, tomorrow it will be some other entity that the government wants to give to a friend.
And coming from a minister who, until elections in 2013, was a significant part of a business establishment, is even more alarming. It means that the attitudes that employees and customers of that company were complaining about have now taken on national dimensions.
In its response to the minister’s comments, the Rex Resort indicated that it had communicated to the Grenada Government, in detail, ‘a US$12 million property enhancement plan on which we are prepared to commence immediately — further demonstrating our commitment to this property and the people of Grenada.
Is a US$12M investment in any sector in Grenada “too little too late,” when our nutmeg farmers are unable to get a bonus? This childish response comes at a time when the government is struggling to pay public officers and when our economy continues to balance on the brink.
Can that statement be true when the steps of our healthcare are unsure and shaky. Why repeal the agreement and replace it when it can be repaired? Rex was the first international hotel to open doors in Grenada following the 1983 Invasion/Intervention — the most difficult period in our history — and has served the country well over the years. At least, Mr Minister, let the Grenadian virtues of appreciation and gratitude inform both the tone and nature of your comments.
The government must know that it should not move the goal posts while the game is in play.
It is worthy of note that there are other hotel properties where the service is significantly under par and have been the subject of regular visitor complaints, but they remain in play because they have friends in high places.
Even as Grenada tries to benefit from the Citizens By Investment (CBI) programme, government officials must know that what is said around the table with a government minister does not always match what is said when two investors knock glasses together at their favourite drinking spot.