Response by the NDC to the Honourable Prime Minister Mitchell’s Address to the Nation on December 21, 2020 :-
Tonight, many families across our nation are in dire straits as the impact of disastrous Covid 19 policies are in their living rooms and bedrooms. Many are having sleepless nights, dealing with the reality that they are Covid 19 positive.
The National Democratic Congress expresses our solitary and empathy with these families, especially those in Post Royal, St. Andrew, and The Stones in Grand Anse. Indeed, the NDC has already assisted practically and will be doing so again.
Prime Minister Mitchell has addressed the nation twice in eight days, and again, he has failed to adequately address the crisis which we find ourselves thrust deeper into with each passing day. Again, he has failed to apologize but rather, unjustly holds we the people responsible for the failure of his policies, whilst castigating the population, for us to get this pandemic under control by our actions, in order to remedy theirs. Indeed Mr. Prime Minister, you ARE the grinch who stole Christmas.
The highly unpatriotic and reckless behavior of the Prime Minister and his cabinet, has done irreparable harm to our country and it’s economy. They have damaged Grenada’s reputation as a tourism destination, and stripped away to it’s core the trust and confidence the workers of the nation have in the ability of its Government to keep them safe.
Let us be clear, by their policies, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet have endangered the lives of those in the tourism industry and by extrapolation, our entire Country and our livelihoods, whilst claiming to balance lives and livelihoods. They have missed the fundamental truth that without life, there is no livelihood. Failure doubley abysmal.
The double standard ‘Pure Safe Accommodation’ policy, is the main cause of this catastrophic decline of our safety and well-being, both physical and mental, equally so for the health of the nation. In so doing, the people who have for so long adhered and complied, enabling a safe environment, must now have their Christmas Season curtailed and condemned, as a result of their reckless policies. Again, we the people have to pay the price for this Government’s poor choices.
Too often the workers, the ordinary man and woman, the poor, and our most economically challenged sisters and brothers are forced to make the sacrifices and then see this recklessness happen all over again. The cost to the public purse for unnecessary court cases, often the result of victimization, which are lost, the loses from corrupt and mismanaged projects such as the shrimp farm, the Mt. Hartman Project, the Garden Group, and numerous others, are simply too much of a burden on the people.
Admittedly, our frontline workers have done everything possible to keep the nation safe and we continue to be proud of their successes. Alas, double standards, favoritism and lack of transparency by the government have resulted in a loss of all our gains to date.
As we have witenssed repeatedly, and again by the outcome of the last few weeks, Dr. Mitchell and his administration have been putting revenue before people, focusing on the over reliance of tourism at the expense of agriculture, ignoring entrepreneurship and technology, and failing to create greater self reliance. Grenada cannot continue to rely on tourism for it’s survival.
The present pandemic is a public health emergency facing the nation as never before and brings with it, grave implications which we must respond to with truthfulness, transparency, discipline, tenacity and confidence. It is only then we can all work together from the same page.
As a result of the pandemic, Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique have also been adversely impacted economically and socially, with massive job losses in every sector. Our people are suffering and many are afraid.
The evidence unequivocally indicates that Covid-19 has exposed the soft underbelly of our economy and shown that it is not as robust as we were made to believe.
Now more than ever, the nation is in need of collaboration and sharing of information to formulate an effective and comprehensive strategy to control the spread.
Open and transparent sharing of data and other information with the public at large, conspicuously absent to date, should be an immediate priority. This action can increase the level of public engagement and trust.
From the limited information available in the public domain, it seems that the government policy in response to the pandemic is based on economic benefits and political expediency more than on public health best practices and concern for the wellbeing of people.
The recent budget, as well as the Prime Minister’s address last Monday, and again tonight, shows incoherent and reactive policies and strategies rather than a well thought out strategy, based on epidemiology and concern for people.
What are the expected benefits of this curfew? What data informed the curfew hours? Will the curfew by itself achieve the objectives? Is this inconvenience and disruption of the economy and life of the general public really the solution?
What will be the impact on the poor and marginalized? Will widespread testing be done to identify and presence of this dreaded disease in our communities?
The Prime Minister has failed to adequately address the current situation and seems uncertain of the way forward or simply thinks that we the people are neither important or intelligent enough, to be informed of the people’s business.
The National Democratic Congress therefore recommends the following:
1. Constitute a panel of inter-disciplinary and inter generational people to address both the public health and humanitarian crises.
2. Sharing of data and information, with safeguards for privacy and confidentiality, with the public. The government has been very opaque and this does not bode well for confidence and trust.
3. Reduction of the spread can be achieved through increase of public awareness and practice of preventive measures. The most effective strategy for control of the corona virus spread during all stages of transmission is source reduction strategy. Universal use of face mask, hand hygiene (washing with soap and water and hand sanitisers) and cough and sneeze etiquette. Our poor and vulnerable people need support to achieve this. A National effort must be made to provide adequate masks and sanitizing products to those most challenged.
4. Physical distancing norms need to be practiced to slow down the spread of infection. At the same time enhanced social bonding measures need to be promoted to address mental health concerns of anxiety and lockdown. Government, media and other organisations need to be pro-active by making people aware and treating them with empathy and respect.
5. We are a small population of approximately 110,000 and serious efforts should be made to test as high a percentage as possible. Government needs to support free testing.
6. The workers on the frontline, especially the healthcare workers, must have adequate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to do the job with confidence and peace of mind. Further, there should be ongoing training to ensure that sufficient healthcare workers are trained so that they are not over burdened and fatigued.
7. We strongly recommend that part of the recent US25 Million World Bank approved credit for COVID 19 response, be used to fund widespread testing, masks for the most needy, and for payment promised and due to the healthcare workers.
Unless fundamental changes are made to the approach we have in fighting this pandemic, seeing it as a national challenge, requiring a united effort; unless we see greater transparency and increased trust, we are doomed to face the consequences and may see the undesirable loss of human life. We must work together, step up our adherence to the protocols and look out for each other but we must keep our eyes on the ball.
We the people deserve more. We the people deserve better. The NDC is willing to assist. The nation’s well-being is at stake.
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