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Dickon Mitchell scolds Keith Mitchell on SEED



…Do not let people fool you or mislead you into thinking that somehow while they were in administration embarked upon a permanent programme that this administration is reversing – it is not.

Those were the words uttered Tuesday by new Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell as he scolded the defeated former Grenadian leader Dr. Keith Mitchell and top members of his New National Party (NNP) who called on the 7-month old Congress administration to restore the EC$150.00 that is no longer provided for persons receiving state assistance in the controversial Support for Education and Empowerment and Development (SEED) Programme.

Dr. Mitchell who now holds the position of Opposition Leader in Parliament spent the past week appearing on several radio stations aligned to NNP slamming the new government for not making the payments that were initiated by his regime which lost power on June 23, 2022.

Former Foreign Minister Oliver Joseph who lost his St David seat to Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell in the election also appeared Tuesday on GBN’s “To The Point Programme” and denied that the additional $150.00 was “a temporary” measure from the then NNP government.

As part of its onslaught against the NDC administration, the island’s main opposition party also circulated a press release which said: “The New National Party (NNP) is calling on the Dickon Mitchell administration to immediately return the One Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($150) deducted from the monthly payment to senior citizens and vulnerable families under the SEED program.

“The increase was initiated by the Keith Mitchell-led administration in 2022 to further assist the vulnerable to meet basic needs. The party notes that the cost of living has significantly increased since July 2022 and therefore considers the cut in this payment an immoral act.”

“This action is taken at a time when there are significant increases in electricity and impending increases in the cost of water and sugar. It is disheartening that while the government takes away $150 from the elderly and vulnerable, Government Ministers paid themselves a 2000 dollars salary increase and are contemplating a second increase.”

“The party therefore finds it unbelievable that the government has taken this decision to viciously cut payments to vulnerable families across the country.”

“The New National Party empathises with the hundreds of citizens and particularly senior citizens and single parents who are left unable to purchase basic medication, food and pay for transportation to send their children to school.”

“The NNP calls on the Government to have a heart and refund the monies deducted.”

The position of Congress on the SEED programme got support from the opposition when former Social Development Minister Delma Thomas, MP for St Andrew North-west stated publicly that the initiative was always “temporary.”

She said: “I recall vividly that we (NNP Government) did add this $150.00 per household – it was a stimulus added to the SEED programme…because of the issue of Covid. We decided to give that particular additional assistance for one year … January to December.

“What I did last year was to reach (out). I met with my elderly, I had a function for them and I did say to them be prepared that this $150.00 may come out because it was temporary at the time when we did it, it was temporary.”

“I didn’t want to catch them off-guard and then they believed that I was the minister there and we lied to them. I told all of them – the parents with children too that I came into contact with, that that (withdrawal of the $150.00) might be the case.”

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell hit back Tuesday at the NNP attack and told Grenadians that the former Keith Mitchell-led government had announced the measure to give the additional $150.00 to the poor and vulnerable in the wake of the fall-out from the Covid-19 pandemic but did not even make budgetary allocation for it before it was booted out of office by the Electorate.

PM Dickon Mitchell also pulled out an extract from the 2022 Budget address by the then Minister of Finance, Gregory Bowen, the Number Two man in the then NNP regime in which he indicated that the extra $150.00 was “temporary”.

The Grenadian leader said the following on the issue: “As the Minister of Finance I want to make some comments in relation to the SEED programme.

It appears that deliberately so, personnel are trying to suggest that somehow the government has chosen to end the programme which was a permanent programme by a reduction of the EC$150.00.

I am going to read for our citizens and for you members of the media an excerpt that was taken from the speech of the then Minister of Finance, Honourable Gregory Bowen as it pertains to the temporary nature of the additional $150.00 that was added as part of the economic stimulus package on a temporary basis to beneficiaries of SEED.

And am reading his budget statement: “Additionally Mr. Speaker $10 million is allocated under government’s Covd-19 Economic Stimulus package for the provision of cash transfer benefits in 2022. These will be provided through temporary horizontal expansion of the SEED programme to provide support to over 1000 households.”

Now I want citizens to understand this: This statement which was contained in the then Budget Statement of the Honourable Minister of Finance, Gregory Bowen that statement was made when he delivered his Budget presentation and it was made post or after the preparation for that budget.

There was in fact no budgetary allocation in the budget for this and as a result when this administration took office in June we came back to Parliament and sought the approval of Parliament for EC$8 million to in fact fund the temporary increase in the SEED allocation of $150.00.

Let me repeat this: When the budget statement was read in November 2021 (by Gregory Bowen) promising this additional $10 million there was no actual appropriation for it. And so when the programme started and there was the additional increase in 2022 there was no budgetary allocation for it. There was no actual Appropriation approved by Parliament.

It is this administration when we went back to do the Supplemental Appropriation that we had to budget an additional $8 million to ensure that the funds were spent.

This is not hidden because the Supplementary Appropriation went through all of the Phases. It went through the Finance Committee. I am the Chairman of the Finance Committee and each member of the House of Representative is a member of the Finance Committee.

The Honourable Leader of the Opposition and all of his members who attended the Finance Committee meeting would have been part of that process of approving the additional $8 million which was never budgeted for and which it was known was a temporary measure as part of the Covid Economic Stimulus package for the year 2022.

And so that package came to an end in 2022. It was always temporary, it was known that it was temporary but specifically it was not in fact funded by the previous budget.

It took our Supplementary Appropriation to authorize the spending for this and so I want our citizens to understand that perhaps we didn’t do a good enough job in October/November to remind citizens that this temporary aspect was coming to an end.

And if that is the case, we accept responsibility for that but do not let people fool you or mislead you into thinking that somehow while they were in administration embarked upon a permanent programme that this administration is reversing. It is not.

It is the same $18 million that is budgeted for the SEED programme 2021, 2022 and into this 2023 budget. And so we can assure you that there will be no demenition in the normal SEED benefit.

The Honourable Minister (Gloria Thomas) has indicated that the list is being cleaned up – and when you listen to the category of persons – she talked about dead people, people who are overseas, people who are in prison, people who have graduated from the programme.

What we want to ensure is that those persons who truly need the programme benefit from it. We are confident that once we are able to sanitise the list and we are able to ensure that persons who need it get, then we would be in a better position to review to see whether or not the government is in a position to do any permanent increases to the programme”.

Minister for Social Services, Gloria Thomas who also addressed reporters at the press briefing disclosed that SEED is presently undergoing a recertification exercise in order to sanitise the list.

She pointed to the list having names of the dead on it, as well as persons such as students who have already graduated and are now working, as well as families whose circumstances have improved, and people who are also receiving other financial benefits from the State.

In addition, she cited as SEED beneficiaries, persons who have travelled abroad and now living overseas as well as people who are currently held in custody at the Richmond Hill prison.

According to Minister Thomas, officers attached to her ministry are now going around to the homes of beneficiaries to verify the information and not merely to remove names from the SEED programme.

“If persons fall in the category named above the names will be removed. The temporary measure that was employed to assist families to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 ended in December 2022,” she said.

In addition, the female government minister stated that persons who applied for SEED and did not reach the requirement as they did not receive a good grade from the Grenada Living Condition Index – these persons were given a stimulus payment which also ended in December 2022.

Minister Thomas denied that the budgetary allocation for SEED was cut by Congress, saying that EC$18 million was budgeted for the programme in 2022 by the previous government and this year the same EC$18 million was again budgeted for it.

“So there was no cut in the budgetary allocation facing the beneficiaries. We are hopeful that once our implementation plans start rolling out the face of the ministry will improve – we will be better poised to provide better services and to make some critical changes that are needed to improve service delivery,” she said.

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Fatal shooting in Gouyave



Grenada police are currently investigating two deaths this past week including what appears to be an execution on Tuesday night in Gun Battle in St John in which one man was killed.

The other incident which took place on Sunday related to the recovery of the body of 46-year old David Forte who was found naked among rocks face down in an area known as Russian Point in St David .

Family members believe foul play is at work as the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) continue with their investigation into the incident.

According to one family member, the police are continuing to hold on to the body of Forte and have not given it over for burial.

He said that he last saw the deceased on Sunday around noon in the company of an individual who is said to be of interest to the police in their ongoing investigation.

He indicated that about 2 hours later, the girlfriend of David called a family member to report that the person with whom he was last seen in public to “say a whole hour he and Forte down in Russian Point and Forte say he going an ease his bowel and how up to now Forte can’t come back and he searching for him all over the place and can’t find him.”

Within minutes, family members of the deceased reached the beach to help look for the missing man.

THE NEW TODAY was told that they are very suspicious of the reported incident as the person of interest to the police was giving some kind of explanation as to what happened and “that just didn’t make sense to me.”

“…The place where he said he parked up (the vehicle), the place where he said (David) went is like literally walking into the roughest part of the ocean. Everybody that hearing the story say that ain’t make no sense. A lot of people are talking and they’re saying that isn’t sounding right.”

“The guy is very sketchy. Up to now the guy hasn’t really come and say nothing to us. The day when the body was found, the man walked straight – he peeped at the body then he go on the phone and all ah hear he saying is that they find him, they find his body on the rocks in La Tante.

“Just as how he make the walk come across, he made a 360 on the phone and he went his way. Everybody is asking about him and for him and he (is) just now showing up. On top of that I am not seeing any remorse on the man’s face or nothing.”

A brief statement put out by RGPF on the incident said: “Police are investigating the death of David Forte 46 years old, painter, of Grand Bacolet, St. Andrew. Mr Forte and another man reportedly left to go fishing at La Tante Bay on Sunday 19th March 2023.

Mr Forte was said to have separated from his companion and had not returned. A subsequent search for him proved futile.

The body of Mr David Forte was discovered by a search party, between the rocks, in the shallow waters of the La Tante Bay, around 9:30 a.m, today Monday 20th March 2023. He was then pronounced dead. A postmortem will be conducted to determine the cause of death.

THE NEW TODAY understands that a local Pathologist did conduct the post-mortem while the family members are exploring the possibility of getting another one done.

In the other incident, police are focused on the northwestern community of Gun Battle following the fatal shooting of a young man just before 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

Dead is 30-year-old Johnathan Richards also known as “Not Nice,” who resided at River Lane Gouyave, St. John at the time of the incident.

The 30-year-old was reportedly shot at least six (6) times while hanging out in the popular Gun Battle area.

Information is sketchy but speculation is rife that the execution-style shooting may have been drug-related and that a Vincentian national may be responsible for Richards’ death.

Sources say the assailant emerged from the seafront dressed in all black.

Richards was no stranger to the law as he was arrested in June 2019, along with a Vincentian identified as Cornelius Hackshire, in connection with a robbery incident at D. A Munroe and Sons Sunshine Snacks store, located on Grenville Street, St. George.

Richards was also arrested by police in April 2021 and slapped with two (2) counts of Attempt to Commit Non-Capital Murder, Possession of a Firearm and ammunition following an incident along the northwestern side of the country, which resulted in an 11-year-old child receiving a gunshot wound to his arm.

Prime Minister and Minister for National Security Dickon Mitchell referred to the Gun Battle execution as he raised concerns over the growing trend of external influences on gun-related crimes in Grenada and other Eastern Caribbean countries during Wednesday’s opening of the Regional Security Systems (RRS) Council of Ministers at the Radisson hotel.

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Grenada suffers 7-1 defeat against U.S.



Grenada received one of its heaviest loss in a football game at the National Stadium at Queen’s Park in St George’s when the United States (U.S.) defeated the home team 7-1 in front of an almost full venue in the CONCACAF Nations League.

The Spice Boys went behind as early as the 4th minute when playmaker, Christian Pulisic who dominated the left side of the field, crossed the ball into the penalty area to Ricardo Pepi who headed the ball easily pass goalkeeper, Jason Belfon.

The U.S went 2-0 up in the 20th minute of play when Pulisic, who was creating problems for the home team with his pace, was able to make a pass into the penalty area again for Brenden Aaronson to drive his shot past a helpless Belfon.

Eleven minutes later, the visitors went 3-0 from a Pulisic free kick on the left flank which created all sorts of problems for the Grenada defense and when the ball deflected from one of its defenders, it fell onto the feet of Weston McKennie and found the back of the net.

Against the run of play, Grenada was able to pull a goal back minutes later when Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong made a run on the right side of the U.S. defence and found Myles Hippolyte who delivered a shot with power past the American goalkeeper, Matt Turner.

One minute later, the US team extended the lead again to make it 4-1 and to shut out the home team from the game when its best player on the field Pulisic was able to stand just outside the penalty box and put the ball in the area of the far post, where Auston Trusty rose up and headed the ball down to McKennie, who once again was able to score the goal from just a few feet away.

With the U.S. enjoying a comfortable 4-1 lead at halftime, the local support was drowned out by the hundreds of American medical students at St George’s University (SGU) at True Blue in the south of the island who showed up at the stadium to support their country.

Both Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade and Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell and members of his Cabinet were also in attendance at the game.

Within four minutes of the resumption of play, the U.S. continued its dominance when Pulisic scored after he received a pass from Luca de la Torre and put the ball underneath Belfon and onto the goal line.

The goal deflated the home team and it was not surprising when the Americans notched up their 6th goal on the night when a De la Torre pass found Pepi in the penalty area and he slid the ball pass Belfon.

Alejandro Zendejas brought further misery for Grenada in the 72nd minute of play when he found the back of net from a few metres away from the goal post.

The U.S., with seven points from two victories and one draw, is set to win Group D of the tournament’s League A with a win or a tie on Monday against El Salvador (5 points) in Orlando, Florida.

The winners from each of the four groups advance to the semi-finals on June 15 in Las Vegas.

Grenada is not expected to advance any further in the competition due to this heavy loss at home.

The Nations League is used to determine the top teams in CONCACAF while also serving as a qualifier for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

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Call for review of security arrangement around PM Dickon Mitchell



A former National Security Advisor has called for a review of the Security arrangements around Grenada’s nine-month old Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell following Tuesday’s vehicle accident involving the State vehicle that he was travelling in along the Springs main road.

In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY, the security expert said he picked up information that there was no police outrider to help clear the traffic to prevent the Prime Minister and his Security Detail from getting bogged down in the traffic as the area is known to be affected by traffic in the early morning rush hour.

He recalled reports in the media since the June 23, 2022 change of government in which the Congress leader emerged as the island’s Prime Minister that concerns have been raised about his personal security.

He spoke of some of the former security around assassinated Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and retired senior police officers have been expressing the view to him that it is quite evident based on certain apparent security lapses that the PM Dickon Mitchell’s security detail might be lacking in some areas.

The security official suggested that the best officers within the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) should do a review in order to ascertain whether some of the security personnel assigned to the 45-year old Grenadian leader are in need of better training in driving, escorting and protecting the Prime Minister.

He recalled an incident that he witnessed first-hand about three weeks ago involving the entourage of the Prime Minister in the Grand Anse area near to the basketball court.

“Apparently he (PM Dickon Mitchell) was going to an event and probably he was running a bit late, but the manner in which the convoy was taking over vehicles and trying to get its way, I was very concerned.”

“Yes, they had the flashing lights and siren but still you had the Head of government in there and his safety and protection must always be paramount – he could reach a minute, five minutes late (as) the event can’t start without him.”

“I thought that the way the person was driving wasn’t in keeping with the kind of driving you would do for a Head of State or a Head of government. Again he didn’t have any outrider – in that case it was the two black jeeps.”

“I think it’s high time that they re-evaluate the people around the Prime Minister in terms of providing security for him.”

The former National Security Advisor stated that the convoy accompanying the Prime Minister should be at least 3 vehicles – with one clearing the way, and another serving as a back-up vehicle in the rear with other highly armed security personnel.

According to the top security official, there should always be another vehicle somewhere close to the Prime Minister to provide better protection for him like in case of the accident in Springs.

“That vehicle is the one in which you have to extricate the Prime Minister from the situation and the scene– put him in that vehicle and take him away,” he said.

He felt that the Prime Minister should not be kept on the scene in the open as no one knew for sure that what happened at Springs could have been part of a deliberate ambush to hurt him.

“You don’t know if they had men waiting in the bushes to open up automatic fire on him,” he said.

Several persons reported seeing the Prime Minister and coming up to him to see if he was alright after the accident.

According to the official, ex-Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell had “a very good” Security Detail around him including personnel with heavy automatic weapons in case of an attack on him.

He felt that the Springs incident calls for some “drastic re-evaluation of the security protocols including the senior Security team putting him to sit down and say (to him) look if you want us to protect you there are certain things that we would have to overrule.”

He pointed out that in the United States, there are certain things that the President would like to do but “the Secret Service will tell him blankly that you can’t do that because if you do that we can’t guarantee that we could protect you.”

“So (Prime Minister) Dickon (Mitchell) has to understand his position – he is not just Dickon now, he is the Head of a Government and he has to remember that that brings a lot of responsibility,” he said.

He also told THE NEW TODAY that if Tuesday’s incident was life-threatening for the Prime Minister he was sure that “the whole country would have gone into chaos because it is only nine-six situation in Parliament.”

“There is no one around them there that would be able to galvanise the people and either run the country in his absence or God forbid should he pass away. So he has to look at all these things – the (Prime Minister) is taking these things too nonchalantly.”

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell was considered as the key player in helping Congress to take charge of the seat of power in St George’s from the New National Party (NNP) of Keith Mitchell which won clean sweeps at the polls in the 2013 and 2018 general elections.

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