ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (CMC) – The Grenada Government says it intends to hold a national referendum for a new constitution next year.
Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade, delivering the traditional Throne Speech at the start of a new session of Parliament, said Grenada, which obtained its political independence from Britain in 1974, would turn 40 next year.
“Forty years signify 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 legislators.
“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 (NNP) won all 15 seats in the House of representatives, consultations on constitutional reform had started with various stakeholders. The issue became a major talking point this year, when the NNP again won all 15 seats in the general election.
Dame Cecile said the referendum would “be a defining moment in our nationhood and an opportunity which must be fully grasped by all citizens”.
In her address, the Head of State said that government would soon outline a new policy to deal with tax avoiders.
“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 told legislators on Friday.