Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The truth don’t destabilize

As old President Ronald Reagan will say: “There you go again…”

In this case, it is Grenada’s Minister of Finance Nazim Burke.

Below is what he said September 12, 2012 in an exchange with Lew Smith, blaming everybody and everything except his stewardship for Grenada’s economic mess.

After blaming the world recession, the debt, NNP (long gone for four years), colleagues (I suspect he means the likes of Peter David and Joe Gilbert) “speaking out of turn..” he then went on to blame “certain journalistic forces” in the country for the country’s lack of investments and other economic ills.

NAZIM BURKE: “The internal challenges inside of the party and the government (have) had a negative effect throughout the Caribbean. It was projected by certain journalistic forces in the country; it was projected by certain media houses that Grenada is a mess.

Grenadian journalists and media people pushing that line throughout the Caribbean to ensure that they discredit the government, but in the process of doing that, investors in the Caribbean are saying Grenada is not a place to put my money at the moment. Not realizing that they hurting the country. Not realizing that they are shooting themselves in the foot.

LEW SMITH: Are they speaking the truth?

NAZIM BURKE: They may be speaking the truth but……

MY TAKE NOW: … but what Mr Burke?

Sir, in defense of the “journalistic forces” of which I am a proud member, understand this:

Our job is not to be a bunch of nationalistic flag wavers. Our job is to ask hard questions, raise real queries and report harsh realities.

There is no “but” to the truth.

We are not the Government Information Service.

There will always be a natural tension between governance and what we do.

We had that tension when the New National Party was in office; we have it now with you and we will have it again with whoever replaces you (at which point you'd love us again, as you used to).

It is a discussion I remember I had about 12 years ago with Rawle Titus about what our role should be in terms of what others might see as a national agenda.

He was reporting at the time for the Caribbean News Agency – CANA – during the Keith Mitchell era.

And the government of the day had taken him to task for reporting to the region about a shortage of water at Grenada’s hotels in the south.

Their attitude was that he should not have done it because it will undermine the country’s tourism.

I remember telling him clearly – stand your ground and don’t let anybody intimidate you – your role is not to undermine, protect or promote tourism or any other thing.

You role is to roll with the facts – even when they are not so nice.

I went on to argue: It will be worse for Grenada’s tourism, if we never alert people there is a problem, they then come and find the problem, and then they begin to ask: so how come nobody warned us?

My argument went on: But when people know the facts – they might still take their chances – and there will be no hue and cry afterwards – because at least they were aware what they were getting into.

Recent history shows that when journalists abdicate that role and become some unashamed national flag wavers – it ends up – ultimately destabilizing the nation.

The US media forgot the truth about George Bush’s lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and waved a US nationalistic flag and urged on a nation into a trillion dollar war – that in the end destabilized the US economy.

Only if our US colleagues had put down their national flag – and wave the banner of hard questions and of telling the truth; America – and indeed the world would have been a better place today.

Maybe even the Grenada economy might be better off today.

One little advice Naz – institute better economic policies, find creative ways to expand the Grenadian economy, encourage more foreign investments, make sure public workers are paid on time.

When that happens, the truth will be on your side. And we will have to report on those good truths (whether we like it or not). And then there will be no buts.

There are many things that are destabilizing Grenada. The truth is not one of them.

1 comment:

  1. I am not amused by the Ministers use of the term 'false perceptions' What the heck is a false perception anyways? I mean I base perception on the information at hand to create my own reality. I am am told I have a false perception am I being told that the information at hand is not real? So in short there are no people unemployed in Grenada, none of the 2000 or so youth that were sent home under the IMANI in 2008 have issues today and all of them have been working. Businesses are expanding and the public is happy? Me thinks Mr. Minister needs to wake up, shake up and get the economy moving instead of his personal building projects.