The chickens are coming home to roost.
That’s the best way THE NEW TODAY can describe the current predicament that Grenada has now found itself in, as the Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s attempts to restructure millions of debts with some international creditors.
The government has once again approached the state-controlled National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to make some kind of a contribution to the haircut that is on the table with the international bondholders.
The last few days have seen Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell busy at work in regular engagements with the island’s trade unions and interest groups in order to meet a deadline with the bondholders.
The Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) is at a critical stage and the bondholders are protecting their interests and quite rightly so – they want to get back as much as their funds as possible.
It’s time for the Chairman of the NIS Board of Directors, Ron Antoine to come to the Grenadian people and inform them of the latest development since the government proposals can have serious implications on the future of the fund especially the millions in contributions made by workers of the country over the years.
The private sector is the biggest provider of employment in the country and its representative in the Senate, Christopher De Allie seems to have padlocked his mouth on this critical issue of national importance.
The country also needs to hear from the likes of President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey, trade union representative in the Upper House, Sen. Rae Roberts, and Congress leader, Nazim Burke on the NIS haircut issue.
The predicament now facing the NIS due to the insistence of the NNP to raid its coffers, is equally important as the marches for better health care and the 28 taxes and increases in fees, licences and levies since the change of government in February 2013.
As far as this newspaper is concerned, too many critical stakeholders are remaining quiet and not opening their mouths on an issue that will affect many generations.
Grenada is now paying the price for the kinds of political expediency that became the norm over the past 20 years.
The NNP under Dr. Mitchell’s watch has won four general elections between 1995 and 2013 but at a tremendous cost to the taxpayers and national coffers.
As the national debt kept mounting, the key words that came from the lips of some of the key players were the following: “Don’t worry about the debt because they can’t sell a country”.
The chickens are finally coming home to roost for Grenadians who over the years were only interested in getting a piece of the action from the borrowing and spending spree of the 1995-2008 regime.
The country’s financial situation deteriorated heavily under the NNP and it was only a mater of time before the International Monetary Fund (IMF) showed its face on our doorsteps.
It’s called a homegrown Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) by the Mitchell administration but the truth of the matter is that this Washington institution is setting the agenda and calling the shots.
The IMF is a creature of the major Western powers and its primary duty is to first and foremost look after their interest including the creditors.
It’s pay back time and the fund is committed to ensuring that the creditors get back if not all but most of the monies that were put at the disposal of Grenada over the years as a borrowing country.
The situation that Grenada has now found itself with the NNP bent on raiding the funds of the NIS is best described by a noted economist in the following words:
“I want to remind you that, once a country’s finances deteriorate to the point where it has to bring in the IMF … this G-7-controlled international financial institution has one overriding objective, (and it will demand that the supplicant government (Grenada) do what it takes, above all other considerations, to ensure that the IMF achieves its overriding objective): To ensure that foreign creditors get back all, or as much as possible, of their loans from the supplicant country.
“If this means seizing most of workers’ savings for housing, health, or pensions, so be it. If workers have to eat grass as a consequence of severe (and excessive) austerity measures, so be it, as far as the IMF is concerned”.
“We shouldn’t cuss the IMF: Simply stay out of their clutches by not racking up irresponsibly high national debts for narrow partisan (short-term) advantage; using the funds not for genuine investment purposes, but simply to win elections and re-election….”.
The stark reality facing Grenada is that the political dynamics can change every five years in general elections but the country’s economy is in financial ruins and no amount of “ole talk” will change that fact.
Grenadians better wake up and face the reality that more bitter pills are on the horizon as the IMF takes a firm grip on things in protecting the interests of its stakeholders and not the people of this tri-island State.