Former Finance Minister in the defeated National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government, Nazim Burke has accused Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell of not providing the local people with the true economic picture of the country.
Burke who appeared on a television programme on Monday was reacting to a statement issued by the Ministry of Finance pertaining to the restructuring of the public debt.
He noted that Dr. Mitchell who has assumed responsibility as the Minister of Finance recognised and acknowledged that the former Congress Administration had undertaken a package of reforms that were working in the direction of improving the condition of the economy.
Burke was obviously referring to a statement put out late Friday by Mitchell’s Ministry of Finance announcing that the cash-strapped government in St. George’s would default on payments due to some of its creditors on March 15.
The release said in part: “The Grenadian economy has been severely affected by the global financial crisis and — despite a debt restructuring in 2005 and the reforms implemented over the last five years under IMF-supported programmes — has been unable fully to recover from the devastation wrought by hurricanes Ivan and Emily in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Notwithstanding Grenada’s aggressive efforts to achieve macroeconomic stability, public finances are currently unsustainable”
It quoted new Prime Minister Mitchell as saying that, “The global financial crisis has taken a heavy toll on the country, and aggravated the severe debt overhang that continues to weigh down our economy”.
Dr. Mitchell went on to say: “It is now time for Grenada to confront the fact that it cannot continue to pay its debts on current terms, and that the restoration of growth requires the debt overhang to be resolved. We need a fresh start, and it is therefore imperative that we approach our creditors promptly to discuss an orderly restructuring of our liabilities.”
In his appearance on the programme, Burke noted that this admittance by Prime Minister Mitchell to the international community is vastly different to what he had been telling locals.
“He (Dr. Mitchell) was not prepared to accept that (the financial crisis was caused by the worldwide recession) when he spoke to the Grenadian people in the last five years. He was not prepared to accept that and to concede that when he spoke to the Grenadians during the elections”, he told the programme host, Brian Pitt.
“Tell Grenadians the same thing that you (Mitchell) are telling the international community. Do not see Grenadians as fools. Do not see Grenadians as ignorant people who you can pull the wool over their eyes, but when you talk to the international community you tell them the truth,” he said.
Burke was adamant that in the face of all the financial difficulties, the former Tillman Thomas-led Congress government did the best that it could have done for the country.