Labour Senator, Raymond Roberts has once again spoken out against a large sum of money in the 2017 budget listed under the title “Other Spending” for the various Votes.
“That was the area of the budget that stunned me, and I am at a lost why Grenadians are not talking about that,” Sen. Roberts told the weekly “Sundays With George Grant” programme.
The former General Secretary of the Grenada Trades Union Council (GTUC), believes that although the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration is claiming that the austerity measures implemented three years ago is over, the people continue to face hardship.
He spoke of knowing workers who are fighting to keep paying their mortgages, and provide a decent meal on the table.
According to Sen. Roberts, while there is a huge jump in the category listed as “other spending”, the workers of the country whose salaries have remained frozen in the past three years are now being asked by government to accept among other things a $1,000 one-off payment.
He said that while this is taking place, “here you have in excess, all together the thirty-something votes (in the 2017 Budget) other spending totaling in excess of $32M”.
Sen. Roberts also told the programme host that he is hurt when he hears some people describing the 2017 budget as “a Santa Claus Budget” since it should not be accepted by the people of Grenada.
“We have to question that. We can’t sit down and cheer, cheer, cheer,” he said.
“In the colonial era, that will be squandermania because it certainly worries anybody who is thinking and is considerate,” he added.
Political analysts have branded the limited relief measures announced in the budget as intended to pave the way for the holding of a general election sometime this year.
According to Sen. Roberts, he cannot be forgiving on this $32M included in the 2017 package and named “other spending” in the various votes as he feels this is clearly an abuse of the process since it is unaccounted for.
The labour senator said he cannot remain quiet, even if it means he has “to eat the bread that the devil kneads”.
“I will not keep quiet on anything. I will talk once I see it… I will speak on issues, I am not just in the Senate… to be a chorus,” he vowed.
Sen. Roberts has emerged in recent years as one of the most outspoken trade union leaders on issues of national importance like the attempt to hand over Camerhogne Park to a foreign hotel developer.