By Grenadian Class
The recent revelation by the Minister of International Trade, Hon Oliver Joseph that there is a ship carrying out maritime survey in the territorial waters of Grenada is a manifestation that the Russians are here to obtain their returns on their investments.
What was surprising and probably laughable during the post-cabinet press conference held by Mr. Joseph is that when asked about the ship in Grenada waters, he said that he can confirm that there is ship yes, but can’t recall the name of the company.
Mr. Joseph just came from a Cabinet meeting where I assume that this was discussed, yet his memory is so poor that a few minutes after he can’t remember the name of the company carrying out the survey. The fairy tale continues. It has since been revealed that the company involved is Global Petroleum Grenada (GPG), a Russian-led oil exploration company. The Russians are back.
GPG and the Keith Mitchell-led NNP have a longstanding relationship dating back to the 1990s. In September 2005 an indemnifying agreement was signed between the NNP government and GPG. Gregory Bowen signed on behalf of the government, in his capacity then as the Minister of Energy. Eduard Vasiiov, Chairman of GPG, signed on that company’s behalf.
The Russians seem to have a vested interest in Grenada having forged a very strong covert relationship with the New National Party. When last have you heard the word transparency and accountability used by any of the MPs in Parliament or in their Cabinet press briefings? They all believe in governance by secrecy. No one knew when the Russians started this maritime survey except the powers-that-be.
After visiting the Spice Isle on many occasions after the July 8 elections it is alleged that the Russian oilmen bankrolled the NNP 2013 elections campaign to the tune of millions of dollars. This relationship between the Russians and the NNP also included the Call Centres fiasco with Lev Model.
The people of Grenada lost millions of dollars in loan guarantees in the Call Centre fiasco. Dr Mitchell’s administration allegedly provided a loan from the Consolidated Fund to his family for the establishment of a Call Centre. Lev Model was also a player in the Call Centre fiasco and was the same individual chosen to represent the interest of GPG in Grenada by the company
The relationship between the NNP and the Russians was played out even in the US courts. Under the funding agreement between the NNP administration and GPG, entered into in September 2005, and consistent with two other agreements in December 2006, Global Petroleum Group undertook to cover the cost of legal proceedings by RSM Corporation Production (Grynberg) and the government of Grenada.
The agreed sum was US$2,500,000. By virtue of this agreement US$1.9 million was transmitted to the government of Grenada through a local bank in May 2006. The records will show that the remaining US$600,000 never went into the Government Consolidated Fund.
It is therefore not an accident that the Russians are back in Grenada a mere six months after the NNP won the last general elections. What is certain though this time around is that not only the Russians are back, but the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will be here in increased numbers to monitor closely the activities of the Russians and the NNP government.
Additionally, following the NDC victory in 2008, the then Tillman Thomas administration signed a boundary delimitation treaty with the government and people of Trinidad and Tobago. Both countries also signed a joint exploration treaty.
With the Russians/GPG already conducting maritime surveys in Grenada’s territorial waters, it is left to be seen what fallout this will have with the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration. Trinidad and Tobago won’t give up a single square inch of their territory to the Russians.
Dr. Mitchell seems to have turned quickly to the Russians after he failed to obtain financial support from the government of Trinidad and Tobago. The NNP while in opposition was strongly against the signing of the treaty by the NDC administration, claiming that the NDC gave up too much to Trinidad and Tobago.
It appears that even if the Keith Mitchell NNP would like to do business with another oil company they are obligated to work with GPG after the many ‘sweetheart ‘ deals of the past and the alleged massive election campaign funds given to NNP.
Such is the nature of the agreement that the NNP supposedly has with GPG that Dr. Mitchell has also made himself Minister of Energy to ensure that he delivers.
Finally, there is the Venezuela factor. President of TAWU Chester Humphrey had advised the NNP administration to work towards signing a similar treaty with the government of Venezuela as was the case with Trinidad and Tobago. So far not much seems to have been accomplished.
Venezuela isn’t in a hurry to sign any treaty with anybody. The government of Venezuela would prefer to see Grenada join ALBA as a permanent member instead. There are some within NNP including Peter David who would very much like to see Grenada become a member of ALBA. How would the relationship between NNP and GPG be viewed by the government of Venezuela is a matter that will generate some interest way beyond the shores of St George’s and Caracas. Very interesting times lie ahead in the political, social and economic situation in Grenada.
The successful exploration of oil and gas will see the economic and social fortune of Grenada changing hopefully in a positive way. Any major fallout between the NNP and GPG will see the political and economic circumstances of many, including top ranking government officials, taking a remarkable nosedive.
The people of Grenada have to prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. NNP and GPG are joined at the hip. The only difference now is previously they were dealing with Bowen, now they are dealing with Dr. Mitchell in his capacity as Minister of Energy. Different ministers, but expect the same result.
As I write this article it is my understanding that the IMF is in town. There seems to be a high level of apprehension by the NNP, while the populace remains in limbo waiting on the delivery of the jobs, jobs, jobs. What is certain, though, is that things will get much worse before they get better.
The IMF prescription for Grenada in combating Mitchell’s national debt of $2.5 billion won’t be sweet. Let’s hope that the Russians get sufficient oil and gas to recoup their monies and leave some in the nation’s Treasury for government to pay its bill.
Grenada can’t afford another game of ‘Russian Roulette’.