A debate is in the making in the country on the handling of national assets.
The issue has once again attracted the attention of the wider public in light of the recent decision by the Tillman Thomas-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government to sell to the State-owned National Insurance Scheme (NIS) prized lands at Mt. Hartman to meet its expenditure especially a 24 million monthly wage bill to civil servants.
The main opposition New National Party (NNP) has criticised the sale on the grounds that Prime Minister Thomas is in charge of a minority government and should have first taken the issue to Parliament.
THE NEW TODAY is firmly of the view that the former Prime Minister is the last person in Grenada to accuse any administration of selling out the national assets of the country.
The record of the NNP is very dismal as trustees of the national treasures during its 13-year stint in office.
In this week’s issue of the newspaper, there is an article that came from an extract of a report that was presented to the current government on the financial mismanagement of Grenada’s affairs by the said Mitchell government.
The experts labeled the NNP as being engaged in “speculative” borrowing and spending of the monies in the Treasury with respect to the Call Centres of Grenada, the Garden Group of Hotels, and the Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB).
These three failed projects which were the brainchild of the Mitchell government increased the national debt in 2006 by EC$58.4 million dollars.
The report concluded that the national debt “has increased due to two transactions from which no value has been derived for the public”.
Can you imagine what this EC$58.4 million can do in today’s Grenada when foreign aid from the traditional sources like the United States, England and Canada have all but dried up?
The NNP’s behaviour in government with the people’s resources reminded one of a man buying a piece of land for $1.50 per square ft and holding onto it as a speculator and waiting for someone to come and offer him $10.00 a square ft for the same piece of land with the hope of making a good profit.
The only difference is that the land bought by the man was swamp thus forcing him to sell at 25 cents per square ft instead – a massive loss to the speculator. That is how the NNP government of Dr. Mitchell acted as trustees of the national assets – reckless behaviour in office.
The mismanagement of Grenada under the NNP cannot be compared with that of any former administration like the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of Maurice Bishop and the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) of late Prime Minister, Sir Eric Matthew Gairy.
THE NEW TODAY is calling on members of the Tillman Thomas government to come to the defense of their own government and stop waiting on the likes of Michael Baptiste and this newspaper to expose the many wrongs of the former rulers.
Where are those who are currently the beneficiaries of the government? Why are they so silent in the face of all the documented evidence and proof of mis-management of the island’s economy and finances by Dr. Mitchell and company?
These are the ones who should be out there combating the attempts by the NNP to pull the wool over the eyes of the ignorant and unsuspecting people in the country with general elections just around the corner?
It was very intriguing to hear a top official of NNP referring to the decision of government to sell lands at Mt. Hartman to NIS to raise funds to pay the salaries of civil servants as a blow against the patrimony of the country.
It would have been very interesting to hear this same individual respond to the question of NNP’s sale of the prized state lands on Grand Anse beach to Lewis Hamilton for among other things the use of his name for only four years as a marketing tool.
And to compound the situation, the former Trade Advisor to the NNP regime, Dr. Patrick Antoine told the media at a press conference that the Mitchell government did not negotiate the sale of the land with Mr. Hamilton but decided to give it to him as a consideration in light of his talks with Issa Nicholas to buy him out of the Grenada Grand Beach Resort.
The Mitchell government should hide its face in shame and refrain from addressing issues of sell-out of national assets.
Who instructed Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine to hand over to Cable & Wireless a cheque of EC$4.5 million dollars that should have been deposited to the Treasury as payment to Government in the form of dividends for its shares in the telecommunications provider?
This money that should have been used to buy medicine for our hospitals, fix our roads etc, etc but was used instead to pay off some of the debts of the infamous Call Centre, a business started by a particular close relative of former Prime Minister Mitchell.
Was Parliamentary approval sought for this incestuous relationship involving former Prime Minister Mitchell and his cohorts?
Dr. Mitchell, where is the Coast Guard vessel that had to be bought from funds allocated for this specific purpose from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago?
Sir, did you remember telling us that it was probably used to pay the salaries of civil servants. Is this the same as selling government lands at Mt. Hartman to NIS to help pay the salaries of the same civil servants?
Keith Mitchell reminds one of the ole saying, “kettle calling pot black”.