Changing the tune!!!

Eight months ago, it was a different tune from those now running the affairs of Grenada.

The charge of the then opposition New National Party (NNP) was that the Tillman Thomas-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) was the problem and had to be removed because it lacked vision and could not create jobs and wealth for the country.

The plethora of campaign ads promised thousands of construction jobs in the first 100 days of government, and plenty of investors who were waiting on the return of Dr. Keith Mitchell as Prime Minister in the Botanical Gardens.

The NNP seemingly had all the answers to the country’s problems and promised the building of a brand new economy for the Spice Isle.

The architect of the NNP manifesto, Dr. Patrick Antoine called on the international community to run come down to Grenada with their cheque books because the island was once again ready to do business because a new Sheriff was in town – the Rt. Hon. Dr. Keith Mitchell because Tillman Thomas and NDC was booted out 15-0 by the electorate.

The constant theme throughout the country was, “We will deliver”.

Eight months later, a different song is being sung by the new NNP regime and it surrounds a nine letter word, “Sacrifice”.

Where is Dr. Patrick these days? Is he still around? As the architect of the economic plans of the government for the building of the promised new economy, did he accompany the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Mitchell to Washington to meet with the IMF and World Bank officials?

Was Dr. Antoine a member of the government team that met recently in St. George’s with the visiting IMF mission? If the Chief Policy Adviser was not on the team then why was he left out?

And more importantly, what is the relationship existing between Dr. Antoine, the Chief Policy Adviser to the government and the current Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine?

Whose advice is the Prime Minister heeding – PS Antoine or Dr. Patrick Antoine? Could it be neither of them or both of them?

If Dr. Antoine feels slighted in the new dispensation then he should not continue to make noises underneath the surfaces but come out of the closet and speak out or forever hold his tongue.

As the new rulers seek debt forgiveness of their own massive debts that helped to make Grenada declared as bankrupt and uncreditworthy by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), they are no longer telling the international community that the island’s woos were created by the NDC.

THE NEW TODAY was able to lay its hand on a letter by a senior government minister, Oliver Joseph that appeared in a leading British newspaper in which the government was trying to sell a message to the British government which is very influential on the IMF Board of Directors.

The letter was not blaming the NDC for anything but pointed at issues such as Hurricanes Ivan and Emily for Grenada’s current economic and financial crisis.

This is what Minister Joseph wrote in part: “Our tiny island of Grenada, with not many more than 100,000 inhabitants, is saddled with a debt that cannot be sustained. We have been hard hit by the global financial crisis because it affected our cruise ship clientele in the US. A slow recovery from hurricanes in the last decade as well as the reduction in development assistance have also played a part. We are committed to bearing our share of the cost while finding a way out that is both equitable and sustainable”.

This newspaper calls on Minister Joseph to tell us what is the way out of the current crisis that the country has found itself.

As Minister of Economic Development and Planning, we have never heard from Mr. Joseph about his Economic Plan for the development of the country.

During the campaign, his frequent utterances was that the job at hand was easy and that all the government had to do was grow the economy because the role of government is to provide the environment for people to earn and spend money because with more disposable income in their hands to spend, it means that the government will collect more dollars in revenue.

This newspaper is looking forward to the presentation of the 2014 budget when Mr. Joseph will get an opportunity as Member of Parliament for St. David to fully inform the nation of his economic plans for the building of a brand new economy for Grenada.

In addition, THE NEW TODAY cannot make any worthwhile and meaningful contribution to the ongoing debate on the current debt crisis and the approach to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of the debt restructuring exercise.

It will not worth the while to offer a serious comment in the absence of the austerity measures to be implemented by the Mitchell government. The comment will only be made after the government issues its letter of Intent to to the IMF and makes a pronouncement to the people of Grenada on the direction it will follow.

Finally, THE NEW TODAY wish to differ with the views being extolled by the Head of the civil Society Grouping that the issue at hand is not who is responsible for creating the national debt but one should be more concerned with ensuring that there is better governance.

The records will show that in its 13 years in office during 1995 to 2008, the NNP administration of Dr. Mitchell was characterised by one thing – borrowing and in some cases at ridiculous high interest rates and hence the escalation of the national debt.

What are the mechanisms in place to ensure that in its future dealings the current government engages in what can be determined as a sustainable level of debt.

How do we know that the NNP might not agree to do everything that is expected of them by the Social Partners that they are now quoting and once the situation is normalised that it will be back to business as usual – another fresh round of the borrowing and spending spree.

The Social Partners must understand that knowing our history will help us to chart the course forward.

The NNP and its leadership in their previous stint must accept most of the responsibility for the precarious economic and financial crisis facing the country.

It is hard to see NDC’ites coming on board with a willing heart to make the sacrifices that are being talked about if and unless the NNP accept responsibility for their gross mismanagement of the country’s affairs in their 13 year stewardship.

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