Another Labour Day celebration is now behind us.
It has become the norm for workers in both the public and private sectors to “behave bad” and to rant and rave about their plight at the hands of their employers.
2014 was no exception. It is the first year of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in which the workforce is being called upon to make sacrifices to deal with a grave fiscal situation.
The labour day took place against the grim news that one of the leading commercial banks in the country – RBTT Bank Grenada Ltd – confirmed reports that it would be closing down its main branch office in town and in Grenville as part of a re-assessment of its operations in the country.
This would only send a bad signal to those who are looking closely at the business climate in the country as regards to the prospects of making a worthwhile investment.
THE NEW TODAY has obtained a copy of the 2013 annual report of RBTT to its shareholders.
The report confirmed the fears of many that the economy in Grenada is in dire financial straits with the bank recording a loss in its operations.
Chairman Andy Jogie in his report said: “The Bank reported a loss after tax of $21.4 million compared to the previous year in which an income after tax of $1.7 was recorded. The challenging economic conditions continued to negatively impact the performance of the bank as an investment impairment expense of $22 million to write down the Government of Grenada Bond had to be taken in addition to an impairment expense on loans and advances to customers of $14.4 million.
“The unfavourable conditions also contributed to a reduction in total revenue of $8.5 million or 25% compared to the previous year”.
It is the second local commercial bank – following on the heels of Republic Bank in April 2013 – to make reference within the past 12 months to Grenada’s default on bond payments to the island’s major creditors.
Grenada is in dire financial straits. The 14 months now in office by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell must have brought home the reality of the situation to him.
The government is aware of the magnitude of the problem facing the country and the approach that is needed to grapple with the problem.
Economic Development Minister Oliver Joseph is right on ball when he said that “we need to grow the economy” as part of the strategy to move forward.
However, the important ingredient missing is the precise plan on how to grow the economy. The man with the plan prior to the February 2013 general elections, Dr. Patrick Antoine is now a shadow of the person that was on the political campaign platform and articulating the building of a so-called New Economy.
Whatever is the plan of the Mitchell government – it is clear that the Prime Minister has entrusted the economy totally into the hands of his trusted lieutenant, Timothy Antoine, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and the one in charge for over 15 years of the economy which has now seriously broken down.
And the same Dr. Patrick Antoine has been mandated by the Mitchell government to report not to the Line Minister, Prime Minister Mitchell but to Timothy Antoine. What a slap in the face for the architect of the so-called New Economy, Dr. Patrick Antoine.
Grenada is into the second year of the five-year term granted to Dr. Mitchell and NNP and nothing can be seen on the horizon to send a clear message to the people that things are turning in the right direction.
RBTT itself described the economic situation in the country as “challenging” and the task is for PM Mitchell and company to send signals to the rest of the country that a silver lining is on the horizon.
THE NEW TODAY would like to bring to the attention of the public a situation at Winners Club on the Carenage in which a non-national with a criminal record in the United States is being allowed to violate the Labour laws of the country.
This paper had exposed the presence of one Erik Pedersen, a convicted sex predator who was running Winners Club but fled the island after an expose in our pages.
The other questionable character at the Club – Demitri Stavropoulous – is still in the country and based on our information is working without a work permit.
This individual who was convicted and spent years in a U.S prison for mob-related activities can be seen all over the island installing gaming machines that might be in violation of the laws of the country.
The well-respected Chicago Tribune newspaper described Stavropoulous as “a bookie with ties to organised crime” in the United States.
The government claims that unemployment is high in the country but Mr. Stavropoulous is allowed to engage in gainful employment in the country without a valid work permit.
Is somebody in Grenada being paid “hush money” to turn a blind eye to the activities of this man from Chicago?