A recent statement made in another island within the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has raised once again the austerity measures inflicted on the backs of Grenadians by the New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
St. Lucia Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony told his own Parliament that he had the choice but decided against introducing any of the harsh measures that were instituted in the Spice Isle.
The St. Lucian leader was making reference to measures such as the doubling of the Property Tax on home owners, the widening of the income tax dragnet to catch more persons, and the huge increases in a number of government fees.
The major difference in the situation facing both countries is that St. Lucia had the option to avoid the type of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) imposed in St. George’s while the NNP had no choice but to call in the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bail-out from its severe fiscal imbalance.
Reality had been driven home to Grenadians in 2013 after years of unfortunate borrowing and spending by previous governments headed by Dr. Mitchell on a host of unsustainable projects.
Too many millions were wasted on projects that never materialised – the Poultry project at St. Mark’s, the Garden Group hotels in the south, the MNIB Fiasco in the Lagoon Road, the Call Centers, and the charade that took place in building the so-called Ritz Carlton hotel at Mt. Hartman.
The island’s debt burden became too heavy for the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Tillman Thomas.
The Minister of Finance in the 2008-13 period, Nazim Burke was always under pressure in the latter half of the government’s term in office to find monies on a consistent basis to pay salaries and international creditors at the same time.
THE NEW TODAY has stated in the past and wish to re-iterate that despite the uttering of the current rulers in St. George’s the economic and financial landscape will be problematic for the next 10-15 years.
It is not a quick fix for NNP or Congress in the immediate and foreseeable future.
The “ole talk” about building a new economy has been put back on centre-stage with the launch of the National Plan 2030 in which Dr. Patrick Antoine has once again surfaced after being in the “cold” for a long time to emerge as the main architect.
There is a lot of explaining for Dr. Antoine to do to the Grenadian people since he played a major role in the creation of the NNP manifesto document that propelled the party with a clean 15-0 sweep of the polls in February 2013 on the platform of “We Will Deliver”.
Where was Dr. Antoine hiding over the many months? Who is really in charge of the nation’s Economy – Dr. Antoine or Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine?
Does the entry of Dr. Antoine once again mean that the NNP is planning something new to sell to the electorate to get them to stick with “the green folks” for the next election? What is this new something in the making?
There is no relationship in terms of what is happening in Grenada economically and financially with the promises made by PM Mitchell and company with the last NNP Manifesto.
The calypsonians are having a field day on the investors still in waiting or those who have apparently canceled their flights into the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) with the bag of money for investment purposes.
In recent days, there was a strange utterance from PM Mitchell that too many people in Grenada believe that government has to provide the jobs for them.
If the tapes of 1995 are pulled out, it was Dr. Mitchell who told the NNP victory rally at the old Queen’s Park pavilion in 1995, “if is work you want is work you go get”.
THE NEW TODAY suspects that this period is the most painful for the Prime Minister as the SAP has just about destroyed his economic theory of the last 15 years about always putting disposable income in the hands of the people to propel economic growth and development.
The current construct of the NNP is to take away the so-called “disposable income” from the people to meet the demands of the IMF to help fix Grenada’s severe fiscal problem.
The folks in Washington are seemingly calling the major shots in Grenada. It is our firm belief that the Fund had a big hand in the decision of government to take legislation to Parliament to put the Minister of Finance in a straight jacket when it comes to using his discretionary powers on the issue of granting concessions.
This kind of legislation is not in the DNA of PM Mitchell who sees himself as a maximum leader and the one to go to on major issues in the country.
This paper would not forget the warning issued over two years ago by the IMF that its previous programmes in Grenada have failed under both NNP and NDC and the new one (SAP) will be a horse of a different colour.
Black Wizard’s IMF’s keep reverberating in our ears, when he sang
about the conditions often set by the IMF – if you want my money then be prepared for the austerity.