Don’t stop the progress

The above was one of the stand out slogans of the ruling New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell as it sought to gather its troops and forces to combat opponents into submission to its rule in the Spice Isle over the past 20 years.

The so-called progress came through a massive borrowing and spending spree in which supporters of the NNP regime branded the largesse on offer as “ah eating a food” and never cared or thought that one day someone has to eventually pay for the millions that were borrowed.

The movers and shakers within the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GCIC) were also active participants as their only concern was not the level of borrowing or the country’s ability to sustain and maintain the borrowing levels but the size of their own  profit margins.

The Chamber boys saw things one way – how much money they can rake in and take to the bank to deposit on their accounts on a daily basis.

They were not concerned about the spend and tax mentality of the government and the repercussions down the road.

The country is now broke financially because of the failed policies of the recent past and the same GCIC big wigs are complaining that “things are really bad” and are doubtful that they will ever see light at the end of the very dark tunnel.

These private sector so-called leaders are also questioning the so-called growth in the Grenadian economy as being advanced by government and those in charge of the running of the Ministry of Finance.

A leading private sector business executive made the comment this past week that the precarious financial situation now being faced by the virtually bankrupt GRENREAL – operators of the two Malls in the heart of the city – is very indicative of what is the real picture of business in the country.

GRENREAL has been forced to cut rent in order to keep its tenants and to ensure that workers are not sent home and forced to go on the breadline.

This so-called flag ship project that was built under a previous NNP regime of Dr. Mitchell was aided by massive public sector support as the Grenada Ports Authority (GPA) was cajoled into joining with Zublin G’da Limited and others into forming an association to bring the project on stream.

A few of the shareholders of the company are now claiming that the Esplanade Mall was built at “too high a cost” from the onset and the company is now unable to meet its financial commitments to its original bankers, First Caribbean International Bank (FCIB), formerly called Barclays.

THE NEW TODAY is forced to ask the question – why would the local businessmen participate in a project that at the very start was “too high a cost?”

Equally important is the following question – was the financial figures for the project bloated for political purposes so that money could have been diverted to help keep the so-called “progress” alive and in charge of the nation’s affairs?

Was proper financial analysis done to justify the viability of the Esplanade Mall project. If it was done, who did it. Also, what sort of projection was taken into account for the Grenadian economy to ensure that the Mall was a viable project?

Those GCIC big boys who aided and abetted the financial misdeeds of the recent past lack any moral fortitude to be complaining whether in public or behind closed doors about the financial malaise in the Grenadian economy.

Ole talk will not take Grenada out of its present financial mess – the country would have to find a way to become more productive.

This newspaper is even beginning to have some doubts about the policies being pursued by government at the insistence of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to help turn around the Grenadian economy.

The IMF is now admitting openly that it misread the financial debacle in Greece and is now seeing things differently from the European Union (EU) in rescuing the situation in that financially bankrupt country.

It is absolutely clear that while the IMF remedies can potentially stabilise an economy they are not growth enhancing and therein lies the economic nightmare for the Mitchell government and its Structural Adjustment Programme.

The female head of the IMF Mission told reporters over a year ago that the main focus on the Grenadian economy at the time was to stabilise the finances of the State and then move onto the introduction of the growth component.

Where are these strategies for growing the economy? Have they been pronounced and implemented and can those making the statements in the recent past point to the specific strategies that were put forward to bring about growth?

The reality of the situation is that despite all the “ole talk” in official circles of growth, a number of workers especially in state-owned bodies like Gravel & Concrete and Postal Corporation will soon be sent home as part of polices to be implemented with this ongoing Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).

This is precisely what one of our foremost economist, Dr . Brian Francis had predicted months ago – a massive retrenchment of workers to tackle a high wage bill in order to bring some stability to the finances of the State.

And if GRENREAL is not given a financial bail out by Grenada Co-operative Bank Limited (GCBL) and the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) then hundreds more workers will be forced to go on the breadline in short order.

So the question to be asked is this: Who is telling the truth – IMF, World Bank, the Mitchell Regime or the people on the streets who are feeling the present day situation due to the pressures of the high taxes?

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