From golden opportunity to galling oppression

2014 will be the YEAR OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL OPPRESSION in Grenada!

From Hurricane Ivan in 2004 to the IMF in 2014, a decade of “tests, trials and temptations” has beset the ‘Greenz’. One senses that God is speaking! He has written a message to Grenadians and the time has come to ask and to answer the question, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

The coming economic and social oppression has its roots, not in the IMF, but in the kind of economy we empowered Keith Mitchell to create between 1995 and 2008. The real monster is not the IMF, it is the Mitchell economy.

Any Government that has taken its people and country from creditworthiness to bankruptcy cannot pretend that it has the solutions to our problems and that it will deliver. Now the time has come for Grenadians to bear the burden of the thirteen (13) years of NNP’s economic and financial recklessness.

Building the ‘monster’ happened through the following policy measures which, on any reasonable account, amounted to historic mistakes of governance:

 

The removal of personal income tax

 

Extensive and unsustainable borrowing to underwrite that measure and to finance non-productive infrastructural projects

 

Borrow, beg and spend for the vote philosophy

 

Wasteful and unwise public guarantees of private ‘paper’ projects

 

The virtual abandonment of the agricultural sector.

 

When we were growing up, we learned a number of sayings derived from the experiences and knowledge of our fore-parents, among them were:

 

Never hang your hat where your hand can’t reach

 

When you borrow you must pay back

 

If you cyan hear you go feel!




 

What is done in the dark must come to light

 

All that glitters is not gold!

These truths are directly applicable to the ‘cement and asphalt economy’ that was purposely fabricated by Mitchell and the NNP, between 1995 and 2008.

The great power of folklore is that it helps us to understand what we are reading. Accordingly, let us examine briefly some of the issues surrounding the ‘monster’ that is now living amongst us.

We will not deal with the massive wastage and reckless Government guarantees, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars which today form part of the national debt.

Firstly, the Grenada economy under the NNP was dominated by Government spending based, not on budgetary surpluses, but on high-cost borrowing and budgetary support up until 2005, mainly from Taiwan.

During that period of ‘gold dust’ living, both the private sector and the small man were happy! Neither group stopped to think of the fruits of those seeds in the years ahead. Today, painfully for us all, the fruits have arrived. It’s our Season of grief, bitterness and despair! ‘Gru gru’ days are here again, harder and more tasteless than before.

Secondly, the removal of personal income tax (under$5000 per month) might have led to increased consumption and savings, but not to productive investment by businesses. Much of this money left Grenada to pay for consumer goods and the rest was lodged in overseas bank accounts by the business class.

Thirdly, the policy of granting concessions (foregoing revenues to attract or encourage investment) proved to be a drag because the main beneficiary industry, i.e. tourism, due to inefficiencies and uncompetitiveness, remained highly dependent on Government funding to finance airlift projects, marketing, product development and maintenance. The net result is that while some jobs have come, not much revenue has found its way to the Treasury.

Lastly, the statistic of economic growth was embraced and worshipped at the altar of theory without any regard for the revenue impact of that growth. Very significantly, the measurement actually related to infrastructural change and not to productive investment which would normally provide sustainable jobs and increased revenues to the Treasury. This point is critical because it is the Treasury that must service the debt, not business profits or gifts from various other sources.

Exposing these historic mistakes of governance helps us to understand that we were badly mis-managed through poor economic policies and a reckless abuse of the public purse for those thirteen years.

With this understanding, Grenadians now know who and what have created this economic and social monster. The people now know who is personally responsible for the pain we must all undergo.

Everybody knows who squandered our creditworthiness. We the people are crystal clear as to who and what have brought us to our knees, from whence to bear the onerous sacrifices needed to fix the mess and to put Grenada back on its feet.

Yes, this is a time for patriotic commitment and action, but it is also a time to face reality. True, the public finances collapsed under the NDC, but the forces behind that failure were literally on the loose since 1995.

Just a few short months ago, thousands of our people actually misled themselves into believing that ‘when Keith come money go flow’. Their belief was their reality. Sadly, those who knew better did not tell them the truth

The transaction was defined in simplistic terms; ‘give me the vote and I will deliver to you’. Soon the youth will understand that the promised delivery is far, far, far away! The church leaders, who delivered their congregations for a promise or a package which was not from God, must now bruise their knees.

The line of investors, if ever there was, must now be worried about Grenada’s economic instability. The business people, who don’t care where Government gets money from as long as they bring it and spend, must now understand that the economy will be depressed for a number of years.

When you hear the Prime Minister utter the words, “when the juices begin to flow”, you must understand that he is well aware that ‘gru gru’ doh make juice! He must therefore be taking the public on another ride down the slippery slope of ignorance.

So this is our reality check, Grenadians! What Ivan failed to teach us, perhaps the IMF will. Let us pray that this time God will deliver us from ourselves so that we could understand what we are reading. The gall will burst with the 2014 budget!

 

CONGO PEPPER FILES

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