As the country grapples with the harsh reality of a wage and pension bill that is seventy cents of every dollar collected, a high debt to GDP (Gross Domestic Production) ratio, and an expectant population makes several demands on the government of the day for a better standard of living; a few poignant questions are being asked in every strata of Grenadian Society.
From the dinner table to the roadside rum shops, the same vexing issues stare us straight in the face. How then does the Government close the fiscal gap while at the same time allay the fears of an anxious populace?
IN VERY SIMPLE TERMS, AS A NATION, WE ARE SPENDING MUCH MORE THAN WE EARN. A FISCAL DEFICIT OF 18 MILLION IS JUST NOT SUSTAINABLE!
The former administration used an approach similar to placing a Band Aid on a festering wound! Obviously, the selling of State Assets by any administration to pay salaries and wages (recurrent liabilities) is an unconscionable indictment. It shows a manifest lack of vision, and sends a signal to the world that the Administration is unable to MANAGE the financial affairs of the state. Thankfully, this government has not taken that shameful and spineless route!
THE NEW GOVERNMENT HAS NOW INITIATED SOME BOLD AND COURAGEOUS STEPS TO FIX THE ECONOMY
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF), STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT PROGRAM: Admittedly, this calls for the introduction of some tough and difficult measures. However, there are tremendous concurrent opportunities to be gained.
Critics of the government have been making several negative remarks about the initiatives taken by this new administration to put the country on a sound fiscal footing, and ultimately, the road to Economic Recovery.
The prophets of doom and gloom have their own myopic agenda and would stop at nothing to erode the confidence of the Grenadian people. A strong and robust economy benefits everyone, irrespective of their political allegiance!
The Prime Minister and Minister of Finance indicated that some Three Hundred Million EC Dollars (EC$300, 000,000.00) would be made available by the IMF for disbursement into the Economy once there is compliance with the austerity measures.
An important consideration is also the availability of grants and other significant aid packages from some countries in the (EU) European Union, once we are compliant with the IMF.
LETTER OF INTENT: The signing of this document, paves the way for all of this to become a reality. The Trade Union Movement must be commended for their patriotic support in ensuring that a vast majority of their membership is on board. We are undoubtedly living in challenging times – the dynamics are totally different.
Again, credit must go to the Keith Mitchell-led Administration for showing the resolve and courage to kick- start the economy. The mathematical solution is quite an easy one: If you are spending 70 cents out of every dollar earned on WAGES, SALARIES AND PENSIONS then you are left with only 30cents to take care of the country’s basic needs. It does not take an Albert Einstein to figure it out! Just slash your wage bill. Barbados did!
It is quite ironic though that the “economic wizards and astute financial experts,” who were dumped and unceremoniously rejected on February 19, 2013, are suddenly coming up with all the answers and solutions.
Apart from the significant increase in the wage bill, the government inherited a 40 million dollar back pay commitment to public servants. Despite these and several other challenges, some 18 million dollars have been paid out as back pay. Another two disbursements are scheduled for March and April 2014.
This is a remarkable achievement, given the scarcity of financial resources! But what is even more phenomenal is the fact that all of this was done without any job loss, and public servants are still receiving their monthly salary on time!
This roadmap to economic recovery certainly requires that “all hands are on deck”! This is not the time for cheap rhetoric and seizing an opportunity to score points over political adversaries. Rather, it’s a time to sound that clarion call for National Unity and Nation Building!
It’s also a time when as a nation we must look for ways and means to better utilise our limited resources, cut back on wastage, especially in the agricultural sector and recommit ourselves to nation-building. At the end of the day, no matter which political party you support, this beautiful land of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique is our home.
To conclude, let me share some pertinent facts as we begin this journey towards economic recovery. Throughout the annals of History we can find excellent examples of human triumph in times of difficulty. Three examples quickly come to mind: Leonardo da Vinci, George Washington Carver and Lee Lacocca.
There are some glaring characteristics shared by these extraordinary men: courage and determination in the face of adversity and the ability to adapt and be innovative. If we take the time to look within ourselves, these same talents and traits are embedded deep in our Grenadian psyche. Now is the time to unleash our true potential!
A quote from the legendary American businessman, Lee Lacocca points to the direction of our roadmap to Economic Recovery: “In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and energy into something positive.”
LET US NOT WASTE AN IDEAL OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE GRENADA THE MODEL FOR ECONOMIC RECOVERY AND EXCELLENCE IN THE REGION!