Fiscal responsibility and the Grenada cabinet re-shuffle

The Keith Mitchell-led NNP administration has been forced to accept a fiscal responsibility bill allegedly crafted by advisors from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP).

This bill will limit the discretionary spending of the Minister of Finance, Keith Mitchell who is Prime Minister of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Never in the history of the country has a Prime Minister had his powers curtailed by a world financial institution, because of his recklessness in the management of state resources.

Prime Minister Mitchell’s hands are tied and he has absolutely no choice but to accept the dictates of the IMF and World Bank. Mitchell’s nature as a politician is to have a free hand to do whatever he wants with the resources of the state. Having served as Minister of Finance on many occasions between 1995-2008, he is directly responsible for the national state of affairs. He has tried to blame the previous NDC administration but the record is clear and the facts speak for themselves.

The Keith Mitchell-led NNP administration from 1995 -2008 grossly mismanaged the national economy, increasing the national debt from $373 million to over $2 billion. The average Grenadian is suffering some serious economic challenges, burdened by high taxation implemented by this NNP administration. The IMF is now forcing the government and Minister of Finance to pull up his pants and walk along the track that they have laid.

The Prime Minister is making an effort to remake his image and secure his legacy. His tenure has been marred by allegations of corruption and so he wants to go down in history as a leader who is clean and pure. He however has to swallow the bitter IMF pill since he has no choice; however, given his nature he is forced to swallow his pride and accept directives from the IMF.

The mandate that the Prime Minister has to follow is that of the IMF. This is just the beginning of what is to be a string of actions and activities that the government must follow in other to obtain finances from the IMF and World Bank. In the not too distant future the NNP administration will have to implement public sector reform.

Grenada’s public service is extremely bloated, resulting in a wage bill that is unsustainable. Public Service reform will see the retrenchment of hundreds of public servants and more economic hardship for the people.

St Lucia Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony has refused to take his country into the claws of the IMF, citing as a reason the experience of the people of Grenada who are burdened with scores of taxes.

If one is to take the recent speech of Keith Mitchell at his word, one would have no choice but to believe that Grenada’s economy is doing extremely well. The speech, however, is 360 degrees out of sync with the reality on the ground. Youth unemployment is rampant and is a national crisis; prostitution is at an all time high.

Contrary to the falsehood of Senator Simon Stiell, Leader of Government Business in the Senate, who claims that the cost of living is falling, the cost of living is as high as the sky. One has to wonder which country Simon Stiell is referring to. The deceitfulness and hypocrisy of our politicians is like a cancer.

Keith Mitchell needs to be honest and forthcoming with the Grenadian people. In his years as a politician he has learnt that Grenadians liked to be lied to and so he has skillfully exploited this flaw in Grenadian society. If he had delivered on the many jobs he talked about for the many years he has been in power, Grenada’s unemployment rate would now be zero percent. The many hundreds and thousands of jobs he bragged and boasted about throughout his political career is just a fallacy.

It is rather ironic that, while the economy is practically in a recession, with unemployment among the youthful population close to 60%, the Prime Minister has seen it fit to expand his Cabinet. Keith Mitchell is a tactical politician, but socially and economically he is a disaster.

He knows how to play his political cards in that, as he elevates Simon Stiell and Garraway to ministerial status, Peter David remains a Senator of tribalism, even with his vast knowledge and experience. He will certainly be a much better Minister than Garraway and Stiell.

However, politically he is a liability in the eyes of the hierarchy of the NNP. It is left to be seen how much longer he has the patience to remain calm. Keith Mitchell is probably hoping that it won’t be much longer since he can make Peter David into a Raphael Fletcher.

Interesting times are in the making in the politics of Grenada. Chester Humphrey has been very quiet for the past months. He may be quietly regretting joining an alliance with Keith Mitchell and the NNP, having come to the realisation that Mitchell and the NNP can’t deliver his political protégé on his throne.

The IMF runs things, to the annoyance of Keith Mitchell, but there is nothing he can do about it. When you are in the rain you expect to get wet.

A snap election may be the best solution at this time. The mandate given to the Prime Minister in February 2013 was not meant for him to increase taxes on the people. Instead he was given a mandate by the electorate to ride employment and employment and employment opportunities.

Mitchell is fast becoming a septuagenarian and so he should stop playing politics with the nation’s business. If he can’t govern effectively for the benefit of all, then he has to go.

For too long he has played with the emotions of the people. Grenada risks losing many generations of its young people if something is not done and done quickly to engage them positively. The removal of Sheldon Scott from the Ministry of Youth to the Prime Minister’s office is out of political expediency and his poor performance. Sheldon Scott has been demoted as a result.

Also demoted is the MP for St John, Alvin Dabreo. He has been removed from Communications and Works with special responsibility for ICT to agriculture under Roland Bhola. Da Breo is an engineer by training and profession. Talking about putting a square peg in a round hole, that appointment is a classic example. That however has been the norm with this inept administration since another engineer Gregory Bowen was made Attorney General.

Simon Stiell, an architect by training and profession, is now in the Ministry of Education. It’s just one big ‘political kakahoop’, with taxpayers monies wasted and mismanaged.

It is alleged that Sheldon Scott instigated and lobbied for someone close to him to be the Permanent Secretary in that ministry, hence the reason for his demotion. Garraway, however, isn’t a good replacement given his track record thus far.

Placing Sheldon in the Prime Minister’s office is also political since he can now be used to spread propaganda in coordination with the GIS. Grenadians have showed a weakness in being fooled by false information and propaganda since the vast majority of people don’t read.

Despite the claim of the Prime Minister that this NNP team of ministers is the best he has worked with, the record and the facts speaks otherwise. If this is the best team, why have there been three Cabinet reshuffles in two years?

The fact is this is the most incompetent bunch of Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries that the country has ever seen. Mitchell is securing himself financially and otherwise at the expense of the nation’s youth.

As the elections get closer, more and more Cabinet reshuffles will be made, as Keith Mitchell attempts to fashion a new team in his image and likeness. What the nation is observing with a very keen interest is what will become of the infamous Peter David. So far, to his disgust, he has been denied any ministerial position because of division within the ranks of the government and NNP.

Many high ranking party officials are strongly against him being made a Minister of government because he can’t be trusted. It was anticipated that he would be made Foreign Minister in a previous reshuffle; however, he was out done by the MP for St Mark’s, Claris Modeste.

The upcoming months will be very interested indeed, as both main parties, the NDC and NNP, continue to identify candidates for the upcoming general election, which is expected to be a very hotly contested one.

The Keith Mitchell-led NNP administration has failed thus far and is on the back foot. The draconian taxes that the NNP administration has introduced on the backs of the poor and middle class have resulted in thousands of citizens worse off now than when the party was re-elected into office.

The IMF has curtailed the discretionary spending powers of the Prime Minister and the days of ‘freebies’ from his office are over.

Judgement time is fast approaching. Let’s hope that the masses finally become the victors and not the victims once again.

Grenadian Class

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