The main opposition New National Party (NNP) has accused the Grenada government of selling off state properties and illegally borrowing funds from the state-owned National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to meet the salaries of public servants.
NNP leader and former Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell told supporters at a public meeting in Crochu on the island’s east coast Sunday that the Tillman Thomas-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration had taken EC$14 million (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) from the NIS to meet its financial obligations to public workers.
“The Mt Hartman Plant area, one of the most lucrative properties in the country owned by the government, they sold it my friend to pay salaries. On Friday that went through. My friends these are not them say. I have seen the copies myself,” Dr. Mitchell said, warning that there were other state-owned properties to be sold to ease the government’s financial woes.
“They are selling everything. You are hearing that they sell the rest of the shares in GRENLEC (Grenada Electricity Company). You are hearing they are selling the rest of the shares in Cable and Wireless and in the Grenada Breweries. Well let me tell you all of those shares were sold as of a few weeks ago,” Dr. Mitchell said, as he again appealed to Prime Minister Thomas to reconvene Parliament so that the issues could be debated.
“Tillman Thomas must understand that these properties are not his own. These (belong) to the people. He has no right to sell those properties without the people of the country involved, and without Parliament”, he told party supporters.
“And because they selling and not putting it out on the public for sale, they are taking what they get because they desperate for money,” he said, adding “this country is being destroyed by a bunch of bandits”.
Dr. Mitchell also accused the government of seeking to inflate the public service with their “friends” and that they have also agreed to give public servants an increase in salaries.
“In other words when NNP get there it would have to pay the bill,” he said, adding that the Thomas government is committing the country to long-term expenses without parliamentary approval or oversight.
“You know how you call that. It’s a scorched earth policy. That is the mindset of the bandits that now exist in government,” he told supporters.
Ever since it won the 2008 general election ousting the NNP from office after 13 unbroken years, the NDC has been plagued with infighting resulting in the dismissal or resignation of several government ministers.
A new party, the National United Front (NUF), comprising former members of the NDC, was launched last week promising that it would contest the 2013 poll.
During its own 13 years in government, the NNP of Dr. Mitchell was often dogged by accusations of corruption and mismanagement of the island’s economy.
The former regime faced criticisms for giving away an estimated $280 million dollars in guarantees for fly-by-night foreign investors such as E.J Miller and the failed Ritz Carlton hotel project at Mt. Hartman and the Call Centres involving close relatives of Dr. Mitchell in the Happy Hill area of St. George’s.