Former Finance Minister Nazim Burke has described Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell as nothing more than a “good masquerader” in presenting a “basket” to the Grenadian people to get re-elected into office in the February 19 general elections.
In making his contribution to the 2013 Budget of Revenue and Expenditure in the Upper House last week, the former senior government minister who is now serving in the Senate said that the $1,102,243,994.00 Budget presented by Dr. Mitchell in his capacity as Finance Minister was not a budget but a basket to hold water.
“The basket is being brought to us in a caravan of hope giving us a false sense of being empowered,” Burke told the House.
The ex-government minister who lost his St. George North-east seat to Tobias Clement of NNP in the elections told the Senate that the new rulers had sold Grenadians “a fairy tale” during the election and now they are trying to see how they can dance out of that fairy tale.
He labeled the Budget as one replete with trickery from start to finish, adding that the only thing that distinguishes the 2013 Budget from the NDC Government’s 2012 Budget is a few policy pronouncements, not jobs or investors.
Burke noted that at the end of the NNP tenure in 2008, Grenada was overwhelmed with economic and social mismanagement, illegal and corrupt practices and a lack of accountability and transparency.
“Grenada’s credit rating was the lowest of any sovereign nation in the Caribbean. I’m not making that up, read the report of Standard and Poors and they will tell you that”, he said.
According to Burke, one of the important lessons to be learnt between the 2005 to 2008 period, which was easy to forget under the Mitchell administration, is that “you cannot just take our Minister for Finance words as they come to you.”
He said that based on his close observation of Dr Mitchell in his over 30 years in politics, he concludes that the three-time Prime Minister is nothing but a very experienced masquerader.
“I’ve been observing the Minister for Finance and the Prime Minister for several years now. I’ve been observing him very closely and I want to share my observation. I want to say this is not an attack on him, in-fact this is a compliment.
“Our Minister of Finance if I may say so, is a very experienced masquerader. Over the 30 years in politics he has come to understand perhaps (more) than anybody else, perhaps (more) than any other politician in the country, he has come to understand the psychology of the Grenadian people.
“He has mastered the art of manipulating their feelings their sentiments, their emotions, through his speeches. He’s able to change his facial appearance, the level and tone of his voice, the movement of his hands, the gesticulation, to satisfy their mood and impression, to convey whatever impression he wants to convey and to get them to believe whatever he wants them to believe.
“I see this not as a weakness, I see it as a strength, but this positive attribute can be used for good purposes and it could be used for bad purposes”.
Burke disclosed that this tactic was used by Dr. Mitchell when he pounded the table after taking the oath of office after the election and announced that there will be no-witch hunt of public officers.
However, he said that Dr. Mitchell quickly moved against Commissioner of Police, Willan Thompson who was forced to take leave until November.
Two other major causalities in the police force from the NNP victory at the polls were Director of the Financial intelligence Unit, Senneth Joseph who was sent to Carriacou and Superintendent of Police, Godfrey Flemming, who headed the Immigration & Passport Office and was reassigned to Police Headquarters as Chief Adjudicator.
Burke also accused Dr. Mitchell of using his deceptive strategy to persuade religious leaders on the controversial casino issue by lowering his voice to appear to be not aggressive or confrontational in trying to woo them to give support to the controversial policy.
“He is so confident about that ability that he believes he can sell sea water to the Grenadian people,” the former government minister said.
Burke urged the Grenadian people to not only listen to what Mitchell says but pay close attention in particular to what he actually does.
The NDC Number Two official conceded that the clean sweep at the polls by the 15 NNP Candidates was the will of the people but warned the NNP that this is not an open cheque for them to do as they like in public office.
Burke admitted that the country endured four-and-a-half years of economic difficulties under the leadership of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas but is concerned that rather than acknowledge the global economic challenges, Dr. Mitchell made it appear as if it was a problem that originated personally with him (Burke).
During the election campaign, the NNP targeted Burke for the financial and economic woos of the country and ran a campaign against him over the amount of houses that he owns on the island.