Port-of-Spain — Grenada Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, who was in Trinidad last week told reporters in Port-of-Spain that his New National Party (NNP) administration is prepared to deal with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) but would only accept “what is best for the country”.
His remarks comes against the backdrop of a release issued by holders of Grenada’s bonds that they would like the IMF to be part of a programme to be worked out with Grenada to repay millions owed to them.
The three-month old government in St. George’s has signaled its intention to renegotiate for a second time in 10 years, Grenada’s debt estimated at EC$2.3 billion with its creditors.
The Mitchell government was forced to take the decision after Grenada defaulted on a coupon payment with its creditor, estimated at EC$19 million dollars in March.
The cash-strapped government said it did not have any monies to make the payment and as a result the credit rating agency, Standard & Poor downgraded the island’s creditworthiness to “SD”.
During his trip to Trinidad, Dr. Mitchell was asked by reporters in Port-of-Spain to comment on Grenada’s agreement with the IMF and he made it clear that the island had recognised that it must deal appropriately with the international community.
“We have signaled to the IMF that we need their support, but of course we are only going to accept a programme that is in the interest of Grenada and Caricom,” he said.
Noting that he had been in government before and the IMF knows him and he them, he said: “We know what is best for our country. So we are
going to be discussing this new formula in the context of what is best
for the country. We’ll work things out. But Grenada would be in charge
of the process.”
On the repayment of loans to Taiwan, Dr. Mitchell disclosed that the problem has lessened considerably and meetings would be taking place soon to reduce the tensions between the two countries and to work out an appropriate formula to meet Grenada’s responsibilities and the Taiwanese expectations.
“Things are moving in an appropriate direction. And the United States and the Chinese are helpful in that respect,” he said.
Dr. Mitchell said he was informed while in Trinidad of a third major drug bust as a result of the radar system which Trinidad and Tobago has set up with Grenada.
He stressed that Grenada faced the same problem of cellphones being used in jails, as Trinidad and Tobago does.
“When I came into government, I found out that the problem was quite massive. A senior official of government responsible for looking after the system indicated that they received a call from a person asking for a top up of his cellphone. When they asked ‘where are you?’ The person said: ‘I am in the prison’.”
Dr. Mitchell stated that his government had appointed a new Commissioner of Police. He added that there were two occasions when people were scaling walls to go inside the prison.
“Usually, people scale walls to get out of the prisons,” he quipped.
He said his government had sent the message that it was not going to tolerate this kind of situation.
During his trip to the neighbouring twin island republic, Prime Minister Mitchell confirmed that he would be among Caribbean leaders to meet with United States Vice President Joe Biden later this month at which security-related issues would be one of the prime areas of discussions.