Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell says Grenada is responsible for the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) being downgraded on two occasions due to the actions of the former administration.
Earlier this month, an article published by whatsupcaribbean.com blamed Grenada’s recent default on an international bond and uneasiness in the long-term capital market for St. Vincent and the Grenadines being unable to successfully auction a EC$40 million (One EC dollar = US$0.37 cents) 10 year-bond.
Dr. Mitchell addressed the CDB issue last week Tuesday during the official launch of the Grenada Agricultural Feeder Road Project to cover the Mama Cannes/Grand Bacolet, St Andrew area.
“The Caribbean Development Bank was frightened when I went to see them three weeks ago, four weeks ago, because of Grenada, and let me say it here today, because we were afraid to say it before, some of us (were) hiding and telling lies and saying it’s not so. I could say it, because I’m on the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank”, Mitchell told the gathering,
He went on to say: “Grenada caused the Caribbean Development Bank to be downgraded two occasions and we were facing a third one when we came into office, we arrested the situation and paid the Caribbean Development Bank”.
In taking a shot at former Finance Minister Nazim Burke, the Prime Minister charged that the man dubbed as “the best Minister of Finance in the Caribbean … could not do the basic and fundamental things … (and) once again they (CDB) trust Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique”.
Prime Minister Mitchell also accused the former Tillman Thomas-led Congress administration of being negligent with its obligations to the Washington-based World Bank and lack of payments to other key institutions since it assumed office in July 2008.
“The World Bank was ecstatic that we were able to meet our responsibility once again, we owed the World Bank. Imagine you not paying the World Bank, you’re not paying … The Kuwait Fund, the Government of Venezuela, The Chinese Government has problems with us … the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the University of the West Indies where your children are supposed to get an education, we owe $15 million dollars, we didn’t pay in five years … ”
The Grenadian leader slammed the Thomas government over the administration’s refusal to proceed with the CDB-funded project in St. Andrew, namely a bus terminus and abattoir while it made changes to it.
This, he said was done principally because it was initiated by the previous NNP administration.
He said the former NDC government had condemned the CDB as irresponsible for approving the project.
“The project in St Andrew’s, the CDB project, because we did not want to do the NNP project as envisaged, we said the drawings were not good and therefore condemned the Caribbean Development Bank as irresponsible for passing a project, so the Caribbean Development Bank were extremely unhappy”, he remarked.
“So we lost three years of work and serious economic development in St Andrew’s because of politics of spite, and we lost millions of dollars on that project. So today we can’t even open the project in St Andrew’s because the project as envisaged in the original stage for the busses to be all housed in that parking spaces in St Andrew’s cannot be opened because it would mean some of the busses wouldn’t be involved and therefore we have to go to another phase and raise additional resources”, he said.
The changes to the project were made under the watch of former NDC Works Minister, Joseph Gilbert who was expelled from Congress and moved to support NNP in the February 19 general elections.
Prime Minister Mitchell commended Trade Unionist Chester Humphrey, the President General of the Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU), which is the bargaining agent for CCC workers.
According to Mitchell, although Humphrey had once supported the former NDC Government and party, he was not afraid “to stand up against them” when it came to supporting the continuation of the CCC project.
“Too many times we feel we supporting something then that organisation can do anything and we still saying we right. My friends, if the NNP persists to do anything like that you ought not to support it. You can still support the NNP but condemn an action which is against the interest of the country”, Mitchell said.
Prime Minister Mitchell also criticized the former NDC administration for its failure to complete the Bacolet Juvenile delinquent facility, a project he said that was supported by all stakeholders in the country.
He said the downside of the actions by Congress saw many young people including teenagers being incarnated at Her Majesty’s Prison at Richmond Hill with seasoned adult criminals.