The ten-month old New National Party (NNP) administration in Grenada could soon statutorise the Government Information Service and the Government Printery as it moves to cut back on expenditure.
In his closing remarks on the 2014 Budget of Revenue and Expenditure, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Dr Keith Mitchell said that these two Departments of government will be looked at by his administration as part of the drive to cut down on expenditure in the New Year.
According to the Prime Minister, the two entities, presently under the full responsibility of Government, have competent and qualified personnel who can run them outside of direct government influence and can provide quality services to the public.
Dr Mitchell said his government is looking at providing a “statutory atmosphere” for a number of government operations.
Prior to losing the 2008 general elections, the former NNP government of Dr. Mitchell had tooted the idea of turning the Government Printery into a statutory body.
The Prime Minister said the intention of government is to give several government entities the room and ability under proper guidance and policy to expand services but at the same time reduce cost to government.
He pointed out that they will be looking at the concept of a statutory body for the Printery so that it can expand its potential for maximising service in the country.
“A lot of the stuff that go out of the country today like Christmas cards, people send to Trinidad and all other places – all kinds of services, wedding cards and so on, they should be printed here. The equipment is there, and the staff there is competent,” he said.
“A lot of the newspapers that goes off to Trinidad every week, we spend a lot of money, that money could stay in Grenada and provide more jobs for our people”, he added.
Dr. Mitchell told Parliament that the staff at the Government Printery is excited about the possibility of their department being turned into a statutory body.
The Grenadian leader also believes that GIS is capable of providing quality service as a statutory body.
“Why should the GIS have to be directed under Government? It should be out there, providing services to the country”.
According to the Prime Minister, government will continue to have influence in getting its programmes out to the public and as such GIS should be a prime target for statutorisation.
The Prime Minister also used the opportunity to express his delight with what he termed as the quality of works done by young GIS employees who are working hard night and day with not one-cent overtime and yet never looking unpleasant on the job.
The new head of GIS is veteran journalist, Rawle Titus once described by Prime Minister Mitchell as an operative of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Dr Mitchell told Parliament that a strategic review of existing statutory bodies would be undertaken in 2014.
He explained that statutory bodies were created to be more efficient than Central Government and to be independent of the State but unfortunately, this is not the case with many of these enterprises.
He said: “They (statutory bodies) pay far higher salaries than Central Government, they rely on subventions and concessions and they do not pay any dividends to Government. Mr. Speaker, I wish to notify all statutory bodies that the party is over”.
Over the years, several statutory bodies were used by politicians to provide employment for their supporters.
The Gravel Concrete & Emulsion Production Corporation is said to be over-staffed with many political operatives and has often ran into financial difficulties with its bankers.
Prime Minister Mitchell also announced that on the instruction of Cabinet, line Ministers have been meeting with their respective Board of Directors to inform them of the new direction and of Government’s expectations to cut back on losses.
He said the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) has taken the lead in the new thinking and took the decision to cut back on its subvention from the State.
“Following my recent meeting with Boards under the Ministry of Finance and Energy, I am pleased to announce that the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation has voluntarily decided to take a cut in its annual subvention. Mr. Speaker, I commend the Chairman and Board of Directors for this decision. I urge others to do likewise,” Dr Mitchell told Parliament.