The one-year old New National Party (NNP) government will soon introduce Fiscal Responsibility legislation in Grenada.
This was said by Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Dr Keith Mitchell as he addressed the nation on the occasion of the island’s 40th Anniversary of Independence last week Friday.
The cash-strapped Mitchell administration has just started a homegrown Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) aimed at addressing a crippling fiscal situation in which the island has been unable to make payments on its EC$2.4 billion dollar national debt.
Political opponents have often accused Dr. Mitchell of acting irresponsible with his handling of the nation’s financial affairs in his first stint in government from June 1995 to July 2008.
Under his rule, millions were lost in a number of failed projects undertaken like the Ritz Carlton hotel at Mt. Hartman with U.S investor E.J Miller, and the guarantees given to projects like the Garden Group of hotels in the south of the island, Call Centre at Seamoon in St. Andrew’s, and the Marketing & National Importing Board venture at the Lagoon in St. George’s.
The Grenadian leader told nationals he believes that they have been wandering far too long in the desert of fiscal irresponsibility, low productivity, as well as living beyond their means, and spending way more than they earn.
He pointed out that the government’s monthly wage bill is extremely high and accounts for 70 cents of every dollar earned in revenue.
“There is no sustainability in this, sisters and brothers, and we must take the collective responsibility to fix this – NOW!” he said.
Prime Minister Mitchell resorted to the use of biblical phrases to explain the precarious financial situation facing the island after 40 years of independence.
Dr Mitchell told the nation that Moses and the Israelites took 40 years to make their way out of the desert.
“Fiscal irresponsibility undermines our very independence. For this reason, our Government will introduce Fiscal Responsibility legislation. I urge us all to join hands in this effort to continue the revival of our economy; put our people back to work by creating opportunities; pay our bills; and help unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of our youth – thereby reducing dependence on Government”, he said.
The Prime Minister stated that it is for this reason his Government is providing business loans, investing in skills training, educational opportunities and technological access for the people.
“Sisters and brothers, I stand here today with pride; with a renewed sense of will; knowing that we will emerge out of the dust, and we shall rise again, and cross over to a place of renewed optimism, unity, and prosperity”, he told the nation.
Dr. Mitchell urged citizens to set aside childish ways, learn from past mistakes and resolve to walk with purpose “to their Promised Land” and to let the vision of the Father of Independence (former Prime Minister Sir Eric Matthew Gairy) shine brightly as they strive for a better life for the generations to come.