“Let me say in a nutshell, we have stabilised the financial situation and we have restored Grenada’s standing with respect to investment and work in the country. That in year one is a great achievement”.
Those were the words issued by Chairman of the ruling New National Party (NNP), Gregory Bowen as he reflected on the first year in office of the government at a press conference held last week Wednesday.
Bowen said that with a national debt of EC$2.35 billion and an inability to meet financial commitments to international creditors, the Keith Mitchell-led government in Grenada has managed to stabilise the financial situation in Grenada.
He admitted that the country is going through difficult times but gave Grenadians the assurance that the administration will embark on a programme of fixing it.
“We are going through difficult times, we met certain things that we do not want to look back at and cast blame upon, but as we have been saying, we would embark on a programme of fixing it,” he said.
Bowen is convinced that the NNP has delivered within its first year in office.
He noted that coming into office following the defeat of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the February 19, 2013 general elections, the new rulers met the government’s overdraft with the local commercial banks at its peak, and that all state assets were sold.
He said there was an expectation that the Mitchell government would crumble but instead the administration has managed to stabilise the economy, paid the back-pay owed to civil servants, and saved jobs thus avoiding a similar situation in Barbados where in excess of 3000 jobs were loss.
This, according to Bowen is government’s “greatest delivery” to the people as promised by NNP to the electorate.
Bowen said the ruling party has opted to reflect on the past year in office rather than celebrate its victory at the polls one year ago.
He said that the NNP as a party will continue to support the plans and programmes of the government and will assist them in meeting the people and explaining the necessity of the austerity actions taken and those that will have to be taken in the future in the interest of the country.
Bowen said this is of fundamental importance because no matter how beneficial a programme of government might be, once the people do not buy into it then there could be problems.
The senior government and party official was asked to specifically address concerns raised in some quarters about the perceived failure by the NNP government to deliver on its promises to bring in those investors who were “lined up” to do business on the island.
Bowen said the government was continuing to dialogue with investors including those who have no money.
Deputy Chairman of the party, Kenny Lalsingh used the press conference to appeal to Grenadians to be patient and give the Keith Mitchell-led administration time to deliver on the promises made to the country.
“There are several measures to be taken to grow the economy, but, some people do not have patience to allow us to do it. We call on you to have patience and give us a chance, we are on the right track. Whatever we doing is being seen by the worldwide community and all our friends and agencies outside as the right way to go,” he said.
While still not in a position to say when precisely the letter of intent with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be signed, Lalsingh said it will be done soon and Grenada will be able to drawdown on soft loans and grant monies from the fund.
Lalsingh disclosed that several projects started under the former administration would continue and promised that the NNP will manage the economy properly in the interest of Grenada
“It is not about how much money you get, but is what you do with it and this government is committed to doing the country justice”, he said.
One of the major promises made to the electorate was the building of “a new economy” in which Grenada would become “a word-class tourism, yachting and marina destination”.
This new economy, the NNP said would be buttressed by “efficient business, finance and information technology services, an efficient light manufacturing sector, a well-diversified agricultural sector focused on “value-added” products, a dynamic oil and gas and renewable sector, and a highly efficient agro-industrial cluster dedicated to oils and extracts for health, food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications.