Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell says Grenada will continue to engage the Australian Government to try and get Canberra to reverse its decision to pull the promised funding of its Parliament building.
The Prime Minister told local reporters that his administration would not fail in its efforts to get the Australian Government to overturn its decision on the AUS $5.1 million dollar grant that was pledged as part of the financial package needed for the construction of the Parliament facility.
“We should not fail to do what we can to get that decision overturned,” he said.
The United Arab Emirates has promised US$5 Million for the project.
The Australian Government of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pledged the $5 million towards the construction of the Parliament building to the former Congress Government of Tillman Thomas at a Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in Trinidad & Tobago.
Grenada is said to have already spent $1 million on the design of the facility.
The Spice Isle is one of several islands that were informed through formal communiqué that the Tony Abbott Government will phase out all aid programmes to the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa after his election victory.
Dr. Mitchell’s attempt to get a change in the Australian decision comes on the heels of a statement posted on www.foreignminister.gov.au/speeches by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop during the 2014 Australian Aid and International Development Policy workshop in which she spoke about her government’s decision to recall funding of Grenada’s Parliament.
“Now I know from a report on the ABC last night that apparently my priorities are wrong because I am not funding the reconstruction of the Grenada Parliament House in the Caribbean. According to the ABC I have got my priorities wrong”, she was quoted as saying.
“The previous government, in order to buy the vote of the Grenadian Government for the Security Council seat and believe me I support us being on the Security Council, promised to rebuild their Parliament House – committed $3.5 million to do it, a million dollars has already gone.
“The Grenadian Government actually campaigned at the last election on the basis that they would not put a dollar into the building of their Parliament house because the Australian Government and others would do it.
“Well, I’m sorry, but Grenada is amongst the high human development countries in the world. In fact, I had a look on the Human Development Index and Grenada is up there in that high Human Development Index.
“It doesn’t mean that we will walk away from humanitarian efforts; it doesn’t mean that we don’t have global responsibilities; it doesn’t mean that we will take money away from multi-lateral organisations that have a much broader sweep. But when it comes to our direct aid support, the focus must be on our region. We are going to be promoting economic growth. Aid is not a panacea to poverty”.
The Mitchell-led government has made it clear that it intends to proceed with the construction of the Parliament building and efforts have started to seek new funding from other friendly countries.
The new parliament building is estimated to cost US$11 Million.
Grenada’s original Parliament building located at York House in the town of St George remains in ruins with trees now growing from the dilapidated structure, nine years after Hurricane Ivan demolished the building in September 2004.
Since the destruction of the building, the Grenada Trade Centre at Morne Rouge in Grand Anse has been used to facilitate sittings of Parliament.