The Conference of Churches Grenada (CCG) has once again made known its position on the current economic situation facing the country as a result of the implementation of numerous taxes by the Keith Mitchell-led administration since taken Office one year ago.
Lead spokesman of the CCG, Fr. Sean Doggette told a radio talk show program that following a workshop in which the church body participated in May 2013, it adviced the government against increasing taxes in the country.
However, he said the churches recognise that many people who could and should pay taxes are not doing so and indicated that tax compliance and tax enforcement are things the religious community will support.
“The tax burden should not hit the lowest heavily, it should be equally and equitably distributed,” he told the programme host.
Since the start of the new year, government has widened the tax net to include more people into the income tax bracket by lowering the ceiling from $5000-$3000 per month, and has also doubled the property taxes as part of the austerity measures contained in a three year Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) which government says is being supported by the Washington-based International Monitory Fund (IMF).
Fr. Sean said the CCG has realised that the government is under pressure from the IMF to restructure the Grenadian economy.
The CCG spokesman also addressed the unemployment situation in the country especially as it relates to the young people.
He felt that the youth unemployment situation is at “a dangerous level” and is resulting in untold damage to the young people by undermining their self confidence and their sense of purpose.
According to Fr. Sean the key to the economic development of the country is agriculture, and questioned why the country is importing so many food items that can be produced locally.
The clergyman recalled that during his time spent in Grand Roy, St. John’s he often saw people coming from the neighbouring village of Mt. Plasair with their nutmegs to have them sold at the nutmeg station in Grand Roy and would receive immediate payment for their produce.
He also recalled the days when the banana industry was flourishing through the export trade to England.
“I am longing to see something like that come along. It could be in some form of food production or food processing,” he said.
Throughout the discourse Fr. Sean defended the accusations being leveled against the churches for not openly commenting on various social issues facing the country.
Fr. Sean who is a Roman Catholic Priest said the umbrella church body that represents the Roman Catholic Church, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist and the Salvation Army is always under pressure to make public statements on issues facing the country.
He indicated that in their view public statements are not the best way to bring about changes in behaviour.
He said rather than issuing public statements the CCG has been having meetings with those concerned including the government to voice their concerns.