The cash-strapped ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has outlined some of its plans to deal with statutory bodies that are proving to be a financial strain on the Treasury.
Speaking to reporters at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister for Economic Development Planning and Trade, Oliver Joseph said the intention of the 19-month old government, now into a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), is to discontinue transferring of money to all statutory bodies.
His statement on the issue comes against the backdrop of reports in the country that Works Minister, Gregory Bowen met with the Grenada Postal Corporation (GPC) and Gravel & Concrete to inform them that some form of retrenchment of workers will be taking place at these two state-owned bodies.
President of the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU), Chester Humphrey confirmed to this newspaper that his union had been written to by the management of Gravel & Concrete on the possibility that some of the workers might lose their jobs.
However, Humphrey said that no firm plan has been put forward by Gravel & Concrete in keeping with the protocol for sending home workers.
Minister Joseph announced at the press conference that a sub-committee has been created based on a report submitted to Cabinet to govern the operations of Statutory bodies.
According to the senior government minister, the plan calls for statutory bodies to become more efficient and profitable and that a number of recommendations have been made in the report which have to be examined by the sub-committee.
“The recommendations for tighter financial controls of statutory bodies, that’s one of the major recommendations, also changing the management structure of it and less reliance on government support,” he remarked.
“They should demonstrate and come up with a plan, they should submit a plan to the respective (Line) Minister to show they could be profitable, how they could be turned around and if they cannot demonstrate that then the government would have to take a decision on whether to continue with the cooperation”, he said.
Minister Joseph gave assurances that the Mitchell government would be taking a pro-active approach on state-owned bodies, which are believed to be in dire financial straits.
He stated that unless these bodies can prove that they can improve efficiency then the government will not be transferring any monies to them for their operations.
“…They will be under tighter control and scrutiny by the respective Ministers from now going forward, all their financial reports have to be submitted, all their strategic plans have to be submitted to the government for consideration in the allocation of funds…”, he said.
The Mitchell government has campaigned on a promise of massive job creation within the first year of returning to office through several foreign investors that it had lined up to come into the country.