Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Senator Nazim Burke has painted a bleak picture of the state of the Grenadian economy following the downgrade of the island by the respected International Financial Corporation (IFC).
The IFC which is the Private Sector arm of the Washington-based World Bank in its annual review on “The Ease of Doing Business” index among 189 countries in the world has pushed Grenada down in the ranking at a low 126.
In 2013, Grenada was ranked 113 in the world and has now fallen by 19 positions in 2014 under the 20-month old New National Party (NNP) administration of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Sen. Burke who at the time was commenting on the ranking on a radio talk show program indicated that while Grenada is doing badly the other territories in the region have embraced “The Doing Business” reform agenda and have risen in the ranking.
The only country which lags behind Grenada is Haiti which ranks at 180.
Singapore is ranked number one.
Sen. Burke who served as Finance Minister in the Tillman Thomas-led NDC Government of 2008-13 recalled the measures that were taken when he was in office to improve Grenada’s status in the ease of attracting business operations in the country.
He said that between 2010 and 2011 an aggressive and comprehensive reform program was pursued, and as a result of the work done Grenada’s ranking by the IFC moved from 98 in the world to 73.
According to the former Finance Minister, under Congress rule Grenada was also ranked as among one of the top ten reformers in the world, this being the very first time that a Caribbean island was placed in the top ten in the world in any given year in the history of the rankings.
This, he said came about due to the decision that was taken by Congress to establish the Office of Private Sector Development, and the establishment of a separate unit of Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Properties.
In addition, the number of days it took to register a business which was 20 days was reduced to 16 days due to the launch of an electronic entry processing system at Customs.
The ex-government minister under Congress accused the Mitchell administration of not being able to display a real sense of commitment in doing business reform in the country.
He pointed out that the IFC has indicated that no significant measures were taken by Grenada during the period under review in an attempt to improve its position.
Burke believes the country is going nowhere economically, and the prospects are really dire after 20 months of NNP rule.
He charged that the current low IFC ranking of Grenada has long term implications for the country as the government has imposed 24 different taxes, levies and charges which have resulted in significant reduction in the disposable income of the ordinary people on the island.