While the Keith Mitchell-led administration is looking forward to the planned introduction of an Investment Bill to improve Grenada’s ranking in the “Ease of Doing Business” of the World Bank when enacted, Opposition Senator Nazim Burke is peeved that that piece of legislation will be used to replace the Grenada Investment Promotion Act.
The Investment Bill 2014 seeks to encourage, promote and protect investments in Grenada by providing investors with a stable framework of fundamental rights and guarantees that ensures security and fairness in strict observance with the rule of law and best international standards and practices resulting in economic prosperity in Grenada.
Former Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Kenny Lalsingh who presented the Bill told the Senate that the new piece of legislation will assist government in doing business and to recognise that in some areas Grenada is “down at the bottom” of the list of countries.
Last month, the International Financial Cooperation, an arm of the World Bank graded Grenada at 126 out of 189 countries in the “Ease of Doing Business”.
Economic Development Minister Oliver Joseph, who is the Member of Parliament for St. David told the House of Representative that the near two year old New National Party (NNP) administration was not surprised at the ranking.
When enacted, the Investment Bill 2014 will replace five pieces of legislation including the Grenada Investment Promotion Act.
The other pieces of legislation that will be repealed are the Fiscal Incentive Act, the Hotels Aid Act, the Investment Code Incentive Act, and the Qualified Enterprise Act.
While giving support to new bill, Sen. Burke indicated that in 2009 the Congress government of then Prime Minister Tillman Thomas had enacted the Grenada Investment Promotion Act which identified fields of business enterprises that were open to investors, and identified the business activities reserved for local investors.
The Grenada Investment Promotion Act also made provisions for the review of decisions by the Grenada Industrial Development Cooperation (GIDC) where it was felt that the state-run body which was being promoted as a one-stop shop for investors, had made the wrong decision.
Sen. Burke felt that it was not necessary to scuttle the Grenada Investment Promotion Act for the Investment Bill as most of what is contained in the new piece of legislation is already addressed in the former legislation.
The opposition Senator believes that the 2009 legislation is far more comprehensive in scope than what is now being presented by the Mitchell government.
However, he said the new legislation cannot be seriously challenged by anyone as it is necessary to have clear investment policies for investors.
The Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GCIC) also voiced support for the new Investment Bill.
Private sector representative in the Upper House, Sen. Chris DeAllie indicated that investments in the past had to go to the Cabinet of Ministers where preferential treatment was given to some over others because of politics.
Sen. DeAllie believes the new legislation is seeking to remove the amount of political considerations given to investment projects.