Legislation for fiscal discipline

Measures have been put in place in Parliament aimed at mandating government to stay in line with the use of the public funds.

The Senate has given approval at a recent sitting at the Trade Center at Morne Rouge, Grand Anse to the Fiscal Responsibility Bill 2015.

Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Simon Stiell who piloted the Bill said it seeks to ensure that government starts to live within its means.

Sen Stiell told the members of the Upper House that the Bill is one of three of similar pieces of legislation that will bring greater governance, accountability, transparency, integrity and financial management to the economy.

In his contribution to the debate on the Bill, Labour Representative, Sen. Raymond Roberts felt that the Bill was forced onto Grenada by the dictates of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).

According to Sen. Roberts, the fund was acting in order to deal with a nation that, over the years, was highly ill-discipline in the management of the country’s financial resources.

“Grenada is being disciplined by the IMF, and I’m happy that we have agreed that we made mistakes, and today we are prepared to repent,” the Labour Representative said.

The cash-strapped New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has been forced to address a severe fiscal crisis by implementing a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) that received the support of the IMF.

Under the programme, a number of taxes were imposed that impacted heavily on middle income earners in the country as Property Tax was increased, the income tax net was widened, and several government fees experienced tremendous increases.

Grenada has been saddled with a national debt of EC$2.6 billion, most of it racked up in the first 1995-2008 rule of Dr. Mitchell who borrowed heavily at commercial interest rates.

Sen Roberts told the Senate that the essence of the Bill has much to do with the management of the economy by Prime Minister Dr. Mitchell as Minister of Finance, dating back to 1995.

He also said that has to do to a lesser extent on the period of governance between 2008 and 2013 when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Tillman Thomas was in power.

The Labour Representative spoke of Dr. Mitchell being an “extremely poor performer in managing of the finances of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique.”

He recalled that the previous Mitchell administration gave away millions of dollars in guaranteed loans to illusive hotel projects, Call Centres, and a massive 189 million EC stadium that Hurricane Ivan blew away in September 2004.

“Now…  the workers and the pensioners, we have been burdened with heavy taxes to repay these loan guarantees,” the Labour Senator said.

According to Sen. Roberts, he wished there was a clause in the Bill to penalise politicians for doing things that they know cannot happen but was costly to the nation.

A similar Bill – the Public Debt Management Bill 2015 – was earlier passed in the Upper House.

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