Cracks are appearing within the ruling New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell on the austerity measures enforced since the 2013 general elections.
Former government minister, Kenny Lalsingh is the first high profile person within the NNP to speak out publicly against the impact of the taxes on Grenadians over the past two-and-a-half years.
Lalsingh, a former Minister of State for Implementation, has openly stated that the people are hurting due to the austerity measures by the current administration that got into office on a campaign of thousands of jobs to be created and an influx of foreign investors.
The former NNP government Senator and Parliamentarian for St. Patrick West phoned into a local FM radio station last week to tell the host that the taxes that were recently implemented by the Mitchell-led administration are justified, but “it is harsh on the people.”
“People are complaining. Some people may not tell them (the government)… but when you go around, people are complaining… but to add more (taxes) would be counterproductive,” he said.
Lalsingh who was replaced as Leader of Government Business in the Senate last year is not supportive of a further increase in Property tax.
He reminded the host of the programme that government has already increased Property tax by one hundred percent and this is proving difficult for property owners.
Lalsingh pointed out that banks are now repossessing a number of houses that are in default of mortgage payments.
The former government minister is also not comfortable with the move made by the Mitchell Administration in hiking up the tax on petrol.
This, he said has created a political and psychological problem as the price of petrol in the other territories in the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States is cheaper.
From the months of May to September, the Petrol tax moved from $3.00 to $5.00 per gallon.
THE NEW TODAY understands that a gallon of gasoline in neighbouring St. Vincent & The Grenadines sells at the pump for $12.43 as compared to $13.65 in Grenada – $1.22 more in the Spice Isle.
In the case of diesel, the retail price in St. Vincent is $9.60 per gallon – $2.75 less than in Grenada which is set at $12.35 per gallon.
A businessman by profession, Lalsingh said government should not look at collecting more taxes, but that a closer look should instead be taken at the recurrent expenditure which he believes is too high.
The Mitchell-led government has been forced to implement a Structural Adjustment Programme to address a severe fiscal situation in the country including a massive national debt of around EC$2.7 billion.
Most of the debts were racked up by a previous NNP administration of Dr. Mitchell between 1995 and 2008 when it engaged in a massive borrowing and spending spree which saw Grenada’s debt moved from EC$373 million to EC$1.7 when it was voted out of office.
Lalsingh has had a checkered relationship with the NNP in the past 30 years.
He won the St. Patrick West seat on a ticket of NNP in 1984 but within months was forced to resign as Parliamentary Secretary for Works in which the current Prime Minister was the senior minister.
Dr. Mitchell complained to then Prime Minister, the late H.A Blaize that Lalsingh was involved in a cement scandal.
The sacked Lalsingh later joined forces with ex-NNP government ministers – the late George Brizan, Dr. Francis Alexis and Tillman Thomas – to form the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Lalsingh held onto his St. Patrick West seat in the 1990 and 1995 general elections as a member of Congress but was forced out of the party following its 15-0 defeat at the polls by a resurgence NNP now under the command of Dr. Mitchell.
The ex-MP flirted with a few opposition parties for nearly a decade before returning to the NNP fold to land a place on the party’s executive until he allegedly fell from grace once again just over a year ago and forced out of the post of Minister of State for Implementation.
THE NEW TODAY understands that Lalsingh is no longer seen at high-level party meetings.