The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has once again taken to the streets of St. George’s to march against the plethora of taxes introduced by the Keith Mitchell-led government since assuming office in February 2013.
Congress has said that the march is primarily against the high taxes placed on Grenadians, as well as the high unemployment in the country and the deteriorating medical situation in the country.
The NDC brigade, led by Political Leader, Senator Nazim Burke, gathered at the Melville Street Fish Market with their placards and walked through the town of St Georges’.
Speaking to THE NEW TODAY newspaper, Burke said that the party will continue to rally Grenadians against those policies and programmes of government that they believe are not in the best interest of the people.
“What we are facing now is a number of problems that we want to highlight – first of all the health situation in the country – we’ve spoken about it before, we will continue to speak about it because the conditions are not getting any better, and they’re deteriorating”, he said.
“You know we are not seeing the government priorities being focused on health, at the time when health means so much to us and at the time when the conditions in the hospital and in the health facilities around the country seems to be deteriorating”, he added.
Burke also alluded to the amount of taxes aimed at the pockets of Grenadians by the Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration.
“…We want to draw attention to the continuation of taxes, the imposition and the continuation of gruesome taxes by the government on the population”, he told the newspaper.
“We have seen it, right now there are probably about 28 different taxes and it’s not getting any better. Within the last five months alone, the Petrol tax has moved from $3 to $4 to $5, now $5.50 cents and we anticipate that may increase further,” he said.
Burke stressed that government has been imposing the taxes but the income of the people are not going up and at the same time some of the basic safety net programmes are being removed and in some cases reduced.
He said: “What we are seeing in other words is a worsening of conditions. Those who were in the middle income position are now falling into the ranks of poverty and those who were poor are falling into destitution”.
According to Burke, the government’s priorities appear to be totally twisted and cited the recent announcement to get the state-owned Grenada National Lottery Authority (GNLA) to borrow $12 million for the lighting of the Cricket Stadium at Queen’s Park.
This money, he said could have been used on something more useful.
“…We are not saying that the stadium should not be lit up – any country who has the resources may choose to light up the stadium at any time but where resources are scarce, where the conditions in the hospital are so terrible, for the government to go out and borrow $12 million to light up the stadium, where we might have no more than one cricket match a year or two cricket matches a year at the most, is really an awful exercise or abuse of authority by the government and it shows very poor judgment,” he remarked.
The NDC leader suggested that if the government wants to spend money at this time, then the $12 million should be used in bettering the health sector.
THE NEW TODAY specifically asked Burke if his party was given a chance to govern the country, what will be done differently.
He said: “We (will) first review all of these taxes to determine, which ones should be removed. We can tell you that some of them will be removed – they would have to be removed because some of them are nuisance taxes and some of them are unnecessarily burdensome.
“We have to calibrate the taxes so as to ensure that on the one side, the government collects revenue, which is needed for the financing of government’s operations but you cannot impose taxes in such an onerous and such a burdensome way that the very objective of stimulating economic activity and attracting investors and getting the economy to grow, you having the opposite effect than the one you really want to have,” he added.
Echoing the sentiments of Burke was former Prime Minister and Political Leader of the party, Tillman Thomas who said health is not being given high priority by the NNP government.
“I read in the newspaper that there are several suspicious deaths in the country and the government is refusing to bring in a Forensic Pathologist to examine the dead bodies to get the true cause of death and that is affecting the administration of justice”, he said.
“…People may be committing crime and because of the government’s failure to bring in a Forensic Pathologist, they may say that person died by hanging,” he added.
This is obvious reference to an article in last week’s issue of THE NEW TODAY in which the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) was prevented from turning to outside Forensic assistance to probe two alleged hangings and the sudden death of a Corporal of Police.
The requests were allegedly turned down on the grounds that the Ministry of Finance could not make the monies available to pay the forensic experts.