The Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government has accused its predecessor, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of selling a building to the state-run National Insurance Scheme (NIS) that it did not own.
This was disclosed by Minister of Health, Nickolas Steele at the weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing Tuesday at the Ministerial Complex in the Botanical Gardens.
According to Minister Steele, the Hamilton Almshouse, which is located on Lucas Street, was wrongfully sold by the Congress administration of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas to the NIS while in office.
He told reporters that reimbursements have to be made by government to NIS by the present government in order to correct a sale that was done illegally by the previous regime.
According to Minister Steele, the property was never government’s own to sell.
He made no mention of the lawyers involved in the transaction for both the then government and NIS and whether a search was done at the Supreme Court Registry to verify ownership of the building.
He charged that the property was sold by Thomas’ Congress government to help pay salaries.
“That …. property on Lucas Street, what we call the Hamilton Home, that property did not belong to the government although the government tried to sell to raise funds to pay salaries”, he said.
“…They sold a property that didn’t belong to them, we have remedied that situation. I had meetings with the Ministry of Finance, with the Attorney General and the General Manager and Chairman of the NIS to remedy that situation to allow that property to remain as it should legally with the Trust that truly did own it…”, he added.
Minister Steele pointed out that the NNP administration also had to rectify ”what the NIS holds as collateral for the monies that it forwarded to the previous administration to pay salaries”.
He said the property was sold to NIS for approximately $750,000; however, the Mitchell-led government has cancelled off the collateral and is now preparing to make accommodations to the Scheme.
A few months before it lost the 2013 general elections, Congress was forced to approach the NIS to purchase a block of government buildings in order to raise funds to pay salaries.
The then Thomas administration was left cash-strapped as it was forced to find millions of dollars to pay millions of dollars in debt repayment for loans that had come due.
Several of the outstanding debts were due to U.S bondholders that were rescheduled after the passages of Hurricanes Ivan and Emily in 2004 and 2005.
Within one month of coming back into office in 2013, PM Mitchell was forced to announce that Grenada would default on paying back the U.S bondholders due to a shortage of funds in the Treasury.
The move forced the administration to turn to the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help with a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) to arrest Grenada’s severe fiscal situation.