It was a humiliating blow for the Keith Mitchell-led government as a female high court judge in Grenada last month delivered a ruling against it.
Local attorney, Jimmy Bristol was able to move the court to give him permission to extract money from government’s bank account for EC$ 3.8 million dollars owed to the St. Lucia-based Financial Investment and Consultancy Services Ltd (FICSL) for services provided to the State.
Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY that Prime Minister Mitchell and the hierarchy of the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration “are fuming mad” over the order that was granted by Madam Justice Wynante Adrien-Roberts in High Court No.3.
According to a knowledgeable source, Bristol was able to move the court to rule in his favour despite of the position taken by Attorney General, Cajeton Hood that government should be granted five years to pay off the debt.
Government’s initial position is that FICSL should accept a 50% hair cut on the debt – a proposal that was rejected by attorney Bristol.
The source said that the latest ruling from Justice Roberts is that the Grenada government should pay off the monies owed to FICSL in full within one year and that Bristol had the right to target any of government’s local bank accounts to get the funds owed to his client.
He pointed out that the NNP administration is presently looking at all options including the filing of an appeal to set aside Robert’s judgment against the State.
At an earlier sitting, the female high court judge rebuked Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mike Sylvester for failing to show up in court for the case in July.
Sylvester was brought to court on a bench warrant issued by the judge on application by Bristol who served at one time as Attorney-General under the 2008-13 Congress government of Tillman Thomas.
The judge warned Sylvester that his failure to attend the proceedings to deal with the FICSL matter amounted to “disrespect” to the court and he could be held in contempt of court.
The cash-strapped Mitchell government has been forced to approach the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) for assistance in implementing a Structural Adjustment Programme to arrest a severe fiscal problem.
The regime has been forced to introduce a number of austerity measures including tax hikes on a number of items, as well as widening the income tax net, and a wage freeze for public officers to help tackle the problem.
Grenada is saddled by an EC$2.8 billion debt – most of it built up during the earlier 1995-2008 rule of Prime Minister Mitchell.