By Lloyd Noel
The Prime Minister returned from his North American and Canadian tour, leaving a whole lot of listeners to his many grand statements wondering where he is heading, and how he hopes to get wherever.
His fifteen years “National Development Plan” would be receiving technical assistance from a friendly government, he boasted, and he added that the plan has to be agreed by the nation as a whole, not just his NNP group in control. The prime minister further boasted that better days are coming, because the IMF has agreed to the Structural Adjustment Programme, so money would soon be all over the place, presumably from the $300 Million over the next three years. How that sum will spread island wide to help the thousands of unemployed workers in that period, only time will tell in due course. In the meantime, however, a whole lot of our people are under serious financial pressure to make ends meet.
The prime minister and two or three Cabinet Ministers as well as his new Advisor Peter David, visited North America and Canada in early June. He addressed Grenadians in New York, and in Toronto and Montreal in Canada, but from the reports that came through after his visits, the reception in one of the Canadian Cities was very low key and poorly attended. Of course it is the Canadian Government that reacted very firmly, to the sale of Grenadian Citizenship to all-comers, and many of them were able to enter Canada with their Grenadian passports because of our Commonwealth membership. And resulting therefrom, all our Grenadian nationals, as well as the citizenship purchasers, have to now apply to the Canadian Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago to obtain visas to be able to enter Canada. As a result thereof, a couple of reports coming after the visits were very critical and degrading.
But now the prime minister and his team are back home, and the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) has apparently been signed by the IMF, to enable the Government to obtain grants or loans, or the new financial handouts described by the prime minister as coming from institutions or governments, and named as a “haircut”. If everything is as stated, we should be seeing some movement in the labour market and the business community in the near future to help our people.
The prime minister stated to a constituency forum, that because of the negotiating skills of his government, some of the country’s creditors have decided to assist by taking a “haircut” by as much as 50% of what is owed to them. He went on to argue, that because they are giving us a 50% “haircut”, and they tell the government it has to raise some taxes with a little pain, how can the government allow that to go a begging.
He was thereby trying to justify the 19 different taxes his government has implemented since taking over control of the nation’s affairs just about sixteen months ago. But those tax increases can never be justified in the current conditions now existing in the Tri-island State.
Over sixty percent (60%) of the working population are unemployed, and have no other means of earning a living or raising funds, to be able to pay the increased taxes on their homes and or goods and services. In those circumstances, therefore, where would those persons get the funds from to pay the increases, or even the much smaller sums they had been struggling to pay before the taxes were doubled.
As for the Fifteen Years National Development Plan, we can only wait to see how the Prime Minister’s NNP, and his upcoming “NDP” will help our people.