By Linda Straker
Finance Minister, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, has said that Grenada is a sovereign nation and will not apologise for publicly disclosing the names of agencies, institutions or countries that have come forward to assist with offering debt relief to the island.
“As a Nation we are beginning to reap the fruits of our endeavours — more grants, debt restructuring, higher growth — and we have a right to say who gave us debt restructuring, and we cannot apologise for this. If somebody is good enough to give us thirty-something million dollars we should say so, and no one has a right to disagree,” he said on Tuesday, while delivering remarks at the signing ceremony of the Social Pact agreement which is a working document for Government and civil society with regard to the development of the country.
“Our sovereignty cannot be comprised by anyone. I think that must be loud and clear. Mutual respect and sovereignty and independence of this country — and we must not compromise on this,” he said as a response to persons who have been calling for disciplinary action on Senator Winston Garraway, whom many felt made a diplomatic gaffe on Sunday night while addressing the 9th Media Awards ceremony.
In his address, Senator Garraway who is the Parliament Secretary for Information in the Office of the Prime Minister, told media workers that just as they are celebrating their success for the year 2014, Government is also celebrating many achievements including that of receiving a 50% reduction from Export-Import Bank of the Republic of Taiwan.
As soon as Sen. Garraway referred to Taiwan, the Ambassador who was on the head table of the function got up from her chair and walked out of the hall of the Annex of the Grenada Trade Centre. She was quickly followed by her assistant, and they remained outside until the Senator was finished speaking, then returned to their seats after he completed his speech.
“When our policies differ from that of our friends, we have to tell them so, and therefore if anyone comes forward and provides serious support to us, we ought not to be afraid to thank them publicly — I don’t see how anyone could not be happy with this, whether its America, Canada or whether its Germany, wherever,” Dr Mitchell said, while explaining that not too long ago Grenada counselled the US about continuing its embargo on Cuba.
Upon returning to government on 19 February 2013, Dr Mitchell made a call for creditors to provide debt relief to the island. The debt with Taiwan occurred when Grenada had diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, which it severed in 2005 in favour of mainland China when it recognised the One China policy.
Last week, government announced that it had concluded a comprehensive agreement to restructure its US$36.6 million (EC$98.8 million) indebtedness to the Export-Import Bank (EXIM) of the Republic of China (Taiwan). This landmark Agreement, which reduces the principal outstanding on the loan by 50%, resolves Grenada’s decade-long dispute with EXIM and puts an end to EXIM’s legal proceedings in the New York courts.
Under the terms of the agreement, the post-haircut balance on the loan will be repayable over 15 years — including a grace period of three and a half years — at an interest rate of 7%. The Agreement also includes a ‘hurricane clause’, which will allow Grenada to defer payments for a predetermined period, should a natural disaster compromise the government’s ability to service debt in a timely manner in the future.
On 21 January a celebration is planned for the 10th anniversary of the resumption of diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and Grenada. Governor General Dame Cécile La Grenade, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, cabinet members, parliamentarians, and persons from the business community are expected to be in attendance. The celebrations are to be held at the Radisson Grenada.