At various times during his more than 30 years serving as a parliamentarian or Government Minister, his name has being associated with corrupt activities. But on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dr Mitchell declared that he has every intention to exit political life without such negative associations.
“I ain’t going out of government with that label,” he told Chairpersons and CEOs of Statutory Bodies/State Owned Enterprises attending a meeting, which was aimed at providing them with an opportunity to have a better understanding of Government’s stronger oversight of Statutory Bodies and State Owned Enterprises in accordance with recently enforced legislation.
According to the law, all state-owned and statutory bodies will not be able to make some decisions without the prior approval of Government, because some choices they make will affect Government financial records.
Dr Mitchell told the meeting that when these bodies default or run into financials and other problems, taxpayers are affected because everything goes back to Government. “We are the parent,” he said, while using an example of Government having to give statutory bodies money to meet financial commitments to pay staff.
He explained that a different format was recently adopted to calculate the national debt, and as a result, the financial challenges of statutory and stated-owned bodies’ loans and other financial commitments are also included into the national debt. ‘These debts by statutory bodies and state-owned enterprises are a government liability, and if anything goes wrong then Government as the parent must pay,” he said.
The finance minister said that there are some institutions that are very successful and operating with few problems. However, there are some myths that need to be debunked about these operations, because some of the management engage in corrupt activities that can damage the reputation of the institution and by extension Government.
“All these bodies are not ours as government — it’s the people’s property, and we have to report to them,” he said, while expressing the view that not only some of the management has failed, but some politicians are in part responsible for the problems that are being experienced today by some of these entities.
Dr Mitchell reminded the participants that they work in the interest of the taxpayers, and it’s for this very reason when taxpayers seek answers, it needs to be answered. According the law which establishes the bodies, their annual financial statements should be tabled in parliament, but some are years behind, while others are more consistent.
Grenada adopted a three-year IMF supported Home grown Structural Adjustment Programme as of January 2014, and as a result, Government has approved legislation that will bring about significant changes to the more than 20 state-associated institutions.