by Linda Straker
Raymond ‘Ray’ Roberts, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) candidate for the St George’s South Constituency says that he is worried about the implication that ‘dirty money’ can have on the upcoming general election.
Without providing evidence to back up the claim he said, “This election is being infested with dirty money; don’t ask me where it come from; don’t ask me for no evidence; you must go and do your research, do the work itself; there is a court house, there are institutions that you can trace; all I am saying to you is that I am very worried that this election can be a bought out one,” Roberts told journalists attending the NDC’s first weekly Monday news conference for 2018.
He was at the time commenting on the 2018 Budget Loan Authorisation Bill which, according to the Ministry of Finance is procedural after the presentation of the annual Estimate of Revenue and Expenditure. This bill which was approved by parliament following the budget debate was gazetted on 20 December 2017 as is required by law.
The Authorisation Bill provides the government with the authorisation to seek funding for capital projects to a ceiling of US$100 million through loans, bonds and other capital ventures to fund capital projects in the 2018 budget. Lending institutions named in the bill are the International Monetary Fund, the International Development Association, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Caribbean Development Bank as well as other companies, banks and or financial institutions.
“All agreements signed pursuant to this loan authorisation act will be tabled in parliament as soon as possible,” the act states.
Roberts also said that he fears that some of the money will not be used for the reasons outlined in the bill. “I am gravely concerned that some of that money is being utilised for the election campaign. It is part of the campaign to me; I am saying that based on not calling any business places name, but you can check yourself. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in vouchers providing people with stoves and fridges and what have you are being distributed around the country by one group. I am not too sure I want to name any group, and that particular group seems to have all the money in the world to distribute just about everything,” he said.
At present Grenada does not have election campaigning legislation, though over the years this has been one of the recommendations from general elections observer missions.
Constitutionally, a general election is due no later than mid-2018, and Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell is expected to announce that date at his endorsement rally on 28 January 2018.