Finance Minister Dr Keith Mitchell says that the international community is willing to assist Grenada with restructuring its debt and providing external financial support, but the country will have to show that it willing to make its own sacrifices.
“We expect significant reduction in our debt size and debt programme, we expect to see reduction through a haircut, we expect to see the debt move over a long period with a lower interest rate,” Dr Mitchell said in an interview after meetings with representatives from the International Monetary Fund and the OAS last week Friday.
While reiterating that important to all these promised assistance is approving and implementing a “home grown restructuring programme”, he said that Grenada was promised soft loans and grants which can put the island on a path of “sustain economic activity with ability to meet its challenges to the most vulnerable citizens.”
Upon taking up office following the 19 February 2013 general elections, Dr Mitchell who is also the Minister for Finance declared that Grenada was unable to pay its creditors and was seeking the assistance of the international community to restructure its debt.
Since then there have been a number of activities aimed at coming up with a solution to restructuring the debt situation. Among the activities was a visiting from a delegation representing the International Monetary Fund, the Caribbean Development Bank and other donors who meet with a number of stakeholders including the Grenada Trades Union Council and the Business Community.
The Conference of Churches Grenada has also held two workshops aimed at explaining the debt to its stakeholders and at the same time deciding on recommendations and suggestions to the Government. These recommendations were presented to Economic Affairs Minister Oliver Joseph which among others suggested that whatever is decided on its does not impact negatively on the vulnerable and marginalised.
Grenada at present is unable to receive any external funding, but with the implementation of the homegrown restructuring programme, it is expected that the island will be able to have access to approximately US$300,000. Though a formal announcement outlining the component of the programme is yet to be announced, Prime Minister Mitchell recently indicated that there may be a reduction in income tax threshold from EC$5,000 to EC$3,000.
“Whatever happens, the majority of people will still not be paying taxes because most people are not earning EC$3,000 a month”, Dr Mitchell told a recent meeting held in the parish of St John last week. At present, income tax is 30% on earnings above EC$5,000 per month.
by Linda Straker
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