Prime Minister, Dr the Rt. Hon. Keith Mitchell has voiced his concerns about discrepancies discovered in stimulus package applications, with the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA).
During a meeting with the leadership of the GHTA on Wednesday, 15 July, Dr Mitchell said he is troubled by reports of discrepancies in income data contained in applications for payroll support, submitted to the Covid-19 Economic Support Secretariat (CESS). Additionally, in some instances, employees received less than the 40% of salary, which the government had in fact paid to employers.
He said, “We have discovered some incorrect reporting from businesses seeking support from government. When checked against Inland Revenue and National Insurance Scheme data, it was clearly showing serious discrepancies. As Minister for Finance, this worries me.”
Dr Mitchell therefore called for the support of the hoteliers and other businesses in correcting the mistakes that have been identified. His simple message to the hoteliers, “Government must be responsible in managing the resources of the country. Let us go forward, and correct the mistakes. Sacrifices must be made by all; this is our country, we must work together and do what we can to help in these very crucial times that we are facing.”
One of the hoteliers attending the meeting commended the government for the payroll support initiative, which he said played a critical role in enabling the hotel sector to survive thus far. The hoteliers agreed there is now need to work together to find a way of developing a tourism product that is safe for locals and visitors while still generating revenue for the tourism sector and government.
Tourism Minister, Dr Clarice Modeste Curwen, said the resumption of commercial flights from countries across the Caribbean region, viewed as low-risk, will help to restart the tourism industry. She said having balanced priorities, Grenada is at the stage where it can begin opening up cautiously. “Some areas like, within the Caribbean, we can open up for intra-Caribbean flights, with others, we say mostly charters, so that we can implement some kind of monitoring structure.”