By Lloyd Noel
After just over one year since the NNP administration regained total control of the nation’s affairs, the much talked-about IMF financial rescue was eventually agreed last week, and is now awaiting the approval of the IMF’s executive board.
Lloyd Noel is a former attorney general of Grenada, prominent attorney at law and political commentator
But that approval is contingent upon the timely completion of prior actions to be taken by the Grenadian authorities, and obtaining the necessary financing assurances, as was stated by the IMF mission chief to Grenada.
The cornerstone of that agreement is a strong fiscal adjustment, based on curbing spending and widening the revenue base.
Apparently, growth facility programmes with the IMF had collapsed under the NDC government when they failed to meet IMF targets.
The IMF deal is expected to pave the way for Grenada to access at least US$100 million in grants and soft loan from donors and friendly countries.
From that scenario, therefore, it looks like we are on the way out of the immediate fiscal jungle – but how far out we will get and for how long will depend very much on the way those in control deal with the newly acquired millions.
A whole lot of people are unemployed and looking for some kind of work to take care of their families and pay their everyday expenses, as well as their recently increased property taxes, which will become due for payment by end of June.
Only a small portion of the total sum will be advanced as a grant and the balance is all on loan that has to be paid back, in addition to the over $2 billion already owing to the IMF and other creditors.
Investing those millions wisely is key to where we heading from here onwards -- both for paying up some of the long overdue debts, as well as the new millions, if we expect to get further loans down the road.
Putting a whole lot of people back to work must be a key factor in the whole process – and it must not be a case of jobs just for the party boys.
The government agriculture estates – for which the controllers were seeking foreign investors to come and invest and provide jobs – should be a number one priority for the folks in those areas where the estates are located, and for reviving our agricultural production that is now at rock bottom.
Not only our nutmegs and bananas and cocoa, which were the main export crops our farmers sent to England in the good old days, but our traffickers to Trinidad and Tobago, supplying our hundreds of Grenadians who had migrated to the sister isles, also had thriving businesses in those days and all these have gone through.
The months of February and March in our political calendar have very significant historical importance for our people as a nation. On 7th February 1974 we gained our Independence from England, under the leadership of Eric Matthew Gairy and his Grenada United Labour Party (GULP); and on 13th March 1979 we had the first military revolution in the English-speaking Caribbean by the New Jewel Movement (NJM) under the leadership of Maurice Bishop, and aided by Fidel Castro’s armed forces.
The independence achievement celebrated 40 years last month, but the revolution only lasted four-and-a-half years, up to September 1983, before it was derailed by US and Caribbean forces to set many of our people free from detention in prison and our tri-island state free from the control of the communist regime in Grenada and aided and abetted by communist Cuba.
And since after those hectic days we have been back to our parliamentary democracy, headed by different leaders and their own political parties, with the current leader and his party being the longest serving group in our 40 years independence history.
Our national debt has been our major setback over all those years of independence, and here we are with a god-sent relief to help us overcome the economic problems. We can only hope and pray that the very best comes out of it all.