By Arthur Kallick
In recent days, the prime minister of Grenada has been making all kinds of noises about what he will or will not accept from the IMF as a structural adjustment program. Like mouth open, word jump out!
Arthur Kallick was born in Trinidad and lived in Grenada until he moved to Canada in the late 1980s after completing secondary school. He has a Master’s in family counselling and child physiology from the University of Toronto. He is now a freelance writer and has been living in Grenada for the past six years, and at present works with Caribbean Family Planning unit as a counsellor
The Keith Mitchell-led NNP government has little or no credibility with international creditors. In the 2005 restructuring exercise, they assured the creditors that Grenada will produce an annual growth rate of 4.7%. That was a “pie in the sky” assumption. Besides the effects of Hurricanes Ivan and Emily, the same NNP leadership gave a license to De Bourg to operate CapBank where Grenadians lost over $40 million. Reports indicate that SGL also soaked over $80 million from the pockets of we the people.
The recklessness of the NNP administration during the period 1995-2008 is responsible for this monkey pants that all Grenadians will be asked to wear. They neglected agriculture; not a single new hotel room was built (only promises); they left the country unprepared for when payback day comes.
Now the prime minister is saying that he will reject whatever measure the IMF “impose” on the citizens of this country. When he was busy contracting high priced loans to pay for the stadium and ministerial complex, he was not thinking whether we will be able to meet our commitments. Dr Mitchell is reported to have said that “you can’t sell a country” so it seems that the old principle that “when you borrow, you must pay back” does not mean a thing to the goodly gentleman.
The government is giving the impression that the IMF just barged into the country to impose their will. They were invited by the said government. The IMF makes recommendations but it is the government who will accept and implement any package of measures. Blaming the IMF for decisions taken by a government may be described as dishonest.
However, given the fact that the current debt crisis is the principal reason why the IMF is here, the issue will surely take centre stage. The much talked about “Paris Club” group of creditors requires countries to have an active IMF program in order to qualify for a rescheduling agreement.
The government has few options. They can take a position that they will not pay the debts. That will have severe consequences. Grant funds and soft loans, especially from Europe, will dry up and international banks will refuse to lend money to our government. Grenadians, we are walking down a road to be another Haiti.
The government must adhere to some ground rules in the management this national crisis:
• Any package of measures must be discussed not only in the Parliament. The NNP monologue there is just not enough.
• The measures must be discussed in the communities so the people’s voices can be heard.
• The NGOs must be consulted extensively, even on policy issues.
• Documentation must be provided through the press so citizens can be thoroughly informed about the process and any agreements reached. Selective disclosure is not acceptable.
• The crises require a national consensus. The scope of the said crisis places an obligation on the NNP to be inclusive, cognizant of the fact that opposition forces attracted over 40% of the popular vote.
• The NNP must be willing to accept the fact that our present problems was as a result of their actions and failed economic policies.
The prime minister and his administration must be aware that the national interest stands tall over the narrow sectarian interest of a few NNP fat cats.
Is NNP time they say; we the people say is Grenada time.