ST GEORGE’S, Grenada -- A Grenada newspaper says the “working man” argument offered by the country’s finance minister in response to questions about properties he is believed to have acquired in recent years is not acceptable.
Former Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, who is leading the New National Party (NNP) in its campaign to general elections on February 19, has claimed that, in just over four years, finance minister Nazim Burke has built two houses and purchased a third.
The NNP has even used photos of a house, said to be owned by Burke and located in an upscale Grenada neighbourhood, in one of its election television advertisements.
Caribupdate Weekly has taken issue with Burke, deputy leader of the incumbent National Democratic Congress, for “blasting those who continue to question his purchase of the houses,” and for responding to queries by saying it’s his “business”; and that he can buy houses because he is “a working man.”
“The problem,” the paper said in an editorial, “is there are many working men in Grenada in these recession-hit times that not only cannot buy houses, but also have lost the one they already owned before being hammered by the hard times.”
According to Caribupdate Weekly, “Burke must appreciate that, when you are the country’s top economic planner, at a time of what he acknowledged is the worst recession since his mother was born, and when so many Grenadians have lost their own homes – eyebrows must be raised about how he managed to pull this off on a relatively meagre $6,000-a-month salary. Even add the income of a spouse to his salary and it still would be a difficult feat to accomplish in less than five years.”
The paper conceded that Burke’s acquisition of houses could be the result of a “generous gift” from a philanthropist or family; or due to skilled personal finance management. But whatever it is, the minister should explain, the editorial said.
“Either (Burke) is a world-class personal finance management wizard – and in which case we are willing to learn – or his working man’s salary has been supplemented by other incomes – which we need to understand, to collectively determine if everything has been above board,” Caribupdate Weekly said.