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Letter: A slush fund by any other name
Published on December 18, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

The decision by the Grenada minister of finance to include in this year’s Estimate of Revenue and Expenditure a slush fund styled the “National Transformation Fund” must be an act of desperation bordering on illegality.

Already stark questions are being raised regarding the impact of selling national passports to countless unsavory elements around the world. It has also been well established that due diligence is worthless in dealing with individuals involved in pre-crime situation, a category which 90% of modern evil men fall into. After all, once they commit the crime, they get caught and are destined to take up residence in a place where the purchase of a passport is pointless.

According to the minister, “…the Citizenship By Investment Committee was appointed and is headed by an independent professional from the private sector. This Committee will review all applications from the approved agents and make final recommendations to Cabinet. This Committee will also be the body which reviews applications for investments under the National Transformation Fund.”

The minster also stated that the:

“The NTF is governed by a Board of Directors comprising:

• Chairman of the Citizenship by Investment Committee
• Member representing Ministry of Finance
• Member representing Attorney General’s Chambers
• Two members from the private sector, to be chosen by the Minister.”

This is obviously a committee of the minister’s men carefully selected and hand-crafted to do his bidding. The powers of the fund are mind boggling.

The minister states that inter alia “the Fund shall have the authority and power to:

• Collect funds through Local Agents from applicants under the Citizenship by Investment Act of 2013;
• Make such grants, loans, and transfers as, in the judgment of the Board of the Fund, best serve the people of Grenada and which are consistent with the purposes for which the Fund is established;”

In its structure and setting up the fund has been likened to the Petro-Caribe Fund. This comparison is unfortunate since a scrutiny of the sums paid out for dubious purposes under the Petro-Caribe Fund sends shivers down one’s spine. The sums totaling $22.3 million in 2013 and projected to total $30.7 million in 2014 are contained in the Annex X to the minister’s presentation.

Are we seriously arguing that after spending these huge sums of money on a barrage of non-productive exploits that we still find ourselves financially embarrassed and cash strapped today?

Once again by simple calculation and extrapolation, EC$10 million from Petro-
Caribe per annum, since its inception, invested in a productive effort, producing goods and services, to earn a rate of return of 20% per annum, coupled with the attendant multiplier effect and the reduction in unemployment, must translate to close to EC$500 million today.

The impact on our level of real income, producer income and owner income is immeasurable. This would have long been translated into higher living standards, improved ability to acquire goods and services that we did not produce and improved business profitability.

In short we would have been better able to cope with the hundreds and thousands of percentage increase in essential fees and licenses that are due to befall us in 2014.

Garvey Louison FCCA
 
Reads: 4201





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