The GRENLEC deal could be the cause for an exciting period in the New Year for Grenada.
The Keith Mitchell-led ruling New National Party (NNP) government had led many to believe that it was cash-strapped and was starved of funds to take care of many things in the country.
However, the Number Two Man in the government, Gregory Bowen who took over the key Finance portfolio from Prime Minister Mitchell in recent weeks has now painted a different picture.
Without any borrowing from local or external sources, Mr. Bowen told reporters on Wednesday that government has come up with its own funds of US$63 million to buy back the shares held by WRB Enterprises and its subsidiary company in GRENLEC and to bring it back under state control.
Despite being vague and evasive in the face of questions from local reporters on where exactly did the money come from, the government by its own action and statements have made it extremely difficult to tell trade union leaders that it cannot pay them the monies already negotiated early in the New Year.
THE NEW TODAY will not be surprised if the island is heading into a state of uncertainty on the labour front as Teachers and Public Sector workers will not be inclined to accept a deferral of the monies due to them.
The Prime Minister and his NNP government cannot rely on the old worn-out phrase “NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO ASK FOR MONEY” as the country is going through a rough and tough financial squeeze due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Is now the time to spend $3m on traffic lights given the history with the last set of traffic lights?
Is now the time to take this massive Chinese loan of close to EC$182 million for MBIA when the airline and tourism industry is flat on the ground and badly battered by Covid-19?
The Prime Minister should then realise that he no longer has the monopoly to decide when is the right time to make good on payments for people expecting money from government.
The Grenlec deal shows that he has the means to create the fiscal space to make the payments.
In addition, the foreign creditors will be watching especially those that took court action to recover monies owed to them by government.
Dr. Mitchell has been insisting that the government does not have money and is financially broke but Finance Minister Gregory Bowen has now provided a vastly different picture to Grenadians.
The logical argument is that money can also be found if the government so desires to pay teachers, as well as a host of others like former Cabinet Secretary, Gemma Bain-Thomas, Dorset Charles and several others who fell victim to spite work and victimisation at the hands of those now wielding state power in Grenada.
Prime Minister Mitchell has built up a reputation of openly defying and playing fast and loose with the orders of the court to make good on payments due to certain citizens considered as enemies of his regime.
How come he can now find the money within the Treasury to pay off WRB Enterprises at a time when more and more financial resources should be channeled into the fight against Covid-19?
This Grenlec deal also shows that the NNP regime has placed greater emphasis on regaining control of Grenlec than fixing the eyesore in the Prime Minister’s own constituency at Molinere in which motorists are forced to venture into the dangerous terrain at Mt. Moritz to travel up and down the West Coast of the island.
No one can deny that under the stewardship of WRB Enterprises, Grenada has seen a significant improvement in the supply and reliability of electricity in the past 26 years.
Even the current Minister of Finance who was the General Manager of Grenlec in the dark days of the power outages in the 1980’s cannot argue successfully that the private sector partner found by the Congress government of late Prime Minister Sir Nicholas Brathwaite provided a very reliable service.
THE NEW TODAY notes that during Wednesday press conference the said Gregory Bowen was trying to convince Grenadians that the island might be heading the way of power outages once again as WRB was running down the company in recent years and was taking out the profits and not ploughing anything back into it.
So what is it that Mr. Bowen and the NNP government are buying from WRB as it relates to Grenlec? Did they do an assessment of the company and its plant and machinery before committing such huge sums of money? Who did this assessment for Mr. Bowen and company?
Even the most ordinary Grenadian knows that if he/she is going to buy a second hand car that they need someone to do an assessment of the vehicle for them before passing the money to complete the deal.
The problem with the NNP and other governments of Grenada over the years is that they bring to the negotiating table a set of ministers and civil servants who have no qualification and competence in such matters instead of hiring the real experts.
THE NEW TODAY is contending that the country has not gotten value for money from that negotiating approach by the NNP which has governed the island for the better part of the last 35 years.
As Grenada prepares to usher in another New Year and the first since Covid-19 changed the entire landscape on our planet, we take this opportunity to extend to everyone the best of wishes for the next 12 months that is 2021 in these very trying times.