There is nothing much for serious policymakers and analysts to read into following the just released report on the performance of the Grenadian economy by a team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following a “virtual” session with Grenadian authorities.
The Covid-19 pandemic has prevented the IMF from conducting its usual business by sending down a team to Grenada to do the work on the ground with officials from both the government, private sector and trade unions, as well as Civil Society groupings.
It is what one might call putting “boots” on the ground to hear from the main actors outside of the corridors of power on their perception about the performance of the local economy over a particular period of time.
It is no secret that Grenada’s economy is undergoing the same kinds of stress like other neighbouring islands who have now become dependent on tourism as the main pillar in their economy.
There is no indication in the report that the IMF “virtual” sessions involved the private sector and moreso the trade unions which has been the leading voice in championing the cause of hundreds of workers affected by Covid-19 and in particular those who have lost jobs due to their anti-vaccination stand.
THE NEW TODAY is not aware of any survey that has been done to give statistical data on job losses directly related to the coronavirus pandemic.
It would have been interesting to hear of the outcome of the meeting which IMF officials will normally conduct with the Grenada Trade Union Council (GTUC), led by Senator Andre Lewis, the current President-General of the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU).
The pro-government Senator for the private sector, Christopher De Allie is expected to tour the line and not deviate from the kind of glowing picture that government officials are expected to paint before the IMF.
A few in the private sector especially in the hotel industry might be prepared to talk “off the record” with the team from the fund on their prognosis about the true performance of the Grenadian economy.
In addition, the Opposition Leader Tobias Clement might have seen things much different from government in his own assessment for the attention of the IMF.
No one can deny that a certain amount of money is now in circulation on the island and that the Treasury seems to be no longer cash-strapped.
In what some might term “the wink of an eye”, the government was able to find the financial resources to pay teachers and public sector employees the 4% increase in salary which was due in January 2021 but for several months said it could not pay due to constraints in the Treasury.
Just as the salary increases were rolled out, the government somehow found the wherewithal with funds to embark on massive spending on several projects at the constituency level especially in the area of concrete works including the building of pathways to several homes.
The word on the ground was that everyone who wanted a job in St. Patrick and St Andrew were guaranteed employment on several of these projects and that unemployment in the rural areas was on an all-time low as jobs became available almost overnight.
It is not clear whether the funds being spent were obtained primarily through the National Transformation Fund (NTF) which relied heavily on the sale of passports.
The government has been very tight-lipped on the use of the NTF although its officials insist that they have been giving account to Parliament on the use of monies from the fund.
THE NEW TODAY anticipates that the spending spree will continue well into 2022 which many see as an Election Year in Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is fully aware that much is at stake in the upcoming general election and will not want to go down in history as losing power to a virtual newcomer in the political arena.
The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) should be fully aware that it is coming up against a politician who is very much still hungry for power and is, at his most dangerous when it comes to embarking on a spending spree to hold onto power.
The NNP is fully aware that in several constituencies the outcome is decided on the night before the election by the person who puts the last “meal” on the table of those who are vulnerable and often times expect the politician to supply “the goods” and provide for their every needs.
Sadly, the IMF will not be in a position to assess this level of money that will be on the ground in circulation in Grenada as there is no law in place to govern campaign financing for the conduct of general election.
It is believed that the ruling party normally spends about EC$15-20 million dollars every election to subdue its opponents.
THE NEW TODAY suspects that the newlook NDC under Dickon Mitchell will not be struggling for funds whenever the man with the bell in his hand decides to ring it in his quest to get another 5-year term in office.
It is this kind of spending that the IMF and no other institution will be in a position to see in determining things in the country.