There appears to be a concerted effort by some elements in the country linked to the opposition New National Party (NNP) to distort a financial package that the Congress government is seeking to negotiate with Saudi Arabia.
THE NEW TODAY has come to this conclusion following utterances by several surrogates and cohorts of the defeated NNP government and its own leader Dr. Keith Mitchell.
It was rather surprising to hear Dr. Mitchell informing Parliament that his government was seeking grant funding from the Saudis for a number of developmental projects in Grenada but the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration was engaged in negotiations for a massive loan.
The message that Dr. Mitchell was trying to convey to the nation is that the current rulers were embarking upon a course of action that will significantly increase Grenada’s debt stock.
It is a pity that none of the members on the Government Side took up Dr. Mitchell and asked him to provide proof and the evidence that the Saudis were entertaining a request from the NNP government for grant funding to do several projects on the island.
The NNP boss as the longest serving Prime Minister of the country should be fully aware that in its charter, the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) said it was established for the primary purpose “to participate in financing development projects in the developing countries by granting them the necessary loans, technical aid necessary for financing studies and institutional support.”
The word “granting” does not mean that the Saudis are giving any country free money in the form of grants in the region of US$100 million to do projects.
If anyone in the two NNP governments that ruled the island from 2013 to 2022 told Dr. Mitchell that the SFD was going to make millions of dollars in grant funding available to Grenada then he should take with a pinch of salt any advice offered to him by such an individual.
It is well known that the Saudi fund only provides concessional funding that has a built-in grant component to do things like a study but not the actual infrastructural work to be undertaken by the recipient of the funds.
As the longest serving Prime Minister of the country, Dr. Mitchell should understand that it is the Saudi government that gives grant funding and that will have to involve discussions between himself and the Crown Prince of the oil-rich Arab State.
It is quite possible that Dr. Mitchell was talking directly to the Crown Prince about the US$100 million in grant funding and never briefed his own Cabinet, Parliament or the Grenadian people on this initiative of the NNP government.
It might just be the same modus operandi of Dr. Mitchell as back in 1998 when he sought to lay his hands on US$100 million in Promissory Notes from a group of crooks and Conmen in Europe and never had the decency to get approval from his own Cabinet of Ministers and the Parliament of the country.
A major player in this Promissory Notes issue back then was the then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Linus Spencer Thomas who travelled from Grenada to meet with these suspicious characters on behalf of Dr. Mitchell and company.
The country owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. Brian Francis who succeeded Dr. Thomas as PS in Finance for not co-operating with Dr. Mitchell and NNP to saddle the country with another massive debt that was quite illegal.
Former High Commissioner to London Marcelle Gairy, the daughter of former Prime Minister Sir Eric Matthew Gairy should also be congratulated for giving copies of the Promissory Notes involving Drs Keith Mitchell and Spencer Thomas to the late Foreign Minister Dr. Raphael Fletcher to allow Grenadians to get an insight into the underhand dealings back then of this NNP outfit.
THE NEW TODAY understands that Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell became fully aware after a few months on the job in the Botanical Gardens that there was no grant funds on offer in the range of US$100 million from Saudi Arabia and followed countries like St Vincent & The Grenadines and Antigua and opened negotiations with the SFD for a soft loan.
It is our understanding that the proposed loan on the table with the Saudi Fund is for US$100 million with a 2% interest rate. The term of the loan is for 20 years, with a grace period of 5 years.
However, Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell has reportedly written to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to consider a Grenada proposal to make the loan more concessionary like the World Bank in terms of an interest rate under 2% and an extended term of 30 years.
The NNP surrogates are trying to mislead the country into believing that their old regime was able to get US$100 million from Saudi Arabia in grant funding to do some kind of a pilot project for the Ministry of Health, as well as modernising the Carenage.
Where are the facts to back this claim up from the NNP surrogates? Who is trying to fool who? Did NNP submit any project to Saudi Arabia or merely Concepts of projects that they had in mind?
The NNP needs to come clean with the information or run the risk of being accused of trying to peddle nothing but “garbage and nonsense” to fool the public into believing that Dr. Mitchell had secured millions in grant funding from Saudi Arabia in development assistance.
There are three persons who served under the NNP regime who should be called upon to shed light on this so-called NNP request for massive grant funding from the Saudis that is linked to Climate Change – former Minister Simon Stiell, former Ambassador Dr. Angus Friday and current PS in Climate Resilience Merina Jessamy.
Did the Saudis tell a Grenada delegation headed by a Permanent Secretary around the middle of last year at a meeting in a hotel in the south of the island that its mission is to provide low-interest loans for development projects in the Third World and that grant funds have to be arranged at the level of the Heads of State?