The New Today

Local News

EC$92 Million lost from the British under NNP

David Cameron holds bilateral with Prime Minister Mitchell. Photo by Georgina Coupe, Crown Copyright

Grenada has lost approximately EC$92 million in grant funding offered by British Prime Minister David Cameron on a visit to the island in 2015 due to the failure of the previous Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) to draw up and execute projects that were earmarked for the western corridor of the island.

The funds were promised by Cameron in a brief stopover in Grenada in September 2015 as part of a swing through the Caribbean.

Prime Minister Cameron and his Grenadian counterpart visited the town of Gouyave and stopped off at the nutmeg processing plant which was affected by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and also viewed a bridge which had also been severely damaged by the hurricane.

The British Prime Minister promised that the bridge could benefit from the new UK-Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund.

A senior minister in the current National Democratic Congress (NDC) government confirmed to THE NEW TODAY on Monday that the money which was pledged nearly eight years ago is no longer available due to lack of action from the defeated Keith Mitchell regime.

Two other reasons were advanced by the new Rishi Sunak Conservative administration in London for withdrawal of the offer of the money that was not used by Grenada for the past seven years.

One related to what was referred to as “uncertainty in the UK”, and the other was “pressure on the UK aid budget.”

Appearing on the programme known as “TO THE POINT” that is conducted by the Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN) on Tuesday, former Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell tried to downplay the reasons for the loss of the British funds under his regime.

He said: “I understand that we lost about 80 to 90% of the resources because of the lack of understanding of this government – they are blaming the NNP – now you are in office.”

According to the NNP boss, his deputy, former Minister of Finance and Minister of Infrastructure Gregory Bowen whom he identified as “a top Engineer and a top technical person” was doing everything possible with respect to the British grant funding.

He denied that the NNP had problems with the lack of implementation of projects.

“…You can’t blame lack of implementation – we were doing it, we were getting things done. If you want to bring some false data about implementation – nonsense, he said, adding that, “The fact is that people were happy – they were getting jobs.”

The former Prime Minister accused the present administration of stopping projects and affecting jobs and lives in the country and made mention of the Seamoon Cultural Centre in the St Andrew North-east constituency.

Congress Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell told Parliament at a recent sitting that there was no account for the initial EC$3 million given to the Contractor under NNP for the Seamoon project.

According to a high-level government insider, the British government kept telling the Keith Mitchell administration over the years that London “cannot justify keeping the money on the books without demonstrating that you all could spend.”

He said the new Congress Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell should embark upon a diplomatic initiative to try and reach the current occupant at No.10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on getting back the funds.

He said that one option open is to use the diplomatic channels including approaches to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Rishi has Indian connections to try and restore this massive grant funding for Grenada.

Related:  Government to introduce New Pension Legislation

“Because they (NNP administration) lost the funds the only thing that could revive this is a country-to-country, a Prime Minister to Prime Minister (engagement),” he added.

The official suggested that if Grenada can put together a very strong foreign ministry then approaches could be made to the Trinidad-based Indian Ambassador to appraise Prime Minister Modi of the situation and to use his influence with Sunak to get involved in the discussion.

“We can also use them (India) to speak to him (Sunak) on our behalf and that is how diplomacy is.” he remarked.

“That’s the kind of way you have to think and that is the kind of attitude that is completely absent in the (Grenada Public) service,” he said.

The official recalled the role played by former Congress government minister, the late George Brizan, to attract millions of dollars to Grenada in the 1980’s.

He noted that Brizan at an annual World Bank meeting in Washington around 1984 met with the Kuwaiti ambassador through an initiative of the then U.S government of President George Bush SR who sent in troops to Kuwait to liberate the small island nation after it was invaded by the late Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

He said the Brizan initiate came after late Grenada Prime Minister Herbert Blaize held talks with President Bush and impressed upon him the need to get the Kuwaitis to do something to appreciate the role played by countries around the world to support their cause against Iraq by making available some of their oil money to help finance developmental projects in Third World countries.

According to the government insider, the first financial package given by Kuwait to Grenada to finance the setting up of a facility to help the island to meet the high cost of fuel that had skyrocketed due to the Gulf War.

He said the funds were used by St George’s primarily as a line of credit in the form of a grant to purchase oil at the prevailing market price and because it was a credit the oil could be sold at a lower price locally to companies like Grenlec and Texaco.

The official said that this was an example of a diplomatic initiative of the Blaize government to make a direct approach to the United States to get access to oil money from Kuwait.

He pointed to another similar initiative during the 2008-13 Congress government when the then Finance Minister Nazim Burke was able to get Saudi Arabia to help Grenada gain access to financial assistance from the Arab Fund for Economic Development.

He said that a US$10 million grant was given but was inherited by the Keith Mitchell-led NNP government as Congress was defeated at the polls in 2013.

The government insider cited a few instances in which Grenada lost millions of dollars in financial pledges due to inaction by the NNP regime.

He identified the River Road sea defense wall project that was earmarked for funding from the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) as another project that was bungled by the Keith Mitchell-led government.

He accused the former Grenada Prime Minister of making a series of blunders by allegedly removing several key public officers who had the capacity to implement projects and replacing them with a number of persons including Permanent Secretaries who were very inept at project execution.

If you are satisfied with the information provided by The New Today to our many readers, followers and supporters around the world, then you can show your appreciation by making a financial contribution to the effort of our team of dedicated workers.

Giving back is a way of saying thank you for our efforts

Support The New Today