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Michael Batiste speaks out

Michael Baptiste – the outspoken politician from the rural parish of St Andrew

One of Grenada’s most outspoken opposition figures, Michael Baptiste believes that the local economy is being affected by a lack of money in circulation.

Speaking with journalist Calistra Farrier, host of the programme known as ‘The Narrative’, the former Agriculture Minister said that one of the things negatively impacting the economy is that money is not circulating as it should.

“We just had carnival and yes there were a lot of visitors but the spending power just was not there because the money is not circulating, the money is not reaching the ground,” he said.

According to Baptiste, the 14-month old Congress government of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell spent 75 million dollars in pension payment to retired public workers and the prevailing thought “was that the money would trickle down but it did not trickle down.”

The former Member of Parliament for St Andrew South-west between 1995-2003 questioned in which area of the economy growth took place under the new administration.

He charged that while the former New National Party (NNP) administration of Keith Mitchell was in power, a lot of jobs were created for the ordinary people and this resulted in money being circulated in the economy.

“They were dead-end jobs but at least they put a little food on the table.” he said.

Baptiste felt that the majority of the voting population are not feeling the impact of the so-called economic growth as pronounced by the Washington-based International Fund (IMF) in its recent report on the performance of the Grenadian economy.

The opposition figure also said that the paying of government workers twice a month is a good thing but unfortunately what he is seeing is that instead of being broke once a month they are now broke twice a month.

“People are feeling it and as we speak now there is a loud cry of hardship on the ground in the minds of ordinary people. So I think that is something that needs to be addressed,” he told the programme host.

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In its June 2023 report, the IMF said: “Grenada’ tourism-dependent economy continued to recover from the pandemic amidst rising energy and food prices. Growth is estimated to have reached 6.4 percent in 2022, driven by a tourism rebound and construction activity. Inflation rose moderately to 2.9 percent by end-2022, as the authorities’ policy response dampened the pass through from rising global food and fuel prices. Public debt is now back on a downward trend.

“The financial sector is well-capitalised and liquid although non-performing loans (NPLs) of credit unions have risen. Economic growth is expected to continue in 2023, although at a slower pace of 3.9 percent, led by activity in tourism-related sectors. Inflation is expected to peak at 3.2 percent toward the end of this year.

“An economic slowdown of key tourist source markets, renewed increases in food and fuel prices, a natural disaster, or an abrupt decline in revenues from the Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) program could weaken growth, worsen the fiscal position, and threaten debt sustainability.

“On the upside, shifting demand for services in advanced economies could make for even stronger tourism demand and investment projects may prove to have a more front-loaded impact on the economy.”

Baptiste pointed out that in the area of Health, the situation at the hospital has not improved and the cost of medication is still too high, the wait in the hospital is very long, and services have not improved at all since the death of his daughter who died just over a year ago from a long standing medical condition.

He said he has not seen much difference between what was happening under NNP and what is now taking place under Congress.

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