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FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY

  • Written by  SELWYN MITCHELL

In recent times, the entire world has been dogged by a savage economic downturn, inflation, financial depression, and national bankruptcy, all culminating into a negative economic growth, an astronomical unemployment situation and the western capitalist world, has been bearing the major brunt of this international malaise.

 

 This situation could trigger very serious problems for the nations concerned, and their populations, loss of investments, properties, homes and the naked implementation of undisguised dictatorship Needless to say, the nations that are experiencing the most savage effect of this global recession are the small fragile micro economies, without a diversified manufacturing base, not being blessed with natural resources, a gross import capacity and a net export ability. Our tiny tri-island State fits into that mould.

Most of these small, poor countries have been in annual receipt of budgetary support from the developed world in the form of capital project financing, grants and aid.

 However, today, these economies find it necessary to cancel, reduce or to put on hold earlier aid agreements. They have become so financially depressed, that they are no longer able to offer the same volume of support. Most of them are operating in deficit, and have found it necessary to apply to world organizations for financial support in an effort to boost their fiscal circumstances.

Therefore, due to this blatant, depressive and prevailing retrogressive international situation, the dependant financial sources has become, understandably, very limited or dried up.. Some even find it necessary, in an effort to enhance their own shaky and uncertain economic situation to discontinue their economic cooperation and in some instances put it on hold wedging countries like Grenada between a rock and a hard place.

In short, foreign financial support, assistance and cooperation will not now be forthcoming. So, today, we are equated to a man in an open boat in the wide expanse of the sea without an oar or paddle. Now, there is a general feeling of gloom about the future of Grenada. Some prophets of doom are already saying that we will never be in a position to adequately service our debt.

 We will never be able to create growth, solve the chronic unemployment situation, and therefore afford our people a better life.

 For we will be forever going cap in hand, on our knees, to the developed countries, begging, please sir, give us some more. This is where I differ: While I agree with their realistic analysis of the abominable situation that we are now in, I do not share their conclusion. While I do agree that the recent history of Grenada has been a catalogue of denial, violence behavioral deception, corruption and greed, I do not share their despondency about the future of this land.. On the contrary, my inner self tells me something very different. And my faith is unflinching.

So where do we go from here. Firstly, I believe that there is a need to politically educate the Grenadian masses. By education I do not mean what we have been told, something you cannot get until you go to university. Frankly, we want a country served by intelligent, honest, dedicated and patriotic men and women.

Let us reject with indignation the wild and guilty fantasy that we are not able to think until we go to secondary school or university. Then with the qualification, we become too busy making money, to do any thinking. The result is, that we have wasted a lifetime without thinking at all. 

All through life we become so used to people doing thinking for us so, we do not remember how to think.

Therefore, our brain in time becomes atrophied through lack of use.

Secondly, we must revisit the various arms of our tax regime carefully and delicately, with a sense of equity. We must study how it affects the Grenadian people, as a whole, especially the poor and those living on small fixed income and entitlement.

 There might be a need to abolish VAT and replace it with other forms of taxes. It might even be found more equitable to reintroduce PAYE and the targeting of every business place. Properties are being rented out for years without the State getting a single cent. Hundreds of businesses are being allowed to operate without the necessary license, with the full knowledge of the authorities, which continue to turn a blind eye. 

Efforts could be made to block the prevailing gigantic tax loopholes. There may be a serious and urgent need to take a second look at the operations of our ports.

Thirdly, the whole question of Government concessions, both to foreign investors and Government and national corporation employees, must be looked at. Some of these may very well be unjust to the poor of this nation.

 Are local-Government and corporation employees receiving tax concessions for which they are not strictly justified? Is there an urgent and pressing need to take another look at the law or laws pertinent to such concessions and tax holidays? If we should take a look at the businesses which are enjoying the above, will we find them wanting? The Ministry of Finance could very well discover that millions can be realized if only the relevant choices can be made

And finally, an area for examination and very critical analysis is our foreign representation. It is possible that great savings can be realized for other important projects. Vast sums which could be used for very sensitive and relevant projects. Perhaps, only through such bold decisive and ruthless actions we may survive.

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