Wednesday, 11 September 2013

IMF TALKS – Team wrapping up visit today

By Linda Straker

A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Aliona Cebotari, is scheduled to wrap up
a ten-day visit to Grenada today, Friday, September 13, 2013.

The team is focusing on the current economic situation in the country, Grenada’s fiscal performance for 2013 and its proposed debt restructuring, said a statement from Government. The team, which is in the country at the Government’s invitation, held talks with key stakeholders including staff from Grenada’s Ministry of Finance, a delegation from the Conference of Churches, the Business Community and the Trade Union Movement. Meetings were also scheduled for Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and Cabinet officials.

In the meantime, religious leaders have urged Government to resist any pressure from the IMF with regards to demands to increase taxes or to make further cuts to social, medical or educational services.

In a statement issued by the Conference of Churches Grenada last week Wednesday, the religious body said that its leaders are deeply concerned about the hardship being suffered by so many in Grenada and imposing additional taxes would create even more.

The Church leaders said that people are now finding it difficult to provide for the expenses of daily living, repaying mortgages taken out in more prosperous times and even, in some cases, providing food for their families. There are a number of persons, even those with sound academic qualifications, who are unable to find jobs. The social problems have reached alarming proportions.

“It is against this background that we strongly urge our Government to resist any pressure to increase taxes or to make further cuts to social, medical or educational services. Revenue can be increased by ensuring that existing taxes are not evaded and that all taxes (especially VAT) are efficiently collected from all who are liable,” said the statement, which added that the Church grouping supports efforts to create jobs and to find sources of investment funding that can be channelled into productive projects.

“We are convinced that further austerity measures are not the way out of Grenada’s debt crisis. We strongly support the Government of Grenada in its resistance against austerity and we are actively mobilising support internationally towards this end,” said the statement.

The Conference of Churches further urged the Government to give further serious consideration to the nine points in the document, “A Jubilee for Grenada Now”, that arose out of the Debt Workshop held in May of this year. Point 4 of that document refers to debt sustainability. The document prepared by the staff of the IMF presents the view that to reach a sustainable level of debt Grenada would need to cut over 90 per cent of its present debt.

“We support the Government’s efforts to achieve this and we again emphasise the point that any reduction in debt must go towards the socio-economic development of our country with a preferential option for the poor,” the church leaders said.

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