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Prime Minister Gonsalves defends decision to lend Grenada EC$5m

Prime Minister Gonsalves defends decision to lend Grenada EC$5m

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Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has defended his decision to lend the government of Grenada EC$5 million.{{more}}

According to Gonsalves, this country assisted Grenada with the money in December 2011, when that country experienced a shortfall in meeting its recurrent expenditure.

That amount was replenished, the prime minister said, but a subsequent request was made by Grenada for an amount of $4.5 million in July this year. The second sum, the prime minister said, should be repaid by the end of next month.

“It’s not money I take up here and send to them,” Gonsalves explained.

He said that this country and Grenada both belong to the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) and that there is a sum of money available to every country in the Union at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).

“I am sure if we were in difficulty and ask anyone if we can draw from their available sum that they would allow me to,” the prime minister explained.

He said he authorized the Director General of Finance and Planning to instruct the ECCB to provide Grenada with the money requested from the funds St Vincent and the Grenadines had available in its fiscal tranche at the ECCB.

He further explained that this type of arrangement has gone on among members of the Currency Union, but it has never been brought out in the public.

He said he is only speaking on the matter now, since it was raised by the PSU and he was asked for an explanation by the media.

“We have to be our brother’s keeper,” he said, adding that although St Vincent and the Grenadines had made the facility available to more than one country since he has been prime minister, he had never utilized the funds of another country.”

The issue was raised by President of the Public Service Union (PSU), who said that the prime minister had indicated to them that he could not facilitate the payment of the additional three per cent salary increase to public sector workers, because there was a request from Grenada for some assistance.

According to Vanloo, the membership present at a meeting with the prime minister on July 22 did not take to well the news that this country was willing to lend money at a time when its workers were not being compensated.

“How could you be living rich and crying poor?” Vanloo questioned.

“You have enough money to lend another country to pay their public servants, but denying yours and saying to the unions that you can’t pay yet?”

“That is untenable,” the PSU’s president said. (DD)

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