Former Finance Minister Anthony Boatswain is calling on government to provide evidence to substantiate its claim of 1-percent positive economic growth for the first half of the year.
The opposition senator says positive growth must be a spin-off from growth in individual sectors and so far the government has not been able to indicate growth in any of the sectors.
“I personally disagree. The Prime Minister would have to tell me which sectors contributed to this positive growth.”
“If you tell me there is growth, you have to give me a comparative period….because from what I know, the tourism sector is not contributing to any growth, the construction sector is not contributing to any growth. So tell me which sector is contributing to this growth and then that would be credible.”
Boatswain told the Caribbean Media Corporation that from all economic indicators, he is “projecting that Grenada would record another year of negative economic growth.”
“I can tell you as an economist, when I look at the situation right now, it would take roughly EC$500-million dollars, of capital investment from both the public and private sectors, over a sustained period of five years, to bring our economy back to pre-2008 levels.”
In recent months, Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has been boasting about growth in the manufacturing sector, quoting form a document published by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.
According to Thomas, the document stated that Grenada was among the few economies of the region to register positive growth in its manufacturing sector. Manufacturing in Grenada last year represented 4.57% of GDP and was projected to represents 4.56% this year.
Boatswain said Thursday night’s national address was disappointing, lacked depth and showed the government’s lack of foresight.
He said all they spoke about were short to medium-term government projects with no private sector input.
“The private sector was not included as a partner in the Prime Minister’s Address and that to me was a serious omission.”
In the 2011 budget presentation on January 14 Finance Minister Nazim Burke said “our government has pro-actively pursued partnership with the private sector. Indeed we have gone the extra mile to engage and facilitate investors, whether foreign or local.”
But the former Finance Minister says the presentation, which failed to speak about government’s plans on number of public/private sector initiatives, including the Zublin Renaissance Project, the Carriacou Free Port Project, and the St. Patrick Port and Yacht Marina Project, does not give any hope for private sector growth.
“The Private Sector is still the engine of growth in our economy, but when you listen to the Prime Minister’s address…it does not give us any hope that the private sector will now feel re-energized to get involved; and if they are not then the high level of un-employment will remain.”
At the beginning of this year, government reported that 75% of the 35,722 persons employed in the country were employed by the private sector.
The current level of unemployment is estimated to be 30% of the population and Prime Minister Thomas says it is mainly as a result of the global economic downturn experienced in the last 7-years.
“Let us not blame the global situation, we have to blame the lack of vision of the NDC Administration for what is taking place in this country now,” Boatswain said.