The main opposition New National party on Wednesday called for Finance Minister Nazim Burke to resign over efforts by Taiwan to collect 76 million EC dollars of unpaid loans from Grenada.
The NNP, of former Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, is blaming Burke for the decision by Taiwan to embark on extreme measures to recover the money.
“We are calling for the resignation of the minister of finance for mis-managing the affairs of Grenada. Because of his mismanagement he has plunged the country into the worst financial disaster ever experienced by our people,” said Elvin Nimrod, Former Attorney General under the previous Mitchell administration.
“We are calling on the Prime Minister to fire the (Finance) Minister. I believe that is enough reason for the Minister of Finance to be fired by the Prime Minister”.
Taiwan has sought to seize Grenadian properties in the US in an attempt to collect the outstanding amounts covering four loans used for infrastructural development including roads, health centers and an athletic stadium.
The Taiwan Bank has also filed injunctions with cruise ships and airlines servicing Grenada, demanding that whatever money due to Grenada should be paid to it.
Former Finance Minister Anthony Boatswain is accusing Burke of ignoring efforts by the Taiwanese to meet with the National Democratic Congress Government to establish a new repayment schedule.
“The minister of finance refused to hold discussions with the Taiwanese. For over three years they wrote to the Minister of Finance and there were all kinds of foot-dragging. No contact for preparing this reschedule; no budgetary provisions; no payment of the loan. So what you expect the Taiwanese to do?” said Boatswain a current NNP Senator.
“They went back to the court and got the judge to enforce the order to compel Grenada to pay and failure to pay meant that you can put a lean on all of Grenada’s assets”.
Taiwan claims the loan made through an export bank in Taipei was negotiated by the former administration of Keith Mitchell between 1997 and 2000 before it suddenly broke off diplomatic relations in favor of Beijing.
Burke had said Taiwan had refused proposals for a negotiated settlement to the problem, instead insisting on payments of the entire loan.
“So if this government had done the right thing by continuing the negotiation with the Taiwanese as regards to establishing a repayment schedule and at the same time servicing the loan as was done under NNP this situation would not have happened,” claims Senator Boatswain.
“So the Minister of Finance is trying to deflect blame. He has to accept full blame for what is happening…because he had three years. He presented three budgets and not one penny in repayment of a loan”.
Finance Minister Nazim Burke has maintained that the National Democratic Congress administration, through its lawyers in New York, have repeatedly sort to negotiate a repayment plan with the Taipei bank but to no avail.
Government’s estimates of revenue and expenditure for the last five years confirm that the last time the Taiwan debt was serviced was in 2006 under the NNP administration. ©