The High Price of Corruption

The NDC prides itself on being a party of decency and high ethical standards in and out of office. Many criticisms are levelled at the NDC, none are concerned with corrupt practices or abuse of state resources while in office.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the NNP. For the cumulative 20 years during which the NNP under Keith Mitchell has governed Grenada, there has never ever been a period without scandals and corruption. Even in this period when Mitchell seems bent on improving his image in the interest of legacy, scandals and corruption continue to plague him and those around him.

For the people of any country, the cost of corruption is very high. Grenada is no exception.

In his message to mark World Anti-corruption Day on 9th December 2018, Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres labeled corruption “an assault on the values of the United Nations”. He said that corruption “robs societies of schools, hospitals and other vital services, drives away foreign investment and strips nations of their natural resources”. Every year, corruption accounts for about 5% of global GDP. That represents a loss to economies globally of monies that could otherwise be spent on people development.

It is a source of deep concern for the NDC that a sizeable portion of our population appears not to have put the cost of corruption under the NNP into its proper perspective. Using the global estimate of 5% of GDP, and we suspect in our case it is much higher, with a GDP of EC$3.2 billion in 2018, Grenada would have lost EC$160m to corruption last year alone.

It boggles the mind that using the percentages released by the United Nations Grenada is estimated to have lost $160m to corruption in 2018 alone. This staggering sum could have been applied to pay for better healthcare including commencement on the teaching hospital the NDC promised, proper treatment for cancer, hypertension, diabetes, purchasing medical equipment and supplies, on education to purchase books for the school books program and eliminate the school fees and other charges parents are made to pay, on employing more young people, on investing in agriculture and so much more.

If corruption cost the Grenadian economy $160m in 2018 alone, just imagine the total cost of 20 years of corruption under Keith Mitchell. It is time for our people to open their eyes to these realities.

The abuse of cell phone services paid for with taxpayers money by NNP activists, stooges and employees like Sheldon Scott is the type of corrupt practices that all segments of our society should openly condemn. By his own admission, Scott’s abuse alone is estimated to have cost us $840,000.00, because he has been wrongly using the service since 2016. Just imagine for a moment what such a hefty some could do for some poor Grenadian families; and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The United Nations insists that Governments, opposition parties, civil society, the private sector, the religious community and anti-corruption advocates must all take responsibility for fighting corruption. It is therefore disheartening to hear the deafening silence coming from these sectors of our society when such gross corruption is exposed. It means that many of the key voices are failing to stand up for the vulnerable people of our country.

It is important that the above mentioned sectors unify in fighting corruption. The promotion of: improved education, access to justice, healthcare and public health, jobs and overall improvement in the quality of life will all help to beat back corruption.

Grenada signed on to work towards attaining the UN sanctioned Sustainable Development Goals (‘SDGs’) by 2030. These goals include: no poverty, zero hunger, quality education, good health and wellbeing, reduced inequality, decent work and economic growth, peace, justice and strong institutions. These are the SDGs that our Government promised us and the other countries of the world by 2030. Can we honestly say that our Government is likely to attain these goals in the next 10 years?

The UN identifies corruption as the biggest impediment to countries attaining the SDGs. In light of the present level of corruption in our country, think about that Grenada!

In addition to signing on to the SDGs, Grenada under Keith Mitchell has also signed 2 anti-corruption treaties: the Inter-American Convention against Corruption and the UN Convention against Corruption. It is clear to us in the NDC that Mitchell only signs these treaties and agreements to impress the outside world and to gain access to certain funding. He and his cabal do not care about the high cost their corrupt practices inflict on our country, nor are they interested in attaining the SDGs.

The NDC stands ready to lead the fight against corruption in our country. In that regard, we have this week written to Her Excellency the Governor General calling for an inquiry into the cell phone scandal. We have also written to the Commissioner of Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the head of the Financial Intelligence Unit calling for a criminal investigation into the matter. We intend to expand our call to other persons and organizations locally and beyond, relating to this and other matters of corruption in Grenada. We call on other responsible sectors and organizations to join us in that fight.

We must unite to save our beloved Grenada.