No laughing matter
When did Finance Minister Nazim Burke know that paying public servants their salaries for August will be a problem?
And what did he do about it? And did he alert cabinet of the problem and briefed the Prime Minister ahead of the Grenadian leader's address to the nation on Tuesday, August 28?
How come on each occasion that salaries were not paid on time this year, Minister Burke found himself conveniently out of the country?
Isn't the fact of the non-payment of salaries enough for him to cancel any overseas visits, or promptly return home, even to at least show solidarity and concern with the situation?
And then there is that note from the Ministry of Finance -- belatedly -- about the inability to pay salaries for August. A note that is neither sensitive nor reassuring.
And in the circumstances, have the ministers and their hangers-on in receipt of their full salaries and all their perks on time? And hadn't some previously even got salary advances?
And even if the government finally gets the payments in next Tuesday, Wednesday or whenever -- exactly what is the fiscal and overall economic game plan for at least the short term?
And will those be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, where all the efforts of a paranoid administration is spent on cussing a former government that has been out of office for four years, or ministers and now former ones who have been fresh enough to question the economic direction of their own government?
I would say in any other serious government in CARICOM, the Minister of Finance would not have a job on Monday morning.
Not just merely because of this latest development -- for it is only the straw that should break the camel's back.
But the Finance Minister would be without a government job because of the overall economic management of the last few years; the extremely conservative nature in trying to deal with all the challenges; and the presentation of an unrealistic budget this year that he knew coming in was a package not worth the paper it was printed on.
Three months after the three months he had asked for, we are still awaiting his promised explanation of how the budget will be financed.
I am currently doing an economic feature on Grenada for regional TV, and I have had the opportunity to speak to a lot of business leaders in the last few months.
Maybe I am speaking to the wrong people -- but I have not met one that has any confidence in the economic policies (or lack of it) of this government, nor the stewardship of the Minister.
And yet Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has said that his man, Nazim Burke, is the best Finance Minister in the region.
It is a standard joke that is repeatedly thrown in my face anytime I visit the many capitals of this region.
And if the situation was not as serious as this, we would have all been laughing.