Grenada government offers opposition olive branch over loan dispute

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Monday October 31, 2011 – Government has extended an olive branch to the main opposition New National Party (NNP), as it seeks a solution to a loan dispute with Taiwan, the country’s former ally.

But, while Elvin Nimrod, the ex-Foreign Affairs Minister under the former NNP government, agreed to the suggestion, he continued to blame the Tillman Thomas led-administration for the situation facing the country.

“Her Majesty’s Opposition stands ready, willing and able at all times to do anything in the national interest,” he told a local internet radio station Sunday, before going on to state, “this burden belongs squarely on the shoulders of the NDC.”

The olive branch was extended by Senator Glen Noel, the Minister of State, Information and National Mobilization, who said the government is willing to sit with all interest groups, including the NNP, to decide its next course of action in response to Taiwan demands for payment of EC$76 million (US$28.1 million) outstanding in loans.

“This is a national issue. We’re willing to sit down and discuss with all stakeholders – the private sector, the trade unions, the opposition – on how we can go forward and resolve this matter,” he said.

“The bottom line is that the country does not have US$25 million to pay all at once to the Taiwanese government and people at EXIM Bank.”

Senator Noel said he has approached private sector representative in the Senate, Christopher De Allie, about the possibility of discussing the matter this week with the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Senator De Allie last week called for the country’s two main political parties to end the blame-game over the issue.

Taiwan has moved to seize Grenadian properties in the US to collect the outstanding money that it said is owed on loans obtained between 1997 and 2000.

Injunctions have also been filed to force cruise ships and airlines servicing Grenada, to pay money due to the Spice Isle into a special account in the US.

Finance Minister Nazim Burke has accused Taiwan of trying to cripple the island’s economy. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)