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Commentary

A response to Country Man – Transition politics

One of the main objectives of an opinion piece in a newspaper is to address current events and issues, formulate and share points of views that would be of interest to readers. In the process, the article should educate and provoke discussions among readers.

The fact that Country Man by his own admission said the articles have good ideas, however he doesn’t share all of the views is consistent with the objectives of the series of articles.

The litany of positive responses to these opinion pieces from readers both in Grenada and as far as the United States and England are testimony to the level of interest and discussion that is generated. I had no interest in being a transition lead, however I responded in response to the call by the young Prime Minister for citizens to share ideas and solutions.

Moreover, I speak truth to power not one to sugar coat anything, as I say it as I see it. If the head of the transition team and other members consider my comments as criticism they are dead wrong.

Country Man said I am sympathetic to the government because I want them to succeed because if they do Grenada and its citizens will benefit.

As I said before, I share my ideas to educate and provoke discussions among readers, the government doesn’t have to go along with it however they are reading.

Country Man should note the five (5) pillars talked about during the budget consultations are different to the government’s recent pronouncement on the priority areas for transformation. In fact those areas are actual sectors, many of my opinion pieces advocated for consideration of the sectoral approach to transformation.

Whether the government takes on board the suggestion to have two phases and focus on three sectors, agriculture, health and information technology jointly in the first phase to take advantage of synergies between those sectors is up to them. The aim has always been to put forward ideas for discussion.

Criticism of the transformation process was made in the context of highlighting the pitfalls of keeping holdovers from the defeated government in positions where they can frustrate the new government’s efforts.

This is not groundless since there are many recent instances where ministers appear to have been ill-advised by senior managers when attempting to correct wrongs of the defeated government.

The letters that were sent out and had to be recalled by the Ministry of Sports is a case in point. Similarly, increase of the contract price by over one hundred percent for road rehabilitation is another. Currently, the matter of industrial action at the St. George’s port raises the question, why now?

This strike on the port has started just when the government has started to make good on a major campaign promise to pay pensioners and increase the importation of goods on the port with Christmas fast approaching.

Importers have been struggling to get goods because of global supply chain issues and now they have to face the prospect of their goods being sent to another port or back to the port of origin. This is not only frustrating but can result in higher prices due to port rent charges and shortages as well.

Could the holdover Chairman of the Port Authority Board and management not take a different approach that would have averted strike action? Knowing the sensitive nature of the situation and players involved, was this a subtle attempt to take the wind away from the government sail as they pay pensioners?

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After all the strike action has dominated the airwaves for two days now placing pension payments on the back burner. Could this be an attempt to further malign a senior government minister who has demonstrated excellent performance so far?

I would say it again with no apology, keeping these holdovers from the defeated government in senior positions where they can frustrate government’s efforts is a clear and present danger to the new government and it’s time they wake up from their slumber.

Many of the rumours on the above mentioned minister swirling around came from persons on the said government board and it is not far fetched to see the coincidence with the strike, pension payment and increased efforts to malign the performing minister.

I say to Country Man, am not living under a rock. Maybe it is you that is, because the attempt to malign a senior, competent, known performer in the public service fell flat on its face with half-baked allegations that are over a decade old.

Look at the three persons whom you claimed made these allegations?

All of them are shady characters void of integrity. None of the allegations made by these questionable characters stood up under scrutiny. In fact, I was informed that a subsequent audit conducted on the MAREP project you referred to turned up instances of serious irregularities by one of the same persons you yourself admitted is a questionable character.

The public officer whom you tried to malign had nothing to do with these regularities.

Contrary to your assertion, the senior public officer in question is still the substantive holder of the position while an incompetent person is being paid a tidy sum on contract who can’t function properly in the said position.

The government is paying over twenty four thousand dollars every month to have two officers hold the same position.

Country Man, it is you who is living under a rock because during the tenure of the senior public officer as head of the department, he was able to mobilise over three hundred million United States dollars’ worth of project funding from international donors.

Many of these projects including the St. Patrick’s Road Rehabilitation Project, CDB Schools Rehabilitation, Agricultural Feeder Road and St. John’s River Mitigation project took over six years to get started after he was sent packing because of being labeled an NDC supporter.

The long delay in getting those projects started caused some donors to pull out funding from a few projects such as St. John’s River Mitigation Project. To attempt to malign a competent senior officer with decade old unsubstantiated allegations is ridiculous and buffoonery to say the least.

In addition to Country Man being under a rock it is either he is a sycophant of the defeated regime who is trying to get in the way of those competent senior officers who were sidelined by the defeated government, returning to their substantive positions by spreading false and unfounded allegations as was done a few weeks ago on Justin Rennie, the Chief Fisheries Officer sidelined and maligned by the defeated regime or a false flag operation by persons close to the government or around the orbit of the transition team who feel threatened by the return of the competent senior officer to his substantive position.

I await to see how the government and the new Public Service Commission will respond.

Special Correspondent