Commentary

Disrespecting the Constituents

Since during the month of June, information surfaced that former Parliamentarians who are now merely party activists were having their exorbitant cell phone bills paid for out of the public purse. In the case of Sheldon Scott, a well-known activist, his bill averaged $23,000.00 a month for April, May & June. These were the only bills released so it is safe to say that was his average monthly bill for the months not released.

There was public outcry on the matter and as the main opposition party we invited the Governor General our head of State to launch an independent inquiry. We wrote her the following letter and had it hand delivered on 22nd July 2019:

“22nd July 2019

Her Excellency
Dame Cecile E. F. La Grenade GMCG, OBE, Ph.D.
Governor General
Office of the Governor General
Point Salines
St. George’s

May it please Your Excellency,

Re: Apparent misuse of State resources by former Parliamentarians and other Government employees

We the undersigned respectfully write to you on behalf of the members of the National Democratic Congress and indeed, on behalf of all the people of Grenada.

We are constrained to do so because the people of Grenada are deeply unsettled by the recent revelations of the misuse of Government issued cell phone services by some former Parliamentarians and Government employees.

It is the responsibility of our Government and public servants to ensure that the public purse is protected at all times. The wrongful use of cell phone services paid for by Government over what reasonably appears and we believe is an extended period, represents gross dishonesty that possibly rises to the level of criminal conduct by those involved. It also points to serious systemic failures within the public service which if left unchecked, will continue to be very costly for the people of Grenada.

By virtue of the powers vested in Your Excellency under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, Chapter 58 of the 2010 Revised Laws of Grenada, the National Democratic Congress humbly implores that you urgently appoint a Commission so that a public inquiry may be launched.

Your Excellency, such a Commission is required to publicly inquire into the causes and circumstances, including who, if anyone, authorised such flagrant abuse, that led to the treasury of Grenada being billed and paying for cell phone services amounting in one case, that of former Senator Sheldon Scott, to $69,885.84 (or $80,369.16 if tax billed is added) for just three (3) months.

We believe that this abuse has been going on for some time now and in the case of Mr. Scott, at least since July 2016 when he was recalled from the Senate to take up full time employment with the New National Party.

We humbly suggest that the Commission should comprise independent members drawn from the Grenada Bar Association, and persons from or recommended by the Grenada Trade Unions Council, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and Conference of Churches Grenada.

It is our respectful view that Your Excellency may wish to consider inter alia, including in the terms of reference for the Commission, the following:

1. The period during which the taxpayers of Grenada have been paying the cell phone bills for Mr. Scott, Mr. Clifton Paul and other private citizens.

2. Whether there are other private citizens for whom similar bills are paid but whose names do not appear on the three (3) bills circulated.

3. The person or persons who authorised and/or facilitated such abuse.

4. The role of the Minister of Finance and any other person or persons within the Government of Grenada in allowing such abuse.

5. Identifying the systemic loopholes that allowed for such abuse.

6. The overall cost to the people of Grenada of this abuse of State resources.

7. Recommendations including how a repeat may be avoided in future and whether any aspect of the inquiry should be referred to the Commissioner of Police for criminal investigation.

We trust that Your Excellency will see the merit in and act on the suggestions in this letter, as we have no doubt that you agree with our position that the monies so misapplied might be better used for healthcare, education and other such services that the people of Grenada desperately need.

An independent, public inquiry will also go a long way in helping to repair our country’s damaged reputation and restore public trust and confidence in our Government and system.

This being a matter of great public interest, we hereby notify Your Excellency that this correspondence will be shared with the public.

We remain respectfully,

Joseph Andall
Interim Party Leader
National Democratic Congress

Ron Redhead

Opposition Member of the Senate, Grenada”

On the same date, we hand delivered a letter to Commissioner of Police, Edvin Martin and copied that letter to Mr. Christopher Nelson, QC, Director of Public Prosecutions and Superintendent Tafawa Pierre, Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit.

As of today, neither the Governor General nor any of the other recipients have replied to our letters, not even to acknowledge receipt. Although grossly disrespectful to the NDC, the 23,000 Grenadians who voted for us and indeed to all Grenadians, it would have been tolerable if they did not reply but they acted on the letters.

They have done neither.

To add insult to injury, at the last post-Cabinet briefing, Sen. Winston Garraway brazenly told the gathering that Sheldon Scott is not repaying our Treasury as he promised he would and that nothing is being done about it.

Does this government believe the Grenadian people will tolerate its repeated acts of corruption and wrong doing forever? No matter how long Mitchell and his cronies abuse the people it will one day come to an end. NDC promises that when that day comes, all the perpetrators, aiders and abettors WILL be held accountable.

In the meantime, the NDC will now proceed to bring this and other issues to the attention of all the relevant bodies outside of Grenada.

(The above was submitted by the main opposition National Democratic Congress)

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