The front page headline of THE NEW TODAY, “UNRAVELLING THE CORRUPTION SWAMP AT CUSTOMS” is indicative of the state of play in many government and private sector enterprises.
There is deep-seated corruption which has galloped out of control with the coming into office of the former New National Party (NNP) administration of former Prime Minister Keith Mitchell.
It all stems from the mantra of the NNP that votes matter to win elections at all cost over the years without looking at anything else.
There are good, decent and honest workers at the Customs Department and no one should use the corruption brush to paint them as bad and wicked and engaged in enrichment at the expense of the Treasury.
It is the bunch of them who feed of the State due to their position of authority in a major revenue-earning area for the government.
Sadly, the Dickon Mitchell-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) has done nothing over the past 18 months to address the systematic corruption that is taking place at the Customs Department involving some recalcitrant Custom Officers, a few Brokers and some members of the Business Community.
The Prime Minister should wake up to the reality that being a successful lawyer in civil matters is vastly different from getting involved in the public sector and tackling the problems of graft and corruption which has become so endemic in the Grenadian society.
He cannot deny that certain information has been provided to him since assuming office after the June 2022 general election about alleged wrongdoing at Customs without any action being taken.
THE NEW TODAY will readily admit that PM Dickon Mitchell has his hands full and is badly in need of help to address some of the corruption within the public service.
The late Prime Minister H.A Blaize had beside him at the Botanical Gardens a very competent, trusted and efficient person by the name of Albert Xavier who was used as a troubleshooter in helping the first New National Party (NNP) in the 1984-90 period to run the affairs of the government.
The current Prime Minister should not be seen as a lone ranger on the job and should look at recruiting an experienced former public servant with knowledge of the service in particular Customs to help deal with certain issues while Congress gets on with the business of running the country.
The NDC should borrow a phrase used by its Founding Leader, the late George Brizan that one must use what they have at their disposal until better comes along.
There are still in the midst of Congress a few persons who can be turned to and given assignments to go in as trouble-shooters and root out corruption in some of the government ministries and departments.
The problem has been allowed to escalate over the years by the kind of interaction which the past NNP Leaders cultivated in their relationships with some public officers.
That outfit which was booted out of office 18 months ago was prepared to turn a blind eye to corruption by some of its known supporters.
The NNP regime brought into the service including the Customs Department the sons and daughters of key party supporters and never bother to do any checks into their backgrounds.
It is well-known that NNP government Ministers had a list with the names of party supporters who should be given first preference whenever job opportunities became available in the public service.
The current Prime Minister should relook the decision that was taken by a previous Congress Prime Minister, the late Sir Nicholas Brathwaite and bring into Customs an expatriate British Advisor to help put the Department on a much better and sounder footing.
THE NEW TODAY would also like to make some passing comments on information coming out of the Immigration Department about alleged wrongdoing by a female member of the staff in the “illegal” processing of the renewal of passport application forms for persons under the Citizenship By Investment (CBI) programme.
It is very unfortunate that the Acting Commissioner of Police Don McKenzie who is the island’s Chief Immigration Officer under the laws of Grenada will chose to remain silent and not comment on an issue that is of national importance.
If the allegation is true, how many undesirable persons managed to get their passports renewed by the actions of this officer who was not authorised to engage in this type of work at the Immigration Department?
Has the Grenada CBI programme been compromised by this alleged act of wrong-doing?
Has any national of Russia or Belarus who is on the blacklist managed to get their passports renewed in light of the ban imposed on nationals of these two countries with respect to the CBI programme in light of the war in Ukraine?
Is the Prime Minister who is the Minister of National Security and his own National Security Advisor on top of this issue within the Immigration Department?
The other troubling aspect is that reports are now circulating within the said Department, of officers accepting expensive gifts including $500.00 brand name perfumes from CBI applicants to fast track their passports.
The current NDC government needs to take charge and look into the operations of both the Customs Department and the Immigration Department and tackle head-on acts of corruption.