The New Today

Fix the MNIB problem!!!

It appears that from the most recent utterances from Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government is no longer thinking of winding up the operations of the state-owned Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB).

In speaking at Tuesday’s post-Cabinet press conference the Grenadian leader briefly addressed the issue and did not use any word or phrase to suggest that the company would be wound up.

THE NEW TODAY is not in favour of the MNIB closing its doors to the public as PM Dickon Mitchell did not rule this out during his many campaign utterances for the June 23, 2022 general election.

There are many studies done on the operations of the MNIB with the general conclusion being that the Marketing Board was badly managed over the years and suffered from political interference in its operations.

The recent probe by the Integrity Commission (IC), headed by female attorney-at-law Anande Trotman-Joseph highlighted the many problems that are responsible for the company to be in the financial red.

The new government will be doing the public a great disservice if it fails to follow through on some of the many recommendations made in the IC report, especially those that called for criminal investigation into the actions of some employees over the years.

The report alluded to suspicion into two fires at MNIB which many believe was aimed at destroying evidence of possible corruption.

The defeated New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell made severe errors in judgement in its selection of persons to manage the state body over the years.

The regime was very deceitful when it removed a former manager who was under a cloud and gave him another prestigious job in a government ministry when those in charge of state power knew that the individual was central in the demise of the MNIB finances.

It was only after the MNIB fiasco was reported in this newspaper that the individual was then removed from his top-paying position in a government ministry.

The then Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell knew that the MNIB was in terrible financial straits but definitely lacked the political will to take serious and corrective action.

Former board Chairman Samuel Andrew made an open statement a few years ago to the effect that he was unsuccessful in his numerous efforts to get a meeting with Dr. Mitchell who was the line minister for MNIB to appraise him of the terrible financial state of affairs at the company.

This is nothing but yet another piece of clear evidence of failed leadership on the part of the former Prime Minister who often boasted about his years of service to the country as an elected Member of Parliament for St George North-west.

A former manager did all kinds of suspicious dealings with the finances of the company including the purchase of expensive first class tickets on his many trips abroad.

It was not uncommon to see government ministers on the same flight to Miami sitting in Economy Class and the MNIB Boss and in most cases in the company of his Secretary travelling together allegedly on company business.

The MNIB was forced to shut down its loss-making business in Grenville, St. Andrew and took the unfortunate decision of keeping all staffers on the payroll by deploying them on other job sites belonging to the company.

It should be noted that MNIB had persons serving as Chairman of the Board over the years who came with “impressive” records of management in the private sector but did nothing of substance to apply the same practices and principles from their own businesses to the Marketing Board.

These so-called top managers know that their own Board of Directors would never continue with a practice that was loss-making since they are in the business of making money and a profit at the end of the day.

The current controllers of State power should be mindful that the public is very skeptical of many things in the country including the many investigations over the years into alleged wrongdoing and the culprits just getting a slap on the wrist and not serving jail time.

The message seems to be that the Richmond Hill prison is only for one set of people at the lower end of the strata but the real white collar criminals who live up there where the air is rare and are too big and large and among the untouchables in the society.

THE NEW TODAY is urging PM Dickon Mitchell and his NDC government to give MNIB a chance to finally function as a proper business company in the interest of the development of the agricultural and agro-processing sectors of the economy.

The administration should come up with a rescue plan for the Marketing Board and to put structures in place for recruiting a management team that can work towards turning around the financial fortunes of this important state body.

MNIB has suffered from mismanagement over the years and NDC as a government has a responsibility to take action to try and fix the problem.

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