The current leaders of Congress should be mindful of “the late payment bogey” of the salaries of public officers that affected the Tillman Thomas-led government during its 2008-13 term in office.
The then opposition New National Party (NNP) of Keith Mitchell was able to successfully use the issue to start its major political comeback after the 11-4 trashing at the polls.
It was the second consecutive time that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was voted out of office after serving only a single term in office at the Botanical Gardens.
Today, the Minister of Finance Dennis Cornwall has admitted that some public officers did receive their salaries late although it is known that the Treasury is not short of finance to meet the expenses of the government.
Minister Cornwall is fully aware that “the late payment bogey” had affected the NDC in the past and has a responsibility to guard against this after the 9-6 victory at the polls some 19 months ago.
The public service is governed by rules and regulations.
THE NEW TODAY is fully aware that Minister Cornwall cannot interact directly with public officers on the issue of payment of salaries to those on the government payroll.
The onus is on the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance to make sure that all the systems are put in place, up and running in order to avoid late payment of salaries to public officers.
The Ministry of Finance should have a set deadline date for all the Finance Officers in the various Government Ministries to submit their payroll under the supervision of the respective Permanent Secretaries in each Ministry in order to facilitate the monthly salary payroll.
It is a simple process to be followed – nothing too cumbersome and magical for those public officers who are tasked with this kind of responsibility.
The Finance Minister should be calling in his own PS and the Accountant General to ensure that the system is as seamless as possible and anything otherwise should result in reading “the riot act” to them in the interest of the government of the day.
The Prime Minister should also get involved in this issue out of the realisation that there are elements within the Public Service whose loyalty is not to the Government and People of Grenada but the former NNP and its machinery that ruled the island for over a quarter of a century.
These pro-NNP public officers have not and will not accept the will of the Grenadian people that was manifested nearly two years ago and have a commitment to sabotage the current occupants in office.
The proof is facing the current government leaders straight in the face given the amount of leaks of state documents to the opposition.
The most recent was the “ISIS” issue in which Keith Mitchell, the former NNP Prime Minister tried to create an international storm with his false allegations that this well-known terrorist organisation had been allowed to register and operate on the island.
It is clear that operatives of NNP are still holding key and sensitive positions in the Corporate Affairs Department where these documents are filed and stored.
The Prime Minister and Minister of Finance have to take swift, quick and decisive action against the wrongdoers in order to send a clear message to them that they will be crushed for trying to destabilise the administration.
Anyone found to be violating the public trust should be brought before the Public Service Commission (PSC) for not only punishment but that steps should be taken to name and shame them in the public.
The Congress leaders should not rule out a possible link between the upsurge of gunshots in some parts of the country by rogue elements and the clear attempts to create chaos and confusion within the public service over the issue of the late payment of salaries.
THE NEW TODAY also wants to take this opportunity to make a plea to the Minister of Finance to look into the state of affairs at the Customs Department.
There are serious issues surrounding Customs such as corruption that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency given its key role in the collection of government revenue.
The Minister should impress upon his Permanent Secretary the need to provide the platform for him to hold a Staff meeting at Customs to hear first-hand their concerns because the level of morale is extremely low in the Department.
The current government cannot be expected to solve all the problems plaguing the Public Service in its first two years as the former NNP regime turned a blind eye to many things over the past years.
However, the onus is on the Dickon Mitchell-led government to do what is right for the country and to help bring back hope in the public service that all is not lost.
The holder of the office of Minister of Finance has a key role in helping Congress to secure another term in office as he holds the nation’s purse strings.