An article which appeared in last week’s edition of THE NEW TODAY on the problem being encountered by the Congress government of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell to take full charge of the machinery at the ministries should be followed closely.
Nine months following the change of government the operatives of the defeated New National Party (NNP) are still running the show and helping to frustrate the process as some of the ministers are new and do not fully understand their role.
There is more than credible evidence that some public officers who are aligned to the NNP are deliberately cherry picking the service providers to government as regards who should be given priority for payment.
This ploy was used very successfully by the NNP when in opposition to the Congress government of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas in the 2008-13 period.
A senior government Minister was made to believe that the defeated NNP Leader was being rejected within weeks of regime change by one of its most senior surrogates who wanted to solicit information on what was happening at the governmental level.
The NNP Green Machine was also at work simultaneously on another front as its agents were using those public officers who were loyal to their cause to pay out millions owed to contractors and other service providers as priority, up and above others who were considered to be not supportive of the old regime.
Fifteen years later the same bag of tricks have resurfaced with the defeated NNP Leadership using its operatives to fast track payment to its supporters who are owed by the Treasury.
It is a clear case of a leopard cannot change its skin.
THE NEW TODAY is calling on each and every Government Minister to be alert and take charge of the portfolio given to them by Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell after the June 23, 2022 general election.
The Ministers have to pay particular attention to what is happening in their respective Ministries including the Minister of Finance and do not make the mistake of leaving everything in the hands of their Permanent Secretaries as this can be very fatal to their efforts to remain in government for any extended period of time.
Two senior government ministers – Dennis Cornwall and Lennox Andrew – have several years of experience at the Ministry of Finance and should have what it takes to offer sound advice at the level of the Cabinet of Ministers on what to look out for and how to deal with it.
The key advisor to the government and Prime Minister is Richard Duncan who is a former head of the budget Division in the Ministry of Finance and one with a good understanding of the system in place and how it can be manipulated.
It is quite easy to make periodic checks to see the disbursement of payments to government service providers and to implement a policy in which these people are paid within a one month to three month period for their goods and services rendered to the State.
The ministers have to be on top of things and leave no room for these NNP operatives to hide claims in desks as part of a strategy to make the government look inept and inefficient.
The NNP is at work and the party has enough of its supporters in key positions in the public service to do its bidding.
A saving grace for Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell and the NDC government is that the current Public Service Commission (PSC) is outside of the tentacles of the NNP machine and those public officers who might be inclined to engage in such behaviour can be dealt with very quickly.
THE NEW TODAY would also like to address an issue that has bearings on the role of the Roman Catholic Church in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
It is quite evident that the church owns and controls many buildings all over the island.
During last week’s Town Hall meeting at the Westerhall Secondary School, the Prime Minister stated on two occasions that he had to make approaches to the Catholic Church for permission to renovate buildings under their control for use by residents in their villages as community centres.
It is quite obvious that this situation exists in many villages around the country and the church is not in a position to renovate and rebuild the many buildings in its possession.
The church has been given many buildings and properties over the years as gifts and simply cannot look after many of them.
The time has come for Bishop Clyde Harvey and the Catholic flock to give back something to the people at the local level as a kind gesture for all the financial and other forms of contributions made to the upliftment of the church over many decades.
It could take the form of a 50th anniversary gift to the nation to hand over to the government and people of the Tri-island State some if not all of those buildings lying idle and in a dilapidated State for improvements and then for use by the people as community centres, learning centres and places where skills training can take place for the development of the country.
The government can work with these communities to put all such buildings into productive and meaningful use and not places for delinquent elements to engage in all sorts of illegal activities like drug peddling and the taking of drugs like ganja and cocaine.
The Church can use this approach to demonstrate that it too is a serious stakeholder in the drive to bring about a much cleaner and healthier environment through a system involving government and the private sector in enhancing several buildings under its control that have been allowed to badly deteriorate over the years and can be put to public use.