The New Today
Editorials

Stop the pussy-footing!!!

THE NEW TODAY is extremely concerned about the decision taken by the 14-month old National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell to set up another committee to unravel the so-called mystery surrounding Grenada’s oil and gas deposits.

This announcement which was made in the Throne Speech that was delivered Tuesday by Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade is bordering on uncertain leadership at this point in time.

It is well known by thousands of Grenadians that the former New National Party (NNP) government of Dr. Keith Mitchell had signed an agreement with a Russian oil outfit known as Global Petroleum Group (GPG) to engage in oil and gas exploration in our territorial waters.

It is also not a secret that GPG had made available a few millions of dollars to the Treasury as part of the oil deal and the Ministry of Finance should have the details.

The head of the newly formed committee, former Finance Minister Nazim Burke was the point man in the 2008-13 period in government of Congress under Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and did engage directly with the Russians on the oil and gas arrangement.

It is quite obvious that Mr. Burke would have left behind files on his discourse with the Russians following the defeat of NDC at the hands of NNP in the 2013 general election.

In the Throne Speech, Dame Cecile made it clear that no files on oil and gas were handed over to the incoming administration by the outgoing NNP administration of Keith Mitchell which lost the June 2022 general elections.

Instead of informing Grenadians about the establishment of yet another committee to unravel the oil and gas mystery, the Throne Speech should have highlighted that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) was conducting a criminal probe into the disappearance of State documents.

This investigation should target at first the Permanent Secretary as the Accounting Officer in charge of the Ministry of Energy or Finance wherein the portfolio for Grenada’s oil and gas reserves were located at the time of the change of government.

It is well-known that every government ministry has a Filing and Recording section for storing all State documents.

The FIU should be interviewing all the relevant persons about these oil and gas documents that belong to the State with reference to the negotiations with GPG.

If the public officers never saw these documents then the next stop for the FIU has to be at the homes of former Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and his deputy Gregory Bowen who was the main person who did most of the negotiations with the Russian oilmen.

Another person who might be able to shed some light on documents from the Grenada/GPG discussions is the former Energy Czar for several years, Mr. John Ogiste.

What is the terms of reference of this Nazim Burke-led committee? Does it have the power to subpoena persons like Keith Mitchell and Gregory Bowen to appear on oath and give information about the so-called “missing” oil and gas files?

THE NEW TODAY has no doubt that something sinister might have been done with these documents given the history of the issue.

The former head of the FIU, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Senneth Joseph could be approached on files pertaining to the GPG/Grenada oil and gas issue.

The FIU was conducting a criminal investigation into a former NNP government minister after a document was found following the change of government in 2008 which pointed in the direction of GPG asking this particular minister to account for an estimated EC$1.3 million that was handed over.

This law enforcement agency was pursuing the matter and advised along the way by top Trinidad & Tobago legal luminary the late Karl Hudson-Phillip to press charges against the former NNP minister.

ASP Senneth Joseph and his team were making all the necessary preparations to pick up the high-ranking NNP official and take him to the St Paul’s Police station for questioning before charges were laid when something happened and that still remains a mystery as to why the plan was aborted.

The information that surfaced after the return of NNP to power after the 2013 general election is that the FIU files pertaining to the criminal investigation of the former minister were immediately taken and seemingly disappeared too.

The electorate voted for change 14-months ago in full anticipation that all the injustices done against the people of Grenada will be addressed.

THE NEW TODAY holds strongly to the view that the setting up of another committee to look into oil and gas is a demonstration of weak, uncertain and ineffective leadership at this point in time.

The NDC is missing “the boat” by not asking the British in particular for assistance in helping the island to unravel the mystery of the missing oil and gas files and other matters of national importance.

It is our hope that the Nazim Burke-led Committee will move in that direction in the national interest to put this oil and gas thing finally to rest and to allow the law to take its natural course.

This group should help the government to “stop the pussy-footing” and to start taking decisive action in keeping with the June 2022 mandate of the Electorate based on the Transformational Agenda.

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