The New Today

The problematic GOC!!!

The issue of term limit is not strange to Grenadians as it was on the national agenda in recent years in an attempt to change the Grenada Constitution which was rejected by the people in a referendum.

However, THE NEW TODAY is recommending that term limits should become a reality for many organisations in the country especially sporting bodies like the Grenada Olympic Committee (GOC) which is now gripped in internal strife as some persons try to push out the 78-year old President who has been in charge of its business for the past 38-years.

It is now public knowledge that there is a problem in the local Olympic body over the failure of the President, Royston La Hee and a few longstanding executive members not to inform the new entrants on the Board about the use of EC$440, 000.00 that remains unaccounted for and causing problems with the donor, Olympic Solidarity, an affiliate of the IOC.

It is not our intention to cast aspersions against any member of the GOC Board of Directors over this unfortunate situation which is now in the public domain not only in Grenada but in the Caribbean and wider afield.

There is currently taking place an investigation into the issue by the Finance Committee of the Olympic body and one should wait on the findings.

There is every possibility at this stage that the funds were indeed spent on worthwhile projects and ventures undertaken by La Hee and his allies on the GOC Executive but the fact remains that they cannot at this stage fully account to the donor about how the money was utilised.

This is one local body that has several persons with the skills, talent and know-how on ensuring that at all times the funds of the organisation should always be spent in a proper and transparent manner.

The General Secretary, Veda Bruno-Victor is an experienced retired public officer who served as Permanent Secretary in several government ministries and in that position was the chief accounting officer for the ministry and its budgeted funds.

Bruno-Victor is fully aware of the financial rules in the service and the need to always leave a paper trail behind in case the Director of Audit shows up to look into the financial running of her ministry.

The GOC President and the Treasurer who is an experienced retired banker, are also fully aware of their role and responsibility to be 100 percent transparent in their place of employment in the private sector body that they worked at for many years before retirement.

It is rather unfortunate that these people at the helm of the local Olympic body have apparently fallen short in following the guidelines set by OS in accounting for funds given to them for projects in Grenada including scholarships for athletes.

The IOC and Fifa are the two richest sporting organisations in the world with billion-dollar annual budgets.

Many sporting administrators in the Caribbean have full knowledge of the plight of Jack Warner of Trinidad & Tobago who is battling legally against extradition to the United States on fraud charges linked to football than can see him die in prison.

This EC$440, 000.00 given to GOC by OS is a drop in the ocean when one considers the amount of money spent annually around the world by the IOC but the funds still have to be accounted for.

La Hee and company were able to build a modern office complex at Morne Rouge primarily from funds at their disposal from the IOC in one form or fashion.

The public is not aware of the tremendous prestige and privileges given to our local Olympic officials when travelling abroad to attend certain functions including IOC Congresses.

The truth is that the GOC President is treated like a visiting Head of State from any independent country in the world and is given security, chauffeur-driven limousine and stays in the best hotels that are available on these foreign trips.

These local Olympic officials get much better royalty treatment than a Prime Minister in the Caribbean and some of them would not like to give up on the new found life style and want to hold onto their local positions and will fight bitterly anyone who is seen as a challenger to their kingdom.

This is why THE NEW TODAY is in full support of term limits when it comes to persons holding positions in organisations like GOC in order to reign in some of these persons who might become dictatorial and operate in such a manner that it is extremely difficult to control them after serving in the position for too long.

At 78, the current GOC President is still harbouring thoughts of seeking another 4-year term in office that will end when he is 82-years old. Why is La Hee seeking to hold onto the position? Is “the juice” that is flowing so “sweet” that these people want to hold onto office and see no wisdom in making preparation for a new generation of sporting leaders to emerge?

It is no secret that over the years a number of allegations have been made about wrongdoing in the running of the GOC and frequent attempts to do a cover up act.

A few months ago, an investigation was undertaken into reports that one Board member was taking “underhand money” from someone who was employed to do some landscaping work around the GOC head office building in the south of the island.

It appears that this is one sporting organisation in the country that is long overdue for some serious house cleaning as soon as possible.

The various sporting bodies in the country that help to make up the GOC will only be doing themselves harm and a disservice as the organisation is due to have internal elections this year when personnel changes can become the order of the day.