The New Today

Letters

Corruption in the public service

Permit me to first extend congratulations to Dickon Mitchell on becoming the ninth Prime Minister of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique, and his team of Ministers (Parliamentarians) for their success at the polls in the June 23rd, 2022, General Elections.

I have decided to add my “two pence” along with quite a number of experienced and concerned citizens who at this juncture in our country’s political transition are echoing words of wisdom to this new administration. The wisest man that ever lived had echoed words of wisdom to his sons, or general proverbs to the nation which he governed.

One of his striking proverbs reads, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction”. The Good Book also indicates that God deals in the affairs of MEN. And, in another instance, the Good Book also declares that God sets up kings and dethrones kings.

I spoke of these passages for the purpose of reminding those in the new administration that they first and foremost need to have a fear for God. They must consult God for assistance to govern this nation in the way that this nation needs to be governed. Why? Because of the oath that each Minister took when they were sworn into their respective ministries.

“So help me God!” This phrase should not be taken lightly. The reality is that the Ministers of this administration are requesting assistance from God in a public capacity. Yet, the truth is, most times after being sworn in, Ministers choose to do as they like; and in my opinion don’t even ask God for further assistance.

If you choose to continually request assistance from God to govern the country of Grenada, I have no doubt that God will give you all the assistance that is necessary for the good of this nation. Now, I spoke of wisdom, fear of God, instruction, and promotion. However, the main objective of this letter is to address the management of one of Grenada’s most dynamic and relevant industries which – in my opinion – is the FISHING INDUSTRY.

Grenada’s fishing industry is very resilient. It was the first industry that was up and running after the passage of hurricane Ivan. It also stood the test of the 2019-2020 Covid-19 period whereby the nation was provided with fish, a very healthy and true source of protein.

The then government understood the importance of the industry during that period, issuing special passes for fishermen to conduct their trade in a safe and cautious manner. When other institutions were closed and 95% of government employees were working from home, all fish markets around the island remained open to accommodate the public, especially when the lockdown was lifted.

The fishing industry generates a significant amount of foreign exchange. Even the present Minister of Fisheries alluded to this very fact. Thus, on that note, I as an investor need to bring to the public attention the following.

Here are my concerns:

Firstly, I was recently informed that the political activist that was planted in the Fisheries Division is on vacation leave with the possibility of never returning to the post. Now, it seems to be echoing in and around the Tri-island State that this new administration is seeking to re-employ one of the past Chief Fisheries Officers who some folks presume had been victimised by the former administration.

Now, before I lay out some facts, I need to send a word of caution to this new administration that if they are thinking of reinstating this guy who lives in the south of the Island (the South Chief), they really need to think twice before doing so.

I firmly do not believe that this former CFO was ever victimised by the NNP regime. I say this because this South Chief was allegedly caught red-handed extracting government files from his office in 2016. Over eight (8) SSU officers surrounded the building of the Fisheries Division and observed the South Chief taking files to his van that was on the compound.

This was a sting operation that occurred around 9.45 p.m., according to eyewitnesses. The special unit carried away the South Chief and brought him to CID for questioning. That’s the fact. There was a security detail on the compound of the Melville Street Fish Market, and certain fishers witnessed the scenario.

(Apparently, the South Chief was not aware that various persons saw everything that took place.) Due to ongoing investigations by the FIU, recommendations were made to transfer the South Chief to another ministry until the investigations concluded. (Ask him!)

The morning following the sting operation, the police again got a tip off that the second in command at the Fisheries Division at the time (a gentleman of Asian descent who holds a high position in an evangelical church) was caught red handed with files inside black plastic bags; files that were again extracted from the Fisheries Division.

The police took away said gentleman, and allegedly confiscated tens of thousands of dollars worth of Government items from his house. Again, he also had to be removed from the Fisheries Division for investigations to move forward. Those incidents caused the public to become disillusioned, and all sorts of things were said about the NNP regime. They claimed that those public officers were victimised. However, in my opinion, that was not victimisation. It is necessary that the public become aware of the facts.

In my opinion, to re-employ this South Chief as Chief Fisheries Officer would be one of the greatest mistakes that this present administration will ever make. The Dickon Mitchell-led administration should avoid granting any types of contracts to this South Chief. If they do, the opposition will shred them to pieces.

Why do I say so? It’s because of the reliability of the information that I am privy to, as well as what is in the domain of the opposition party. Somewhere in late 2015 or early 2016, the South Chief departed from the Island and represented Grenada at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) overseas. He departed from the island without the necessary approval from Cabinet (Ask Him).

As I was reliably informed, not even his staff knew his whereabouts. On his return flight bound for Grenada, the then Leader of the country was purportedly surprised to see the South Chief sitting in first class with lots of dainties on his table just waiting to be consumed. The question was posed to him: “Where are you coming from?” The reply given, the then Leader responded that he couldn’t recollect Cabinet granting an approval for the South Chief to represent Grenada in the International Whaling Commission. (IWA)

As a result, the then regime was compelled to issue circulars to all Ministries stating that civil servants had to obtain Cabinet’s approval to travel to any country, especially when it was on Government’s affairs. Evidently, there was a great loophole that enabled some senior civil servants to jump through without falling into the pit.

The past regime was specialised in covering up things as to prevent national exposure, though there were persons who did get caught and were exposed. Additionally, it must be asserted that the Fishing Industry, per se, does not like the South Chief. He is not a favourite in the eyes of the fishing public. I presume that if this gentleman is re-employed, the Opposition parliamentarians would have a “field day”, whenever Parliament is reopened. (Prevention is better than cure.)

Secondly, it has been six years, and the Asian church official is still allegedly extracting articles from the compound of the Fisheries Division. Because nothing seemingly came out of the investigations, those culprits feel exonerated. (The FIU as well as the CID are privy to certain things.)

This former Fisheries Officer is now flexing his muscles. Just recently I was informed that he instructed a certain driver to transport a certain machine that is stored downstairs the Melville Street Fish Market. Not just that but this past officer is now posing as an employee of the Fisheries Division.

He allegedly is importing items for his private entity and seeks to obtain government concessions on those items. He, allegedly, along with another Officer that was formerly contracted, and who recently resigned are always on the compound of the Fisheries Division. It must be noted that the outgoing Chief, who is a well-known NNP activist, is also the holder of a high position in the same Faith as said “exonerated” Fisheries Officer.

As such, I am imploring the Government of Grenada to investigate the following:

(1). The whereabouts of the MPA machine along with all those scuba tanks which were held in the storeroom of the Melville Street Fish Market. This machine was used to fill diving tanks. (Machines, tanks and all other accessories are the sole property of the Government.)

(2). The whereabouts of a certain vessel and its two big engines (again Government property) that were used by the MPA.

(3). Why the catamaran (Government’s property) that is moored outside the Melville Street Fish Market is used by another organisation? The director of this private organisation is none other than the officer who was extracted from the compound of the Fisheries Division by police officers.

(4). What the officer who resigned almost eight months ago was doing inside of his former office at the Fisheries Division?

Thirdly, a certain Permanent Secretary with South American descent was instructed to follow up on the incidents which occurred at night, and again in broad daylight at the Fisheries Division. To date, nothing came out of this investigation. As such, those two officers, in the eyes of John Public, seemed to have been exonerated, and the blame fell upon the NNP regime.

The NNP boss’ request for the files and updates on the progress of the investigation from the South American Snake were futile. No files were ever submitted. Instead, the thick glasses lady supposedly advised the officer of Indian descent to retire.

It was never a secret that upon investigation that the latter tricked a certain civil servant into obtaining the computer that had been used for his dealings. When the FIU laid hands on the computer, its hard drive was missing. As the saying goes: “do nothing, be afraid of nothing”.

With elections looming, the NNP administration did not really want “this thing” to go public, which in my opinion was a great mistake which they later paid for.

Thus, elections came and the NNP was not successful at the polls. The state of the investigation died. Why? One officer took early retirement, and the other officer retired gracefully in the Ministry of Education.

That South American snake used her position very well to ensure that at least the officer of Indian descent escaped prosecution. She knows why. It was also a sign of pure weakness on the part of the then political boss of the NNP. How can a person who holds the highest position in government request from a civil servant the files from an investigation be refused such files?

So, who was in charge of the country at that time? It’s a clear sign that some civil servants “rule things”.

I wish to state that there are allegedly a lot of corrupt public officers. There is a certain public officer who is presently sitting in a prestigious position in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This officer seems to be untouchable. I am asking Minister Joseph Andall to keep his eyes open, and to never fall for sardonic smiles – this might cost him his Ministry.

Dangerous persons who live in darkness and now lurking in the light are posted in all those Ministries. Some Ministers sometimes don’t even know what is taking place in their own Ministries. Senior civil servants “rule things” even to the point of making others “catch real hell” under their watch.

The Dickon Mitchell-led administration kept boasting to the public that they have received hundreds of applications from persons who seem to give their services to the government. I am extremely appalled that with the kind of qualifications that I heard were submitted, I was left baffled that not one of those applicants are sufficiently qualified to assume the position of Chief Fisheries Officer.

Why would a government that boasts so much about their transformational agenda want to seek the services of the South Chief after his uncanny removal from the Fisheries Division by law enforcement officers, to be reinstated? Why does this administration transformational agenda not seek to transform the chronic situation of an under-staffed department?

I doubt that this present administration would want to associate itself with persons who were so allegedly corrupted that a sitting government had to initiate the necessary transfers of those two officers. The question remains up to date, that among those other officers who were employed at the Fisheries Division, why was it those two officers that met the criteria for transfer.

To date the cry is in the air that certain persons are being transferred from one place to another. Is this victimisation? I cannot say yes. Why? Because if the public service really ascribes to the public service rules and regulations then this matter of persons being transferred from one place to the next is old news.

When an appointment to a post is initiated, there are caveats in the public officer letter which reads: –

  • You will be subject to the provisions of the Public Service Commission Regulations, the Civil Service Staff Orders, the Public Finance Management Act and other Regulations in force from time to time.
  • You will be liable to TRANSFER to any post of equivalent status within Grenada.

So, when a public officer violates the terms and conditions of the Public Service Commission rules, that officer must be disciplined, especially if the facts are compelling. So, when an officer is being transferred into another position, can this be equated to victimisation?

Also, the Rules indicate in chapter II (conduct of Public Officers) … relating to personal records section 34: – Public officers should not as a rule be allowed to have access to records personally relating to themselves and are not permitted to take copies of official correspondence of this nature which pass through their hands, except in cases where the correspondence has been expressly sent to them for noting.

So if a HEAD OF A DEPARTMENT is caught red-handed smuggling out from his office government files, don’t you think that an investigation should be commenced? Then don’t you think it is fair to remove such an officer from the environment of his office so that the investigation could take its course without any obstruction?

Of course I will answer yes to those two questions. Therefore, by the removal of those two officers from the Fisheries Division in 2016 for the investigation to go forward without any hindrances in my opinion was justified. And as I indicated before this can never be equated to victimisation.

In conclusion, it is imperative that those union bosses first get their facts straight in the defense of their workers as it relates to alleged victimisation. I hope that this new administration will take heed and not be naive in their operations. Take some good samples from the past, and always try to get the story on both sides of the coin before simply saying that the NNP victimised Tom, Dick, and Harry. And as it is now, that the NDC is bent on spite and victimization. Get those FACTS STRAIGHT.

Most importantly, and back to the soon coming alleged appointment of this South Chief. In my research and the evidence that I have gathered as an investor in the fishing industry, if this South Chief has any shame whatsoever, he will turn down the offer to be re-employed as the Chief Fisheries Officer.

Old guards make room for the new guards. I am sure that the Dickon Mitchell-led Administration would avoid at all costs to be associated with persons who have been alleged to be characters of corruption.

The Observer