The New Today

Letters

The Gemma Bain-Thomas saga

I followed the lead story on GBN on Wednesday 10th, March 2021 indicating that the sister of Mrs. Gemma Bain-Thomas had taken the bold step of bringing her case to the attention of the United Nations for abuses in the treatment of a woman and for human rights violations. Kudos to you madam. It was about time. This matter cannot continue to limp along with no end in sight.

I have also been privy to the most recent ruling of the High Court in the motion brought by the former Cabinet Secretary for an enforcement order to secure the payments due to her. The Attorney General, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and the Government should not have waited until now for directions to be followed for the payment of the judgment debt. In fact, they should not have defended this motion. It is an embarrassment that our Government is continuing to take advantage of and perpetrate the humiliation of a citizen.

I cannot imagine how the Public Service Commission, a body established by the Constitution, could issue a letter with directives to the Accountant General and over two years later no action has been taken; and no one is being held accountable. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance is the officer-in-charge of the Ministry where the Accountant General Department is located. In essence, the Permanent Secretary has for over two years presided over the non-implementation of the directives from the Public Service Commission.

There is also a Minister in the Ministry of Finance who ought to have known that a payment was ordered to the former Cabinet Secretary for her unconstitutional removal from the public service. Ultimately, it is the Minister’s responsibility to ensure that these payments are made by agents of the State.

The order from the High Court was given, to my knowledge, in the latter half of 2018 and the letters from the Public Service Commission were issued around the same time. To date, no payments have been made. By contrast, in March 2020, a judgment was given in the WRB/GRENLEC and the Government matter and by December 2020 the Government was able to identify almost two hundred million dollars to settle with WRB. But they are still unable to allocate the funds needed to settle with the former senior public officer.

I am amazed by the statements of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance when he swore early in December 2020 that having regard to the size of the judgment, large lump sum payments were not feasible for the State at the material time. Two weeks later, a large lump sum payment was made to an entity with supposedly wealthy owners whilst a regular citizen is left without any payments.

The Permanent Secretary in his sworn affidavit argued that the former senior officer rejected the government’s payment plan. I looked into the proposal, because that is what it was, and I asked myself whether the Permanent Secretary, the Attorney General or anybody in a similar situation would have accepted that proposed plan. My answer is NO. It is only narcissistic thinking persons who would make such an offer knowing that its acceptance and implementation would inflict pain and suffering on the recipient who would never be able to fully meet outstanding financial obligations.

I learnt that the former senior public officer had to liquidate all her savings at the Credit Union and the Bank to meet her financial obligations for the last three years. It is true that most public officers are retiring into poverty, but it baffles me that the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and the Attorney General apparently see nothing wrong with someone who has devoted their entire life to the service of Grenada having to be brought to the level of a pauper.

To the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, you swore an affidavit in which you seemingly trampled on your former colleague. It is now up to you to do what is right and to ensure the immediate payment of the compensation approved by the court.

The Government should be embarrassed and ashamed of itself. There appeared to be no good faith negotiations. The Government adopted a high-handed approach as it is currently doing with the four percent salary increase for public officers. People, please see the similarities.

We claim to be a Christian nation with a Christian conscience. That means we live by the maxim “do unto others as you want done unto you”. The former Cabinet Secretary was wrongfully terminated and has not been compensated.

Maybe, just maybe, if government officials had done unto the former Cabinet Secretary as they want done unto themselves, we would not be in this sad situation with the stench of injustice hanging over this nation. This is a stunning indictment.

Concerned Public Servant