No, no. I am not aware of anything specific. I have received no notice on any matter. I am collaborating with my Deputy or my Deputy is collaborating with me.
That was the response from Byron Campbell to reports in some quarters that the 6-month old National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell was planning to replace him as the head with second in command, Dr. Stephen Fletcher at the Climate Smart Agriculture and Rural Enterprise Programme (SEAP).
Speaking to THE NEW TODAY on Monday, Campbell also denied reports in some quarters of the country that he had approached the new administration for an extension of his contract to head the unit.
Campbell is known to be viewed with suspicion in some quarters of the ruling party following reports that he helped them in the 2008 victory at the polls against then Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and his New National Party (NNP) but several months later abandoned the party and returned to give support to them.
According to the SEAP boss, Dr Fletcher who assisted Congress in its June 23 election victory over NNP, was already working at the agency for almost two months now.
“I have heard quite similar sentiments (about Fletcher replacing him) – similar stuff like that,” he said.
Campbell spoke of having a contract from the major funder, the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) of the United Nations which gives employees some form of protection and provides for them to give their employee one month’s notice if they want to quit.
“It gives the government the same privilege. He (Fletcher) is the Deputy Programme Manager so he reports to me. That is the formal arrangements that I have and that arrangement was …recommended and discussed with the government and IFAD a couple months ago,” he said.
Campbell indicated that the dismissal of an employee can only be triggered “on specific conditions that the person didn’t perform or …some (other) issues.”
“It’s a feature in these contracts aimed at preventing political victimisation,” he remarked.
In an indirect criticism of Campbell, new Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Senator Claudette Joseph took issue with the low project implementation rate of 37% of SEAP over the years.
Campbell responded by saying that the onset of the deadly coronavirus pandemic played a major part as the agency could not directly interface with the beneficiaries.
The SEAP head also told THE NEW TODAY that he is “open to (discussion with) the government and whatever decision they make” on his continued tenure on the job.
“That is where I stand. I don’t know what the government’s intentions are but I am open to dialogue or any situation,” he said, adding that, “it’s up to the government. I am very open for dialogue on this.”
However, Campbell was quick to point out that both he and Dr. Fletcher “have been collaborating well” on the job and that the project has another “year and a couple months” to run its 6-year course.
“We have accomplished a number of significant targets already and I have also been working on another project for staffing and for Grenada eventually … looking for grant financing. That has been a lot of my focus also,” he said.
During the debate on the 2023 budget debate, it was announced that the government was planning to set up a sub-office of the agency in the rural town of Sauteurs in St Patrick to have a greater presence which was welcomed by Campbell.
In response, Campbell said: “I don’t know why we moved (the office) in the first place but we did move – that was the instructions (from the governing authorities). I always felt strongly that as a rural development project you need to have a greater presence in the community.”