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Government delays in paying suppliers of goods and services

PS Finance Mike Sylvester – is a key player in ensuring that service providers are paid

A former Permanent Secretary in Grenada has suggested that several options are open to the new Congress government of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell to tackle allegations that some public officers loyal to the former New National Party (NNP) regime of defeated Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell are showing favouritism to persons linked to the past administration in paying claims to service providers.

“That is a very simple matter to deal with – very simple,” he told THE NEW TODAY in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

The retired former top civil servant said the affected government ministers should bring this matter to the attention of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance who then has to instruct the Accountant General to make these payments.

“That is what I used to do when I was there,” he said, adding that “if you don’t bring it to his attention he would claim ignorance.”

“Once they bring it to his attention – not the Accountant General – but the PS Finance attention and he in turn has to instruct the Accountant General to make these payments and once he does that then the payments will be made in a hurry or outside of that they will continue to sabotage,” he said.

The ex-PS in Finance went on to say: “If he (PS Finance) fails to ensure that these people are paid then they (NDC Government) need to get rid of him because he is part of the sabotage. Give him his walking papers and you will be justified in doing so.”

“This thing has been going on for a while and a lot of the problems lie in the Accountant General’s office. That is why the PS has to instruct the Accountant General. I remember (name of the Accountant General withheld) used to have people’s cheques printed, ready to deliver and he would just hold them in a draw in his office and when these people calling for their monies the man laughing out loud, loud – “oh, they calling and asking for money, look the cheque right here, they’re not getting it. That used to happen. So this is a matter for the PS,” he said.

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THE NEW TODAY has received reports of some private sector businesses whose owners are considered as supporters of Congress not being paid for as much as six months for goods supplied to the State while contractors linked to the defeated NNP government are boasting of getting all their monies in short order.

Information has surfaced that a senior figure in the Ministry of Finance has not been able to obtain a laptop computer to do government work as the private supplier is refusing to hand over the device due to thousands of dollars in unpaid claims lying in the Treasury.

According to the ex-PS, the Ministry of Finance can develop its system in effecting payment to service providers in order to make sure that all claims are paid out in a 2 to 3 month period depending on the cash flow in the Treasury.

He said the PS Finance will know what exactly is the situation with the state of Government Finances and be able to determine “whether we can honour these claims in a month, two months, three months maximum.”

“You can’t have people supplying (and not paying them) because a lot of these suppliers, they also have creditors who they have to pay,” he told THE NEW TODAY.

“So, if you as government are not going to pay them then you are putting them and their business in jeopardy as well, so it has a kind of cascading effect,” he said.

The ex-PS called on the Congress government to put in place strict guidelines to the Ministry of Finance as regards the timeframe for paying all claims submitted to the government for payment by providers of goods and services.

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