The Keith Mitchell-led government has dropped the controversial Elvis Morain as one of its three nominees to sit on the Board of Directors of the Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association (GCNA).
A well-placed source told THE NEW TODAY that Morain’s name was excluded from the list submitted by government this week to serve on the board following the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the association held July 7 in which the farmers elected their six new members.
Morain’s removal is not surprising as he has come under fire in recent days over the EC$144, 000.00 owed to GCNA by a company called Chimera Holdings in which Olinga Mitchell, the son of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is listed as the Managing Partner.
During a recent programme hosted by the Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN), Morain who is the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, denied knowing that the son of a government minister was involved in the outstanding debt owed to the farmers’ body.
This response from Morain angered some of the senior members of GCNA who accused him of “lying” since as a board member he had full access to the minutes of directors and would have participated at Area meetings in which farmers often asked questions about the Chimera debt.
One senior GCNA member said that Morain who was collecting two salaries from the State, one as PS in Agriculture and another for being the island’s Supervisor of Elections was playing “tricks” and “games” on the Chimera issue.
“He’s playing political games and he needs to stop it,” said the GCNA executive member who took a dim view of the conduct of the senior public officer on the GBN programme.
The three new members selected by government to serve on the GCNA Board of Directors are Dr. Kelvin George, Byron Campbell and Leonard St. Bernard.
Dr. George who is from Requin in St. David holds the post of Director in the Department of Economic and Technical Co-operation in the Ministry of Finance, headed by Prime Minister Mitchell.
He was associated with a small entertainment business in Bailes Bacolet, St David which collapsed a few years ago.
According to GCNA insiders, officials of the association are not too happy with the selection of St Bernard who is considered as pro-liberalisation of the industry, which is a hot topic of discussion at the moment on the island.
In recent days, St. Bernard has been part of the government delegation headed by Agriculture Minister Yolande Bain-Horsford which has been going around the island to meet with farmers to discuss liberalisation and the dissolution of GCNA and the Grenada Cocoa Association (GCA) and to merge them under a new company called the Grenada Nutmeg & Cocoa Association (GCNA).
The government is said to be getting stiff resistance from farmers on the merger and liberalisation issues.
St. Bernard who is a major land owner in the St. Mark area was involved about 15 years ago with Montserrat-born businessman Joel Webb in a failed nutmeg plant venture in Nianganfoix near to Bylands in St. Andrew to manufacture oil.
When the business collapsed, St. Bernard bought out Webb’s interest but soon ran into financial difficulties himself.
The plant is now controlled by small businessman Ron Antoine, a brother of former Grenada Ambassador to Caricom, Dr. Patrick Antoine, who is trying to resuscitate it.
THE NEW TODAY understands that St. Bernard is interested in getting a licence from the Mitchell-led government to export nutmegs and mace as part of a liberalisation regime for the industry.
The six representatives elected by farmers as their directors to serve on the GCNA Board are outgoing Chairman Leo Cato, as well as Matthew Joseph, Pastor Christopher Williams, Naline Joseph, school teacher Wayne George from Hermitage, and Victor Ashby, the former Principal of the Grenada Boys’ Secondary School (GBSS).