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Report of corruption in the Ministry of Social Services

Social Development Minister Delma Thomas – has denied reports of “corruption” under her watch

The issue of corruption in the Ministry of Social Services, headed by St. Andrew North-west Member of Parliament, Delma Thomas is made in court papers filed in a high court matter involving Acting Permanent Secretary, Veronica Charles and state entities including the Public Service Commission (PSC).

THE NEW TODAY was able to obtain the documents filed by the parties in the Supreme Court Registry in which Charles is alleging that the manner in which she was removed from Thomas’ ministry and sent to take up a newly created position in the Ministry of Climate Resilience amounted to retiring her from the public service.

The allegation of corruption is included in the November 16, 2020 affidavit filed in the case by former Cabinet Secretary, Beryl Isaac who is now the current head of the PSC.

In the document obtained, Isaac made specific mention of a meeting she had with Acting PS Charles who she said “indicated to me that it was not unexpected that her acting appointment as PS would be terminated because of a prior conversation that I had with another PS in relation to the filing of the office of PS Ministry of Social Development.

“The Claimant (Charles) then proceeded to inform me of why she felt her acting appointment was being terminated which, she alleged was because she uncovered corruption in the Government’s housing programme. I did not respond to that assertion because I was not in a position to do the same.

“Also, I was unaware of that being a matter at play in the decision for her acting appointment being ended. To the best of my knowledge, I do not know whether there was in fact any corruption in the Government’s housing programme at the material time and or otherwise,” Isaac said in her affidavit.

According to Charles’ attorney, former Finance Minister, Nazim Burke the alleged corruption relates to “ghost payments” that Charles had refused to sanction to some persons who could not be identified and was ridiculed by those within the Ministry of Social Services who did not agree with her position on the issue.

As a public service, THE NEW TODAY reproduces in full the motion filed by Attorney Burke on behalf of his client who is challenging the manner in which the PSC removed her from the Ministry of Social Services and placed her in a position that was created just for her transfer:

IN THE MATTER of a claim by Veronica Charles, Permanent Secretary (acting), for breaches of her constitutional rights

BETWEEN:

VERONICA CHARLES

AND

  1. THE SECRETARY TO THE CABINET
  2. THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF GRENADA
  3. THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION

ORIGINATING MOTION
The Claimant, Veronica Charles, of Vendome in the parish of Saint George, in the State of Grenada, Permanent Secretary (acting) in the Ministry of Social Development claims against the Defendants, The Secretary to the Cabinet (also referred to as “the Cabinet Secretary”), whose offices are· located at the Ministerial Complex, Tanteen, St. George’s; The Attorney General of Grenada, with offices located Communal House, 414 H.A. Blaize Street in the city of Saint George’s in the State of Grenada and The Public Service Commission (hereinafter referred to as “the PSC” or “the Commission”) with offices at the Financial Complex, Carenage in the City of Saint George’s in the State of Grenada:

(1). A declaration that the decisions of the First-named Defendant to:

(i). terminate the acting appointment of the Claimant as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Development on October 22nd 2019;

(ii). send the Claimant on forced leave on October 29th 2019; and

(iii). purportedly transfer the Claimant from the office of Permanent Secretary (acting) in the Ministry of Social Development, Housing and Community Empowerment to the office of Institutional Strengthening Specialist in the Ministry of Climate Resilience, The Environment, Forestry, Fisheries and Disaster Management, were, in each instance, ultra vires and contrary to section 85(2) of the Constitution of Grenada and therefore unconstitutional, null and void, and of no effect in law.

(2). A declaration that when Her Excellency the Governor General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission (PSC) by letter dated May 18th 2020 purported to terminate the acting appointment of the Claimant in the office of Permanent Secretary (acting) in the Ministry of Social Development Housing and Community Empowerment with effect from October 31st 2019 and reverted the Claimant to her substantive office of Director of Social Development in the Ministry of Social Development, Housing and Community Empowerment with effect from October 31st 2019, Her Excellency the Governor General acted irrationally and/or unreasonably and/or arbitrarily and/or surrendered and/or abdicated the discretion vested in her by the Constitution of Grenada, each of which circumstance rendered the purported termination and reversion a contravention of section 85(2) of the Constitution of Grenada and therefore unconstitutional, null and void, and of no effect in law.

(3). A declaration that the decision of the Third-named Defendant to pass over the Claimant for promotion to the office of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Development, Housing and Community Empowerment, without any or any adequate reasons being given to her for so doing, was improperly motivated, unfair, irrational and in breach of her legitimate expectation and contrary to Regulation 19 of the Public Service Commission Regulations.

(4). A declaration that the decision of the Third-named Defendant to pass over the Claimant for promotion to the office of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Development Housing and Community Empowerment, without first giving her an indication as to why she is being passed over for promotion and an opportunity to make representation and/or be heard in that regard is in breach of natural justice and the Claimant’s constitutional rights to due process and protection of the Law, guaranteed by section 8(8) of the Constitution of Grenada, Chapter 128A of the Continuous Revised Edition of the Laws of Grenada, and is therefore unconstitutional.

(5). A declaration that when the Third-named Defendant by letter dated May 18th 2020 purported to grant to the Claimant administrative leave from October 31st 2019 to November 8th 2019, it abdicated its responsibility under section 84(1) of the Constitution of Grenada Chapter, 128A of the Continuous Revised Edition of the Laws of Grenada, and was following the dictates of the First-named Defendant, the Minister of Social Development, the Cabinet of Ministers and/or somebody or committee other than itself in coming to the decision to grant such leave to the Claimant and is therefore unconstitutional, null and void, and of no effect in law.

(6). A declaration that when the Third-named Defendant by letter dated May 18th 2020 purported to transfer the Claimant definitively to the office of Institutional Strengthening Specialist (Grade K) Ministry of Climate Resilience, The Environment, Forestry, Fisheries and Disaster Management effective from November 11 1h 2019, it abdicated its responsibility under sections 83(12) and 84(1) of the Constitution of Grenada, Chapter 128A of the Continuous Revised Edition of the Laws of Grenada, and was following the dictates of the first- named Defendant, the Minister of Social Development, the Cabinet of Ministers and/or somebody or committee other than itself in coming to the decision to transfer the Claimant and is therefore unconstitutional, null and void, and of no effect in law.

(7). A declaration that the office of Institutional Strengthening Specialist, Ministry of Climate Resilience, The Environment, Forestry, Fisheries and Disaster Management is not an equivalent post in the Public Service of Grenada to which the Claimant may be transferred pursuant to section 84(1) of the Constitution as it is not an established post in the Public Service of Grenada in that no budgetary appropriation or allocation is made for the said office in the annual Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for Grenada for the Fiscal Year 2020 and as such the Claimant has been constructively dismissed or alternatively required to retire from the Public Service of Grenada as at November 11th 2019;

(8). An order pursuant to section 101 (3) of the Constitution of Grenada, that the Claimant, having been constructively dismissed or required to retire from the Public Service, is to be paid all of her pension and retiring benefits as if she had attained the compulsory retirement age.

(9). Damages (including vindicatory damages), in such measure as the Court considers appropriate, be awarded against the State of Grenada for the breaches of the Claimant’s constitutional rights.

(10). Interest pursuant to sections 27 and/ or 27 A of the West Indies Associated States Supreme Court (Grenada) Act, Chapter 336 of the Continuous Revised Edition of the Laws of Grenada at such rate and for such period as this Honourable Court shall deem fit and proper.

(11). Such further or other orders as to this Honourable Court seem just.

(12). Costs.