One of Grenada’s top public officers has warned Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell to expect the going to be tough in his new portfolio as Minister with responsibility for Infrastructure and Physical Development.
Speaking to THE NEW TODAY over the weekend, the high-ranking public officer said the Prime Minister is going into “a mess” and doubted that it is something that “he hasn’t appreciated as yet.”
According to the officer, he has no doubt that the 45-year old Grenadian leader “is quite capable” but what he did in the Ministry of Finance in terms of starting to pay pension to retired public officers and start bi-monthly salaries to civil servants with effect from April 14 is vastly different to the tasks that lies ahead in the new portfolio.
The Prime Minister was forced to take over the ministry due to the slow pace at which several of the bottlenecks were being addressed in order to kick start a number of projects.
According to the senior public officer, he believes that PM Dickon Mitchell is going into what he called a web of deception, corruption, mismanagement, bad decisions, that have been made and it is going to be difficult for him but is confident that “he is going to prevail.”
He said the Prime Minister needs to put together “a team of experienced people” around him in order to grapple with the problems in the Ministry of Infrastructure Development.
He suggested that the current Permanent Secretary in the ministry Mike Stephen should be transferred to another ministry on the grounds that the job at hand is too big for him to handle.
He also called for the recruitment of a new Chief Technical Officer (CTO) in the ministry and “to get good engineers inside there if he (PM Dickon Mitchell) wants to resolve that problem”.
The experienced public officer also cited the need for the Ministry of Economic Development, headed by St Andrew South-west Member of Parliament, Lennox “Toes” Andrew to be given a shakeup by the new Congress administration.
“There are no new projects on the horizon after all the NNP election projects come to an end – there is nothing new,” he remarked.
He referred to a project from the state-owned National Water & Sewerage Authority (NAWASA) in the south of the island that has to come on stream but is known to be suffering from “so many delays, so many issues that won’t be able to come in the next two years.”
He also pointed an accusing finger at the previous New National Party (NNP) administration of Dr. Keith Mitchell for doing little or nothing on the Western Main Road corridor project especially in the design and studies to bring the project to fruition.
The high-ranking public officer told THE NEW TODAY that the then British government of Prime Minister David Cameroon only agreed to finance the feasibility and the design study for the project, as well as commit a certain amount of funds to undertake the project.
According to the public officer, the NNP government which lost power to Congress in the June 2022 general election had to go out and raise the rest of funds that are needed to complete the project.
He said that what the previous rulers had to do was to package the project and go out on the hunt to find donor agencies to fund various portions of the road.
He added that it is very unlikely that one donor will provide all the millions needed for such a massive project.
The public officer suggested that PM Dickon Mitchell should give serious consideration to recruiting a new Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Development as the current holder Kim Frederick might not be the best person to undertake the job that is needed.
“If Dickon (Mitchell) doesn’t take the bull by the horn that ministry could end up causing him some serious political damage – so he needs to take the bull by its horn and not depend on the people that (are) there. I am telling you – he needs to get a good competent team,” he said.
According to the senior public officer, the Prime Minister also needs to fix the Procurement Unit within the Ministry as Finance as it is currently dominated by pro-NNP operatives.
He said that several known NNP officials are continuing to get contracts from their aides in the ministry much to the disappointment of Congress supporters who are still on the breadline.
He cited a recent case in which a known NNP operative in the River Road area who is the Chairman of the NNP Constituency branch in the Town of St George was able to land a contract in Darbeau by allegedly putting up someone to front for him.
“That could only happen if there is somebody inside (the ministry) facilitating it. There are people in the Procurement Unit that are facilitating that thing,” he said.
The public officer also pointed to problems existing in the Tendering process at the ministry with some people definitely “breaking all the rules” in order to make sure that NNP supporters continue to get the bulk of contracts awarded by the government.
“Somebody needs to put (PM) Dickon (Mitchell) to sit down and open his eyes because if he doesn’t this one is a much more difficult challenge than the Ministry of Finance.,” he told THE NEW TODAY.
Former Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is known to have installed several key supporters in all the important areas in the public service including the Police.
The new Congress government has been facing a barrage of criticisms from its own supporters over the slow pace at which some public officers with strong NNP ties are being reassigned to new and less sensitive postings.