Minister, please provide the evidence

May 17th 2013

 

Mrs Delma Thomas

Minister

Ministry of Social Development & Housing

Botanical Gardens

Tanteen

St. George’s

Grenada

 

Dear Minister Thomas,

 

It is with a sense of utter dismay and disappointment that I engage you in this matter, having been privy to the purported reason for my dismissal.

After being unprofessionally informed of my dismissal via the telephone on Labour Day, your recent statement and written communication to the World Bank indicating that my immediate dismissal was as a direct result of my incompetence and lack of caring for the poor and vulnerable given the nature of the project, is very unfortunate and concerns me greatly.

While I take no issue with the termination of my contract, I categorically take objection to the manner and reason given – albeit, not to me.

As you are aware, I was contracted to serve as Manager of the Pilot program of the Government of Grenada’s Social Safety Net Reform Project with effect from September 15th 2011 for a period of two years.

 

My duties included:

 

*Managing the implementation of the project activities

 

*Working closely with the Project Coordination Unit, Ministry of Finance to ensure that the procurement plan was properly managed.

 

*Ensuring that Government met the disbursement linked indicators as required in the agreement with the World Bank.

 

*Compiling monthly internal reports to the Ministry and external reports to the Bank. (Submission of the latest report covering the period October 2012-March 2013 was accomplished on time)

 

*Lead the implementation of the project at the field level;

 

*Supervised the project staff, (including field officers and Safety net officers) and manage the contracts of local and international consultants.

 




* Liaised with the World Bank on a regular basis, ensuring that the project was effectively implemented.

 

Despite the challenges faced with some of the key players in the Ministry, I worked together with the few persons who were committed and believed in the objectives and goal of the SEED and who genuinely saw the need for the reform of Grenada’s Safety Nets to the benefit of the poor and vulnerable persons in the society.

I welcomed the support from the World Bank’s team, who incidentally like you, were fed quite a number of negatives about me by the aforementioned key player or players who did not welcome the change from the old programs to the new.

However as professionals, they treated the matter as it deserved to be treated and I can speak to the existence of a healthy working relationship with them up to the day of my dismissal. This of course, can be easily verified.

During my time working with the SEED, I at times wondered particularly so during the last ten (10) weeks prior to my dismissal, whether the claims of the desire to help the poor and vulnerable were genuine or merely lip service.

You see Minister, I am of the view that there are certain basic fundamentals that we should all be bounded by and must adhere to. The little virtues like honesty, responsibility, reliability and of course self-respect, to name a few Madam, must be instilled in the poor and vulnerable through counseling and coaching so that they in turn can cultivate the same qualities within their families and by extension, the nation.

It means therefore that merely handing out money to the poor and vulnerable is of little help if there is a real desire to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. It is against that backdrop that my query arose since it appeared to me that your focus was on providing the assistance at all cost, notwithstanding the new and existing procedures of the SEED which were being introduced.

Contrary to your charge of incompetence and uncaring on my part, Minister, I wish to suggest that you may not have familiarised yourself with the details of the Brief which I had prepared for you as well as the subsequent Cabinet submission to which you affixed your signature along with the oral presentation that was made to Cabinet at which you were present, and therefore does not have a thorough knowledge and appreciation for the goals, objectives, procedures and benefits of the SEED.

Be that as it may, I am no longer part of your organisation and have no further opportunity to influence the future operations of your Ministry however, my issue, as afore-mentioned is with the charges levied against me.

As you can see, I really am experiencing grave difficulty in coming to terms with your charges which you have surmised in a mere ten (10) weeks although I had served in the capacity of Project Manager for sixteen and a half (16 1/2) months prior to you assuming the Ministerial position.

I would therefore be grateful, Madam Minister, to be provided with the evidence of my incompetence and uncaring with respect to the poor and vulnerable (beneficiaries of SEED) during the past nineteen months of my employment with the Ministry.

The inference is that for all those months, I would have collected money fraudulently from the Government of Grenada because I collected money for work which was not competently done in accordance with the duties outlined above.

Again the question of proper management arises when as recent as May 3rd, 2013 through the Permanent Secretary you instructed that I be paid one month’s salary in lieu of notice.

Significantly no breach of the contractual terms was cited! Despite this, Minister, I can assure you that once I have been provided with the evidence of my incompetence, I shall refund every cent of the money fraudulently received, to the Government of Grenada.

I must admit that having money is high on my agenda, but maintaining a good name which is free of false and fraudulent charges is even higher and most important.

On the other hand, if I do not receive the evidence, I would conclude that the charges were concocted only to be rid of me, in which case I would expect that the Bank and the other parties who had been issued with copies of your previous correspondence, would be accordingly advised.

If neither of those things occurs, then I would have no choice but to take whatever course of action is available to me to clear my name.

In the meantime, I await an early response.

Respectfully,

 

Pauline Roberts-Harper

963 East 100th Street

Brooklyn, NY 11236

 

 

cc: Permanent Secretary, MoSDH, Mrs Elizabeth Henry-Greenidge

cc: Permanent Secretary, MOF, Mr Timothy Antoine

cc: Hon Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell

cc: Cabinet Secretary (Ag), Ms Nadica Mc Intyre

cc: Mrs Sarah Berger, Social Protection Specialist, World Bank

 

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