Deputy Prime Minister Elvin Nimrod has defended government’s decision to appoint ace party stalwart Dr. Lawrence Joseph as an advisor to the two year old administration on Legal and Parliamentary affairs.
Joseph, a former President of the Senate and former Speaker of the House of Representatives once served the NNP government as Attorney-General and Minister of Labour.
His most recent appointment has been met with opposition from some quarters with one radio talk show host calling on the Keith Mitchell-led government to rescind the decision in light of the grave financial difficulties facing the country.
The cash-strapped regime has been forced to ask public sector unions in Grenada to accept a wage freeze for the duration of the so-called self imposed Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) that has the backing of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
According to Nimrod, the current Minister of Labour, the NNP administration is confident that the recruitment of Dr. Joseph as Advisor was a decision well thought out and the country stands to benefit from the services that he can provide.
The Deputy Prime Minister told reporters at the weekly post-Cabinet Press briefing held at the Ministerial Complex that Dr Joseph is more than qualified for the position and that the wages to be paid to him are subject to taxes.
In addition, Nimrod said that the newly appointed Government Advisor who is a qualified attorney-at-law by profession, will not be getting any other allowances from government upon the salary to be paid to him.
“I think given all this in terms of the precedent that has been set in the past and the qualification of Dr. Lawrence Joseph and the needs of the Government to fulfill such (an) important position, I think it is very unfair for anyone to suggest that Government has been extravagant with the meagre resources that we have because if you can well remember, the past administration – you had Chief of Staff, you had several advisors, maybe unnecessarily so, he added.
The monthly salary to be paid to Dr. Joseph was not disclosed.
Nimrod stated that government will not be spending money unnecessarily in soliciting the services of Dr. Joseph.
“In this time we are so stringent in terms of expenditure that I can tell you that Government Ministers cannot even travel on important matters if their travelling expenses have not been actually sponsored by some donor agency. We are keenly aware of the necessity to conserve our resources but this situation with Dr Lawrence Joseph, I think that the Government of the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique would be getting much more than their share in terms of the services that Dr Lawrence is providing,” he said.
Nimrod explained that the new appointee to serve the government would be used to help out on many fronts in an effort to better help out the situation facing the country.
“…We are engaged in Constitutional reform and Dr Lawrence Joseph will be playing a pivotal role in that regard…also, legal reform, legislative reform wherein we have to meet certain legislative obligations, in order to fulfill our obligations under the Structural Adjustment Programme”, he said.
“We have certain obligations in terms of reforming our laws to meet the requirements and this here again, Dr Lawrence Joseph is very crucial in the process and those of us who know Dr Joseph knows his commitment to his country – we can have no fear at all that we are getting our monies worth,” he added.
The Deputy Prime Minister also said that the expertise of Dr Joseph would be needed by some of the young inexperienced Parliamentarians who are seeking guidance and the new advisor will play an important role in the reformation of the Public Service.
Dr. Joseph is part of the NNP old guard. He has been on the side of Prime Minister Mitchell since the early days of the formation of NNP under late Prime Minister H.A Blaize.
When Dr. Mitchell captured the leadership of NNP in 1989 from Blaize, the then Prime Minister fired him along with Joseph as members of his government.
The Member of Parliament for St. John, Grace Duncan who was also serving as a Minister in the Blaize-led government resigned her position as a show of support for Dr. Mitchell.
Duncan is no longer in frontline politics with the NNP after Dr. Mitchell fired her from his first Cabinet that served from 1995-99 accusing her of leaking information to the media – an allegation that he promised to back up with facts but never did.
Duncan had accused him of behaving as “a little boy”.