Prime Minister and Minister of Information, Dr. Keith Mitchell has once again launched a scathing attack on the weekly NEW TODAY newspaper slamming it as a “scandal sheet”.
During his wrap of the 2017 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure in the Lower House of Parliament last week Tuesday, Dr. Mitchell told Parliament that this newspaper should not be printing, accusing it of not being legal.
“It (NEW TODAY) should not even be printing because the courts ordered them closed down, but they opened another… Some of us don’t obey laws, we don’t obey courts, we get away with it. The poor man must obey everything, that’s why when people talk about justice it is not fair,” he said.
PM Mitchell referred to an article in the newspaper which he said claimed that he did everything to stop former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Brian Francis from landing a top job at the OECS Secretariat earlier this year.
“No citizen of any country in the region can receive a job at the regional level or international level, unless they check with the government of the day. It cannot happen,” he told the sitting of the Lower House.
Dr. Mitchell said he was called by a regional organisation which informed him that Dr. Francis was interviewed for an opening and they were willing to employ him but needed to get the approval of the Grenadian leader.
He spoke of Dr. Francis as one who was historically hostile to him and the ruling New National Party (NNP).
According to PM Mitchell, it is well known that based on some problems at the Ministry of Finance, the former Permanent Secretary was fired.
“He went to court and the court ruled in the government’s favour. I don’t hold things against people. It’s well known that life is too short for us to keep holding on to things that happened 20 years ago and 30 years ago, we have to learn to forgive,” he said.
Dr. Mitchell said he took some time to respond to the request coming from the regional organisation because “I wasn’t sure the individual (Dr. Francis) can change, but I said give him a chance.”
“I gave qualified support… so the individual was hired, but I see in that scandal sheet (NEW TODAY) that I did everything to stop it, and how they ignored me and employed the gentleman. It’s quite amazing the falsehood that are preached outside there,” he told Parliament.
During his early return to government after the 2013 General Election, Dr. Mitchell took a swipe at THE NEW TODAY accusing it of being “bigger than the law in the country”.
“The court said you cannot publish, but … you temporary close down, print another name and continue a scandal sheet,” he said back then.
The Grenadian leader also lead a broadside against Statutory bodies that placed advertisements in the paper back then.
“When people are using a scandal sheet to damage other people and they seem to be getting away with it, and they even have Government Departments sending ads in that illegal entity, and I say that is fundamentally wrong, that means the government itself is taking part in an immoral act, and I’m not happy that I am Head of a Government participating in an immoral act, advertising in an illegal piece of document,” he said.
THE NEW TODAY is known to be a duly-registered newspaper in the Supreme Court Registry.
A recent poll conducted by a reputable outfit showed that THE NEW TODAY was the leading newspaper in the country and way ahead of two others that are known to be aligned to Mitchell’s NNP regime.
The Prime Minister also took a swipe at former Finance Minister and current Congress leader, Nazim Burke.
He said that although his government will never stop a qualified Grenadian who gets an opportunity to serve a regional or international institution, he did it in one case.
According to him, in 2014 while attending a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting he was asked by the Commonwealth Secretariat for his approval for Sen. Burke to be provided with the job as an Assistant Secretary General.
“I said no… the man is a Political Leader, and we support proper governance. I can’t afford to let the Leader of the Opposition party go and serve outside and make it almost a one-party State, let the man stay,” PM Mitchell said.
Burke has responded to the statement, saying that after the results of the 2013 poll that he had applied for several jobs in and out of Grenada since he had to provide for his family.
He said he was not even the leader of Congress when the application was sent in connection with the Commonwealth position that was on offer.
The Opposition figure accused Dr. Mitchell of trying to give the nation the impression that he (Burke) was planning to abandon Congress.