Steve Gurrie to Appeal Sentence

Attorney-at-law, Ruggles Ferguson is considering the possibility of appealing the 35-years prison sentence that was imposed by a high court judge on his client, murder convict, Steve Gurrie.

The Birch Grove resident received the sentence last week Friday in connection with the gruesome murder of Clyde Greenidge, a Farmer/Proprietor of Birchgrove, St. Andrew’s, and Christopher Stafford on May 3, 2010.

Gurrie beheaded the two men at Balthazar, St. Andrew’s after claiming that he did so after hearing a voice telling him to kill the men.

After pleading guilty to the murder charges in October, the accused was brought back to court last week and was sentenced to 35 years on each count by Madam Justice Margaret Price-Findlay who ordered that the two sentences should run concurrently.

Justice Price-Findlay recommended that there should be no review of the sentence before 25 years, and for a psychiatrist evaluation to be conducted on the convicted man every six months.

Ferguson told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that based on all the very peculiar issues coming out of the case, his law firm, Ciboney Chambers is considering a possible appeal to the stiff sentence.

Gurrie was reportedly examined by three doctors who concluded that he was mentally abnormal when he committed the murder.

There are reports that on the morning of that fateful day, Gurrie came from hunting and was seen socializing with Greenidge.

Later that afternoon Gurrie assisted Stafford in carrying grass on Greenidge’s farm.

It was at that time Gurrie claimed to have heard a voice telling him to cut off Stafford’s head.

After killing Stafford, Gurrie remained on the farm and was later joined by Greenidge who brought up three beers for them to drink.

Greenidge was apparently not aware that Stafford had already been killed.

The convicted man said he heard the same voice telling him to cut off Greenidge’s head, which he did.

Gurrie carried both heads in a bucket to the Grenville Police Station and informed the Police Officers there that he had just cut off the heads of two men.

A female police officer who was on duty reportedly fainted while a senior officer ran out of the station on seeing the heads placed on the desk.

 

Steve Gurrie – disappointed with the sentence

Steve Gurrie – disappointed with the sentence

Cyrus Accused of Rape

Adrian Cyrus – accused of raping an 11-year old school girl

Adrian Cyrus – accused of raping an 11-year old school girl

A charge of rape has been slapped on Adrian Cyrus, formerly of the Carenage, St. George’s.

Cyrus is accused of raping an 11-year old girl at his home on Cemetery Hill, St. George’s on December 1.

A source told THE NEW TODAY Newspaper, the young girl failed to report the alleged incident to her parents but the school she attended in the city became very suspicious with her behaviour.

The source who spoke on condition of not being named said that it was only until officials at the school where the young girl attends noticed a behavioural change that the matter was reported to the Ministry of Social Services who then alerted the police.

Cyrus was arrested last week Friday by the Lawmen, and brought to court on Monday before Chief Magistrate Tamara Gill who placed him on bail in the sum of $15,000.00 with two sureties.

He is due back in court on March 20, 2014.

Persons now convicted of rape are liable to 30 years imprisonment, up from the previous 15 years.

Meanwhile, a 30-year old man who was released from the Richmond Hill prison on December 2 is once again back in the institution as an inmate following an attack on an elderly citizen.

Kevon Paul of Boca, St. George’s, with 23 previous convictions, was sentenced by Chief Magistrate Gill last week Thursday to serve eight years in prison after being convicted for breaking into the dwelling house of 82-year old Agnes Bookyn on two occasions in less than one week and taking away a total of $3,150.00.

Kevon Paul – showed no mercy to the senior citizen

Kevon Paul – showed no mercy to the senior citizen

The accused also pleaded guilty for attacks committed around the same time on a medical student.

Paul was slapped with five charges and appeared in court unrepresented. He pleaded guilty to the charges.

The court was told that on December 4, two days after Paul was released from prison, he entered Bookyn’s house at Calliste while she was out walking her dog around the yard.

He reportedly took away three bunches of keys and $1,625.00 in cash that was in her bedroom.

Five days later on December 9, Paul returned to the same house and stole another $1,525.

THE NEW TODAY understands that Bookyn was on her way home after visiting her tenant in a nearby location, Garret Hoffman, a medical student at St. George’s University (SGU) who was the victim of a robbery with violence by Paul.

The elderly lady was accosted by Paul who stole her keys. Unknown to her, Paul used the keys and went back to her home.

Bookyn eventually managed to get into the house through the back door, and on entering the house had an altercation with the intruder during which she fell to the ground.

A mobile police patrol that was in the area found Paul hiding inside one of the bathrooms of the house and took him into custody.

Minutes earlier, the suspect had attacked Hoofman and beat and tied him up after entering his rented quarters.

The intruder took away the young man’s cordless phone, laptop computer, and a backpack bag.

According to a police source, several marks were visible around Hoofman’s neck, clearly showing signs of how he was tied up by his attacker.

This newspaper was told that Bookyn is familiar with Paul.

About five years ago, he broke into her house and took away some keys, one of which was for her car.

Out of Paul’s 23 previous convictions, 18 are for similar offences.

Washington gives support for Youth and Agro-Processing

US EmbassyU.S. Chargé d’Affaires Louis Crishock on December 12 presented a cheque for EC$51,200 to Samuel Brathwaite, Accountant of the Grenada Cocoa Association,e from the local U.S Embassy on the island, the cheque represents the fifth and final installment of an investment of over US $173,000 from the people of the United States through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to equip the Diamond Estate Cocoa Processing Plant in St. Mark.

The project is conducted as part of a Public/Private Partnership between USAID, L.A. Burdick Grenada, the Grenada Cocoa Association and the International Youth Foundation’s Caribbean Youth Empowerment Program (CYEP).

The project aims to stimulate the economy through support to the agro-processing sector while providing jobs for youth who have completed skills training.

Following the presentation, the Chargé said that the U.S. Government is proud of its investment in this project, adding, “Helping to create jobs for Grenadian young people and at the same time adding value to this nation’s renowned agricultural produce is a win-win proposition and the U.S. Government is thrilled to be able to play a role in it.“

The Barbados/Grenada scenarios

As this is the final issue of the THE NEW TODAY newspaper for 2013, our Management and Staff take this opportunity to wish each and everyone a God-filled and blessed Christmas.

It is extremely difficult for us to extend the usual best wishes for a Bright and Prosperous New Year given the current state of things in the country.

However, we wish to thank our many readers and advertisers and vendors in particular for their support in the past 12 months and assure them that THE NEW TODAY is ready to be of assistance once again in 2014.

It is no secret that the political leaders now in charge of our nation’s affairs have quite rightly been telling us that the time has come for us to make some painful sacrifices to deal with a severe economic and financial crisis facing Grenada.

Our Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell has openly admitted that he feels “boxed in” and is not happy to do many of the things that he is doing right now in order to grapple with the problems.

Known as an anti-income tax person, Dr. Mitchell has been forced to eat his words and raise the threshold on the tax and bring in more persons into the net as he seeks to raise revenue for a cash-strapped government.

In addition, the normally pro-government Grenada Hotel & Tourism Association (GHTA) has objected to the imposition of the $5US per night levy on stay-over visitors to the island that government says is needed to help finance the marketing efforts of the newly created Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA).

The hotel association has made a public pronouncement that it was not consulted on the new tax and was taken aback by its announcement in the budget by the Prime Minister.

Two weeks ago, THE NEW TODAY had made mention of the levy in an article based on the draft Letter of Intent as prepared by the Ministry of Finance for presentation to the Cabinet of Ministers for perusal before it is finalised for sending off for approval from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In addition, PS Finance, Timothy Antoine did allude to the levy at a forum of the Civil Society Grouping held at the national stadium at Queen’s Park at which the GHTA President, Ian Da Breo was present and was one of the panelists.

This newspaper would hate to think that Mr. Da Breo had fallen asleep or was not paying much attention to the address of Mr. Antoine as he outlined most of the measures the government was seeking to embark upon as part of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).

It was the duty of Mr. Da Breo to brief his membership on the US$5 tax and to raise their objections before Budget Day on December 10.

Since then, Senator Simon Stiell has stated publicly that if the tax is creating a problem for the hoteliers then there is a strong possibility that the government would not proceed with it.

However, the dilemma for the Mitchell administration is that it would have to look at other revenue earning measures in order to make back what is is giving up to hoteliers.

The government would have to demonstrate in a practical manner to the IMF in order to get funding for many of its projects that it is effectively implementing the things that are promised in the Letter of Intent.

This head tax on stay-over visitors at our hotels is a very sensitive issue because on one hand the government might be inclined to bow to the demands of hoteliers but keep insisting on the British government to rethink the controversial Air Passenger Duty (APD) on passengers flying out of British airports.

Why would the British take us seriously when we are thinking of imposing a stay-over tax for air passengers but want them to do away with theirs which the British government sees more along the lines of a revenue earning measure for the government in London?

As the country prepares to end 2013 and move into a new year, it is the view of THE NEW TODAY that the biggest issue for the government in 2014 and the foreseeable future remains the huge monthly payroll for civil servants.

The policy of attrition as announced in the Budget would not make any serious impact on significantly lowering the wage bill.

The government in nearby Barbados is faced with a similar situation and was forced to eat its own words that civil servants will not be sent home by announcing last week that 3, 000 employees in both the civil service and statutory bodies would be out of their jobs between January and March.

Several economists in Barbados are predicting that much more of the 16, 000 plus civil servants on the payroll in Barbados would have to be sent home by the Frundel Stuart administration in order to create the right balance between the level of revenue and expenditure and to arrest the serious financial situation facing the government there.

Credit must be given to our own local boy, Dr. Brian Francis, now a senior lecturer in Economics at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies in Barbados who had correctly predicted that Barbados would have to move along the road of massive retrenchment in order to try and arrest the precarious situation facing the government in Bridgetown.

THE NEW TODAY subscribes to the views expressed by Dr. Francis that a similar fate awaits Grenada and the Mitchell government in the not too distance future.

2014 would certainly prove who is right – Dr. Francis or the Keith Mitchell/Timothy Antoine combination in the Ministry of Finance.

 

ANOTHER BOOK in 2013 by Norris Mitchell

The author of “Dynamics of Urban St. George,” which was launched earlier this year, is pleased to announce the publication of another book in 2013 entitled: “In the Shadow of the Palace – The making of an Architect”.

Unlike Dynamics of Urban St. George which is a commercial text and reference book for primary, secondary and tertiary students, “In the Shadow of the Palace’’ is an historic family heirloom, depicting the life of the author from his childhood days on the Lance in Gouyave to the present.

Mitchell is a Chartered Architect and Urban Planner, and has practiced his profession in many countries of the world. He is the founder of the Willie Redhead Foundation and has been its President from 1994 -2012, and has been both an advocate and activist for the protection and enhancement of our natural and cultural heritage, for these reasons the Sentinel is pleased to provide a book review for readers’ information.

In this regard the INTRODUCTION to the book on page xvii by Mecada Djabatey, would in the Sentinel’s view, provide an appropriate OVERVIEW:

 Introduction

“Present and future generations of Gouyavarians, and hopefully Grenadians, or even Guyanese, will have reason to praise the foresight of the author in putting pen to paper, chronicling the events of his life.

The wisdom gained from a lifetime of knowledge, experience, and expertise will serve as a “beacon marking the way” for those coming after, who possess the determination and gumption to pursue their dreams to reality, regardless of the naysayers who would put hurdles in the way, so that their prophesy may be fulfilled.

In the Shadow of the Palace is a thought-provoking and inspiring story, taking the reader on a magnificent journey through real-life struggles. This memoir gives an account of a boy growing up in Gouyave, a little town in Grenada, and his unwavering determination to succeed in his chosen career of architecture, even in the face of abject poverty and discrimination.

Invaluable lessons learned from his parents and the world around him provided a solid foundation which guided him through his early life.

The reader is awed by the self-discipline and financial savvy of this young man. As a petroleum laboratory technician in Curacao, he managed to pay for his boarding and lodging, as well as provide support for his parents in Grenada. He was also able to save for the travel expenses to England and paid for three years of the five years’ academic tuition (together with living expenses) while attending the School of Architecture.

The memoir takes you through the challenges of racism faced by a black qualified architect working in London, England and Nigeria. The sobering realities of colonial dominance which permeated the Nigerian establishment also presented challengers to this young man who was unfazed by the hard work necessary to overcome these obstacles.

The reader shares the euphoria as the boy from Gouyave reaches his professional pinnacle, opening a successful architectural practice in Guyana and later winning a national architectural competition to design the iconic Guyana National Cultural Centre, a performing ARTS THEATRE, the largest of it type in the English speaking Caribbean for 2500 patrons.

The memoir reflects a life driven by purpose, motivated by excellence, and inspired by the realisation that perseverance can overcome difficulties, with the lesson that what may seemingly be a challenge can be transformed into an opportunity.”

The Sentinel takes this opportunity to wish the President, Directors and members of the Foundation, and to all our well wishers and supporters including the MEDIA, a Merry Christmas and hopefully a bright and prosperous New Year.

(The above reflects the views of the Willie Redhead Foundation Presentation)

Gov’t moving towards statutorisation

The ten-month old New National Party (NNP) administration in Grenada could soon statutorise the Government Information Service and the Government Printery as it moves to cut back on expenditure.

In his closing remarks on the 2014 Budget of Revenue and Expenditure, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Dr Keith Mitchell said that these two Departments of government will be looked at by his administration as part of the drive to cut down on expenditure in the New Year.

According to the Prime Minister, the two entities, presently under the full responsibility of Government, have competent and qualified personnel who can run them outside of direct government influence and can provide quality services to the public.

Dr Mitchell said his government is looking at providing a “statutory atmosphere” for a number of government operations.

Prior to losing the 2008 general elections, the former NNP government of Dr. Mitchell had tooted the idea of turning the Government Printery into a statutory body.

The Prime Minister said the intention of government is to give several government entities the room and ability under proper guidance and policy to expand services but at the same time reduce cost to government.

He pointed out that they will be looking at the concept of a statutory body for the Printery so that it can expand its potential for maximising service in the country.

“A lot of the stuff that go out of the country today like Christmas cards, people send to Trinidad and all other places – all kinds of services, wedding cards and so on, they should be printed here. The equipment is there, and the staff there is competent,” he said.

“A lot of the newspapers that goes off to Trinidad every week, we spend a lot of money, that money could stay in Grenada and provide more jobs for our people”, he added.

Dr. Mitchell told Parliament that the staff at the Government Printery is excited about the possibility of their department being turned into a statutory body.

The Grenadian leader also believes that GIS is capable of providing quality service as a statutory body.

“Why should the GIS have to be directed under Government? It should be out there, providing services to the country”.

According to the Prime Minister, government will continue to have influence in getting its programmes out to the public and as such GIS should be a prime target for statutorisation.

The Prime Minister also used the opportunity to express his delight with what he termed as the quality of works done by young GIS employees who are working hard night and day with not one-cent overtime and yet never looking unpleasant on the job.

The new head of GIS is veteran journalist, Rawle Titus once described by Prime Minister Mitchell as an operative of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Dr Mitchell told Parliament that a strategic review of existing statutory bodies would be undertaken in 2014.

He explained that statutory bodies were created to be more efficient than Central Government and to be independent of the State but unfortunately, this is not the case with many of these enterprises.

He said: “They (statutory bodies) pay far higher salaries than Central Government, they rely on subventions and concessions and they do not pay any dividends to Government. Mr. Speaker, I wish to notify all statutory bodies that the party is over”.

Over the years, several statutory bodies were used by politicians to provide employment for their supporters.

The Gravel Concrete & Emulsion Production Corporation is said to be over-staffed with many political operatives and has often ran into financial difficulties with its bankers.

Prime Minister Mitchell also announced that on the instruction of Cabinet, line Ministers have been meeting with their respective Board of Directors to inform them of the new direction and of Government’s expectations to cut back on losses.

He said the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) has taken the lead in the new thinking and took the decision to cut back on its subvention from the State.

“Following my recent meeting with Boards under the Ministry of Finance and Energy, I am pleased to announce that the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation has voluntarily decided to take a cut in its annual subvention. Mr. Speaker, I commend the Chairman and Board of Directors for this decision. I urge others to do likewise,” Dr Mitchell told Parliament.

 

Gov’t moving towards statutorisation

The Government Printery may soon be statutorised

The Government Printery may soon be statutorised

The ten-month old New National Party (NNP) administration in Grenada could soon statutorise the Government Information Service and the Government Printery as it moves to cut back on expenditure.

In his closing remarks on the 2014 Budget of Revenue and Expenditure, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Dr Keith Mitchell said that these two Departments of government will be looked at by his administration as part of the drive to cut down on expenditure in the New Year.

According to the Prime Minister, the two entities, presently under the full responsibility of Government, have competent and qualified personnel who can run them outside of direct government influence and can provide quality services to the public.

Dr Mitchell said his government is looking at providing a “statutory atmosphere” for a number of government operations.

Prior to losing the 2008 general elections, the former NNP government of Dr. Mitchell had tooted the idea of turning the Government Printery into a statutory body.

The Prime Minister said the intention of government is to give several government entities the room and ability under proper guidance and policy to expand services but at the same time reduce cost to government.

He pointed out that they will be looking at the concept of a statutory body for the Printery so that it can expand its potential for maximising service in the country.

“A lot of the stuff that go out of the country today like Christmas cards, people send to Trinidad and all other places – all kinds of services, wedding cards and so on, they should be printed here. The equipment is there, and the staff there is competent,” he said.

“A lot of the newspapers that goes off to Trinidad every week, we spend a lot of money, that money could stay in Grenada and provide more jobs for our people”, he added.

Dr. Mitchell told Parliament that the staff at the Government Printery is excited about the possibility of their department being turned into a statutory body.

The Grenadian leader also believes that GIS is capable of providing quality service as a statutory body.

“Why should the GIS have to be directed under Government? It should be out there, providing services to the country”.

According to the Prime Minister, government will continue to have influence in getting its programmes out to the public and as such GIS should be a prime target for statutorisation.

The Prime Minister also used the opportunity to express his delight with what he termed as the quality of works done by young GIS employees who are working hard night and day with not one-cent overtime and yet never looking unpleasant on the job.

The new head of GIS is veteran journalist, Rawle Titus once described by Prime Minister Mitchell as an operative of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Dr Mitchell told Parliament that a strategic review of existing statutory bodies would be undertaken in 2014.

He explained that statutory bodies were created to be more efficient than Central Government and to be independent of the State but unfortunately, this is not the case with many of these enterprises.

He said: “They (statutory bodies) pay far higher salaries than Central Government, they rely on subventions and concessions and they do not pay any dividends to Government. Mr. Speaker, I wish to notify all statutory bodies that the party is over”.

Over the years, several statutory bodies were used by politicians to provide employment for their supporters.

The Gravel Concrete & Emulsion Production Corporation is said to be over-staffed with many political operatives and has often ran into financial difficulties with its bankers.

Prime Minister Mitchell also announced that on the instruction of Cabinet, line Ministers have been meeting with their respective Board of Directors to inform them of the new direction and of Government’s expectations to cut back on losses.

He said the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) has taken the lead in the new thinking and took the decision to cut back on its subvention from the State.

“Following my recent meeting with Boards under the Ministry of Finance and Energy, I am pleased to announce that the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation has voluntarily decided to take a cut in its annual subvention. Mr. Speaker, I commend the Chairman and Board of Directors for this decision. I urge others to do likewise,” Dr Mitchell told Parliament.

 

Hoteliers angry with 5% levy

 President of the association, Ian DaBreo says no to $5 Levy

President of the association, Ian DaBreo says no to $5 Levy

The Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA) is upset with a 5% levy imposed by government on stay-over visitors as part of a move by the New National Party (NNP) administration of Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell to raise funds for his cash-strapped government.

The announcement in the budget by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Mitchell of the Tourism Marketing Levy of US$5 per night has left a bitter taste in the mouth of local hoteliers.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine had first alluded to the new tax at one of the public forums held at the national sporting stadium at Queen’s Park about three weeks ago to discuss the homegrown Structural Adjustment Programme.

The new tax is also contained in a draft letter of intent prepared by the Ministry of Finance for government approval and to be sent to the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) to seek its support for the programme to be implemented in 2014.

The official announcement of the 5% levy resulted in GHTA seeking an urgent meeting with government on the issue.

A meeting was held Monday afternoon with Permanent Secretary Antoine where the association put forward a five-point proposal to government as an alternative to the new tax.

President of the association, Ian DaBreo, in a telephone interview with The New Today newspaper said that his membership presented Antoine with a letter outlining the GHTA position for him to take back to the Mitchell government for consideration.

He said that the hoteliers explained the negative impact the imposition of the Levy can have on an already fragile tourism industry.

According to Da Breo, the GHTA delegation made it clear to the Permanent Secretary that they are not prepared to accept the Levy as it could result in a decrease in stay-over arrivals.

Vice President of GHTA, Russ Fielden will not accept the Levy on stayover visitors

Vice President of GHTA, Russ Fielden will not accept the Levy on stayover visitors

While not disclosing the five alternatives put forward to Government, Da Breo said the association believes that these are other areas that can generate much needed revenue for Government.

He added that although the administration is in need of money, however, the imposition of such a tax will have negative effects on the industry.

Da Breo said that the GHTA was promised a quick response from the Mitchell-led administration on the issue.

Vice President of GHTA, Russ Fielden who also attended the meeting, pointed out that they are not prepared to accept the $5 Levy that was put forward by the government.

Within days of the announcement of the 5% levy, former Director of Tourism, Simon Stiell, the current Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture announced on a radio and television programme that if the levy was causing concerns among hoteliers it could be withdrawn by the government.

The levy was announced during last week Tuesday’s $933,932,530 million Budget of Revenue and Expenditure for 2014 presented by Prime Minister Mitchell.

Dr. Mitchell informed Parliament that the decision to implement the Levy came following discussions with stakeholders.

However, the GHTA said the NNP administration held no such discussion with them about implementing the levy.

GHTA Executive Director, Pancy Cross, said her members first became aware of the 5% tax on stay-over visitors from a local newspaper report.

According to the finance minister, the funds collected from the levy will be used exclusively for marketing Grenada and will be collected by Government and channeled to the Grenada Tourism Authority for the sole purpose of marketing Grenada.

Government is looking to earn $2 million from the levy in the first year of its existence.

The GTA will from January next year become the marketing agency for Grenada’s tourism product, replacing the Grenada Board of Tourism which as a statutory body relied solely on funds from the state to carry out its functions.

 

 

Wage freeze for public officers

Public Officers throughout Grenada will get no wage increases for the next three years as the New National Party administration of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell embarks on a three-year homegrown Structural Adjustment Programme to deal with an ailing economy.

“Government will not be in a position to grant any salary increases to public officers during the homegrown programme”, the Prime Minister announced last week Tuesday as he presented the 2014 Budget in Parliament.

The three public sector unions on the island – Public Workers Union (PWU), Grenada Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) and the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) have not reacted to the announcement by government of a virtual wage freeze in the country.

The Prime Minister conceded that attempts by government to get trade unions to co-operate and come to an amicable understanding has failed on the issue of salary negotiations.

Dr Mitchell informed the house that in September this year, the Government Negotiating Team wrote to all unions, explaining the situation, offering small increases for the period 2014-16 and inviting them to conclude negotiations for the same period by the end of November.

He said he again appealed to trade unions in a national address at the end of October, to work with Government to settle this issue since it was important to help finalise the Structural Adjustment Programme.

“I followed up with personal letters to each Union. It was explained that since wages are the single largest Government expenditure, Government could not proceed with the homegrown programme with this issue unresolved. A settlement in the middle of the programme could then easily derail the entire programme.

“…Mr. Speaker, separate and apart from the homegrown programme, we believe that sustainable wage bill management calls for prospective rather retroactive wage settlements. Unfortunately, the unions have not accepted Government’s offer and did not respond by the end of November as requested. At this stage, Grenada has no choice but to proceed with the programme.

“We must put Grenada first. As I indicated to our Social Partners at our meeting at the end of November, Government regrets not having a wage settlement with the Unions before the commencement of the programme.

“Furthermore, Government will not be in a position to grant any salary increases to public officers during the homegrown programme.

TAWU executive member, Bert Patterson in a recent radio and television programme stated that the unions could not start the negotiations without first getting to know the contents of the 2014 budget and its impact on workers.

A confident looking Dr Mitchell told Parliament he believes that everyone in the country including public officers understand the country’s fiscal situation at this time.

He reiterated that Government intends to meet its obligations to public officers and will do its best to meet the retroactive payments based on a revised schedule. The payment in 2014 will be $24 million.

PM Mitchell has complained since taking office in February that 70 cents of every dollar collected by Government is spent on wages and pensions.

According to Dr. Mitchell the situation cannot continue but he has not outlined any proposals to tackle the problem except to implement an attrition policy.

Under the programme, it is proposed that for every 100 persons who retire from or exit the Public Service, no more than 30 such persons will be replaced.

“This is a Public Service wide policy but will be implemented based on the business needs of Government, not where the vacancies exist”, Dr Mitchell said.

He added that his administration also plans to abolish at least 100 vacant posts in 2014.

The Grenadian leader called on nationals to be guided by this policy and hold his Government accountable.

“Mr. Speaker, Government has established a target of reducing non-personnel expenditure by 20 per cent over 2012 spending.

“This year, we made a start by reducing rent ($1.5 million saving over 12 months); Mobile telecommunications (initial savings of 47%); Fuel (8% reduction across Government but a 20% reduction in the Ministry of Finance); Water (savings of $200,000); Overtime (30% reduction); and Travel (40% reduction),” Dr Mitchell said,

“Yes, Mr. Speaker, the joy rides are over”.

 

PSC rules in favour of ACP’s Smith and Bartholomew

The newly constituted Public Service Commission (PSC) has handed down a landmark decision in favour of Assistant Commissioners of Police (ACP) Smith Roberts and Dowlin Bartholomew.

Both Roberts and Bartholomew were sent on forced leave earlier this year by Acting Commissioner of Police, Winston James in an effort to retire them from the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).

A high-level source told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that Public Servants can have early retirement pursuant to the Statutory Rules and Orders (SRO) of the commission.

The two officers retained the services of eminent local constitutional lawyer, Dr. Francis Alexis to challenge the decision of Acting Commissioner James who had the backing of Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Keith Mitchell on the issue.

According to an authoritative source the attempt to remove Roberts/Bartholomew from the police force also resulted in differing legal opinions coming from the Offices of the Attorney General and the Solicitor-General.

He said the PSC which is now headed by barrister-at-law, Derick Sylvester conducted a thorough examination of the issue before making the decision to rule against the men being retired from the force by James.

The source who does not wish to be identified said the law was examined, and the PSC members also spoke to the Acting Commissioner of Police on the matter.

He stated that the commission members concluded that James had erred and that both ACP’s Roberts and Bartholomew could not be retired based on some procedures that had to be followed.

This newspaper understands that before a Public Servant is given early retirement, there must first be a written report from the Head of the Department for the last ten years.

After that report is received and it is felt that it is in the “public interest” to have the person retired, the officer has to be given an opportunity to be heard and to be legally represented before the PSC.

“It is only after those two things are done, then you could make a determination as to whether or not you could retire them in the public interest,” he said.

According to the source, none of the procedure was followed by the Acting Commissioner of Police who had only given Smith and Bartholomew verbal notices to proceed on leave.

The request to have the senior Police Officers dismissed was turned down by the commission and they are to be reinstated in the public service by January 1, 2014.

However, the two will not be returning directly to RGPF but are being assigned to Government Ministries to deal with juvenile justice.

ACP Roberts still has two more years in the Service, while Bartholomew has a further four before he can opt for mandatory retirement.

THE NEW TODAY has not been able to reach Dr. Alexis on what legal steps he might be taking to seek compensation for the two senior police officers in light of the embarrassing ordeal.

Speculation is rife that the move against the two senior police officers was made in order to pave the way for two other officers considered to be allies of the ruling New National Party (NNP) government to be promoted into the vacant positions.

One of the named officer was mentioned in a letter sent to James by a retired Woman Police Constable in May who accused him along with two other senior police officers of sexual abuse including one alleged rape at a private home rented for use by the police in St. John’s.