Speaker of the House of Representatives, George Mc Guire should be commended for the steps being taken to deal with allegations that a senior member of the government collected US$150, 000.00 from Saudi Arabia in a suspicious transaction and might have broken the financial laws of the country.
During Tuesday’s sitting of the House, the Speaker announced that he would be writing a letter to Republic Bank, the financial institution that was named by Opposition Leader, Dr. Keith Mitchell as the bank in which the transaction was facilitated.
Is the Speaker setting the stage for Parliament to finally get to the bottom of this most serious allegation which can bring shame and disgrace to one of the people’s representatives in the house?
The Tillman Thomas-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) campaigned on transparency, good governance and respect for institutions as its key platform issues in getting the electorate to vote it into office in July 2008 and thus replace Dr. Mitchell and his New National Party (NNP) administration.
The institution of Parliament should now be used to set the ball in motion to get to the truth of this questionable US$150, 000.00 financial transaction that came into the country as “legal fees” as alleged by the Leader of the Opposition.
If Prime Minister Thomas is caught in the web for misleading Parliament and the Nation then he must be made to feel the full weight of the law.
THE NEW TODAY is calling on the Leader of Government Business, Finance Minister Nazim Burke to move quickly and take the necessary steps for Parliament to appoint a special Select Committee of the House to investigate this most damaging allegation about financial impropriety as leveled against a senior member of the Congress government.
The committee should comprise at least three members with one coming from the Government side, another from the Opposition and the third should be a member of the Senate.
The members should be clothed by Parliament with the powers to subpoena all persons who are relevant to the investigation to give evidence and to provide the relevant documentation so that a report could be presented to our highest decision making body in the land.
This body should report to Parliament within a one-month period. It is then up to the Members of Parliament to take action against anyone who might have violated the financial laws of the country.
If the Prime Minister or any other member of his government is found guilty then the appropriate sanction should be taken against that person. The lawmakers should not be allowed to be the principal lawbreakers in Grenada.
In the case of the Prime Minister, the NEW TODAY is suggesting that if Mr. Thomas did collect the US$150, 000.00 and engaged in the willful act of misleading the nation then he should do the honourable thing and demit office immediately and advise the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament and set the date for new general elections.
If the evidence is on the contrary and proves that it is another member of the House who engaged in the illegal act then the person, if is a member of the Cabinet, should be removed from public office as well as face some other kind of sanction like a ban from some sittings of Parliament.
However, if the Opposition Leader is the one guilty of engaging in a fishing expedition and by extension public mischief then the Parliament should deal with him for such reprehensible behaviour.
THE NEW TODAY is suggesting that the penalty should be a ban on the Leader of the Opposition from attending parliamentary sittings for six months and possible for the rest of the current life of Parliament which should be the next year or thereabout.
It appears from the public pronouncements made by the official opposition that Dr. Mitchell has the evidence of the US$150, 000.00 transaction to that senior member of government.
According to chief spokesman for the NNP, Terrence Forrester, the evidence has been handed over to his lawyers.
The Parliamentary oversight group, with its sweeping powers from Parliament, can easily get the evidence or proof of the financial transaction from both the lawyers and Republic Bank.
The setting up of the Select Committee of Parliament is a good opportunity for Prime Minister Thomas to put into practice his constant reference to respect for state institutions.
If PM Thomas knows that he has done nothing wrong then let a special select committee of the house investigate the allegation as made by the Opposition Leader.
This is one sure way of re-instilling into our people that parliamentary business is serious business and not a talk shop where elected and selected members meet from time to time to engage in talk shop business.
Grenada could be setting an example for the rest of the Caribbean and the world in which the Parliamentary system of government is the bulwark of democracy.
House Speaker Mc Guire strikes THE NEW TODAY as one who is serious about the well-being of the nation and will not leave any stone unturned to ensure that the halls of Parliament is not a place for the harbouring of crooks, conmen and law-breakers.
Let us give the Speaker our fullest support as he embarks upon an important mission to get at the bottom of the money from Saudi Arabia – the place that saw the birth of the ringleaders of the 9/11 terrorist acts in the United States that changed the face of the entire world.
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