Fair play or spite work?

THE NEW TODAY is quite amazed at the high-handed manner in which newly installed Governor-General, Dame Cecile La Grenade removed long-standing civil servant, Judy Williams from the post of Supervisor of Elections.

The letter of dismissal must be looked at within a particular context so that any reasonable mind can determine whether the GG acted fairly in the circumstances or took an arbitrary action that can be deemed unjust and unwarranted.

Did Ms Benoit misbehave in the Office? And even if that was the case, did the GG give her an opportunity to defend herself against any such accusation?

The country is also still waiting on the Press Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Keisha Alexander-Grant who did promise the public an explanation from the government side on the issue of removal of Ms. Benoit as Supervisor of Elections following public utterances from former Minister of Finance, Nazim Burke.

As a people, we must hold the Press Secretary and the Government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to any commitment made to explain and inform the nation on matters of public importance.

It is the view of this newspaper that the actions of all persons occupying public or high office in the country should be scrutinised including those of the Prime Minister and the Governor-General.

The dismissal of Ms. Benoit as Supervisor of Elections came against the backdrop of a particular unfolding event which borders on the key issue of respect for our democratic institutions and drawing clear lines between the separation of powers in keeping with the requirements of the Constitution.

It cannot be disputed that Ms. Benoit – and quite rightfully so – raised concerns about a directive from the Cabinet of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell for the Electoral Office to get involved in a programme known as the Electronic Government Regional Integration Project (EGRIP).

THE NEW TODAY has oversight of a letter from Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Lana Mc Phail which conveyed to Ms. Benoit the directive that came by way of a Cabinet Conclusion on the issue.

It is our view that PS Mc Phail broke protocol since she was totally out of place to write a letter to the Supervisor of Elections giving instructions to her on decisions arrived at by Dr. Mitchell and his Cabinet of Ministers.

The Prime Minister should be the one with the sole responsibility to convey the thinking of his government on the issue in keeping with the requirements of the Constitution.

Under the Parliamentary system of government, the Prime Minister ought to be having weekly sessions with the Governor-General to brief the Holder of the Office on all matters pertaining to the affairs of the government.

Quite frankly THE NEW TODAY is not absolutely sure if Dr. Mitchell engages in this kind of discussions with Dame Cecile.




However, if anyone was to read the book, “Survival for Service” by late Governor-General, Sir Paul Scoon, this requirement of the Constitution is highlighted because he made mention of the regular briefings that he received from our former Prime Minister, H.A Blaize on matters pertaining to the operations of the government.

So it is totally wrong and out of context for PS Mc Phail to be given the responsibility of bringing to the attention of the Supervisor of Elections, any directive that affects her office by Dr. Mitchell and his Cabinet.

This is an office that is run very independently and should not be subjected to the directives of Cabinet or any other person in the country.

The Office of the Governor-General has to be the correct channel for anyone to interact with the Supervisor of Elections on such a sensitive matter as EGRIP and not PS Mc Phail.

Why is civil servants continuing to allow themselves to be used, misused and abused by the political directorate?

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) should follow through on its threat to take Dame Cecile to court on the Judy Benoit affair in order to get a high court judge to make a defining ruling on the decision that was taken and on other related issues especially as they affect the independence of the Office of the Supervisor of Elections.

Finally THE NEW TODAY would like to state publicly that it is not impressed with the current debate in the country about Grenada’s debt stock.

No one knows for sure the austerity measures to be introduced by the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Mitchell to deal with the economic and financial crisis facing the country.

However, the Conference of Churches of Grenada (CCG), Grenada Trade Union Council and other members of the Civil Society grouping have publicly declared their support for the initiatives being taken by government to tackle the problem.

What is it these groups are supporting when the government has not told us the precise action plan to deal with the high debt situation?

As far as THE NEW TODAY is concerned, any agreement should include a firm commitment from Prime Minister Mitchell that he would not engage in future on a similar unwarranted and unfortunate borrowing and spending spree of the kinds of millions that went down the drain during his earlier stint between 1995 and 2008.

The Prime Minister must accept full and total responsibility for those bad debts like the EC$250 million contracted for the Garden Group of non-existent hotels in the south of the island, the Marketing & National Importing Board fiasco in the Lagoon, the E.J Miller/Mt. Hartman hotel project, the Call Centre involving close family members of Dr. Mitchell and the tragedy called, Levera.

 

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