THE NEW TODAY is calling for changes to be made to the Integrity in Public Life legislation that is now part of the laws of the country.
The unsuspecting public was made to believe that the legislation will put Grenadians in a better position to uncover and expose public figures who engage in corrupt and illegal activities while holding public office. This is so far from the truth.
The legislation in its current form is badly lacking and can best be described as toothless.
A number of persons – including government leaders and civil servants – went before the Integrity Commission, headed by retired high court judge, Monica Joseph to make declarations about their assets.
These declarations have now been put under lock and key in a building occupied by the commission in Archibald Avenue, St. George’s.
Does the Commission have the means to investigate the thousands of asset declarations that were filed by these people?
The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) can at best handle a few cases because it is lacking in manpower.
In recent days, credible reports have been circulating in the country about a nice piece of real estate property owned by one of the top leaders in the ruling New National Party (NNP) government.
This individual went public about three years ago and tried to sell the nation the notion that all he owned in this country was the little house that he had built in the 1980’s in a small village just outside the capital.
The same person who holds one of the highest offices in the island was constantly attacking the then Minister of Finance, Nazim Burke and current Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for building a mansion in the well-to-do area of Westerhall Point.
The propaganda that went against Mr. Burke is that he did not only build a second home but five other houses in Grenada.
Information has now surfaced to indicate that the person leading the accusations against Mr. Burke is the owner of nearly one acre of prized land inside the well-to-do community of Fort Jeudy.
This newspaper has been told that the senior government leader did not buy what is now known as Lot #98 in Fort Jeudy in recent times but sometime back in the 1980’s.
The question that immediately arises is this– was he engaging in tomfoolery of the nation when he said that all he owned in this country was the little house that he build just outside the St. George’s capital city and was hiding the fact that he was a big player inside Fort Jeudy?
Did this government leader declare the close to 40, 000 sq.ft of land that he owns in Fort Jeudy to the Integrity Commission of Justice Monica Joseph?
The Integrity in Public Life legislation prevents the public from seeing these declarations of assets and John Public is no where wiser in knowing if Tom, Dick or Harry made a false declaration to Justice Joseph and her small team.
THE NEW TODAY is not questioning the individual’s right to buy or own property in the land of his birth but is pointing to a much wider issue of deceit, mamagism and tomfoolery of the public.
This newspaper is calling for all those who hold public office especially our political leaders to open up their books for public scrutiny. It is the same old khaki pants story being played all over again of fooling the fools in Grenada.
Related to this issue of “fooling the fools” is the legislation introduced in Parliament by our government leaders to impose high taxes on idle lands that falls into the category of lands for agricultural purposes.
These same politicians and their cronies own several acres of lands inside the well-to-do communes of Fort Jeudy and Westerhall Point and clearly some of them fit the bill of being Speculators.
Why not pass a law to impose heavy fines on Speculators? Do you expect Politicians to go into Parliament and pass legislation that will personally affect them? Why target only the poor and vulnerable farmers in the rural parts of the country?
Is the public aware that these same politicians who have been fooling them and keeping them poor, in a state of ignorance have been the ones who bought lands in Fort Jeudy and Westerhall in the 70’s and 80’s at rock bottom prices back then and today these same lots are now selling for $EC25-30 per sq.ft given the current market price.
The owner of Lot #98 would have paid in the vicinity of $EC40, 000 for his lands but today that property is valued at EC$1 million and upwards. Why is our Parliament not passing legislation to deal with those Speculators who are sitting and doing nothing with prime real estate property for the last 35 years?
And the situation gets more sickening because these are the same people who are doing nothing with these idle lands but calling on theordinary Grenadians to invest in the construction industry and other areas in order to help us build this so-called New Economy to help transform Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
It boils down to the simple phrase – fooling the fools.