It appears that a new person is acting in the post of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance which is headed by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
There has been no official announcement from government but from all indications Dr. Wayne Sandiford, who landed a US$10, 000.00 a month contract to do the job is no longer sitting in the prized chair in the ministry from the first working day in the new year.
THE NEW TODAY notes that when Dr. Sandiford was appointed to the post on contract there was much fanfare as he took leave from St. George’s University (SGU) to fill the vacancy left by Mike Sylvester who went on assignment with the IMF and World Bank in Washington.
The silence is almost deafening about his departure with not even Prime Minister Mitchell making any statement about it and also who has since replaced him in this critical position in the public service.
This newspaper is forced to ask a few pertinent questions on what appears to be the hurried manner in which Dr. Sandiford departed from the Ministry of Finance.
A number of persons associated with the goodly gentleman have been sending around information to the effect that Dr. Sandiford took a one-year leave of absence from SGU to serve government with effect from February 2017 to February 2018.
This is being disputed by others who have indicated that based on documents seen the leave of absence from the University was from March 2017 to March 2018.
It was also reported that Dr. Sandiford had 35 days leave as part of the contract and so he took the decision to leave the government service at the beginning of the year to cover the leave due to him.
Something seems to be wrong with the maths and the calculations even when the two months are taken into consideration.
Dr. Sandiford can also clear up a few other important things pertaining to his contract with government and leave of absence from SGU.
Did he take one or two years leave from SGU? Did the contract signed with government provided for him to accept the job for one year in the first instance with an option to renew it for another year?
If so, why didn’t he renew the contract? Was he having problems with any person in the government and moreso the Public Service Commission?
Did SGU put systems in place to accommodate Dr. Sandiford’s leave for two years and not one year by giving out those courses assigned to him to other lecturers?
As it stands today, has SGU worked out a teaching programme for Dr. Sandiford with school due to resume within a matter of days?
There have been murmurings in government circles that some within the hierarchy of the corridors of power were not totally satisfied with Dr. Sandiford’s performance on the job.
Is it by co-incidence that his departure came shortly after the so-called “Mother of all budgets” were presented by Dr. Mitchell in November that has been coming in for so much criticisms?
As a matter of fact, this newspaper has already branded the 2018 budget as the “Disclaimer Budget” because this is the first time in the history of modern Grenada that a budget has been presented to the nation with promises based entirely on the outlook of the “fiscal space” in June.
The Prime Minister has promised to lessen taxes and to do a number of things provided that the “fiscal space” can allow government to tinker with the system that has been put in place under pressure from the IMF.
There have also been widespread allegations that the vast majority of the work on the budget was done by certain persons within the Ministry of Finance and not by Dr. Sandiford himself.
Time will tell what implications the exit of Dr. Sandiford from the Ministry of Finance will have on the “Project Grenada” initiative between the Mitchell-led NNP regime and the expelled elements from Congress led by Peter David and Chester Humphrey.
When David was removed from the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs in the 2008-13 Congress government, an angry Humphrey came out publicly and branded the move as a “blow” to the progressive forces within the Tillman Thomas government.
Humphrey made it quite clear that NDC was not a wholistic party but that it was an arrangement in which the “progressive forces” were only a part of it.
Can it be correctly assumed that the “progressive forces” are only involved in an accommodation for the time being with NNP?
Where will they go if they agree to end their association with Dr. Mitchell and NNP?
Or put another way – if Dr. Mitchell decides to end the accommodation with “Project Grenada” where will they go next?