A vulgar attempt is being made to interfere in the free, open, transparent and public investigation that was promised about allegations of massive wrong doing and financial irregularities in the state-owned Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB).
THE NEW TODAY newspaper had picked up reliable information over the last weekend that the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell was planning to set the stage for a grand cover-up of the alleged corrupt acts and practices that took place at Marketing Board (MNIB) under then Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Ruel Edwards.
The information that came out in the public domain was that the Prime Minister was now back-tracking on the commitment given to Grenadians that a public inquiry would be held into the MNIB fiasco and that the Integrity Commission of Anande Trotman-Joseph, the wife of Attorney-General, Dr. Lawrence Joseph will now be given the task to conduct the probe into the affairs of MNIB.
What the Prime Minister told the nation on July 31st is the following: The cabinet supported my recommendation … to institute an inquiry; public inquiry into the operations of the Marketing Board for the last five years. We’re not touching NDC time, I’m dealing with our time. It tells you that our job is to find out the facts and let the chips fall where it supposed to”.
Is the Integrity Commission doing a public inquiry into MNIB or a farce on behalf of Prime Minister Mitchell and the NNP government?
It came as no surprise to this newspaper on Monday when the said Integrity Commission put out a release indicating that it will be conducting the MNIB investigation not in the public domain as promised by PM Mitchell but rather behind closed doors in private.
This Anande Trotman-Joseph group does not have the experience much less the necessary skilled personnel to conduct any serious probe and meaningful investigation into the alleged financial wrong-doing that took place at MNIB.
THE NEW TODAY sees this move as nothing but a vulgar and open coup d’etat being staged on the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique by PM Mitchell and NNP as the country is now witnessing a Commission of Inquiry being conducted “in the dead of the night” when the entire nation is sound asleep.
The MNIB is a national treasure that was set up by the 1979-83 People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop with the clear intent to lift the standard of living of all farmers in the country who were toiling to produce food for the nation, to export crops to earn vital foreign exchange for Grenada and to import goods and services at a cheaper rate for the farmers.
Let it be clearly understood that this state-owned enterprise was established long before the formation of the NNP in 1984 in the aftermath of the collapse of the Grenada Revolution.
And the MNIB should not be treated as the private property of NNP or by extension the personal domain of the Prime Minister and his family.
There is on our law books a Commission of Inquiry act which sets out in precise details the steps that ought to be properly taken in the current circumstances of the MNIB dilemma in order to conduct a very transparent and open public investigation.
Why is Dr. Mitchell now back-tracking on the commitment given to the nation to hold a public inquiry into the affairs of MNIB under the stewardship of the Samuel Andrew-led Board of Directors and CEO Ruel Edwards?
Is the Prime Minister afraid that he would be personally implicated in the alleged wrong-doing that was taking place at MNIB?
Is he scared that questions will be asked of him to explain what he did or failed to do when information was supplied to him by then Chairman, Samuel Andrew about the financial mess that MNIB had fallen into under Mr. Edward’s leadership?
Did Dr. Mitchell know about the terrible state of MNIB finances when he took the decision to remove Mr. Edwards as CEO and give him another lucrative job in the Ministry of Finance which falls under his own portfolio?
Is the Prime Minister afraid to answer in the public domain specific questions about the contents of the Samuel Andrew letter sent to him which detailed several alleged wrongs that were taking place at Marketing Board?
What did Dr. Mitchell do as the Line Minister for MNIB when it became clear that this state-owned body under the watch of Samuel Andrew and Ruel Edwards were openly violating a court order to pay a particular creditor close to one million EC dollars for sugar supplied to the board?
The decent-minded people in the country must not allow PM Mitchell and the NNP regime to get away with this sham and coup d’etat that they are trying to pull on Grenadians by back-tracking and now agreeing for the probe to be conducted by the Integrity Commission in private.
THE NEW TODAY is warning the people of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique that the intention of the NNP government all along is for no real and serious inquiry to be held into the alleged wrong-doings at MNIB.
This inquiry is not a matter for the Integrity Commission but one for a criminal investigation by the police based on the public utterances by PM Mitchell himself about the frightening things uncovered at the state enterprise.
The MNIB has also contracted a massive debt with a local commercial bank under the watch of the Samuel Andrew-led Board of Directors and Mr. Ruel Edwards’ leadership of the state body.
Who is going to pay the debt to the bank? Will those who took the questionable decision be made to feel the full weight for any unwise act on their part or PM Mitchell and the NNP government will draw down on taxpayers’ money in the Treasury to pay off the loan owed to the commercial bank?
THE NEW TODAY is calling for an independent audit to be carried out into the finances of MNIB before this sham of an inquiry takes place by the Anande Trotman-Joseph headed Integrity Commission.
This audit must also be followed up by a transparent investigation into the finances of MNIB by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in the public interest in light of public pronouncement by PM Mitchell himself that a number of troubling and frightening things were uncovered at MNIB which eventually led to the removal of Ruel Edwards as its CEO and replacement of the Board of Directors.
All these things should take place before a properly constituted Commission of Inquiry is held in keeping with the specified law into the alleged financial mismanagement that took place in MNIB under the watch of the entire previous Management team.
It is shameful to think that two so-called revolutionaries – Foreign Minister Peter David and President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey – prominent figures in the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution and now NNP activists would be party to the farce that is now taking place in the open with this so-called Integrity Commission investigation into the affairs of MNIB and not a real Commission of Inquiry.
Comrades Chess and Peter are now aiding and abetting the NNP in this cover-up of massive corruption and wrongdoing in MNIB that is said to be over $4 million and climbing and by extension they are participating in the second assassination of a national icon set up by the Revolution.
It is also disgusting that the Integrity Commission which was set up by law to be an independent and autonomous body has allowed itself to be used as the instrument by the Prime Minister to engage in this unfolding MNIB cover up operation.
This is clearly compromising the integrity of the commission itself as the Anande Trotman-Joseph body is now seen by many in the public domain to be following orders when it should be making its own determination on what to investigate and when to investigate. This is a big joke.
The Prime Minister has stated that there is massive corruption taking place in the Customs Department of the Ministry of Finance. Why the Integrity Commission has not made a public statement about an inquiry into the so-called illegal activities by officers within Customs?
This national treasure that is the MNIB should not be allowed to fade away as the Call Centre did when Prime Minister Mitchell assured the Parliament, which is the highest body in the country that millions that were loaned by government to the company that involved his close cousin Denis Campbell would be paid back.
This solemn promise was never kept by Dr. Mitchell as Call Centre was again allowed to use taxpayers’ money to pay off a sizeable debt owed to Cable & Wireless.
This Integrity Commission is already lacking badly in credibility as another figure who is not being seen by the public-at-large but known to be lurking in the shadow as one of its members is the wife of another senior Member of the Cabinet of Ministers that is now participating in this sham and cover-up as opposed to a properly constituted public Commission of Inquiry into the affairs of MNIB.