A serious investigation is needed!!

THE NEW TODAY is calling for an independent investigation to be launched into the operations of another state-owned body – the Grenada Solid Waste Management Authority (GSWMA).

The current rulers are fully aware of a report prepared by CARTAC – an arm of the Washington-based World Bank on all statutory bodies in Grenada with recommendations on which should be sold or kept by government.

The ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is yet to dispose itself of any of the state-bodies singled out by CARTAC such as the Marketing & National Import Board (MNIB), Gravel & Concrete and the Grenada Postal Corporation (GPC).

In recent weeks, reports have surfaced about alleged wrong-doing at GSWMA which should attract the attention of not only the newly installed Board of Directors headed by Dr. Bert Brathwaite but also the Line Minister and entire government.

This newspaper is confident that the workers at Solid Waste have a lot to reveal to a properly constituted Commission of Inquiry about what appears to be bad management decisions resulting in the state body not getting value for money in the millions of dollars being spent on garbage disposal.

The workers should also be questioned specifically about the credit card transactions for 2018.

The evidence also points to very low staff morale as management continues to spend money with no regards for the established rules providing for good governance.

It is quite clear that the Solid Waste Authority is mandated by law to account to the taxpayers of the country because if it fails and loses money then the very taxpayers will be called upon to help bail it out.

A recent expose by THE NEW TODAY points to violation of the rules in which bidding or tendering should come into play in the granting of contracts to service providers.

An independent probe can easily determine whether GSWMA has placed advertisements in any of the local newspapers or the Government Gazette with respect to tendering for service especially in garbage disposal.

There are allegations that contracts are being granted on the basis of favouritism especially to persons or companies set up by political activists of the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration.

Fingers are pointing at a former government minister in the St. Andrew area as one of the persons in control of a major garbage disposal contract but using a private company owned by a known NNP political activist as a front.

The same allegation is being made in the granting of a street cleaning contract in the St. Patrick area with no regards to the tendering process.

The ruling party has often been accused of using the state bodies as a cash cow for its political activists and a mechanism for providing “jobs for the boys”.

There also appears to be widespread insider trading among staffers to lay their hands on the finances of the state body and to enrich themselves.

It is alleged that certain persons are using their powers and authority to grant building contracts to their friends and cronies with no regards to the tendering process.

The Solid Waste authority is seemingly suffering from the same symptoms as other state bodies – lack of accountability and transparency in its operations.

This newspaper is convinced that an independent team should be set up to probe into allegations about the misuse of the credit card of Solid Waste to conduct activities not sanctioned by the Board of Directors.

There have been reports about the shredding of documents at the Main Office at Frequente and the burning of documents at the Perseverance Landfill amidst reports of some wrongdoing at the state body.

Is the Board of Directors aware of the burning of documents at Perseverance in the past two weeks? Does the Board know what documents were destroyed by fire? Did it sanction the burning of those documents?

An independent team ought to be set up to do a complete and comprehensive audit of the financial affairs of GSWMA and to determine whether documents are missing in order to do a cover-up of alleged wrongdoing.

THE NEW TODAY is convinced that it does not take a forensic accountant to do the investigation especially the use of the credit card of GSWMA as a paper trail can easily be provided by the commercial banks.

The role of those companies appointed as Auditors of Solid Waste and other statutory bodies should also come under the microscope where value for money is concerned.

The MNIB situation should give a gentle reminder in which a lot of alleged wrong-doing was taking place under the nose of the auditor who co-incidentally had to recuse himself from the ongoing investigation by the Integrity Commission as he is also a member of the body.

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