During the campaign leading up to the November 2003 elections, Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, made reference to a “witch hunt” that had been conducted against him by the National Democratic Congress when it assumed office in March 1990.
I subsequently understood that he was alluding to the one-man Commission of Enquiry appointed on February 2nd, 1990 “to make diligent inquiries into the conduct and management and overall operations of:
(i) Grenada Rock Asphalt and Concrete Products Ltd.
(ii) Grenada Electricity Services Ltd. (GRENLEC)
(iii) Central Water Commission
(iv) Central Garage Corporation
(v) Roads Division, Ministry of Works
Those bodies would have been under the purview of the then Minister of Communications and Works, Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Among other things, the Commission was directed:
(i) To enquire into all aspects of the management of the said bodies
(ii) To investigate the practices and procurement of the said bodies with particular reference to the acquisition of materials and supplies and the integrity and cost-effectiveness of such procedures.
The Commission of Enquiry was conducted by one Lindsay Irwin Worrel and began its public hearings at York House on 5th February, 1990 – one month before the general elections which brought the NDC to power.
The report was released in March 1991.
This Commission of Enquiry would have been appointed at the request of the break away faction of the NNP – The National Party led by Ben Jones which formed the government subsequent to the falling out between H.A. Blaize and Keith Mitchell over the leadership of the NNP.
SO WHY DID THE PRIME MINISTER SEEK TO DECEIVE AND MISLEAD THE ELECTORATE ABOUT WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SETTING UP OF THE ENQUIRY?
The report provided perspective and clarified quite a number of things for me. I am now more aware that the type of maladministration that our country has been enduring since 1995 is “déjà vu”.
Having read the report, I have also come to the depressing conclusion that, when offering one’s self for political office or high public office in Grenada, perhaps one is well served by proven ability and demonstrated capacity in:
Bungling and mismanagement
Utter disregard for the acceptable practices and mechanisms of accountability and transparency in matters of financial management.
The report provided a very interesting bit of information on Mr. Gregory Bowen, a key member of the NNP administration led by the Right Honourable Dr. Keith Mitchell.
In Chapter II which deals with the Grenada Rock, Asphalt and Concrete Products Ltd., we learn the following:
In April 1989, Mr. Gregory Bowen was Manager of the Grenada Electricity Services Ltd., a full time position in relation to which he was on call 24 hours a day. As Manager of GRENLEC, he received a monthly salary of $7,000, n entertainment allowance of $1,000, a company car and free accommodation.
Yet at this time, he was also Managing Director of the Grenada Rock, Asphalt and Concrete Products Ltd. for which he received a monthly salary of $7,000. The previous manager had received a monthly salary of $3,000 per month and allowances totaling $900.
And to add insult to injury, Mr. Bowen, as Managing Director, was writing letters to members of Management and staff, advising them of the terrible financial difficulty the company was experiencing, “forcing us to cut staff, reduce wages/salaries and efficiently re-organize the work force”.
That dear people is a key member of the “caring” administration we have given a third term of office!!
In his summary, Chapter VII, the Commissioner writes:
“It is interesting to note the frequency with which the names of the following persons – Gregory Bowen, Denis Campbell, Keith Braveboy, Winston Gabriel – appear either as directors or employees of the statutory bodies and companies under my investigation and at time had cause to wonder if the national interests were best served.
Another remarkable observation during the course of the enquiry was the failure of the authorities to refer to the police for investigation the disappearance of items from statutory bodies and companies with a view of instituting criminal charges”.
Do any of these observations ring a bell? National Stadium, Dunfermline Housing Project, Call Centre Inc., Mt. Hartman, Micro Enterprise Initiative?
I certainly thank the Prime Minister for reminding us of this report while on his campaign platform. I recommend it highly to all interested members of the electorate and I deem it required reading by all opposition parties.
They (the parties) may also want to take the opportunity to purge themselves of any tainted characters in their midst, particularly any who may now be so brave as to be offering himself/herself for political office.
Grenada deserves better! We must demand better for Grenada!!
Sandra C.A. Ferguson
(Editor’s note: This letter was written back in 2004)