My name is Jay Joslyn Bruno and this story is going to sound like conspiracy theory but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
Driven by misplaced loyalties I struggled with cognitive dissonance and ambivalence over this issue for years. I have finally decided that putting it in the public domain is the right thing to do. There are lessons to be learnt.
In July 2005, while gainfully employed as Economics Lecturer at T A Marryshow Community College (TAMCC), I was approached by Oliver Joseph, the incumbent Director of Trade, with documents offering the Masters degree (M. Sc.) scholarship in International Trade Policy (MITP) at the University of the West Indies (UWI).
The MITP background information is posted on the website of the Shridath Ramphal Institute of Cave Hill University. In essence it states that severe human resource shortages of trade policy experts were identified in OECS/CARICOM countries and the scholarship was the collaborative effort of the European Union (EU), US Agency for International Development (USAID), and Canada’s International Development Agency (CIDA), spearheaded by the Organisation of American States (OAS), to assist regional governments in building capacity in this area.
In recognition of my scholastic aspirations and desire to contribute to national development, Mr. Joseph persuaded me to seize the opportunity for formal training.
The rules of engagement were clear and straightforward. A multilateral collective was financing a government scholarship specifically for the purpose of training a cadre of trade policy specialists. Given the implicit contractual imperatives of the award, the common sense logical pragmatism for its application, and the fact that only governments administer trade policy laws and regulations – not the private sector – you expect government to contract/utilise the selected national to apply the trade policy expertise gained from the program. This is the norm in every Caribbean country under the MITP dispensation – Grenada the exception.
As the only Grenada candidate selected for the program I anticipated no complications going forward. The Article 340 facilitation is regularly invoked to define individuals’ work relationship with government. Moreover, the trade specialist function is apolitical transcending government, party, and politics to prioritise national interest.
With receipt of proper instruments I decided to quit my job, dropped everything, and travelled to Barbados for two years intensive study.
One caviar to the rigorous training was an all-expense-paid, educational tour to France, Geneva (Switzerland), and Brussels (Holland) for real time, functional observation and learning-in-action the modus operandi of institutions like the World Trade Organisation (WTO), World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), and United Nations Conference for Trade Development (UNCTAD).
Significantly, I found the foreign university environment a fertile breeding ground for the “brain drain” phenomena that plague developing countries like Grenada. On campus and associated fora international organisations use “ambush marketing” recruiting foreign students to defect and work in the diaspora. Interfacing this temptation I opted to return home to help develop my own country rather than somebody else’s. Some call my choice naive; I call it duty to country.
In 2007 I did my internship/thesis under auspices of the Ministry of Trade supervised by Mr. Joseph, Dr. Patrick Antoine and Dr. Wayne Sandiford providing academic advisory input. By early 2008 all protocol requirements were fulfilled and with my prestigious university credentials I was ready to render my services to government.
I was stunned by the reception I got. As I graduated the program Mr. Joseph immediately raised “red flags” indicating I had to apply for the job since my “employment was not a given”. It seemed disingenuous considering government had a moral and ethical obligation to honour the mandates and conditions of the scholarship agreement.
Anyway, I did the formalities – and thus began the biggest fiasco of my life.
During the following years unemployed, desperate, broke, I made formal and informal representations to every conceivable relevant authority in Trade and Finance taking my case to the highest echelons of power in NDC and NNP administrations. I confronted walls of silence or prohibitive bureaucratic “red tape” simply stonewalled me everywhere.
NDC Finance Minister, Nazim Burke, suggested I get a job with the private sector – a complete absurdity. With the new NNP administration I made a final bid to bring some semblance of sanity to the situation.
On his request I presented Mr. Joseph, currently Minister of Trade and Economic Affairs, the findings of a cumulative 25-page project paper with an in-depth quantitative economic analysis of Grenada’s sour sop industry researched over a ten-month period island-wide.
For this challenging task I received no feedback, no remuneration, no thanks, nothing. All my sacrifice and training were going down the drain and I had to do something. So in a meeting with Prime Minister Mitchell I volunteered my services to government, free, no strings attached. Unbelievable as it sounds even this genuine, goodwill offer failed to impress.
I had sacrificed all – career, a lucrative foreign job, time, money – for the sake of country and became pariah, collateral damage, sacrificial lamb on the altar of political exigency. Peters was right: in Grenada “No good deed goes unpunished”.