Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has vowed not to disclose
the source who made a substantial contribution to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that has sparked off widespread debate in the country.
He made the disclosure in Parliament in response to questions tabled by Opposition Member of Parliament for Carriacou and Petite Martinique, Elvin Nimrod on allegations made about a US$150, 000.00 donation to a senior government member from Saudi Arabia.
The Prime Minister has publicly admitted receiving US$50, 000.00 as a contribution to Congress by a donor from an account in the British Virgin Islands.
In an emotional response, Prime Minister Thomas made it abundantly clear that he will not answer part of a question put forward by Nimrod to reveal the source of the funds sent to him.
“According to Standing Orders 22 (4), a minister shall decline to answer a question if the publication of the answer would be in his opinion contrary to the public’s interest…once people make contribution they do not wish for the public to know what they’re doing…this is confidential, and I’m not going to reveal the source…I am not going to answer that question,” the Congress Leader said.
Nimrod’s questions sought answers to whether or not the Prime Minister or any other member of his Cabinet, Government or political party, received any money from any individual, business entity or the Government of a Middle Eastern Country, how much was received, from who, the purpose, who received the money and if any promise was made to the source of the funds.
In his response to the questions, the Prime Minister stated that he received no money from an individual, or the Government of a Middle Eastern Country, but that he received a donation from a business entity and not “from the Middle East”.
“The amount of money received was US$50,000.00…it was received by me, in my account as a trustee for the National Democratic Congress. The money was in transit in my account, it was not used for my personal purposes. The specific source of the fund Mr. Speaker was from the British Virgin Island…
“Mr. Speaker it was received to enhance the work of the National Democratic Congress and that it has been doing. We, as any political organisation, (have) responsibility and I will go further to say Mr Speaker, this has been probably the most transparent donation ever take place in Grenada. Political parties get donations you never hear about it, this is the one …because of the transparent nature of it…
“Mr. Speaker the money was sent as a donation to the National Democratic Congress. The political leader of any political organisation I submit would be the most appropriate person to receive a donation on behalf of his organization.
“If other political leaders do not trust themselves, I trust myself and I know the money is going to be used for the political organisation, and so it has been used. The money has been disbursed to do political work among our organisation, this is normal within the democratic setting…
“I maintain Mr. Speaker that a political leader is the most appropriate person to receive donation on behalf of his organisation and I have absolutely no apologies for this.
According to Prime Minister Thomas, it is time that politicians be realistic and stop the under the table and backdoor deals and to deal above board in handling the political realities of the day and to enhance the democratic process.
“I have absolutely no apologies for accepting a donation as a trustee and I regard a political leader as the principal trustee, if others do not feel so that’s up to them”, the Congress leader said.
Dr. Mitchell was heard blurting out something about the General Secretary of the party who should be the one receiving the funds.
The NDC General Secretary is Peter David, the former Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation who has quit the government citing “fundamental differences” with the Prime Minister and some of the fiscal policies of the administration.
Prime Minister Thomas gave the assurance that absolutely no promise was made and that nothing was offered to the donor and the funds were strictly used to enhance and promote the work of NDC as the premiere democratic organisation in Grenada.
Nimrod attempt to get the Prime Minister to reveal the source of funds was cut short by the Speaker who urged him “do not go along those lines”.
Mc Guire told the Opposition members that they should accept the response given by the Prime Minister since the source of funds is privileged information.