“Our nation has lost one of its most durable Public Servants”.
Those were the words used by the Ministry of Finance and Energy to describe the late Lauriston Wilson (Jnr) who served for many years as the island’s Permanent Secretary and Director of Finance in the Ministry of Finance.
Wilson who served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance from 1973-91 passed away last Saturday at the age of 78.
“He was a consistent and firm hand during some of Grenada’s most tumultuous years”, said the release of Wilson who after retirement opened his own accounting firm known as Wilson & Co.
“The Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Permanent Secretary and all staff of the Ministry of Finance and Energy extend their heartfelt condolences to his widow, Mrs. Eleanor Wilson, and children; his friends and relatives”, it added.
The former top flight civil servant joined the public service in Grenada at the age of 19 back in 1955.
Wilson started studies at home in Accounting and in 1966 was granted a scholarship from the British government to travel to England to do studies in Accounting and came back home in 1969 as a qualified ACCA.
On his return to the service, Wilson was appointed as Budget Officer in the Ministry of Finance until he was finally elevated to the post of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance in 1973.
Wilson served for 28 years until 1983 when he was sent on leave by then Deputy Prime Minister of the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG), Bernard Coard who was also the island’s Minister of Finance.
When the left-leaning New Jewel Movement (NJM) seized power on March 13, 1979 in a coup d’etat against the elected Eric Gairy government, one of the first actions of the new leaders was to send Wilson on leave on suspicions that he was too close politically to the former Prime Minister.
During the political unrest in Grenada in the early 1970’s when the island was shut down due to a general strike called by opponents of Sir Eric, it was Wilson who was sent on frequent missions to neighbouring Trinidad & Tobago to hunt for monies to pay the salaries of civil servants.
One month after being sent packing from the Ministry of Finance, the PRG rulers were forced to call Wilson back to work to engage a high-powered visiting team from the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) as no one with the Ministry of Finance had the experience and information at their disposal to deal with the fund.
Wilson continued to work under Coard until a few months before the PRG imploded when he was sent home on forced leave by the man considered as the second most powerful individual in the country.
Years later, the former PS of Finance told a local journalist that Coard was over-rated as a Minister of Finance and was not all that competent as some persons made him out to be.
“I remember most times when it was coming up towards month-end and we were scrambling to find money to pay civil servants, Coard would always leave and go to Carriacou. I formed the impression that he (Coard) couldn’t take the heat and was using the frequent trips to Carriacou to duck from the problems”, he was quoted as saying.
A family member told this newspaper that during the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution, he remembered Wilson leaving Grenada and spending seven weeks in Libya in the search for monies from then Libyan strongman, Muammar Gaddafi to help out the cash-strapped island that depended heavily on Cuba and the then Soviet Union for assistance.
With the collapse of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution, Wilson was brought back to take charge once again of the nation’s financial purse by then Governor-General Sir Paul Scoon who became the defacto leader of the country.
He served in the post during the one year rule of the Interim Government of Sir Nicholas Brathwaite and the five year term in office (1984-90) of the original New National Party (NNP) administration of late Prime Minister, Herbert Augustus Blaize.
Wilson would be late to rest on Monday after a church service at the Grenada Trade Center to be conducted under the banner of the Bahai Faith.
His wife Eleanor told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that the family decided to bury him in the Grand Anse cemetery because of his love for the sea.
Wilson was seen on a daily basis taking a sea bath on the world famous Grand Anse beach.