Labour representative in the Upper House of Parliament, Senator Raymond Roberts has raised concerns over the size of the budget allocated in the 2015 fiscal year to Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
In making his contribution to the 2015 Budget Debate in the Upper House, Sen. Roberts pointed directly at the amount of money to be used by PM Mitchell in executing Special Projects from within the Office of the Prime Minister.
He made mention of special projects such as transportation allowances for school children, and school uniforms which have budgetary allocations of $1.7M.
Sen. Roberts said he believes that the programme should be managed by the Ministry of Social Development headed by Delma Thomas whom he described as being competent and dynamic.
“If there is a Minister responsible for Social (Development), why does the Prime Minister want to give out school uniforms and (transportation) cheques for bus? That is ridiculous, and … it smells (of) corruption…”, the veteran trade unionist told the Upper House.
“The Prime Minister has absolutely no right distributing uniforms and giving out cheques for transportation from the taxpayers’ money. He should take it from his own pocket if he wants to be generous”, he said.
Under the near two year old New National Party (NNP) administration, the “special projects” also includes the building of roads in some constituencies with budgetary allocation of $7M.
Sen. Roberts urged the NNP ministers to start to seriously question the erosion of some of their portfolios by PM Mitchell into specific “special projects” that are put under his watch.
“Ministers, you have to be brave enough to make the man (Dr. Mitchell) bat in his crease”, he told the Senate.
According to Sen. Roberts, when the responsibilities that are
assigned to Line Ministries are shifted away from them and given to the Office of the Prime Minister then “an earthly saviour” is being created.
He feared that there are not enough men and women who are strong enough in Grenada to say that this is wrong.
Like Roberts, Sen. Nazim Burke, the Political Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress, also expressed shock at the capital allocation in the 2015 Budget for the Prime Minister’s Office.
Sen. Burke recalled that in 2012under the Congress government, the capital allocation for the Prime Minister Office then headed by Tillman Thomas was a mere $50,807 but there is now a capital budget of $10.925M under the watch of PM Mitchell.
He indicated that the Prime Minister’s Office is not a productive sector, and if the NNP Government is sincere about growing the economy much of this resource now allocated to the Office of the Prime Minister should be placed in those areas that have the potential for growth and employment.
He added that the capital budget for the Prime Minister’s Office surpasses that of the Minister of Health whose capital budget is only $6.305M, and the Minister of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs which has an allocation of $4.259M.