Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has announced that government will be moving to make some changes within the Ministry of Finance with the appointment of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine as Governor of the ECCB.
PM Mitchell told reporters at a press conference Monday that government would move with haste to make adjustments within the Ministry to make sure that the work and activities are not interfered with or reduced due to the impending departure of Antoine.
He spoke of additional support to be given to the Ministry of Finance to help bolster its work.
“We will be acquiring an Economic Advisor with years of experience in serious economic development … so we just have to move the date forward to ensure that the person will be available earlier than we originally planned”, he said.
“…We’re also looking at (a) Macro Economic Advisor, who’s already here and supported by the Commonwealth Secretariat. We will also be getting a Debt Advisor. We’re already in touch with the Easten Caribbean Central Bank, we’re also looking for (a) Macro Economic Planner and the Search Committee is on for this,” he added.
The Prime Minister did not give any hints about the person who would be appointed as replacement for Antoine who was a key figure in the implementation of the two-year old Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), which has another year to run.
Speculation is rife that the Trinidad and Tobago-based Dr. Patrick Antoine, who serves as an Ambassador would be given a more prominent role in the Ministry of Finance.
Dr. Antoine was reportedly kept out of the Ministry of Finance in the wake of allegations that he did not have a good working relationship with PS Antoine.
Sources told THE NEW TODAY that in the lead up to the 2013 general elections, Dr. Antoine was suggesting to Dr. Mitchell who was then in opposition that a new team of technocrats should be brought in to take charge of the Ministry of Finance and to help fashion a new economy for the island.
PM Mitchell stuck with PS Antoine and put him in charge of Dr. Antoine by giving him a contract, which mandated him to report to the Permanent Secretary.
During the press briefing, PM Mitchell told reporters that a number of “in-house promotions” would be undertaken within the Ministry of Finance to strengthen
the Economic Division.
“We should be aware that the gains of the country during the period of the first two years of (the) Structural Adjustment Programme must not or should not have been seen as just the success of the Ministry of Finance or the government or one individual Timothy Antoine, who led the Ministry of Finance Administrative Division”, he said.
“There are a number of competent, hard working capable individuals in that Ministry who were providing yeoman service. So the Budget Division headed by Kim Frederick…Kim may be moving up and recommended for additional responsibility in Administration and other personnel there would also be upgraded,” he added.
The Prime Minister who played a key role in landing the ECCB Governor’s job for Antoine praised his outgoing Permanent Secretary and compared his elevation t that of the gold medal struck for Grenada by 400 metre runner, Kirani James at the 2012 Olympics in London, England.
He said he feels proud with the appointment not just as Prime Minister but also as a Grenadian and called on his countrymen not to see Antoine’s departure as a loss to Grenada.
“I believe therefore while we feel that there would be a void for us as a country and as a government of the day and for myself as Minister Finance, I believe Timothy has not been lost to us. The region yes has gained enormously but I don’t believe we have lost because the Governor of the Central Bank to some extent has to be seen as an advisor to all governments of the OECS or members of the Monetary Union particularly on fiscal matters so in that sense he would be there like Sir Dwight Venner was to give us advice on critical issues related to economic activity,” PM Mitchell said.
Meanwhile, the main opposition National Democratic Congress issued a congratulatory statement to PS Antoine on landing the prestigious and lucrative job of ECCB Governor.
The statement reads: “The Political Leader, National Executive Council and Members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) congratulate Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance of Grenada, Mr. Timothy Antoine, on his appointment as the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).
The party joins with the rest of the nation in celebrating this moment of pride with this Son of the soil and wishes him every success as he embarks upon this new journey”.