The Audit Department has been called into the Ministry of Works to investigate claims of dishonesty and unfairness taking place with the trucking system of the De-bushing Programme.
According to Minister of Works, Gregory Bowen allegations of dishonesty and too many cases of one particular set of individuals receiving all the contracts under the programme have been made over the years but without anyone substantiating the claims.
Addressing members of the media at the weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing held Tuesday at the Ministerial Complex, Minister Bowen said the issue has taken a different turn with the new season of De-bushing starting this month.
He announced that the Department of Audit has been called in to do the necessary investigation to determine who might be innocent or culpable of wrong-doing.
“We have asked the Audit to come in and do some work, particularly in the trucking areas. We have been apprised of the problem whereby bills will come in for 60 trips for a truck taking the garbage to certain sites; whether it’s Perseverance, the southern part and another area in the northern part but we cannot see how a certain number of truck loads, massive number of truck loads would be paid for when indeed, only a small amount was done,” he said.
The senior government minister disclosed that both the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) are also investigating similar claims made in other ministries.
He made specific mention of the Physical Development Unit, which it is alleged that employees in the department who should be looking at people’s plan when it comes in are also drawing plans and also doing the work.
“We are not saying that any employee is wrong at this point in time but if the public comes to us at this point in time, we must take a stance. It is better because there is (a) significant number of rumours flying around and they may be targeting the innocent public servants”, he said.
“So, whatever investigation we do, would clear this public servant and it is one thing I hate, while you do not condone the wrongdoing but to let innuendos fly against a public servant who knows nothing about it. The FIU and the police and the Audit department – they are doing what they have to do”, he added.
According to the No.3 man in the hierarchy of the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration, there is a big move on by government to tackle the problem as a number of persons are now coming forward with information.
“…The public has come forward and for the first time people are saying that we are willing now to come to go forward to which ever person you would send us – whether it’s the Public Service Commission, whether it’s the police, they are willing to go.
“I can tell you from my years in the public service, friends and workers will always come to you and say I know who took the battery and you say well good, give me a report and they say, “no, no, no, you want me to make somebody lose their job” and everything falls down at this point but now the public has come forward and so the Ministry has asked the Audit to come forward and to take steps.
Minister Bowen cited a common complaint that certain persons are getting government contracts because of their closeness with certain officials.
“Be that as it may and we are not saying that all the allegations are true…we have to do something,” he said.
The minister also spoke of a problem with the distribution of material in the Housing Ministry that is also being investigated.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the FIU and Police picked up several persons for questioning in relation to the distribution of building material.
One of the persons named is said to be a Personal Assistant to a government minister who allegedlywas intercepted in neighbouring St. Vincent and returned to Grenada.
There are also unconfirmed reports that the police were seen removing building material from a house in the St. Patrick area.
Yesterday (March 23) was the date given for the start of the two-week long $1.9 million De-bushing programme.
According to Minister Bowen, this is an increase from the previous programmes of $1.7 and $1.8 million as the government now has to hire monitors to ensure that things go correctly until the Audit reports otherwise.