“I promised no one Cabinet post. Tobi could tell you this – I never promised him any Cabinet post.”
Those were the words that came from Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell as he addressed supporters of the ruling New National Party (NNP) at a session in the St. George North-east constituency on the exclusion of their Member of Parliament, Tobias Clement from a position in the Cabinet of Ministers.
There have been widespread reports that Clement is no longer employed at St. George’s University (SGU) and the salaries paid to him by government in the 2013-18 term has been cut-off.
Dr. Mitchell denied that Clement had lost the job at SGU and was getting a monthly salary from the privately-owned American school that was more than that of the Prime Minister of the country.
According to the Prime Minister, Clement’s non-ministerial position was as a result of an agreement made between the two of them after the 2013 general election when he first won the North-east seat.
He said that Clement is “gainfully employed” at SGU and was not inclined to accept a government job in which the salary was lower than what he was getting at the university.
“This issue that your representative is not a Member of Cabinet, colleagues, I don’t think you voted for somebody in the Cabinet – that’s not what you voted for? Let’s get it straight, I want you to know, I promised no one Cabinet post…Tobi could tell you this, I never promised him any cabinet post….
“In fact, the understanding we had was that he was already employed at the SGU and making more money than a Cabinet member does – that was the understanding, you know. He is well employed at the St. George’s University making more money than the Prime Minister…”.
In response to this statement from PM Mitchell, some Constituents were heard saying on the tape-recording obtained by THE NEW TODAY that MP Clement was no longer employed at SGU which warranted him a position in Cabinet.
Prime Minister Mitchell told the gathering: “Colleagues, Tobi is well represented at the University making more than the Prime Minister.”
Speculation is rife that Clement took no pay leave from SGU in July 2017 to concentrate on the political work in the constituency but has since been reinstated.
Dr. Mitchell reminded the constituents that even though Clement was employed full-time at SGU in the 2013-18 period, St. George North East was not neglected by the NNP regime.
He said: “In fact, Tobi was in an envious position. As a Parliamentary Representative, he was getting the same pay as a Minister of Government, in addition to his salary at the university. Colleagues, these are just facts…
“What it means is that he was doing twice as good (financially) as any member of the cabinet of the country, not twice as good, more than twice as good. In other words, he was making far more money than the Prime Minister of the country but I don’t have a problem with this and the government delivered services throughout the length and breadth of the northeast…
“Let’s get it straight…we setting ourselves up for failure if we want to believe otherwise…our job is to provide service, that is what we should be talking about, not who getting this job and who ain’t getting this job.
According to PM Mitchell, immediately after the 2013 election, the Constituency of St. George North East was uppermost in his mind and is now in a better position with their representative not holding a ministerial position.
“Immediately after the election, the Indian Prime Minister sent his Minister of Health to talk to me and one of the first things I raised was not a road for St. John’s or St. Mark’s, one of the first things I raised was the BelleVue road and they have committed to finish (it).
“We have work to do in the Annandale area, the road going up that side, it’s in a mess. We should be talking about that…we have work to do there. So, that’s what we should be talking about. You have not been hurt one bit by been hurt one bit by your representatives not being a member of Cabinet. In fact, you are better off, simply because your representative have more time to spend doing the work.
Dr Mitchell warned the NNP supporters in St. George North-east that their time should be spent on delivering services to the people and not on himself and Clement, who are both “happy” individuals.
“We have a lot of things to do. There are people out there who need house repair, there are people out there who (are in) need (of) needy assistance – let’s get to work. It’s not about the Prime Minister and Tobi, we are happy, comparatively speaking, compared to the people out there. They vote for us, not just to say NNP win … they vote for us because they expect (us) to deliver goods and services,” he said.
The Prime Minister told the NNP supporters that leading the country is not a bed of roses and if it were not for his commitment to the people of Grenada, he would have left the job a long time ago.
He said: “If it was for me, I out of this thing a long time ago, I’m telling you straight. For me, the burden and the pressure I get for trying to lead this country out of the mess that it was in 2008, the headache that I went through in 2013, the headache that I have to go through, I would be far better off with a better job making far more money but the commitment to the people of this country that’s what drive us and I assume that’s what drive Tobias Clement in politics, not because of a position, that’s not what we came into government for, for position in government, that’s not what we came in for…”, he remarked.
After explaining the Tobias Clement issue to the Constituents of St. George North-east, the Prime Minister was heard saying… “Are we clear now? So, I hope that no one disappears.”