The Grenada Government has welcomed news that the Integrity Commission has mounted an inquiry into operations at the Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB), following recent revelations about the possible inappropriate use of funds.
Following his recent announcement that Cabinet has endorsed a recommendation for a thorough inquiry, Prime Minister, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell said today that Government will yield to the inquiry being conducted by the commission.
Speaking during Tuesday’s two-part Post Cabinet Briefing, Dr. Mitchell acknowledged that a separate inquiry would be duplicating efforts which is not the best way to use taxpayers’ dollars.
He affirmed that undertaking such an investigation falls within the remit of the Integrity Commission which was established with the purpose of improving governance through ensuring integrity in public life.
The commission was established in accordance with the Integrity in Public Life Act, firstly No.14 of 2007 which was repealed and replaced by the Integrity in Public Life Act, No.24 of 2013.
According to Section 12 of the Act, the Integrity Commission can “receive and investigate complaints regarding any alleged breaches of the provisions of this Act or the commission of any suspected offence under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Chapter 252A.”
The independent body can also “investigate the conduct of any person falling under the purview of the Commission which, may be considered dishonest or conducive to corruption” and it may also “examine the practices and procedures of public bodies”.
Further, the Act provides that in the exercise of its functions, the commission shall have the power to “authorise investigations, summon witnesses, require the production of any reports, documents or other relevant information, and to do all such things as it considers necessary or expedient for the purpose of carrying out its functions pursuant to the provisions of this Act.”
Section 13 of the Integrity in Public Life Act further states that, “The Commission shall have the same powers, rights and privileges as a commission of inquiry appointed pursuant to the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, Chapter 58.”
The inquiry into the MNIB operations is being led by the technical team of the commission’s office, in collaboration with their consultants and other anti-corruption stakeholders including those drawn from the Royal Grenada Police Force.
Prime Minister Mitchell has expressed utmost confidence in the capability of investigators. He said, “Government is committed to the practice of good governance and ensuring transparency in operations at all levels.
The creation of the Grenada Integrity Commission more than a decade ago affirms that commitment as well as our willingness to correct any actions that contravene the provisions of the Integrity in Public Life Act.
The commission is an independent body that is sufficiently competent to undertake such an investigation.”
The Prime Minister pledged his full support to the process and has affirmed his willingness to be questioned by investigators if that becomes necessary.
“I cannot accept direct responsibility for the alleged wrongdoing but as Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, I must accept moral responsibility. I was entrusted with a duty to protect the public purse and I am accountable to the people of this country. Therefore, I will do everything to support this process,” Dr. Mitchell stated.
He noted too that, “Government is committed to re-energising the agriculture sector and ensuring that the nation’s farmers can in fact reap the benefits of their labour.
The MNIB has a critical role to play in this and its operations must empower rather than disenfranchise our farmers. I await the findings of this investigation and any recommendations the Integrity Commission may deem necessary.”
The inquiry by the Integrity Commission into the operations of the MNIB, began in August and is expected to take at least three months.