The Art of Spin: ‘‘GOVERNMENT WELCOMES INTEGRITY COMMISSION’S INQUIRY INTO MNIB OPERATIONS’’

By Special Correspondent

The Press Release suggesting that the “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” must be described as nothing more than a poorly masked attempt at political ‘spin’ and disingenuity.

Photo (left to right): Lady A. Anande Trotman-Joseph, Chairperson of the Integrity Commission of Grenada; Mr. Rupert Agostini, Member of the Integrity Commission of Grenada; Mr. Robert Robinson, Deputy Chairperson of the Integrity Commission of Grenada;Justice Dame Monica Joseph, Immediate Past Chairperson of the Integrity Commission of Grenada; Mr. Bertie Hill, Member of the Integrity Commission of Grenada; Mrs. Oforiwa Agustine, Member of the Integrity Commission of Grenada; Mrs. Daniella Williams Mitchell, Member of the Integrity Commission of Grenada.

Indeed, it may have escaped many that there was nothing to welcome at all since it is the very Government of Grenada that would have invited the Integrity Commission to ‘mount the inquiry into operations at the Marketing Board’.

So, news that the Government welcomed this is nothing more than ‘spin’, and at best ‘poor journalism’ and an attempt to be nothing less that disingenuous at a time when the Grenadian public are desperately seeking the truth.

Let us face it Keith, Peter David and their propaganda machinery are losing this PR campaign and losing it badly. The PR advantage is clearly with THE NEW TODAY, Truth, and the People of Grenada, despite the immense machinery of state propaganda being spent on spinning the information so it doesn’t harm the puffed up façade of prudent management by the Administration.

Quite evidently, the Administration is in panic mode and rightly so.

For nothing less is at stake than the legacy of the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Grenada as the World Bank’s Poster Boy. Such a reputation has been shied away from by other Ministers of Finance, especially as it is earned at the altar of impoverishing taxes on the backs of the Grenadian poor and vulnerable.

A further manifestation of the obvious desperation in the NNP Camp is evident from the following statement: “Following his recent announcement that Cabinet has endorsed a recommendation for a thorough inquiry, Prime Minister, Dr. the Right Honorable Keith Mitchell said today that Government will yield to the Inquiry being conducted by the Commission.”

Having clearly acknowledged that it was the Cabinet that would have ‘endorsed the recommendation,’ what precisely does the Press release intend by acclaiming, that the ‘Government of Grenada has welcomed the news of the Inquiry’ which the Minister of Finance’s Ministry would have prepared for approval by his colleague Government Ministers, thereby placing the remit for such an important investigation in the hands of the Integrity in Public Life Commission?

Let’s follow the process to unearth the ‘concocted’ nature of the Press release and the news content emerging from the Press Conference; it wouldn’t take long.

(1). Our checks would have revealed that the Prime Minister is the Minister of Finance.

(2). The Minister of Finance is NOW the Minister with responsibility for the MNIB.

(3). The Ministry of Finance would have prepared a submission to the Cabinet on the MNIB.

(4). The Submission would come under the approval and signature of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance (a number of whispers are being made about her in the corridors of power about her personal life).

Further, it would not be unreasonable to presume that the Brief and the Cabinet Submission would have been advised upon by the Legal Advisor, Ministry of Finance, being the son of the Minister of Finance (and who has only been recently and unceremoniously thrust upon the Grenadian people (though obviously this is of little consideration).

(5). The Minister of Finance is also the Chairman of the Cabinet (nothing gets onto the agenda unless it is approved by him and in a form which he and he alone approves) – but in this matter, this is not really relevant since the Chairman and Minister of Finance is himself presiding over his own submission, from his own Ministry.

(6). Finally, one of the subjects of the investigation is the Director of Development Cooperation; you guessed it…in the Ministry of Finance.

Could one safely say that the devil is in the details or that perhaps something is rotten in the state of Denmark…?

As ludicrous as it may appear, it would seem to any observer that the ‘NEWS’ of the Government of Grenada welcoming the Inquiry by the Integrity Commission is nothing more than ‘hype’ intended to pacify the faithful and the not so faithful that your Government is hard at work for you.

Truth be told, the Post-Cabinet Briefing by the Prime Minister, constitutes a level of naked public grandstanding, for which this Administration has established new records, in Grenadian Politics. But the Prime Minister should take care to note that his brash grandstanding and empty rhetoric, is increasingly being ‘seen though’ by the majority of Grenadians – particularly our youth.

Examine the following quote taken directly from the Press Briefing on 4th September , “…….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”.

At last count the MNIB had amassed a debt of EC $4.0 Million or so.

It is a fact that Ministers and the Prime Minister himself have leveraged the use of State funds in creative ways to fund activities leading up to the election, and to travel ‘First Class’.




But for the NNP Administration, here comes the ‘spin’ – again, that an Inquiry aimed at determining what went wrong at the MNIB, potentially of benefit to the other twenty four (24) State-Owned Enterprises is deemed to be duplicating efforts (and expensive).

Accordingly, for Grenadian taxpayers, remembered only conveniently, their resources can be put to the best use, which evidently means not funding an independent Commission of Inquiry under the Constitution.

A far more sobering reality however, is as follows:

(i) The Prime Minister led the nation to believe that there would be a Public Inquiry, we now have a departure in the sense that an Inquiry by the Integrity Commission does not adequately deliver on this promise (a matter of public trust I say).

(ii) The Prime Minister refers to duplication of effort; by so affirming in the Press Conference, the Administration is admitting that there is at least another manner (within the Constitution) in which such an Inquiry can be held.

Given the need for abundant transparency and accountability, and considering the composition of the Integrity Commission, no matter how many sub-Committees are established with honorable men and women, the public confidence in such sub-committees established under an Integrity Committee presided over by the wives of NNP Ministers and stalwarts, and the Party faithful, cannot be expected in all conscience, to judiciously carry out such an important investigation aimed at restoring public trust.

(iii) The simple fact is that Grenadians remain concerned about the lack of an Independent Commission of Inquiry in the MNIB regarding considerations of what we are told stands at EC $4.0 Million.

This is to be contrasted with the Independent Commission which was established to look into the US $500,000 ‘Briefcase Affair” involving Dr. Mitchell, himself. Should we not expect the old adage “what is good for the goose is good for the gander” in this circumstance.

(iv) It is however to be applauded that the Prime Minister leans heavily on the provisions of the Law in mounting a case for the Inquiry to be undertaken under the auspices of the Integrity in Public Life Commission.

Grenadians must ALL ensure that at all times during this Inquiry, that the Prime Minister is held to the same commitment to the Law, on matters which will arise that relate specifically to him and those close to him, such as the outgoing CEO of the MNIB.

In the Post-Cabinet Press Briefing, Dr. Mitchell is again quoted as stating, “I cannot accept direct responsibility for the alleged wrong-doing 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.” Precisely what does the Prime Minister mean by this statement?

Any careful scrutiny of the Constitution and the Laws of Grenada would make it clear to the Prime Minister that he very much has a legal responsibility and that the buck stops with him. Not a moral responsibility, mind you, whatever this means to the Prime Minister, as morality itself cannot be so conveniently separated from Law in a predominantly Christian society that is based on norms, values, culture and quite obviously …the law!!

It is passing strange that a Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and the longest serving Parliamentarian in our Post-Independence history, would hold such a position on his moral vs his legal responsibility and worse would feel confident enough to tender such a view in defense of incompetence in high and low places on matters which legally fall to him.
Juxtapose this position of moral culpability but no legal responsibility with a recent statement by another Leader Mark Zuckerberg, who on 4th March 2018, was drilled about the lack of proper safeguards at Facebook.

Zuckerberg courageously affirmed “I’m in charge of Facebook…. The buck stops with me, I accept full responsibility, I’m sorry.” True hallmarks of a Great Leader that Keith Mitchell somehow or other does not ascribe to.

Grenada continues to yearn for such greatness in leadership, evidently it will not be found in Dr. Mitchell and his cronies.

Great Leaders do not sacrifice their young professionals, after they have used them, because it is convenient to do so.

Great Leaders do not throw their loyalists to the wolves after they have used them as conduits to channel finance into their personal and party coffers.

Great leaders, do not rely on others to defend them, but are unprepared to risk an iota of public capital to defend others.

Great Leaders do not lead by fear and manipulation and victimisation.

Great Leaders understand the virtue of the mercy they have received for BIG indiscretions, and are quick to extend mercy to others for relatively tiny indiscretions.

Great Leaders understand how to say thank you, I’m sorry and I bear primary responsibility.

Great Leaders understand that their Greatness will not be measured in Length of years, but in the goodness done in those years.

Great Leaders know when their time has passed and when it is necessary to make room for younger talent, without seeking first to destroy them.

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