SLAVED, SLAIN, BUT STANDING TALL

In 15 months I slaved for it, I was slain for it, but today I am standing tall because of it, I have learned some tough lessons because of Pan. From this vantage point my view can only be considered a “panorama”.

Fellow Grenadians, I have taken the time to construct this correspondence, and chose to send it out to all media, especially at this time because I believe in my heart that the time for the end of my affiliation with the Grenada Steel band Association has come.

When I was voted in as President of the Grenada Steel Bands Association on October 14th 2017, I accepted the responsibility filled with enthusiasm and passion to make a positive difference with pan; not just in Grenada, but to ensure that our positive attitudes would affect associations across the Caribbean.

Today I am convinced that many of the folks who have for years been involved in heading the organisation, and who have been given State recognition couldn’t care less about Pan, but more about their personal financial benefit at the expense of Pan.

An executive loaded with mainly new leaders, and two former Executive members from years ago, comprised our team. We immediately had to deal with the attitude of “not so we does do it”; disregarding the fact we promised ourselves and the general membership to do things differently for the benefit of Pan.

After only three months in existence, an attempt was made to dismantle the Executive Committee, led by a group of selfish, greedy, and obnoxious band leaders, many of whom were former leaders in the association. This move was not supported by the bands and it was unsuccessful.

The articles which appeared in the press had genuine truth to it, even though much of the fat was trimmed to save time; and if many of those details were to surface (and I am sure they will) Grenada and the region will look at some of our leaders differently, and with far less credibility than they have been receiving.

For decades, the Steelband Association was operating in a highly unprofessional manner.

– The new Executive Committee quickly moved to establish some much needed structure and organisation in a number of areas:

– The Association never had an official letter head – we rectified that in one week.

– No email address, so folks were doing business from their personal mail boxes. That too was rectified in one week.

– There was no General Council; folks were attending meetings for years with the bands not knowing who their reps were. Again, rectified in one month.

– There were no financial statements from the former executives; and even though these were requested in writing from the former Treasurer Mr. Stephen Greenidge; none was forthcoming.

– There were no records of minutes of meetings containing decisions made; we requested same from the former Secretary Mrs. Karie Fortune – that too did not materialise.

In essence we found that the former Leaders of the Grenada Steel Band Association were at the helm of an Association with:

No operable rules (Statutes/Constitution)

No accountability (Financial and Decision-making) to Members.

No record-keeping (Minutes/Official Communication/Band-member List)

This was the catastrophic situation the new Executive encountered amidst the then existing atmosphere that one of our own was allegedly caught up in a corruption net.

2018 came, and went, and that remains one of the most successful year for Pan in Grenada a testimony to the hard work and drive by the new Executive.

– We established a new M.O.U with the Government – one which involved a series of meetings with Mr. Mathew and Ms. Jones in the Ministry of Culture.

– A code of ethics was signed unto by the Association, particularly as it relates to the operations of the School Pan program – main reason being there has been much talk about inappropriate behaviour emanating from that program.

– Assertive representation for Pan on the SMC board, representation that took the concerns of Pan and had them addressed.

– No member of the Jason Skeete led executive collected any money for the construction of a stage – we ensured that the SMC maintained its responsibility by doing what it needed to do, so as to avoid a repeat of 2017.

– We negotiated so that bands receive payments for the long hours spent on the road serenading as they entertained the people around Christmas time. – the first time this has ever happened in Grenada.

– This executive met with every band one-on-one to hear their concerns and to conclude how best we can address them in the interest of pan – First time in the history of Pan in Grenada something like this was done (that was a shocker to me)

– The reintroduction of two bands into the Association. Pan Lovers of Grand Anse and Melodic Symphony of Springs were brought back into the association after years of victimisation from previous executives.

– We have also been in constant dialogue with the operators of the Band in St. David, and Carriacou, in an effort to have them come on board; something that was not done in the past, due to discrimination by leaders of the bigger bands who were only interested in their own band’s growth, and therefore not including other bands as part of the Association.

– A symposium “The Business of Pan” was hosted, getting views from Players, managers, Business people, and the SMC. We ensured it was recorded, so viewing can take place anytime.

– A constant presence in the media promoting Pan, leading up to Panorama 2018, the Media was supportive and was involved in everything we were doing.

– An advertising and Marketing campaign for Panorama that took Grenada and Grenadians abroad by surprise.

– We worked daily with the SMC to ensure a SOLID, and above standard STAGE WAS CONSTRUCTED for Panorama 2018.

– The layout and production of Panorama 2018 was the absolute best patrons experienced in decades.

– Monthly reports to all bands from the Executive Committee – another first.

– All subventions were paid to all steel bands before the end of July, a highly unusual gesture. (steel bands got paid before everyone else).

– All the Bands receiving ALL the money, and signing for receiving it, and not being short paid and blaming the SMC when the SMC paid in full.

Unlike previous years the Subventions were paid directly to the account of the Grenada Steel Band Association, and the association paid all the bands, and then submitted a report to the CEO of the SMC. Note that the SMC did not make payment to any INDIVIDUAL but to the Pan Organisation thereby ensuring that Bands got what was rightfully theirs.

Who would have thought we would have seen the day again when all the stands were filled – the stage perfect – the players playing to perfection – the event ending before midnight and everyone leaving totally satisfied with Panorama.

It happened in 2018, thank you Grenada you did yourself proud.

– With this current Executive committee hosting the most successful year for Pan in decades, a group of FOUR decided to ignore the Constitution and brought forward a motion that was unconstitutional.

– The FOUR further went about it in a despicable and disrespectful manner by launching personal attacks on me and my wife’s character.

– The seven remaining bands stood up against it and today there is a clear divide in the association (something which we all wanted to avert, because we always saw one association not big bands and small bands).

– The bands that placed in the top 5 in both competitions NEVER paid their annual subscriptions, but the smaller bands all paid

– The members of these four bands continue to be relentless in doing wrong, eroding the constitution, even going so far as to attempt to register the Steel Band Association as an incorporated company, unknown to the Executive and the General Membership. We were always operating above board and in the knowledge of all members, so they knew fully well that the documents were completed for the registration of the Association.

– The CEO of the Cultural Foundation inadvertently or otherwise attempted to further disrupt the association. She called a meeting of bands unknown to the Executive and without the knowledge of her superiors. A letter was sent to her on this expressing our disgust, copied to all her superiors including the Minister and the P. S. and up until this point no one had the respect to even respond.

– The current P.S in the Ministry of Culture went ahead and did the same thing a few months later, this time asking the band managers to basically, suspend the constitution, and put an interim executive in place, and undermine the President because they were more interested in securing corporate dollars instead of doing what is legally correct to save pan.

The Minister also had the nerve to say to me in a phone conversation that he is prepared to engage bands directly to play for panorama, and that I as President should consider suspending the constitution and give-in to the rogue group. The Minister clearly understands that this rogue group also has corporate sponsorship which he is not prepared to compromise hence his political decision to allow the legally formed Grenada Steel band Association, the way we have known it for thirty years, to be dismantled.

A letter was also sent to the Prime Minister informing him of these developments and asking for a meeting, he too has not responded. Not surprising, as the Minister also indicated he received a draft letter from the PM on how to approach the steel band issue.

Even though, the Attorney General was called in to a meeting with the Executive and the disruptive group, and he told them that there is no way they can be successful in defending this action in the courts, and urged that they do what is in the best interest of Pan; no one listened to him, and here we are today.

– Not one show of public support from the SMC board, but they were happy to take the credit for the successes of 2018 Panorama

– Not One Cent was received by me while serving as the President of the Association, for use of my personal office, my stationary, my electricity, my Phone, my Internet, my fuel and the intense advertising and promotion we all saw.

According to our constitution managers cannot vote on issues of the Association, only members of the Council and the Executive Committee have voting power save and except the manager is a member of the council. Moreover the voting CAN ONLY TAKE PLACE AT A MEETING CONSTITUTED BY THE ASSOCIATION. Therefore, another breach of the constitution is being facilitated by those in authority, but I guess Grenada voted for more of that.

We have seen once again the high handed approach of this present administration to continue along these divisive lines, that anything outside of democratic electoral process is futile.

Because of all these factors, I had a long conversation with my Father God, I prayed, fasted, and lifted this whole situation and placed it at the mercy of God. I had a conversation with my family as well.

I never bothered with the antics of those who play political hopscotch to satisfy their own personal needs, and placed articles in the papers in the name of culture, when it is truly only about self.

I never bothered with those who are good at criticising and not offering any solutions to problems.
I listed to the voice of God because I have a personal relationship with Him, and while I am not the type to run away from a challenge, God also tells us when it is time to move on, and allow Him to show off His Power.

I will respect and honor the efforts of Mr. Victor Philip, a lecturer at the Grenada National College for his commitment and dedication to pan and all he has done.

Mr. Alister James for his loyalty – Mr. Brian Lindsay Campbell for his support, dedication and steadfastness in this process – Ms. Shermella Lee, for her commitment to pan especially in her village – the former CEO of the SMC Mr. Kirk Seethahal – your hard work and support to ensure 2018 was successful will always be on record, the members of the media who worked along with us all the way to ensure that Grenada is kept in the loop from the time we took office.

The mention of these names is in no way intended to slight the efforts of all those who worked tirelessly, because there are many of you.

I say a heartfelt Thank You, and may the blessing of Almighty God continue to umbrella you along life’s journey.

In light of all these issues a decision has been made and as such, effective April 16th 2019, I have tendered my resignation as President of the Grenada Steel Band Association.

Jason Skeete

Wuss Fete is set for May 18

A number of regional artistes including Trinidad and Tobago’s Voice and Florida, USA resident Ricardo Drue are expected to be headlining the anticipated Wuss Fete event of reigning Soca Monarchs Dingaan “Lil Natty” Henry and Nyelon “Thunda” Williams to be held on May 18.

The Soca Duo and their team at the launch

Launched on Monday at the Venus Restaurant in the south of the island, the Fete would be celebrating its ninth year at Marlmount Big Yard in St. David.

As part of the fete, the Soca duo are expecting to film a video on their Soca Monarch and Road March winning tune, “Get in your section.”

In addressing the gathering, “Thunda” said that he and his co-partner can take some of the credit for helping to spread soca music across the globe.

“Soca Music has gone to the world and I think we had a hand in bringing soca music to the world and we couldn’t do it without ya’ll.

We’ve been to a lot of places – London, Canada, New York, Holland, and we’ve been through the Caribbean. It’s been a great experience, a lot of people gave – me especially”, he said.

According to Thunda, he has grown personally and people no longer see him as a “shy” young man.

He said: “I still believe I am shy but I am getting there. Our musical journey has been great, meeting different people, different artistes, producers, promoters and we met a lot of people that we could bring into our fete in Grenada, which is Wuss Fete.

“A lot of artistes wanna be a part of it – we can’t bring everybody but we try to bring as much as we can this year, next year and the years to come…”, he added.

Thunda pointed out that the Duet has been putting on the event for the past nine years now and it has come a long way from the beginning to now.

“I think 2019 Wuss Fete will be one of the best fetes you’ve ever seen in Grenada. Wuss Fete 2019 – it will be epic, it will be a movie, come let’s enjoy ourselves, play mas, meet new people, make new friends and keep the relationship,” he said.

“Lil Natty” Williams told reporters at the launch that a surprise act is expected at the fete.

He said: “2019 Wuss Fete is going to be a movie, we have worldwide friends we are going to be bringing in. Well we have voice, so you know it’s pandemonium on Wuss Fete, we have Ricardo Drue and we have a surprise artiste coming in. Ladies, ya’ll need to come out, it’s going to be one of the best seasons for Wuss Ways…2019 carnival is going to be one of the best carnival in Grenada ever.
Chief Executive Officer of Spicemas Corporation (SMC), Kelvin Jacob attended the launch and endorsed the event.

He said, “On behalf of Spicemas Corporation, we would like to congratulate them for their acceptance for the change of day, which is a true move for the supporting of Culture in Grenada, supporting Spicemas and supporting Grenada. It’s a very good move to show that we are not competing but we are collaborating for the greater good.”

“Also we would like to congratulate the artistes themselves on their continued drive to promote Soca Monarch and promote Grenada and promote Spicemas. We want to encourage them to continue doing that. In whatever way Spicemas can support, we will support them and we endorse Wuss Fete and we encourage everyone to come on board and support Wuss Fete,” he added.

The fete will be held on May 18 at Marlmount Big Yard with tickets on sale for $30 on www.gotofete.com until Friday and $40 thereafter.

Charge reduced to Manslaughter

After spending more than 14 months on remand at the Richmond Hill Prison on a Non-Capital Murder charge, 26-year old Johnny Perryman of Beaton, St. David is out of prison on bail after the charge was reduced to Manslaughter.

Perryman is charged in connection with the March 24, 2018 stabbing death of 61-year-old Francis Williams of the same village.

Magistrate Karen Noel granted bail in the sum of EC$30, 000.00 with two (2) sureties to the suspect Monday at a sitting of the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court following a bail application by his attorney, Jerry Edwin.

Johnny Perryman – had his charge reduced from Non-Capital Murder to Manslaughter

THE NEW TODAY understands that the bail request was presented to the court in light of a decision taken by the Prosecution team to reduce the charge to Manslaughter.

Perryman, a construction worker, was initially jointly charged with Non-Capital Murder, along with his uncle, Davis Gulston, 37, who is an Auto Body Repairman from the same village, following the late night stabbing incident that brought the senior citizen’s life to an end.

Information reaching THE NEW TODAY was that the deceased collapsed after receiving two (2) stab wounds, one (1) to his face and another to his chest just after 8.00 p.m. on the night of the incident, close to a popular village shop.

Reports suggest that the deceased along with three (3) other men were having a drink at a village shop when another individual, whose name was withheld, showed up.

However, the man’s presence was not welcomed and he was asked to leave the compound but he did not comply. This resulted in an altercation with one of the men who was drinking inside the shop.

The deceased man reportedly left the scene and returned moments later with a cutlass and reportedly made a strike with the instrument at the individual.

The cutlass is said to have struck another man who was trying to put peace.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the man who was struck with the cutlass got upset and attacked Williams and the two were soon after engaged in a scuffle.

Information revealed that when they separated and after a few minutes of fighting, Francis stood up and fell back down.

Gulston reportedly fled the scene following the incident, while the other was boasting about winning the fight.

Gulston has retained the services of Attorney-at-Law Anselm Clouden to assist him.

Neither accused men have accepted responsibility for the death of Williams and have been committed to stand trial at the High Court.

Who’s fooling who?

The blame game started by those in authority and the feud continues. The use of high-handed approach and intimidation tactics from the present administration is plain and simple for all to see bullying the trade union movement hoping that they will bend and accept their little offer of 2 percent didn’t work at all.

I want us to do analytical thinking and ask ourselves the question, who’s responsible for “kicking the can down the road”? I have seen many dreadful errors that were made on both sides, for example, the (GUT) “rest and relaxation in contemplation of pension” and (PWU) “calculation of gratuity” was all wrong approaches. By doing so, they all violated the Grenada Labour Code because there are no such things written in it regarding the stance they’ve taken under the aforementioned title or heading.

Was it the government’s Pension Engagement Committee or public sector trade unions that were responsible for the deterioration of negotiations?

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed before the 2018 general elections between the government and trade union movement, we have heard that it’s not legally binding, but as long as a team of individuals sat on a negotiation table and agreed to certain principles and affixed their signature to a document or mutual agreement, it’s legally binding regardless to what government officials may say because in most instances it is legally binding.

Some share the view that the unions were duped by the government’ Pension Engagement Committee, I too share the same sentiments as those who felt the Unions were duped based on government’s behaviour throughout the ongoing crisis.

Government’s offer of 2 percent gratuity over 12.5 years was and is unacceptable and unconstitutional therefore the loggerheads continued even after the government offered an 8 percent gratuity over an eight-year period – that too was unconstitutional because public servants are entitled to 25 percent based on the calculative formula.

On numerous occasions we have heard government officials lamenting that someone should show them how the 25 percent comes about and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out based on the calculations that are stipulated in the various Pension Acts Full Pension multiplied by 12.5 multiplied by 0.25 = Gratuity, Full Pension increased by 0.75 = Reduced Pension.

When the Prime Minister gave his national address to the nation and said his administration “stands resolutely committed to affording public service retirees a better quality of life.” Does this statement reflect his actions because it tells something different?

Many blistering and vitriolic attacks were hurled at public servants especially toward our nation’s educators likewise trade union leaders. The attacks and abuses came from the political leadership along with the various MPs that were out for the kill because they were all-out to slaughter public servants in the most disrespectful and demeaning way possible just because they stood up and speak out against the injustices that were being done to them.

The government continues to lament “that they’re ready to resolve this issue,” but this is far from the truth because of the high-handed approach and intimidation tactics being used by government.

The former attorney general (AG) Sir Lawrence has penned many articles which to me was in defence of the present administration – he argued on many issues relating to pension and gratuity, he even spoke on the Pension Disqualification Act, and he also gave an explanation and justified why public servants that came in the system after 1983 aren’t entitled to pension and gratuity.

The level of propaganda that was being broadcast on electronic media by the Pension Engagement Committee, Ministry of Finance officials, MP Oliver Joseph and Minister of Education they all contributed negatively, which to me was a big failure that didn’t meet their goals and objectives.

They were only shooting themselves in the legs over and over inflicting more injuries.

Fiscal Responsibility Act, Fiscal Space is being used as a tool of disenfranchisement by government and Fiscal Responsibility Oversight Committee (FROC) against public servants.

The leadership has a lot of pent up emotions and, whenever he demits office, this long drawn out battle will linger on for years to come.

My overall conclusion is that the present administration led by Dr Keith Mitchell is the ones responsible for “kicking the can down the road” and they had no intentions of solving the issues that were before them and therefore they’ve allowed the escalation to take place without seeking to redress it.

They’ve made a mockery of themselves and the unions by leading them to believe they can resolve the pension and gratuity issue through the process of pension reformation.

How can you reform gratuity when it’s constitutional when it states nothing must be less favourable than what existed before, tell me how did 2 percent and 8 percent come in the spotlight?

I’m now wondering who’s fooling who?

Brian JM Joseph

LIAT’s impending closure

Chairman of the LIAT Shareholders Government Group of Countries and Prime Minister of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves has expressed fears that the closure of the regional island hopping carrier, LIAT is imminent as most of the countries which use the carrier services are not responding favourably to the airline’s request for US$5.4 million to ensure its survival.

Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is the chairman of LIAT Shareholders Government Group

Gonsalves made the statement as a guest on a popular current affairs programme in St. George’s run by the Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN).

The Vincentian leader told the programme host that Grenada is the only government that acceded to LIAT’s request by pumping approximately $1 million into it.

“…Prime Minister Mitchell has put in approximately 1 million dollars EC towards emergency funding because he is interested in seeing LIAT remain in the sky”, he said.

According to Dr. Gonsalves, due to the lack of financial input from the other shareholding countries, LIAT’s closure is imminent.

He said that LIAT has a compliment of 10 aircraft – seven are leased and three are owned by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) due to monies borrowed and a decision will soon have to be made on the way forward.

“…We probably will have to ask the CDB to sell those three aircrafts and operate seven of them and then get other smaller airline like One Caribbean to fly between here and St. Lucia, rather than get LIAT to fly on one of the routes which is going to Trinidad which is not economical to cut it”, he remarked.

“… The governments have not been responding so the shareholders are reaching a critical point now and if you ask me, what is likely to happen … there will be a transitional restructuring leading to a closure of LIAT,” he said.

Dr. Gonsalves pointed out that a new airline would then have to be the next option for the region if LIAT is closed.

However, he said that there will be consequences in terms of job losses.

Gonsalves said: “If you sell the three aircraft which are owned by the CDB, immediately that’s 33 pilots who would have to go. Then other workers will have to go, flight attendants etcetera, etcetera, because over 7 million US is required in some immediate savings, 2.53 million US required from the workers but you ain’t getting the number near to that.

“We wanted a 10% cut across the board, but we not getting that and the pilots have agreed to a 6% cut on the basic pay, that ain’t going to do anything much, and the question of the agreement…the legacy agreement, they don’t want to have new contracts.

“…So, what you probably will have to do is to start a new airline and you hire people on specific contract but I can’t guarantee that there would not be disruptions.

Dr. Gonsalves disclosed that the Leasers of seven of the LIAT planes in far away some places like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are prepared to give cuts of between 17 and 20 percent and other stakeholders are prepared to do cuts in order to save the regional carrier.

“…I don’t think the employees fully grasp what is at hand”, he said.

Two years ago, Gonsalves said that CARICOM member states collaborated with the CDB to have a consultation on LIAT.

He said the problems facing the airline were diagnosed and three options were put forward as measures to be taken to resolve the issue.

According to Gonsalves, the first option was a proposed restructuring of the airline where “countries served by LIAT have to come into the mix and the workers themselves have to take a salary cut and the other stakeholders have to chip in.”

The second option, he indicated was to give the airline to the private sector completely, while the third option was to close it down and start afresh.

“If you even close it down and I fear that that is an option which is becoming more and more realistic, but if you close it, you have to manage in the transitional period and we need to have resources…”, he said.

International Soca Monarch competitors to be recognised as Cultural Ambassadors

Official passports are to be handed out to four of the five Soca Artistes who represented Grenada at the International Soca Monarch (ISM) held in Trinidad in March, officially naming them Cultural Ambassadors of Grenada.

The artistes – Jevaughn “V’ghn” John, Hector “Mr. Legz” Thomas, Mandella “Mandella Linx” McDonald and Dingaan “Lil Natty” Henry and Nyelon “Thunda” Williams, will join the 2019 International Soca Monarch, Hollice “Mr Killa” Mapp in promoting the country in the Soca business.

Minister of Sports and Culture, Senator Norland Cox told THE NEW TODAY newspaper in an interview last Tuesday that the artistes have not yet been officially notified but the appointments have already been approved by Cabinet.

“Some of them were already ambassadors before but all the others they are yet to receive their official passport but they all have been notified unofficially – not officially as yet, because our Ambassador Programme…there are some requirements and so they will have to come in and sign and receive their credentials (and told) what is expected of them…”, he said.

“…So, we may have a formal ceremony in terms of handing over those passports, maybe Prime Minister may want to do that himself. They all have been notified – Cabinet has approved them as Cultural Ambassadors and they are being awarded official passports,” he added.

Four of the five local artistes came back home with the lion share prizes in the just-ended carnival celebrations in Trinidad & Tobago.

No funds from gov’t for disciplinary tribunal

A lack of funds from the Keith Mitchell-led government is preventing the General Legal Council from meeting to hear a number of complaints brought by the public against lawyers.

A source close to the committee told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that the body is fully constituted but is not able to meet at this time given the lack of funds from the State.

He said that the government has not been able to fulfill its obligation to the body including the establishment of a Secretariat to facilitate hearings.

He spoke of the committee already meeting and disposing of over 20 matters brought before it in some past sittings but is not able to hear other matters in recent times.

THE NEW TODAY understands that one of the high profile cases still to be heard is the order from a high court judge for the committee to determine what disciplinary action should be taken against female attorney-at-law, Brenda Wardally-Beaumont for breach of ethics.

In 2o15, the British high court judge, Justice Gerhard Wallbank ruled that Wardally-Beaumont should appear before a Tribunal of judges to investigate her for alleged misappropriation of funds belonging to her client.

Justice Wallbank’s order was that the female attorney be investigated with a view to determining whether she should be suspended from the profession or struck off the Roll.

Wardally-Beaumont was taken to court by her client, Joel Ganpot who hired local attorney Alban John to represent him in the case after he did not get over $300, 000.00 that were due to him following a divorce settlement.

THE FACTS

(a). In April 2005 the Defendant (Wardally-Beaumont) received a sum of $304,419.99 on behalf of one of her clients, Mr. Joel Ganpot, representing settlement sums in matrimonial proceedings between Mr. Ganpot and his ex-wife Mrs. Lester Ganpot.

(b). Despite demands made by or on behalf of Mr. Ganpot the Defendant failed to pay over the said sum.

(c). Mr. Ganpot sued the Defendant. Judgment in Default of Defence was entered against the Defendant in favour of Mr. Ganpot on 13th July 2007 in a total sum of $308,248.69.

(d). Despite Consent Orders subsequently being entered making provision for liquidation of the Judgment in installments, a substantial portion of the debt currently remains unpaid.

(e). The Defendant has accepted responsibility for having received moneys for Mr. Ganpot whilst acting on his behalf and for having failed to disburse them to Mr. Ganpot when required to do so.

(f). The Defendant has admitted that all cheques issued by her law firm were signed by her and that she must have used up Mr. Ganpot’s funds.

(g). The Defendant seeks to attribute the appropriation of Mr. Ganpot’s money to improper acts of an office administrator formerly employed by her and who has allegedly since left the jurisdiction.

(h). The Defendant appears in consequence thereof to have committed one or more acts of professional misconduct contrary to Clauses 2(2) and 81 of the Code of Ethics and Section 54(1) of the Legal Profession Act.

The Defendant has previously consented to, and subsequently satisfied, a judgment against her in Claim No. GDAHCV2002/0101, Cecilia Yvonne James vs Brenda Wardally-Beaumont, wherein it was claimed that the Defendant misappropriated a sum in excess of $100,000 whilst acting for the Claimant in the sale of a property.

Justice Wallbank stated in his judgment that misappropriation by an Attorney-at-Law of client funds breaches a number a fundamental principles that a lawyer is bound to uphold including an obligation to protect a client’s money and assets.

“This principle goes to the heart of a Solicitor’s duty to act in the best interests of a client”, he said.

The Order of the Court:

(1). The whole conduct of the Defendant relating to this matter shall be considered by a disciplinary tribunal comprising at least two judges of the Supreme Court for the purpose of determining whether the Defendant shall be suspended from practicing for a specified period or be struck off from the Roll, pursuant to section 82 of the West Indies Associated States Supreme Court (Grenada) Act, Cap 336;

(2). There shall be established such a disciplinary tribunal by the Registrar, in consultation with the Judicial and Legal Services Commission;

(3). A notice of first hearing of the matter before the disciplinary tribunal shall be given to the Defendant and the Claimant via their respective solicitors of record in this Claim.

(4). At such first hearing the disciplinary tribunal shall give directions as to the further hearing of the matter, including as to granting any other interested parties an opportunity to be heard;

(5). The disciplinary tribunal shall take into account all the circumstances of the Defendant’s conduct, such as it may be found by the disciplinary tribunal, including whether the said conduct concerns a single event, or a repetition of previous conduct, and the degree of responsibility that ought properly be ascribed to the Defendant;

(6). The disciplinary tribunal shall be entitled to instruct Counsel to act as amicus to the tribunal, the reasonable cost thereof to be met in the first instance by the public purse of Grenada;

How big a problem?

An issue which is apparently going unnoticed in the country is the large amounts of illegal drugs picked up in the first quarter of the year by the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).

THE NEW TODAY has not been able to get an official figure from the police in terms of the quantities of drugs taken in and the market value.

However, it must be running in the region of EC$5 and above given the amount of ganja and cocaine recovered by the police between January and April from those plying the illegal drug trade.

Each week, the front pages of our leading local newspapers have been dominated by these large amounts of drugs picked up by the police in raids all over the country.

RGPF must be commended for their successes but the issue speaks of a much wider problem with drugs in the Grenadian society.

It is quite obvious that there is a thriving drug trade on the island and that a lot of money from the proceeds are in circulation on the island.

What is significant is that none of the persons arrested by the police for involvement in the drugs come from the so-called well-to-do areas in the country like Lance Aux Epines, True Blue and Westerhall Point.

Over the years, the cry in the country is that people who were living in these posh areas were the main financiers of the illegal drug trade as the ordinary man did not have the financial resources to buy drugs in large quantities and bring them into Grenada.

It is now clear as daylight that there has been a significant shift as more and more of the so-called ordinary man and woman on the island now have the means at their disposal to do the business on their own and not look to the so-called rich any more to bring in the illegal drugs.

Gone are the days as former Chief Magistrate Lyle St. Paul used to shout out in open court “Bring the big fish” as he alluded to the rich and mighty who were suspected to be the major players in bringing in the drugs into the country.

It should also be noted that despite these successful drug raids by the police, the criminal elements in the society are not perturbed and are definitely carrying on their business as if nothing is happening around them.

Shouldn’t this be a cause of concern for the political directorate in charge of the nation’s affairs?

Are they turning a blind eye to the growing drug business on the island given the clear evidence emerging from the police over the large quantities of drugs seized on the island in recent months?

THE NEW TODAY is wondering how much of this drug money is actually in circulation in the country and on the ground thus giving a false sense about the growth in the economy and a general lifting in the standard of living of the people in the country.

How much of this money is helping to spur construction activities, as well as the importation of vehicles by a new and emerging class of people in Grenada who are benefitting from the proceeds of illegal drugs?

Back in the 1970’s, the Jamaica Government allegedly turned to the exportation of drugs into the United States to obtain foreign currency in the face of an attempt to strangle its economy due to a bloody and bitter warfare among the two major political sides – one trying to install Socialism in the country and the other which was known to be Pro-Washington and favoured a capitalist path to development.

It was rumoured that airstrips were built in some mountainous parts of Jamaica from where small planes were loaded with ganja to make the journey into the United States to export the drugs in exchange for U.S dollars.

In one of our neighbouring islands, the reports often making the rounds point to the illegal drug trade being a major player in the daily livelihood of the residents there.

The talk on the ground is that many persons will bring solid cash to buy mini buses and not approach local commercial banks for loans to do the transaction.

Are we heading in that direction given the large amounts of drugs that are being seized by RGPF in recent weeks?

THE NEW TODAY is aware that some amount of money obtained in the illegal drug trade have found its way into the political campaigning during the holding of general elections.

However, the political directorate needs to get more sensitive to the growing problem as those who give will often look back for something in return as the days of free lunches are long gone.

The question that is now at hand is – how big a problem is Grenada facing as more and more drugs are being seized too often by the police?

Selling or saving the soul of the OAS

The Organisation of American States (OAS), already a broken institution, was shattered even more on April 9 at a meeting of its Permanent Council. It is now an organisation whose membership is deeply divided and amongst whom mistrust, and bitterness now predominates.

How this huge problem will be fixed – if it can be fixed at all – is the paramount challenge that now confronts its 33 and a half members. I will return to the half-member later in this commentary.

Nothing that I say in this commentary is a secret. The Permanent Council meeting of April 9 was played out in a live webcast on the OAS’ website.

The meeting was held, after weeks of efforts by the United States and most of the members of the so-called Lima Group, to secure the adoption of a resolution that would unseat the representative of the Nicolas Maduro government and replace him with the nominee of Juan Guaido. Guaido is the self-proclaimed “Interim President” of Venezuela, so recognised by roughly 50 of the more than 200 governments in the world.

The manoeuvrings behind the scenes had a single purpose and that was to procure 18 votes, constituting a simple majority of the 34 member-states, to impose Guaido’s nominee as Venezuela’s representative.

It took some time for the core 14 countries to woo the support of 4 others, not least because the manner of pushing the resolution through the Permanent Council defied international law and the Charter and rules of the OAS. Governments had to dig deep to balance disregard for the integrity of the OAS as an institution and a desire to help those countries that were determined to seat Guaido’s representative.

The meeting was summoned for high noon on April 9 and all delegations were cautioned to be on time for a prompt start. As it turned out delegates were forced to wait until after 1.00 p.m. to start the meeting because, at the last minute, Jamaica – one of the faithful 18 – insisted on new language, causing commotion among the group and threatening to derail its entire effort.

Even when the resolution was presented to the Permanent Council Meeting and was being debated, it was unclear what text was being considered. What was before the meeting was the original text, omitting the Jamaica language. A request from me, as the representative of Antigua and Barbuda, for clarification, resulted in a break in the meeting’s proceedings to produce the final text of the resolution. Its main purpose remained to accept the appointment of “the National Assembly’s designated Permanent Representative”.

There was much solemn and serious debate about the entire proceedings, but in the end, 18 countries, using their razor-thin majority, forced the vote through.

Some self-interested governments have characterised the April 9 meeting as a clash of support for or against the contending forces in Venezuela. Sections of the media have followed that line.

But, far from being about Maduro/Guaido and Venezuela, the meeting was about selling or saving the soul of the OAS; it was about disregarding international norms and ignoring the institutional framework of the Organisation for the short-term political purposes of a few; and it was about arguing for the retention of the OAS’ integrity.

At the end of the vote, passed by a simple majority, the Ambassador of Mexico, Jorge Lomónaco Tonda, summed-up the meeting well. He said: “There were no winners or losers; only losers”. And, the biggest loser was the OAS itself.

Nowhere in the Charter of the OAS, or in its rules, does the Permanent Council have the authority to decide on the recognition of a government. Further, as was stated repeatedly at the meeting, the recognition of a government is the sovereign right of states and cannot be determined or imposed by a multilateral organisation. At the very least, the matter, given its high political importance, should have been considered by a special session of the General Assembly, the highest organ of the OAS.

What the hasty, ill-considered process succeeded in doing is damaging the OAS as an institution, tainting its structure and governance, harming relations between its member sates and rendering it unfit for anything but achieving the purposes of a willful majority of 18 countries.

The vote on recognition of the National Assembly’s representative was really about the de-recognition of the Maduro government’s representative. While that may have been achieved within the OAS, it has changed nothing in the international community. Countries that recognise Maduro or Guaido as President of Venezuela continue to do so.

Nothing has changed in Venezuela either. This vote has achieved no new negotiations and no solution to the humanitarian situation. If anything, it has served only to harden the opposing sides in the political conflict, closing the door to solutions.

To return now to the 33 and a half members of the OAS. The national assembly’s representative may be seated in front of the Venezuelan flag, but he cannot speak for the government that is in charge of Venezuela. A vital test of recognition of a government, in international law and practice, is whether it exercises effective control of the affairs of the country. The National Assembly does not have effective control of Venezuela, and its representative cannot speak, in the OAS, for the de facto government.

There is a further question regarding the authenticity of the representative’s credentials which appear to have been overlooked, deliberately or otherwise by the OAS Secretariat.

The National Assembly nominated a “Special” representative to the OAS, but there is no such category of representation. Further, as pointed out in the meeting by the Ambassador of Guyana, Riyad Insanally, the letter to the Secretary-General from Mr. Guaido, signed as “Interim President of Venezuela”, designating the “Permanent” representative, was dated January 22, 2019. But his proclamation as “Interim President” took place on January 23, 2019. In other circumstances, these discrepancies would not have been accepted.

The OAS is now in many ways a sadly compromised organisation. The fight on April 9, 2019 to sell or save its soul defines it now and can limit its effectiveness in the future.

Why should we care? Because it is the only hemispheric organisation in which all countries (except Cuba) sit, and which had the mandate and the opportunity to keep the region peaceful and to pursue cooperation that could make a difference to the lives of all its people. All that is now corrupted.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States and the Organisation of American States. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and at Massey College in the University of Toronto. The views expressed are entirely his own)

Adding my $0.03 cents to LIAT

Having recently read letters of commentary by Messrs Venner, Kennelon and many others, I feel somewhat obliged to add my 3 cents to the ongoing LIAT painful scenario.

Firstly, a Warren Buffett lacking the necessary funds and means to raise a required amount to pitch a problem in need of solution will fail, gloriously; so too would a fool with a ton of cash, as had happened in recent memory, with embezzled funds.

Highly skilled CEO replacement might help a bit and for a while, but new ideas may be needed. Looking at a nagging problem from a different perspective at times will render unique solutions, which experienced managers are faint to try in worry of messing up their track record, or generally unwilling to try something new. So why not give the new guy with new ideas a try?

In basketball as in many other sports, not that sports management directly equate to business, the most effective managers/coaches tend to come from the ranks of bench players who having rode their seats for extended periods, have had time to digest and understand what might better work, and so willing to try something new. So, here is my 1st cent – try a new CEO with new and revolutionary ideas that make sense (LIAT needs cents too!!!).

Next, eliminate or stop collecting taxes for each island LIAT services. Instead, put pricing algorithms to work to try and maximise the amount to charge to fly to and from each destination. There is a point (cost) at which customers flight to a destination will drop-off when the cost is too high. Obvious solution here is to price each tick at the price just under that drop-off level.

Am spending my last (3rd) cent on something that has been in the works for decades, but not implemented. Am hoping this is the incentive to get honourable politicians and learned negotiators to effect immediately – NO TRAVEL DOCUMENTS REQUIRED – for inter island travel, a driver’s license or any local ID to suffice.

With lowering of, or elimination of impediments to air travel, more customers will do so… a quick trip to T/T or from T/T for carnival or other festivals, or just to visit a girlfriend or granny for a taste of her world class oil-down.

The intention of the ‘one market’ with no travel restriction was and still is to encourage travel. Resultingly more money is spent in local markets on hotels, rentals, food, drinks, souvenirs, and whatnots.

Having spent all of my cents in one place, I need to clarify a major point of grave concern for the people who need to give this consideration – where and how would they replace the tax dollars which they impose on LIAT tickets on travel to/from their islands?

Well, if this seemingly novel approach, although a proven strategy used by Walmart, Amazon, Coke and many other successful corporations – is employed and LIAT gains tons of more customers becoming profitable; as stakeholder islands, they too will reap in that profitability, multifold, as noted above with increase in visitors’ spending, growing local economies.

Finally, please allow me to owe this cent, ‘on the house.’ Suggestion is to invite all employees to invest in the company to become stockholders, as opposed to paying union dues – their option – so they too might enjoy in the profitable fruits of their labour.

I put this last cent ‘on the books.’ Because enthused employees are the best ambassadors a company can have for its continuing success. Many of us have encountered a fair share surly agents and attendants more concerned about their personal situations than in helping to solve some unexpected travel dilemma. That too can be changed with positive outcome at the new LIAT.

Ok, am all spent. Good luck LIAT.

G. E. Forrester