2013 – The year of responsibility

 

It is not uncommon for countries and International Organisations to give designations to calendar years in an effort to highlight a particular concern, campaign or sector for focus.

I might be a bit audacious here but I would like to confer upon the impending year (2013), for all of Grenada and all Grenadians, the designation Year of Responsibility.

Let us start at the very top. Mr. Prime Minister we have listened to you extol the merits of transparency…etc., when in truth and in fact the simple virtue of unity would have served you and Grenada much better. You and only you are responsible for your political legacy and the first three months of 2013 will prove crucial in that regard.

In 1989, in one of his Carnival renditions, a song entitled ‘Tell Stone’, the Black Wizard lamented the number of nincompoops on the radio stations. Sadly, since then there has been a multiplying effect, with media managers, radio station owners, the Media Association and Governments all failing to act responsibly to ensure some sort of filtering takes place and the quality of broadcasts reflect the Christian society we conveniently claim to be.

About religious responsibility or lack thereof, a couple of lines from the reigning Calypso Monarch of Dominica will suffice. In a 2008 winning composition entitled ‘Send Me’, King Dice sang, “If the voice of the people is the voice of God, why is the silence of the Church so loud…Tell Pastor or Priest there’s wrong; now practice what you preach…”

There is an Old Proverb, originating from the Nigerian Igbo culture that says it takes a village to raise a child. Grenadians at some point in our history practiced that kind of communal responsibility where children were expected to respect their elders, teachers, parents, each other etc.

We have collectively taken leave of these responsibilities and seem to devote our strengths to playing the blame game. Regrettably the adults seem to think the young people in our society are responsible for their own upbringing.

2013 would be a good year for the roles to be re-established. Adults should be adults and conduct themselves in a manner befitting adulthood and let children once again be children.

2013 is expected to be a very important and definitive election year and with 16 or so political parties, the expectation here is for collective responsibility as our dear Grenada is balanced precariously on the precipice of economic instability.

The lies and promises, name-calling and gutter-like behaviour would not get us out of this debacle. If you are serious about wanting to govern Grenada, then exhibit a modicum of responsibility when the political spotlight is brightest.

For the bandwagonists and leeches of our society, who somehow always seem to be able to opportunely align themselves with whichever Political Party is in office at a particular time; in most instances you become responsible for the political demise of said Party. Your selfish behavioural pattern relegates Ruling Parties to Opposition Parties whether the year is 2008 or 2013.

While it is my sincere hope that 2013 brings with it a renewed sense of responsibility there are those, among us, who in the face of immense challenges continue to perform their duties resolutely and with the responsibility we should all admire.

Our Teachers and Medical Practitioners continue to perform commendably. Individuals from these 2 sectors are responsible for miracles on a daily basis. Let us hope your continued resilience would serve as motivation for others as we approach 2013.

“We must exchange the philosophy of excuse – what I am is beyond my control – for the philosophy of responsibility.” Former US Member of Congress Barbara Charline Jordan.

I am Dexter Mitchell and I am responsible for the contents of this article.

Dexter Mitchell

Losing his memory!!!

Keith Claudius is definitely delusional. At age 69 it appears that he is quickly losing his brain cells. This to me is still a generous assessment. To many it is not difficult to conclude that he is displaying psychopathic tendencies.

He continues to tell lies and mislead his followers leaving them more ignorant and dependent on him to think, use and manipulate. KCM has no wrongs and is now blaming the NDC for what he is calling the worst deals in Grenada. What craziness? Then he still thinks that he is the Prime Minister of Grenada.

He now wants to make the decision about whether to buy the GRENLEC shares. He wants a piece of the action and is now begging to be included in the Grenada Cabinet to decide on the purchasing of Grenlec shares. Just like he wanted all the government paid maids in the Prime Minister’s house moved to Happy Hill when he lost the prize, he wants to be Prime Minister. Is it because he senses that there will not be another occasion?

KCM also displayed the traits of Alzheimer’s disease. On the one hand he criticises the policy decision to give free schoolbooks to all Grenadian students.

He says that only those who can’t afford should get help. All others should pay. In the same breadth, he is now promising that if he wins he will give every child a computer.

How come that he will give those who can afford? What hypocrisy and double standards? Anything to win a vote! Who is he intending to fool?

He is now saying that the delimitation treaty with Trinidad is a bad deal. What is worse, however is the fact that the NNP gave away all our hydrocarbon and maritime rights to Mr. Grynberg since 1996 in the dead of the night. Only Gregory and Stone knew about it. Was there any consultation with their Cabinet peers and the people of Grenada?

This was an experienced smart man who took them for a ride! The government then took seventeen years to clean up the mess spending over five million dollars. Mr. Bowen was so bold that he once boasted in the Parliament that other OECS countries are now consulting with him about how to get out of bed with a crook.

But just imagine the millions of dollars lost because Grenada could not move to exploit its own resources. Just think about the opportunity cost. Could you imagine what Grenada would have been like if we were able to exploit our marine resources and hydrocarbon resources?

Added to that the NNP then went to bed with two Russian middlemen further tying up our resources for a sum of two million dollars. So Grenada is still in trouble. But KCM is blaming the NDC. What wickedness?

The NNP gave away over twenty acres of land on Grand Anse beach because of questionable local individuals and greed. Grenada got nothing. They made another bad mistake by giving away the land before the two parties had a deal signed.

Mr. Hamilton was on TV himself and said that he walked away from the deal because it was no longer profitable because of the recession. He chose to lose his four million down payment rather than pay forty two million for the property. Yet KCM is blaming the NDC for his stupid mistake, managed and contrived by his friend with the heavy accent.

THE DRIVE TO GAIN hefty fees for the transaction was so strong that the land was given away before the deal was finished. Another NNP misdeed. One is a mistake but not ten and fifteen times. This is a dangerous pattern. Nonsense over and over again is the characteristic of the NNP. It is gross incompetence.

Then to add all of this to the over two hundred million given away by the NNP in other bad deals is unconscionable. How much can Grenadians take? The Levera deal; 28 million gone. The Mt Hartman; 16 million, the Call Center deal; 18 million, the Garden Group deal; over 25 million, the MNIB deal 12 million, the stadium deal 154 million, and many more.

The thing about the MNIB deal is that the MNIB management did a due diligence on the European broker. The report indicated that this was not people we should be dealing with. Despite all that the NNP Cabinet instructed the MNIB to put their money with a crook.

Why did this happen? Is it because the NNP operatives had some payback to receive? Who was in the UK waiting for Mr. De Allie and Mr. James? The same family member! Now all Grenadians should understand.

We have short memories! There were many before including the disappearance of a whole Grenada plane without one penny.

Wake up Grenada! Do not be fooled again. He cannot be trusted.

 

Hugh Webley

 

 

The EC$58.4 million debt from NNP was not necessary

This week, THE NEW TODAY reproduces the third and final part of a report that was done by a group of financial experts and presented to the Tillman Thomas-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government on a controversial multi-million dollar guarantee that given by the former administration to facilitate a project involving the state-run Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB).

This loan guarantee was identified by the financial experts as one of three bad deals done by the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government that helped to increase the national debt by EC$58.4 million by the end of 2006.
January 26 Chip Gomes of ANSA writes to James at MNIB, further to our conversation on January 24, 2005, ANSA as Trustee for the US$4M bonds issued by MNIB, write to confirm it understand of the actions you undertook to carry out:

 

You would have met with the Minister of Finance and obtained instructions on the project as directed by Cabinet and this would be communicated to the Trustee without delay

 

Prompt steps will be taken to establish a debt service account with the Trustee for the next required payment of principal and interest to the bondholders.

 

MNIB will submit a plan covering the strategy to complete the project, the anticipated cost and if monetary shortfalls are expected how they will be funded.

 

Although we have not had a clear response to our letter of January 3, 2005 we wish to make it abundantly clear that the Trustee expects no payment will be made from the SG Principal Protected Note of US$2.9M with the Trustee’s written approval.

 

January 27

Fitzroy James, General Manager issues a memo to the Board of Directors to provide an update on the status of the financial arrangements and to decide on approach to addressing the current situation.

 

Under current situation he states:

The structured financing arrangement proposed by NPL/Target has failed and has in fact become a liability on our original project funds

 

The bond value is now US$2,566,250 or a loss of US$340,750

 

The Target US$1.6M 30% guaranteed minimum annual yield was never issued

 

Alternative investment products suggested by Target to meet project short fall are not recommended for consideration

 

Minister of Finance has advised that Target is again under investigation for investment fraud

 

ANSA has turned down a request for additional funding

 

ANSA loan of US$4M starts April 25, 2005 with first payment due July 25, 2005

 

ANSA wants a proposal by January 28, 2005 on arrangements to move forward with the project and to meet debt service

 

Awaiting proposal from NPL on moving forward with project

 

Under Implications he states:

 

No liquid funds available for implementing the project

 

MNIB has no income stream to meet debt service

 

GOG guarantee may be invoked in the vent of MNIB default

 

Under Proposals for Consideration he states:

 

Terminate relationship with Target

 

SG bond be offered as security for a line of credit to start the project

 

The proceeds applied for construction of first two floors and for current debt repayment

 

Transfer US$50,000 from CMMB to ANSA for debt servicing

 

Meet with ANSA/RBTT to discuss options proposed

 

March 18

MOU among Republic Bank, RBTT, UTC, CMMB, the creditor’s committee re the proposed re-structuring of the debt owed by the GOG following the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan is signed by all parties.

 

April 13

MNIB/ANSA meeting at Crown Plaza Hotel

 

April 18

Chip Gomes of ANSA writes to James at MNIB in relation to their meeting on April 13 to provide an updated on MNIB and the construction of Valu Center Supermarket. It would appear that at present there is no specific comprehensive plan to make the project feasible. MNIB must cause the US$2.9M in the Societe Generale instrument to be assigned to the Trustee without delay and MNIB must allocate the first debt service payment of US$218,381 to a reserve account for the Trustee bondholders. We require your immediate compliance with the above requests.

 

April 25

James writes a letter to Hon Gregory Bowen, Minister of Agriculture & MNIB with copy to Curlan Gilchrist, acting Chairman MNIB, to advise on an earlier meeting with Chip Gomes, Nigel Edwards and Kathleen Nee Sabga from ANSA. MNIB was represented by Patrick Antoine, Strategic Advisor to GOG and Glen Harris, Managing Director of Dominion Capital, Trinidad. To go forward:

 

* General agreement to reduce scope to original two floors

* Liquidate the SG Bond use funds for project

* MNIB needs to raise US$2.14M to implement the project

He states that Chip Gomes of ANSA placed on record the Bank’s disappointment about the use of the funds provided for purposes outside the original scope of the project without the Bank’s consent and expressed deep concern about the MNIB’s ability to meet the bond repayment obligation to bond holders as they become due.

ANSA wanted immediate assignment of MNIB US$2.9 SG Bond and deposit of first installment on debt service of US$218,381.43 due October 2005.

 

For consideration and direction:

 

Raising new financing (US$6,822,845) to settle the ANSA loan in full and reduce the scale of the project.

 

Yesterday it came to our attention that the Executive Committee of ANSA and the ANSA Board took a decision to seek direct audience with yourself and the Most Honorable Prime Minister on this matter. We once again record our deeper regret about the difficulties caused.

 

April 26 James reported to the MNIB Board on May 24, 2005 on the details of a meeting held on April 26. The persons at the meeting were Bowen, James and Pat Antoine. The Minister concluded that the ANSA loan should be repaid and option should be identified to ensure the project can pay for itself.

 

There cannot be any default with ANSA, the Board will engage Dominion Capital to secure the financing, the SG Bond is to be liquidated and proceeds applied accordingly. Dominion is to report back in 30 days on the most feasible options.

 

May 24 Nigel Thomas of NPL wrote to Sendjer Shefker, Director of Target international Funds ltd, in London re GGH and MNIB. He set out a list of requests for various financial information including names of investment houses, etc in relation to the projects and Neil Seepersad.

 

July 27 Minister responsible for MNIB authorized the MNIB to redeem the SG bonds based on its poor performance and to place the proceeds in an interest bearing account. MNIB was to seek alternative sources of financing. The bonds were redeemed at US$2.33 million and placed in an account at ANSA. Dominion Capital of Trinidad was contracted by MNIB to raise funds but so far have been unsuccessful. (See July 13, 2006)

 

 

August 4 Curlan Gilchrist, acting Chairman of MNIB writes to Gomes at ANSA to advise the Board is to move to redeem the US$2.9M and to place the funds into an account that will give maximum returns and over which it has control. The funds are to be applied to the Board’s lagoon Road Business complex Project. We are preparing a proposal to make this project feasible for your attention within the next few weeks.

 

October 25 First interest payment is made from proceeds of the bond at ANSA.

 

2006

April 25 Second interest payment is made from proceeds of the bond at ANSA leaving a balance of US$1.8 million.

 

May 3 Gomes at ANSA writes to James at MNIB with an accounting to report the balance of funds on hand is now US$1,938,880.51 that is invested at 5.29%. As discussed the payment of interest out of the funds held with ANSA can only be seen as a very short term solution so we eagerly await your proposals for a permanent solution.

 

July 13 “Cabinet Submission” from Bowen on ANSA/MNIB Lagoon project where the key issue is whether GOG will take over the liability for the repayment of the ANSA loan and authorize MNIB to proceed with seeking new financing for the Lagoon Project.

 

ANSA are eagerly awaiting a proposal for a permanent solution to the matter. MNIB believes it could secure financing using the property as collateral but this could only be accomplished without the ANSA liability.

 

The balance of the funds held at ANSA should be immediately applied towards the reduction in the loan with the repayment terms re-negotiated. Under ‘related concerns’, public and political concerns have been expressed about the failure of the project. In the absence of this investment, MNIB will be unable to meet the repayment requirements on the loan and GOG will become liable for the repayment of the loan for US$4,597,503.69. Under ‘consultation period’ the consensus of opinion was that the project was a viable investment however, ANSA debt must be treated separately to attract potential financiers.

 

Under ‘Conclusion and Recommendation’ the Minister of Finance recommends:

 

Agree to take over the MNIB US$4M loan with ANSA

Agree to negotiate with ANSA to apply the funds on hand of US$1.9M to reduce the US$4M loan and to reschedule the loan repayments before October 25, 2006, the next interest due date.

Authorize MNIB to secure new financing (US$6.9m) in its subsidiary, Val-U Garden Grenada ltd using the Lagoon property as collateral.

Agree upon completion of the project to consider selling some shares to raise the amount required to settle the ANSA loan.

Signed by Bowen and PS on July 13, 2006

 

July 17 “Cabinet Conclusion” approved the above “Cabinet Submission”

 

July 31 PS of Ministry of Agriculture writes to James at MNIB to advise of Cabinet decisions.

2007

 

February 23 Ministry of Agriculture meeting and present is PS, Ministry of Agriculture and Finance, a person from Finance and James and the ANSA loan was the first agenda item.

 

PS Finance placed on record his disagreement with the Cabinet decision and stated that GOG was not in a position to take over this debt which will increase its overall debt stock and place further strain on its total debt service obligations. His recommendation to Cabinet would be:

 

MNIB should renegotiate the loan and seek legal advice on the intended approach and the Ministry of Finance is prepared to assist.

 

James advised MNIB was not in a position to service the debt.

The case for re-election of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and NDC

Mahatma Gandhi once wrote, “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean, if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become filthy.”

It is in this context that the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique should never lose faith in humanity and also never lose faith in Prime Minister Hon. Tillman Thomas and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas’ life is his message. He is a lover of his own liberties and as such he would do absolutely nothing to restrict the liberties of the people of these Spice Isles.

The Prime Minister is a product of his thoughts. What he thinks is what he lives and what he becomes. He sees himself as a soldier in the politics for Christ. I will further bestow on him that he also a soldier of peace, accountability, transparency, and good governance.

Like all the great rulers before him he has his shortcomings and limitations; however, he has a good heart and despite efforts to vilify and demonise him, he goes to the Botanical Gardens everyday as a servant of the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

The Hon Tillman Thomas cannot be referred to as an advocate of any of the seven social sins which are: politics without principle, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice.

Instead he is a very strong advocate of the principles of accountability, transparency and good governance. His philosophy is one that speaks of politicians as being the servants of the people.

PM Thomas withstood the test of time, serving time at the Richmond Hill Prison in 1979 for his beliefs and eventually leading the NDC to defeat the formidable NNP under the leadership of Dr. Keith Mitchell when that party was at the pinnacle of political power. As a people we should never forget this.

There are parallels which can be drawn by the political life of Prime Minister, the Hon Tillman Thomas and that of the first black president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.

As Grenada prepares for yet another general election due in 2013, the electorate should search deep within their soul and ensure that the Hon Tillman Thomas is given a second term in office.

The Grenadian economy is slowly recovering from the 2008 meltdown. The NDC administration has stabilised the economy and the country could suffer another major economic meltdown if the wrong policies are implemented again. These policies under the NNP which ruled Grenada from 1995-2008 resulted in our national debt rising from a mere $340 million to a mammoth $1.8 billion dollars.

These reckless policies of the NNP, the lack of accountability, transparency and good governance caused Grenada to be embroiled in political, social and economic instability, partisanship and division. That is the context of the upcoming general elections and, as stark as it may appear to be or made to be by the opposition forces, the choice is just as clear.

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and his administration, despite the many challenges, both internal and external, have shown a firm commitment of using the power of government to help foster sustainable economic growth.

The government’s five-point strategy to develop the economy is an excellent platform in the short and long term to create employment opportunities for the populace especially the young people.

Given the state of the global economy, with most of the major economies of the world, including the United States, struggling to show major economic growth, the NDC through the stewardship of the Minister of Finance has formed sensible budget policies aimed at creating jobs for the middle and lower class, and at the same time save the social safety net to protect the powerless.

The NDC has impressive achievements, despite the implacable wall of refusal erected by the opposition so intent on stopping the administration, even if they know that their actions run the risk of pushing the nation into further economic depression. This is an opposition that the nation is aware of having a very poor record at good governance.

The opposition will say and do whatever they think their base will want to hear. Grenadians know the true motive of the opposition, which is gaining political power by any means necessary. The opposition continues to criticise the policies of the NDC over the last four years, with the aim of trying to get the people to forget that they are the architects of the situation that the country now finds itself in.

They are bent on creating a poisonous atmosphere, with the hope that the population will overlook the NDC’s many important achievements including: the elimination of the national reconstruction levy, NRL, boundary delimitation treaty with the government of Trinidad and Tobago, public sector reform and human resource development, the depoliticizing of the public service, the repeal of the criminal libel law for media practitioners, the five-point initiative for the development of the economy, advances in education, restoration of the country’s creditworthiness and image in the international community, improvement in the ease of doing business, servicing of the national debt, youth empowerment and development, rehabilitation of the agricultural sector, manufacturing and agro-industries, among others.

As the opposition attacks the government they have failed to present a viable and sensible alternative for the growth of the economy. The NNP is behaving like Governor Mitt Romney of the Republican Party who claimed that he would create 12 million new jobs when he became President but couldn’t articulate how he would do it.

The NNP claims to have all the solutions to our problems but has not presented a single concrete one to the nation. It’s the same old rhetoric that they have presented over and over again. The NNP can promise all kinds of things because the policies of the National Democratic Congress have already put the country on track to produce them.

An NDC defeat would threaten the gains that we have achieved for the past four years in the following areas:

 

Leadership:

 

Prime Minister the Hon. Tillman Thomas may not be the charismatic leader that some may want him to be, but he is indeed an honourable gentleman and true Grenadian patriot. He has never been an individual with that kind of persona and will never be.

When he became leader of the National Democratic Congress he was chosen because of his personality, character, good judgement and wisdom. Despite what his detractors may say, he took the NDC from a position of not holding a single seat in Parliament in 1999 to victory in 2008.

As political leader of the NDC and Prime Minister, he championed the principles of accountability, transparency and good governance. Prime Minister Thomas just doesn’t talk the talk, he also walks the walk. He is an advocate of constructive democracy, freedom of speech and the rule of law.

The nation can take pride in the fact that, since July 8, 2008, the image of Grenada in the international community has improved dramatically under his leadership. He has stood steadfast and committed to the principles in which he believes. As leader of this nation, the Prime Minister is clean and, unlike leaders before him, he is free from any baggage.

PM Thomas is a consensus builder. Despite efforts to make him appear authoritarian or dictatorial, Grenadians know that he is a democrat. As Prime Minister, he has reached out to every sector of the society. He is well loved by the children of the country, who see him as a father figure, mentor and role model.

His leadership ability has been challenged on many occasions by friends and foe alike yet this political soldier remains calm, cool and collected, to the annoyance of his political enemies.

Prime Minister Thomas refuses to be drawn into any political bickering and has remained dedicated to the task that he was elected to do, that is looking after the affairs of state in the most effective manner especially in these difficult economic times.

Despite efforts to bring down his administration, the Prime Minister and his government continue to forge ahead. He is a tactical leader, always one step ahead of his political enemies and the great statistician (KCM). The Prime Minister is the real soldier, knowing when to attack and also when to defend.

Despite being the most powerful man in his capacity as Prime Minister of Grenada, PM Thomas can’t be honestly accused of the abuse of power. He has used the power vested in him under the constitution to advance his good governance agenda. Trust is a very critical attribute of a political leader and Prime Minister. Prime Minister Thomas is an extremely trustworthy individual. Every Grenadian can trust him with the management of our country and doing things above board.

Because of his leadership of the country in a poisonous atmosphere, difficult social, political and economic times and an obstructionist opposition, Prime Minister Thomas deserves a second term in office so that he can continue to promote and develop his accountability, transparency and good governance agenda. The element of trust is very important as a political leader and Prime Minister.

US President Barack Obama was heavily criticized on many issues, including his management of the US economy by the Republican Party and Mitt Romney, especially in the days leading up to the 2012 general elections. Over $1.2 billion were spent to discredit him.

Despite this, the American electorate knew that President Obama is a trustworthy leader and so re-elected him with a landslide victory. Prime Minster Thomas can take comfort in the fact that he too is a very trustworthy leader.

The Grenadian electorate is fully aware of this and will vote to re-elect him in the 2013 general elections.

 

(To be continued next week)

 

Leslie Stewart

 

St. Andrew’s Woman accused of stealing government money

Just at a time when the Government of Grenada is grappling to meet its monthly financial commitments, an employee of the Ministry of Finance has allegedly been fleecing the State of large sums of money.

A charge of stealing by reason of employment has been laid on Cassandra Joseph of Well’s Road in Grenville, St. Andrew’s.

Joseph who worked at the District Revenue Office in Grenville, St. Andrew’s is accused of stealing cash amounting to $6,135.00.

An authoritative source told THE NEW TODAY Newspaper that the female employee was allegedly engaged in altering tax payments from persons who visit the office to pay their taxes.

The source who spoke on condition of not being identified said when people came to pay their taxes they were being told that they have a backlog of arrears.

The source said that Joseph allegedly returned to people their tax notices as a form of receipt, and did not give them the official receipt which is usually provided by the Ministry of Finance for their tax payments.

According to the source, the female employee was able to manipulate the system and kept in her possession some of the money collected for the State.

The source said Joseph has had a number of other charges of similar nature laid on her, and this latest charge is as a result of the continuation of investigations.

This newspaper understands that the offenses allegedly took place between March and August.

 

Cocaine Missing From The Court

Supreme Court Registry – used to store exhibits for court cases

Police are probing the disappearance of 53 kilos of cocaine that has a street value of EC $4.5 million from the stores of the Supreme Court Registry in St. George’s.

The cocaine was discovered missing on Monday by a bailiff of the court.

A high level source told THE NEW TODAY Newspaper it is believed that entry into the stores was made from the Church Street area.

The source who spoke on condition of not being identified said it is apparent that those who removed the illegal drugs used a pig-toe to price open the door.

This newspaper learnt that 17 parcels containing the illegal drugs were taken away.

State Prosecutors used the missing cocaine in evidence in a high profile drug case that involved Belmont, St. George’s resident, Sterlin Martin Alic.

Alic who was found guilty of possession and trafficking in the cocaine on November 20, 2008 was given a 25-year prison sentence two weeks ago by high court judge, Madam Justice Price-Findlay.

The female judge also ordered that the drugs be destroyed immediately.

A court official expressed shock that the illegal substance was still left inside of the stores of the Supreme Court Registry in light of the court order for it to be taken away and destroyed.

Meanwhile, THE NEW TODAY understands that a court official on Monday found a quantity of cocaine stashed inside of the bathroom facility, which is in the vicinity of the Number Two Magistrate’s Court.

The cocaine, estimated to be about two large handfuls, was contained in a white plastic bag with surgical tapes around it.

Speculation is rife that the illegal substance was placed there for an inmate of the Richmond Hill Prisons who was brought to court on Monday.

According to a reliable source, shortly after a court official made the discovery, the prison inmate who escaped lawful custody earlier this year came to use the bathroom.

He spoke of the individual being in a frantic mood and kept asking for additional bathroom tissue before he entered the facility.

 

Prison population rising

The prison population at Richmond Hill, St. George’s is 8 persons short of reaching the magical 500 figure for the first time.

The high court was told as of 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 18, the number of inmates at the island’s lone prison facility was 492.

The startling revelation was made by Superintendent of Prisons, Derek John during the closing ceremony of the October Sitting of the Criminal Assizes.

Supt. John told the court that was being presided over by Justices Madam Clare Henry and Margaret Price-Findlay that among the number of inmates who are confined at the prisons, 353 of them fall into the category of convicted persons made up of 350 males and three females.

The prison has seventy-eight (78) men and two (2) females are on remand.

Of this figure, forty-two (42) men and one (1) woman are awaiting trial, while 11 men are appellants.

The prison population is also comprised of four judgement debtors, and one prohibited immigrant.

Supt. John reported that there are eleven (11) juveniles at Her Majesty’s Prisons. Eight of the juveniles have been convicted, while three are on remand.

The high-ranking prison officials said although there is no place to house the juveniles, the young people are separated from the adult population during the day.

Justice Henry voiced concern about the contact that can be made with juveniles and the adult population at the prison.

Defense Counsel Ashley Bernadine said the issue of overcrowding at the prison that was built to cater for 200 people has always been a sorry situation at the institution.

Bernadine believes that erosion and lack of respect in the society can be attributed to people finding themselves in trouble.

As a practicing attorney for 20 years, Bernadine also voiced concern about the large number of juveniles who get into trouble on the island.

He said the eleven (11) juveniles now at the Richmond Hill prison is by far too many, and this is indicative of the absence of fathers in many homes.

Justice Price-Findlay indicated that the hands of judges and magistrates are tied since they have no alternative place to send young people who come before them as law-breakers.

She said it is a troubling situation for the island in light of the fact that the male population that often appear in the prisoner’s dock before them are getting younger.

Vincentian man shoots Rasta man

Garvet Foster – allegedly attacked Aban at his home

A St. George’s Rasta man, Kester Aban is nursing a number of gunshot wounds he allegedly received from a Vincentian National, Garvet Foster who entered the country illegally.

Foster who came to Grenada on board the Osprey sometime between November 3 and December 1 and resided at Moliniere, St. George’s allegedly attacked Aban at his home at San Souci, St. George’s on December 1.

A high level source told THE NEW TODAY Newspaper that when Aban got home in the early hours of the morning he came across an unknown man wearing a mask inside of the house.

The source who spoke on condition of not being identified said the 33-year old Aban, a small businessman, quickly closed the door and decided to put up a fight with the Vincentian intruder.

This newspaper learnt that in the process, Foster shot Aban on his right forearm, right thigh, and buttock.

The Vincentian National then escaped by kicking down the door.

A team of police officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) who responded to the incident carried Aban to the St. George’s General Hospital where he was admitted as a patient.

The source said a Police Officer who was inside of his personal vehicle in the vicinity of Aban’s home at the time heard the gunshots coming from the house.

According to the source, when Foster left the house, with face still covered with the mask and gun still in hand, he approached Detective Constable Garvin Johnson who is attached to CID and demanded money from him.

The source said Foster refused to accept from

The police officer pulled out some coins amounting to about $5.00 but the gunman refused to accept them.

He moved away but fired two shots at the policeman’s vehicle, one of which damaged the number plate at the back.

The 30-year old Foster was eventually arrested and had four charges laid on him, including entering the State without the consent of an Immigration Officer.

He appeared before Chief Magistrate, Her Honour Tamara Gill last week Wednesday, during which time all of the charges were read to him.

Foster is accused of committing burglary at San Souci on December 1 by unlawfully breaking the dwelling house of Kester Aban.

He is also accused of attempting to commit robbery with violence on December 1.

Another charge laid on the Vincentian is causing grievous harm to Kester Aban.

Foster was sentenced to three months in prison at Her Majesty’s Prisons at Richmond Hill, St. George’s on the charge of entering the State illegally, and was remanded to prison on the other three charges.

He is due back in court on December 21.