Flow is unethical in its delivery of Internet Service

A former Grenada Senator who is now a Pastor believes that telecommunications provider, Flow should be made to be held accountable for the “unethical” standards that it is operating under in the delivery of its internet service on the island.

Devon Rachae – Flow should be held accountable

Devon Rachae, who served as an opposition Senator in 2008 after the New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell was voted out of office, made the charge last week Thursday in an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper.

Rachae said that a petition is in the making as a form of protest against the unsatisfactory internet service that many people been complaining about in recent months about Flow.

According the Rachae, it is his hope that the petition which will start at the beginning of September, will garner enough signatures from the public to get Flow management to take responsibility for not holding up to their end of the contract they gave customers to sign up to when seeking internet service.

“What we have is a situation whereby customers have been complaining that they are dissatisfied with the service delivery of Flow and with the lack of service they get when they contact Flow customer service line concerning their complaints”, he said.

The former parliamentarian cited the most predominant complaint coming from customers is the level of Internet Speed that they are receiving from Flow.

Rachae said it is unfair for customers to be paying for a service they are not receiving.

“Flow is charging customers based on speed that they are supposed to receive. The last time Flow raised their rates, they have said the justification for that increase had to do with their plan to offer greater speed to the customers and therefore, the customers had to pay more”, he told THE NEW TODAY.

“Customers didn’t have a choice as to whether they pay more or not, everybody was made to pay more, but over the last couple months, if not a year, we have seen the number of complaints increase to proportions that require attention from Flow and Flow has been unresponsive to those complaints,” he said.

Rachae charged that Flow is aware of the problem but has seemingly turned a blind eye to the issue, as there is no indication that it is willing to compensate customers for the inadequate service they have been receiving.

“We have persons who have done speed tests on their systems which shows that they are not receiving the speed that they are paying for and that have been brought to the attention of Flow and we have not received (a) response in terms of improving the speed or crediting the individuals for the lack of delivery of the service that they are paying for…”, he remarked.

“I believe that, that is unethical. If somebody is paying for a service and they are not receiving the service that you have promised to offer in the contract, the company has an ethical and moral responsibility to address that problem or credit the person for their lack of delivery of the promised service,” he said.

Rachae noted that switching service provider might be the easiest thing to do in the process but believes the company needs to be held accountable.

He said: “When they have problems that they know they have, for example, you have situations, whereby in a geographical area, they’re having fibre optic problems and their customers are not able to get proper internet service, Flow will still charge or bill the customer the same amount on a monthly basis, even if they are aware, the service is not delivered…now that is not ethical business practice, you can’t do that to people…”.

“Some people may say, well switch – switching is an easy thing for some persons but based on the location, they do not have the opportunity to switch because the alternative service providers are not in their area.

“So, while it may be easy to say switch, I don’t think that is the issue, the issue is that Flow needs to operate by some type of ethical standard and in my view Flow is not upholding those ethical standards because they are not delivering to many of their customers the service for which the customers are paying.”

The former NNP executive member contended that Flow needs to be made to understand how its lack of internet service is affecting customers and he believes the petition can do just that.

“We want to establish a petition that we intend to send to Flow’s management, so that Flow can give attention to the problem and see the magnitude of how this problem is affecting their customers.

“(I am) calling on the management of Flow to give credit to customers in cases where there is lack of service delivery and the customers (are) able to present evidence that they are not receiving the service for which they are paying.

“So, If a customer does a speed test and they are not receiving the speed over a period of time, for a reason that has to do with Flow side, we want to petition that Flow will credit the customer or not charge the customer for this if they are not getting the service that Flow is guaranteeing them in contract that they will receive.

Rachae stated that if Flow fails to respond to the petition then the next course of action will be a protest action against the company in order to get a meeting with management to “secure commitment from them to seriously address the issue with certain timelines.”

He also sees a role for government in addressing the inadequate internet service provided by the telecommunications company.

“We know that it is not a governmental issue but we believe that there needs to be some regulation whether it’s NTRC or some other customer agency, or regulatory agency that has to ensure that such businesses deliver the services as promised to customers because internet service is not just a leisure, internet service is necessary…,” he said.

Ex-Senator Rachae did not rule out the possibility of “legal action” against Flow since the issue at hand is a very far-reaching one.

Pure Grenada bans the importation of Styrofoam

Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean, is making a major shift to ensure that its natural environment is protected and preserved for future generations.

Pure Grenada is Free To Wonder – Annandale Waterfall

The Government of Grenada is implementing a far-reaching Non-Biodegradable Waste Control Act, which begins with the complete ban on the importation of polystyrene commonly referred to as ‘Styrofoam’ effective September 1, 2018.

The importation ban will be followed by sale sanctions on ‘Styrofoam’ effective March 1, 2019 and a complete embargo on its use a month later.

The Act will also bars all single use plastics such as shopping bags, cutlery, plates, straws and cups by February 1, 2019.

Minister for the Environment, Senator Simon Stiell, described the Non-Biodegradable Waste Control Act as a “progressive legislation which seeks to regulate the use of non-biodegradable products, with a view to reducing the negative environmental impacts and improving the health of Grenadians.”

The Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) fully supports this move by Government.

CEO of GTA, Patricia Maher said, “Our brand is Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean. This legislation will greatly assist us in keeping our tri-island destination of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique clean and beautiful for citizens as well as visitors.”

Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen has been championing the ban on ‘Styrofoam’ and plastics.

She said, “Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean is renowned for its naturally beautiful landscape. I am elated that my Government has taken action to contribute to the preservation of our environment for future generations.”

The legislation comes on the heels of robust advocacy by the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA) and the Grenada Green Group (G3) for a ban on Styrofoam and plastic.

Many hotels, restaurants and stores on the island have already transitioned to the use of alternative biodegradable products.

Rural Constable fire one shot at a suspect around the court

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) has launched an investigation into the circumstances that led to the discharge of a police firearm on the precincts of the St. George’s Magistrate’s Court on St. John’s Street last week Friday.

THE NEW TODAY understands that a Rural Constable was forced to fire his 9 mm pistol behind an individual, who was spotted trying to bore a hole in the Prisoner’s holding area.

According to a well-placed source, the Rural Constable was inspecting the cell when he heard a noise and on investigating saw an individual using an instrument to try and pierce the concrete structure.

The source said that the man was apparently trying to create a space to put in something in the cell for a prisoner.

The Prisoner’s holding cell is located downstairs the St. George’s No. 1 Magistrate’s Court, presided over by Chief Magistrate Tamara Gill.

In an attempt to stop the unidentified suspect, the Rural Constable fired off one shot at the man which missed its mark before the suspect ran away from the scene.

Moments later, officers attached to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) arrived on the court compound to assess the situation.

A police source said that the lawmen are working on the theory that the unidentified man was attempting to illegally deliver a package to a prison inmate who was expected to be put into the Holding Cell to await his court matter before the Chief Magistrate.

No one has been arrested by the police in connection with the incident.

Police have confirmed that 31-year old Byron Bernard of Sendall Street in Grenville, St. Andrew, has once again managed to escape custody.

The RGPF has put out a release calling for the public’s assistance in locating the escaped prisoner, who was in the process of being transported to the Grenville Magistrate’s Court to face several summary charges and two indictable counts of Arson.

The escapee found himself in trouble with the law, only three months after being released from prison in April, after serving a 6-month sentence for the offence of House-breaking and Stealing.

Bernard was detained in June for questioning in connection with the burning of a two-storey house and setting fire to a white van in the Telescope area.

He escaped police custody shortly after detention and remained on the run for approximately 2 weeks before police caught up with him.

The accused was recaptured on or around July 2, just about hiding in some bushes in the Telescope area and was slapped with additional charges of Escaping Lawful Custody and Arson.

Bernard also has a number of convictions of a similar nature recorded against him including one for Manslaughter, which dates back to 2013, for which he received a sentence of 4 years imprisonment.

The police release warned that Bernard may be armed and dangerous and should be approached with caution by the public.

Bowen: Expect price increase in petroleum products due to closure of T&T’s Petrotrin

Consumers in Grenada and other parts of the English-speaking Caribbean can expect to see an increase in the price of petrol products due to the recent decision of the Trinidad & Tobago government to close the state-owned, Petrotrin.

This was announced by Minister of Energy, Gregory Bowen at last Friday’s sitting of Parliament at Mt. Wheldale, St. George after attending a Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee meeting in Barbados on the closure of Petrotrin.

Bowen told Parliament that some regional countries have already started a hunt to get an alternative supplier of Petrol as the decision of the Keith Rowley government in neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago to close Petrotrin has left the region in a state of emergency to fill the void as that company supply 70% of the Petrol products in the region.

He said that suppliers like Sol are now looking to import petrol from outside the region which would then mean longer shipping periods, more handling costs and an increase in prices to consumers.

He disclosed that a decision was taken at the Barbados meeting to remove the Common External Tariff (CET) to allow petrol suppliers to source petrol from outside of the region.

He said that the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee has agreed on the move at the meeting in which Trinidad and Tobago was present.

“All the (Caricom) heads will be written to immediately so that it will be recommended to them and … Trinidad has already said they’re not objecting because they cannot supply…”, he told fellow legislators.

“We’re looking regionally, we’re looking extra-regionally and we are looking at not only one of the local suppliers but both of them and any other client that will be accessible…”, he said.

According to Minister Bowen, CARICOM has decided to go it together in the search for an alternative to purchase petroleum products because in buying in bulk “we can reduce whatever extra cost there is”.

Bowen noted that Venezuela, which is currently facing domestic political and economic crisis cannot be considered at the moment as a prospective alternative for the English-speaking Caribbean.

He said: “The Department of Energy is working together with those who already supply in Grenada and looking at new sources of suppliers Mr. Speaker. So, although we are not comfortable, we believe collectively CARICOM will be able to solve it and we are in a state Mr. Speaker where we cannot look towards Venezuela.

“As a matter of fact, Petro Caribe lost their contract for supplying diesel to GRENLEC on a competitive bid because of the high cost of transporting the diesel fuel from Guyana to Grenada. So, at least our electrical plant is out of that particular problem. However, they are purchasing from Sol and Sol now will have to look extra the region.

So, you see the implication, Mr. Speaker, not only in Grenada and not only for the price to the local consumer to transportation but also the price to the energy company.

It’s situations like this Mr. Speaker where all the costs will be passed on to the consumer – we need to come to an arrangement where everyone would take part of this cost and bear the burden Mr. Speaker.

Supt Joseph takes Jerry Seales to Court for $10,000

Retired Magistrate Jerry Seales is being pursued in the local high court for over $10, 000.00 owed to former Superintendent of Police, Anthony Joseph, considered in his days as one of the island’s premier crime fighter as a member of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).

Retired Supt of Police Anthony Joseph – was forced to resort to court action to try and recover monies owed to him

THE NEW TODAY has obtained legal papers filed against Seales in the Supreme Court Registry last Friday by Ciboney Chambers on behalf of Joseph.

A source at the law firm told this newspaper that a Bailiff has been hired to try and serve the legal papers on Seales on Monday but the former Magistrate is known to be hard to find.

As a public service, THE NEW TODAY reproduces the Statement of Claim by Supt. Joseph against Seales which is now lodged at the Supreme Court Registry:

The Claimant is a retired Superintendent of Police who resides at Tanteen in the city of St. George’s and State of Grenada. He is engaged in private investigations, trading under the name “AJ Private Investigation Agency”.

The Defendant is a former Magistrate who resides at Point Salines in the parish of St. George. He resigned from the Magistracy in or about April 2018.

By way of oral contract, in or about January 2018, the Claimant, at the Defendant’s request, agreed to provide certain private investigation services to the Defendant, at the end of which he would be paid for the same.

Under the terms of the said contract, the Claimant was required to conduct background checks regarding three (3) individuals, employed at a certain business entity operating in Grand Anse, St George’s. Upon presentation of his invoice, he was to be paid by the Defendant for his services.

On three (3) prior occasions between 2017 and 2018, the Claimant had provided similar investigative services, on similar terms, to the Defendant. The Defendant paid for those services.
Pursuant to the terms of the oral contract, the Claimant did the requisite security vetting, including carrying out interviews and conducting surveillance, following which three (3) separate reports (on the 3 individuals) dated March 10th, 2018, were submitted to the Defendant.

The Claimant also submitted, on the same day he delivered the aforementioned reports, his invoice, also dated March 10th, 2018, for his professional services rendered pursuant to the Defendant’s request. His invoice totaled $10,950.00.

Despite repeated oral demands by the Claimant, the Defendant has failed to satisfy the aforementioned invoice or any part thereof. In fact, the Defendant has deliberately ignored the Claimant.

By letter dated July 6th, 2018, the Claimant, through his Attorneys, issued a final demand to the Defendant to pay the outstanding sum of $10,950.00 owing, in addition to then accumulated legal costs of $300.00, totaling $11,250.00.

The Defendant was given until Monday, July 16th, 2018, to pay the outstanding sums, failing which he was advised that the Claimant would pursue legal action.

Jerry Seales – considered as one of the most controversial Magistrates to sit on the local bench

The aforementioned letter was delivered personally by bailiff to the Defendant on 10th day of July 2018.

Notwithstanding the above, to date, the Defendant has failed to pay the aforementioned sum of $11,250.00 or any part thereof to the Claimant.

Further, he has neglected/refused to contact the Claimant’s Attorneys by the deadline date or anytime thereafter to make any arrangements for so doing, one of the options submitted in the aforementioned letter.

In the premises, the Claimant has suffered and continues to suffer loss and damage.

Special Damages

(i) Cost of July 6th, 2018 demand letter (inclusive of bailiff fees) $300.00

And the Claimant Claims

(a). Monies due and owing in the sum of $10,950.00 pursuant to the breach of an oral contract made in January 2018 with respect to the provision of private investigation services by the Claimant.

(b). Special Damages in the sum of $300.00.

(c). Interest on the aforementioned sums at the rate of 6% per annum up to the date of judgment and a further 6% per annum thereafter until all sums are satisfied.

(d). Costs.

Dismantling the MNIB Cover-up!!!

THE NEW TODAY is calling on Mr. Robert Robinson to distance himself from the so-called decision taken by the politically-exposed Integrity Commission, headed by attorney-at-law, Anande Trotman-Joseph to mount a private investigation into alleged corruption and wrong-doing at the state-owned Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB).

This newspaper is convinced that the powers-that-be are trying to use the good name of Mr. Robinson to “sugar coat” the kind of investigation that they intend to undertake into the affairs of the MNIB during the tenure of its Chief Executive Officer, Ruel Edwards and the Board of Directors under the Chairmanship of Samuel Andrew.

The Prime Minister of this country, Dr. Keith Mitchell is now trying to hide behind the Integrity Commission as he seeks to duck from the pronouncement he made at the end of July to conduct a public inquiry into the MNIB fiasco.

Dr. Mitchell has already come out in the public domain and made a number of startling revelations about the frightening things that took place at MNIB which is a state-owned body that falls into the category of a national treasure for the farmers of the country.

This newspaper holds strongly to the view that a public inquiry has to be held in keeping with the Commission of Inquiry act as provided for by the laws of Grenada and not any charade by the Integrity Commission which lacks the professional expertise including a qualified and competent forensic accountant to do any meaningful probe into the financial wrongs as alluded to by the Prime Minister.

The Integrity Commission also lacks the relevant jurisdiction to investigate a matter of that nature.

In addition, those persons who were maligned in public by the Prime Minister should be equally offered a public platform to put forward their defence against the charges made against them by PM Mitchell.

In one of his broadsides, the Prime Minister said the following: “Marketing Board was meant to maximise the production of the agricultural sector and put more money into the hands of farmers. It was not meant to become another Government bureaucracy that satisfies its friends and political affiliates.”

Dr. Mitchell went on: “You cannot care about a country and if you’re in a position of authority, you take a decision to garnish a Government account thereby putting the salaries of scores of workers at risk and jeopardising their ability to provide basic items for their families. I have a serious problem with that.”

THE NEW TODAY is suggesting that the remarks were directed at Mr. Ruel Edwards and Dr. Patrick Antoine, the Grenadian-born and regionally recognised agricultural economist who was a permanent fixture of the ruling New National Party (NNP) government for over 20 years until his sudden resignation a few weeks ago.

It has now become a matter of public record that Dr. Antoine was a Director of a Miami-based company that was selling sugar to MNIB under Mr. Edward’s tenure and which took the state-owned body to court for a debt of close to EC$1 million.

Armed with a court order in the face of the failure of the Marketing Board to honour the debt, the company through its local lawyer took the bold decision to go before the high court to get an order to garnish the account of government to recover its monies.

THE NEW TODAY is saying that Dr. Antoine ought to respond to the utterances of the Prime Minister in a public inquiry and to give his side so that the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique can be the judge of the facts as presented.

Over the years, Dr. Mitchell has often used the halls of Parliament to malign a number of persons with untruths because he knows that these individuals cannot use the same Parliamentary platform to respond to his utterances.

The findings of the MNIB Inquiry should be public and not something to be put away on some shelf by PM Mitchell himself and Governor General, Dame Cecile La Grenade.

Mr. Robinson should not be part of this charade that is the so-called private inquiry now taking place by the Integrity Commission.

THE NEW TODAY also wants to remind Mr. Robinson of the following remarks which were made in the public arena by the former Chairman of MNIB, Samuel Andrew and Grenadians ought to hear for themselves the response of those who have been called into question.

Mr Andrew said the following in a press statement: “Initially, the parlous state of finances at the MNIB was only revealed to me when a colleague telephoned me to indicate that a foreign sugar supplier was seeking redress for the payment of outstanding amounts for sugar supplies after numerous successive undertakings to pay from the CEO were not honoured.

These facts of financial expose were previously concealed from the Board for almost two (2) full years.

“Upon receiving the query from the supplier, I requested a full report on the financial status of the MNIB; the Board was stunned into silence, regarding the extent to which the true financial status of the MNIB was concealed.

“As Chairman, I took the responsible action of bringing this development to the attention of the Minister with responsibility for Economic Development at the time, Minister Oliver Joseph. I kept Minister Oliver Joseph continuously appraised of the situation at Marketing Board, at times even drawing the ire of the CEO.

“There is nothing that the Board or the Chairman could have done differently in circumstances where they were denied critical financial information”.

Mr. Robinson, the public should be made privy of what Minister Joseph did with this kind of information that was given to him by Mr. Andrew.

Did he keep it for himself or inform the Cabinet of Ministers and PM Mitchell of the financial mess that MNIB had found itself in?

A properly constituted Commission of Inquiry will have the powers to subpoena Cabinet Minutes and Documents on the information about Marketing Board that Minister Joseph should have relayed to Cabinet and if he did so, when did he inform the body.

If Minister Joseph did bring the MNIB fiasco to the attention of Cabinet then this brings into serious question the truthfulness of the statement now being made by PM Mitchell that when the decision was taken to bring Mr. Ruel Edwards from the Marketing Board into another big-paying job at the Ministry of Finance as Head of Economic and Technical Cooperation, he would not have supported it, had he known about the financial madness that was uncovered.

This is what PM Mitchell told reporters only two weeks ago: “I want to be clear when the decision was made to hire the past manager of Marketing Board, I had no indication and I was not the one who moved to get the appointment. I gave my endorsement when the information and recommendation was brought before me but, I wanna be very clear, I had no indication, if there was any indication that there was a possibility or problems in that area, I would not have supported it…”.

Mr. Robinson should not allow his good name and credibility as an outstanding retired civil servant to be used by the head of the Integrity Commission, Anande Trotman-Joseph, the wife of Dr. Lawrence Joseph, considered as one of the most trusted lieutenants of the Prime Minister to deny the public of the right to know first-hand about the people’s business that is the Marketing Board.

History will not be kind to Mr. Robinson if he partakes in this charade by the NNP regime, that is now called “Operation MNIB Cover-up”.

Mr. Robinson must know that the Integrity Commission cannot investigate fraud and that a public inquiry must be held only after an independent audit and a criminal investigation by the FIU take place as part of the Good Governance agenda.

Silver Sands backs down on Propane tanks issue

It’s a victory for the owner and operator of the Kids R Wonderful Daycare and Pre-school, Michelle Gilbert over the developers of the Silver Sands hotel who had controversially installed two (2) large propane tanks near to her boundary line.

A photo taken of workmen removing one of the large propane tanks last
Wednesday morning

Gilbert is now breathing a sigh of relief after last Wednesday witnessing the removal of the tanks following the exposure given to the issue by THE NEW TODAY newspaper which called the installation of the tank as a major health risk to the nation’s school children.

The tanks were put a mere 9 meters away from the boundary line of the school and just a few meters away from the entrance to her home.

Gilbert had written letters to the relevant authorities at the beginning of June detailing some major health concerns with the underground Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) tanks installation so close to her home and business, which caters for close to 100 children daily.

The removal of the tanks comes approximately 6 weeks after the publication of an article headlined “Silver Sands hotel creating more problems” in the July 20 issue of THE NEW TODAY.

Prior to the removal of the tanks, TVA Consultants Ltd. defended its decision to install the gas tanks in close proximity to Gilbert’s home and business via a letter in July, which stated that the reason for the decision to use underground tanks in lieu of an above ground tank to service the laundry building, was “based on safety” to avoid running the “risk of collision from vehicles using the driveway even if the tank is cordoned off.”

The letter also pointed out that “the actual installation and placement of the tanks have been done in strict accordance with international codes specifically relating to the storage, handling and transportation of LPG”.

The letter also said in part: “In addition to adhering (to) the boundary setbacks as stipulated in the … codes, a reinforced block-work fence wall is being erected on three sides of the installation along the boundary with Kid’s R Wonderful Day Care & Pre-School, along the access road to the beach and along the southern line of the LPG enclosure”.

However, Gilbert contended that international standards would not allow “something like that to be installed in such close proximity to a school.”

An environmental expert told this newspaper that if this had happened in the United States or a developed country the hotel project would have been closed down for endangering the children.

Speaking exclusively with THE NEW TODAY last Wednesday, the relieved businesswoman breathed a deep sigh of relief and expressed gratitude to newly elected Member of Parliament for the area, Health Minister Nicholas Steele, for looking into the matter as promised.

“I want to thank Minister Steele for looking into the matter, he promised he would and then he called me back to let me know that they were going to remove the tanks and finally they are moving it. So, I am grateful and I feel relieved…I felt very uncomfortable with the tanks so close (9 ft from my boundary),” Gilbert said.

About one week before removing the underground gas tanks, the Silver Sands developers had installed two (2) smaller versions on the roof of one of the buildings on the opposite side of the road leading up to Gilbert’s property and the Grand Anse Beach but closer to the Grand Anse main road.

Commissioner Rupert Agostini recluse from MNIB Investigation

Accountant Rupert Agostini, who is on record as the Auditor for the Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB) has recused himself from the investigations launched by the Integrity Commission into alleged corruption at the state body.

Rupert Agostini – decides to exclude himself from the MNIB probe

This was confirmed by Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Lady Anande Trotman-Joseph in response to a question posed by THE NEW TODAY during a press conference held Wednesday at the Public Workers Union (PWU) building into alleged corruption at the MNIB.

“Commissioner Agostini has recused himself entirely from this particular investigation…he is formally recused of all matters relating to the investigation,” Trotman-Joseph told reporters.

Agostini might become a person of interest in the inquiry since he is believed to have been involved in auditing the financial accounts of the Marketing Board during the period under investigation 2013-18.

The Integrity Commission member is also known to be involved with many state-owned bodies as the Auditor of their financial statements.

A local expert in Public Affairs has said that as an active Accountant, Agostini should not be sitting on the Integrity Commission as he runs the risk of having entities under his control becoming the subject of investigations by the Integrity Commission of which he is a member.

Trotman-Joseph did not agree with a question posed by this newspaper that the integrity of the Integrity Commission was now being brought into question given the fact that it was investigating a body in which one of its core members was involved.

Prime Minister Mitchell on July 31 announced that a public inquiry would be held in to the MNIB affairs but the Integrity Commission has since indicated that it will be taking over and doing a private probe.

According to Trotman-Joseph, Agostini’s recusal was not deemed a sufficient reason for the Commission to back off from the investigations and to allow for a more independent-minded and transparent body to conduct the inquiry.

“Why we didn’t do that I would say, is because we didn’t have to because… we have mechanisms in place including, accounting managing systems. By recusing himself and we are holding our own selves as transparent, by having accounting management systems, by having a recusing system (and) wherever the truth leads us I will follow those hind posts even if we are culpable and that is what truth and accountability and transparency is all about,” she said.

“For all of us am sure, this is transparency… and that is why we feel that based on all of this we can do what we have to do along with our local and collaborating partners and our regional and international consultants who are all part and parcel of this critical investigation,’ she added.

Apart for Agostini and Lady Trotman-Joseph, the other members of the Integrity Commission are Robert Robinson, attorney-at-law, Daniella Williams-Mitchell, Bertie Hill and retired Magistrate, Oforiwa Augustine.

According to former Cabinet Secretary, Elizabeth Henry-Greenidge, who is now attached to the Office of the Integrity Commission as Operations Manager, the investigation into the affairs of the MNIB officially began on August 2.

She said the Commission was not in a position to present a timeline for when the investigation would conclude which Greenidge explained is “dependent on the amount of findings that are gathered and possible, the need to go into more investigations, more interviews, et cetera.

“So, we cannot give a specific timeline,” she added.

Henry-Greenidge disclosed that the body has “not called in anyone to conduct any interview” prior to holding Wednesday’s press conference.

“We did have some initial discussions at their premises with the new Chairman and the acting CEO of the MNIB, but that was mainly to deliver our letter informing them that we were conducting the investigation and requesting some information,” she said.

US approve Visa renewal waiver for Grenada

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has welcomed the decision taken by the United States government of President Donald Trump to allow for Grenadians to process their visa renewal procedures at home online without the additional cost of travelling to Barbados.

Government officials welcomes visa renewal waiver at Press Conference with US Ambassador to Grenada Linda Taglialatela and US Charge D’ affaires, Stephen Frahm

Speaking at a ceremony in St. George’s last week Thursday in which the announcement was made, the Prime Minister said that the decision taken by Washington which became effective on September 10 will go a long way in easing the burden placed on the pockets of applicants.

“I know for a fact, there are many of our citizens, historically in their attempt to get Visas for the United States have had to make tremendous sacrifices. Many of them are poor people who have little wealth and many times they have to spend quite a bit to go to Barbados…”, he said.

According to Dr. Mitchell, Grenadians also face problems with air transport to get to Barbados including the high cost of flying and also having to spend more money to overnight in Bridgetown in order to be on time for their appointments with the U.S Embassy.

“…The hassle and the problems in the cost is quite prohibitive and therefore this news has enormous implications for the people of Grenada”, he said.

Under the arrangement, Grenadians are no longer mandated to travel to Barbados to renew their visas, since the waiver makes it possible for them to apply online and then use a courier service to send their passports to the U.S Embassy in Barbados.

US Ambassador to Grenada, Linda Taglialatela who attended the joint press conference gave an insight into how the process will work.

She said: “What the United States has done is approved for the people of Grenada a waiver for renewal of visas, which means people don’t have to come to Barbados to get their visa renewed, they can do it online by filling out the visa application, submitting the appropriate documents and then couriering the passport to Barbados”.

However, Ambassador Taglialatela noted that this will only apply to persons whose visas had been expired for no more than 12 months since any expiration past one year will require applicants to travel to Barbados.

The new directive from Washington will not apply to those foreigners who came into possession of a Grenada passport by buying it through the controversial scheme known as Citizenship By Investment (CBI).

Applicants who receive CBI passports will be required to schedule an interview with the embassy in Barbados for visa renewals.

Ambassador Taglialatela said the hope is that this new development will further deepen and strengthen the relationship existing between Grenada and the United States.

“Hopefully, this will again, encourage our relationship which I believe and my government believes have been a very productive and very warm and welcoming relationship with Grenada for many years”, she said.

“Under our Caribbean Strategy 2020, one of the things is (that) we want to improve and enhance that relationship and we want to continue to inspire people to travel between our two countries and learn about the cultures and the people”, she added.

The U.S envoy went on: This hopefully will assist a lot of Grenadians who are interested in going to the United States by being able to renew their visas online, through the mail, rather than going to Barbados”.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter David who also attended the joint Press Conference pointed out that this development would be welcomed by Grenadians in the Diaspora.

In addition, he said that the move by Washington “is indicative of the deep relationship between Grenada and United States and it also does well for the future relationship”.

“Our relationship with the United States is one that is deep and wide and I’m sure to the Diaspora this would also be welcomed news for those who travel back and forth”, he added.

David was a member of the 1979-83 leftist People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) which had strained relations with Washington after it seized power in a coup d’etat on March 13, 1979 against the elected Eric Gairy government.

A U.S-led military intervention of October 25, 1983 restored law and order on the island after a second coup d’eat in which Marxist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was killed by radicals within the then New Jewel Movement (NJM) who seized power in a bloodbath at Fort Rupert which has since returned to its original name Fort George.

The military action brought an end to Grenada’s flirtation with leftwing revolution and paved the way for a number of political figures in exile including current Prime Minister Mitchell to return to the island and take part in free and fair elections.

Grenade replaces Patrick Antoine

Economist with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. Kari Grenade has replaced Dr. Patrick Antoine as head of the National Sustainable Development Plan 2030.

Dr. Kari Grenade – the new head of the 2030 plan

The group was left without a Head of its Technical Working Group following the decision of Dr. Antoine to resign from all positions held with the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Dr. Grenade, a sister to senior lecturer at the Barbados Campus of the University of the West Indies, Dr. Wendy Grenade, has been on secondment to the Grenada Government from CDB for over a year now.

A government statement said that Minister of Trade, Industry, Cooperatives and CARICOM Affairs, Oliver Joseph, accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter David on September 4 met with stakeholder representatives responsible for the elaboration of the National Sustainable Development Plan 2030, to receive an update on the progress of the Plan process and to share pertinent information.

Minister Joseph, who has the responsibility of overseeing the Plan, was informed that public activities were suspended to facilitate the holding of the March 13 General Election but background technical work continued to take place.

According to the release, Minister Joseph “was assured that public engagement and Sector Consultations would resume shortly”.

It said: “At the meeting, Dr. Kari Grenade, was introduced as the new Head of the Technical Working Group, following the decision of Dr. Patrick Antoine not to continue in that capacity.

The Minister was given a new timeline for the completion of the Plan document to coincide with the 2019/2020 Budget Cycle”.

The Mitchell-led government in St. George’s has not announced replacements for three other positions held by Dr. Antoine – Ambassador to Caricom, Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and a body within the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

According to the release, Minister Joseph advised participants that the Government of Grenada is very serious about having a long-term Development Plan for the country and as such priority would be given to having the process completed within the new timeframe.

In this regard, he assured stakeholders that the necessary budgetary and other support would be made available to advance the process in a smooth and timely manner.

The release said that the senior government minister, on behalf of government, expressed appreciation to the members of the Steering Committee, Technical Working Group and all those involved in the process for the work already done and for the commitment given to complete the Plan as proposed.

Foreign Minister David, for his part, surmised that history would look at everyone involved in this important project in an extremely favourable way.

A National Plan, he said can only benefit all the citizens of the country, working selflessly together towards a common goal.

Plan 2030 was commissioned by Prime Minister Mitchell, on the recommendation of the Committee of Social Partners, to chart the development of Grenada over a fifteen (15) year period.