Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has dropped the strongest possible hints yet that he might be called to give evidence in the controversial Commission of Inquiry being conducted by the Integrity Commission into the misuse of funds at the state-owned Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB).
The Prime Minister made the statement as he met with reporters at a recent post-Cabinet Press Briefing at the Ministerial Complex and gave an update on the work done by the Integrity Commission, headed by attorney-at-law, Anande Trotman-Joseph, the wife of the Acting Attorney General, Dr.
“They may call me too and I am prepared, as I said before to be called to give an idea of my knowledge of whatever information that I have but it will be a thorough investigation,” he said.
PM Mitchell disclosed that the Integrity Commission is presently concluding negotiations with outside legal personnel to help do the investigation that is needed into the MNIB fiasco.
He said that government will have to provide the resources for these legal experts to do their work.
Several allegations have been swirling around the MNIB including the use of its funds by former Chief Executive Officer, Ruel Edwards on expensive first class travel to the United States, the non-payment of thousands of dollars to creditors for sugar supplies, and his purchase of a vehicle belonging to the state body.
At a previous press conference, Prime Minister Mitchell who is the Line Minister for MNIB said that the things that have been discovered at MNIB “are frightening”.
Dr. Mitchell also revisited the stand-off with health care workers following controversial remarks made at a recent Town Hall meeting in New York in which he accused Doctors, Nurses and ancillary staff at the St. George’s General Hospital of stealing and being incompetent.
The Grenadian leader told reporters that his conscience will not allow him to hide the levels of corruption within the public service.
“We have to be honest with ourselves, if there are those who don’t want to admit it, that’s their business, I have a conscience and every one of us should. If we want to say that we don’t know that there are corrupt practices within the public service then we can say so”, he said.
“I know as an individual that there is corruption in almost every single department of government and that’s a fact – different levels of it and whether or not government can come to bottom of it, I don’t know. It probably wouldn’t happen in my time but we’ll do what we can and maybe we would have to prioritize the areas that are causing more pain in the process going forward,” he remarked.
PM Mitchell disclosed that the investigation being spearheaded by the Integrity Commission will also be looking at issues within the Customs Department of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Works, Ministry of Agriculture, and the Hospital services among others.
“The investigation might not be at the same level as an outright Commission of Inquiry….”, he said.
He stressed that the investigation will more likely come up “with suggestions on how we can go forward in terms of those areas”.
He said: “There are issues with the Ministry of Agriculture – lands for example, how some people were able to get lands and what they paid for it.
There are a number of issues that certainly would be investigated but there are limited resources to do all these investigations and of course to solve … these problems…we just have to have patience”.