Grenada environment minister dismissed

first_imgNewsRegional Grenada environment minister dismissed by: – January 21, 2012 Share Tweet Share 21 Views   no discussionscenter_img Sharing is caring! Share Joseph GilbertST GEORGE’S, Grenada — Grenada’s Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, whose National Democratic Congress won 11 of 15 seats in the last general election, has fired a second minister in fewer than four years in office.Informed sources said Joseph Gilbert, MP for St Patrick West, was told of his dismissal in a telephone call from the prime minister on Thursday morning. Gilbert, who was appointed Minister for the Environment, Foreign Trade and Export Development last October, was awaiting confirmation of his dismissal in an official letter from Governor General Sir Carlyle Glean.In 2010, Thomas dismissed his former Environment Minister Michael Church, MP for St John. Church subsequently resigned from cabinet after being offered a junior minister’s position by the prime minister.The wheels were put in motion for Gilbert’s dismissal when Thomas, who is also MP for St Patrick East, summoned an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning.A report out of St George’s quoted “an informed source close to the Office of the Prime Minister” as saying that Thomas told his cabinet colleagues that he had advised the governor general to revoke the appointment of Gilbert as a minister of government.But a Wednesday evening written statement issued by the prime minister’s press secretary, Richard Simon, seemed to dismiss the idea that Thomas had actually fired Gilbert earlier in the day.The statement said the Grenadian leader had “certain troubling information before him pertaining to what appears to be a serious breach of cabinet principles” involving Gilbert.“The prime minister anticipates that he would come to a decision on this matter very shortly, whereupon he will duly inform his cabinet and the general public,” the statement said.Thomas, in a brief nationally televised address on Thursday evening, confirmed the sacking of Gilbert. The prime ministers said he had “irrefutable, documented evidence” of misconduct on Gilbert’s part.He revealed that in August 2011, while serving as Minister of Works, Public Utilities and Physical Development, Gilbert wrote a letter giving certain assurances to a foreign company that was interested in establishing a casino in Grenada.Thomas said Gilbert did not seek cabinet’s approval in writing the letter, and accused the former minister of “irresponsible” behaviour.The Grenadian leader promised to continue combating wrongdoing, adding that what was at stake was not the survival of his government but the preservation of “core values” relating to good governance.However, the letter written by Gilbert and his firing are now being hotly debated by Grenadians, including legal experts. One veteran St George’s attorney, who read the so-called letter, said he was “bemused” at the fuss that was being made. “The letter has no binding effect, no legal consequences, on the government,” he said. “In my view, it is simply trying to keep the developer interested in Grenada and not bolting from the country at a time when jobs are so badly needed.”When contacted, Gilbert declined to comment on the specifics of the issue, only saying that “I did no wrong; I breached nothing; I committed the government to nothing. I did my utmost as a minister, first in the Ministry of Works, and then in the Ministry of Environment. A priority for me is meeting the needs of the Grenadian people, and they have told me that one of their most urgent needs is jobs.”Casino gambling, and possibly issuing a gaming licence, has been an ongoing debate in cabinet, and the matter is said to be still under review. Although Thomas has repeatedly stated his opposition to casino, cabinet has never taken a position on the matter.On call-in radio talkshows and among internet bloggers, people have been commenting on the latest developments. Many have expressed surprise at the prime minister’s response to Gilbert, comparing Thomas’ inaction to the move last year by Ministry of Finance officials who – without the knowledge and approval of cabinet – engaged representatives of Sewang One World in trying to get investment and development projects for Grenada.As part of the Sewang discussions, the prime minister signed a memorandum of understanding that Finance Minister Nazim Burke later admitted should not have been signed by the Grenadian leader. Caribbean News Nowlast_img

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