Telephone scandal embarrasses Grenada PM

(CNS) – The Integrity Commission has hinted at the possibility of conducting an investigation into allegations that that some former legislators were still using government funded mobile phones after reports surfaced of an EC$70,000 bill.

“Following reports circulating about the use of Government telephone accounts by public officials, the Commission has written to the relevant Government authorities to ascertain the veracity of such reports,” the Commission said in a statement.

“As Grenada holistically implements its anti-corruption, risk, fiscal and procurement management systems, the Integrity Commission reminds all public sector managers of their responsibilities to strengthen and implement internal controls over public expenditure for greater accountability, transparency and value for money,” said the Commission.

Last week, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell said he was embarrassed to learn of the situation and accepted the fact that former parliamentarians who government had assigned telephone numbers have been using the phones without making the necessary transfer for invoice payment to their names.

“If somebody leaves the system, it cannot be the politician to find out if the phone is no longer available, automatically that should be a given,” Mitchell told reporters.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) says it is “dismayed at the level of corruption” by the Grenada government after the Trade, Industry, Cooperatives and CARICOM Affairs Minister, Oliver Joseph, told the weekly Cabinet news conference that “It seems like there is some systematic failure since it has been pointed out that there is excessive usage which should not happen if you have a system where the cap is placed

The NDC had called on the Integrity Commission, the FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit) and the RGPF (Royal Grenada Police Force) “to take the necessary actions to stop this theft from the Grenadian people”.

One of the cell phone holders was a member of the Upper Houses from 2013 to 2016 while another served in the Lower House from 2013 to 2018. One of the bills was for an estimated EC$8,000 while the other was for approximately EC$70,000 for the period April, May and June 2019.