The NDC in government always seeks to take decisions and actions that are in the best interests and benefit the people of Grenada in the long term. Good governance and propriety in office are hallmarks of which we are proud.
From 1996 onwards, the people of Grenada have been saddled with the burden of tens of millions of dollars in debt arising from poor judgment, personal vendettas, recklessness and plain arrogance of two men, Keith Mitchell and Gregory Bowen, in the exercise of their duties as servants of the people.
Repeated losses in court, including many involving victimised public servants, have not taught them a lesson. It is now a matter of public record, that Mitchell and Bowen have been the two most expensive ministers ever for our country.
The government has already lost round one in the senseless battle against Grenlec when our High Court on 3 May 2019, refused government ’s application for a stay of the constitutional case Grenlec filed against it in relation to certain aspects of the new Electricity Supply Act 2017. The case before the international tribunal has started. Based on our knowledge of the facts, the NDC warns the people of Grenada to brace ourselves for our biggest loss yet. An ultimate loss for government will cost us in excess of $200 million.
The beef with Grenlec is based on a personal vendetta of one man, Gregory Bowen who has been allowed over the years to carry on with that vendetta, ultimately dragging the Grenadian taxpayer in.
In March 1991, the Worrell Commission of Inquiry into the conduct and management of several state-owned enterprises published its report. All of the entities investigated by the Commission were under the watch of Dr Keith Mitchell as Minister of Works from 1984 to 1989. Grenlec was one of those state-owned enterprises.
At Chapter III of the report, readers will find just how highly incompetent Gregory Bowen was as manager of Grenlec. At pages 98 & 99, the Commission noted how often certain names, including Gregory Bowen, featured as being involved in the enterprises under investigation. The Commission questioned whether the national interests were served by those individuals and found it remarkable that certain conduct were not reported to the police for criminal investigation.
On 14 September 1994, the NDC government of Sir Nicholas Brathwaite sold 50% of the Grenlec shares to two companies, GPP and WRB for $30 million. By that time, Gregory Bowen as manager had Grenlec flat on its face in shambles. Power outages were the norm and the company was riddled with debt.
The NDC government got the best deal that could be obtained.
Given his poor track record as manager, it was no surprise that Gregory Bowen did not survive as Grenlec’s manager under the new arrangement. He was out the door in short order and never got over the fact that the new majority owners had no tolerance for his ineptitude.
Leading up to the June 1995 elections, Keith Mitchell and his party campaigned against the Grenlec sale, claiming it was a terrible deal and promised that they would do it over if they won the elections. In the spirit of good governance and transparency, and being confident that Mitchell and Bowen could not secure a better deal, the NDC government decided to hold off on finalising the sale and bringing the new Electricity Supply Act into force until after the election. The door was left open for whomever won the election to re-negotiate the deal.
NNP won the 1995 elections and Mitchell set about trying to re-negotiate the deal. In addition, he wasted taxpayers’ money on a Commission of Inquiry into the sale of the Grenlec shares. The NNP could not believe that good patriots like Joan Purcell and Laurie Wilson, FCCA would negotiate a $30 million deal and not take a kickback. Of course, Mitchell’s Commission found no wrongdoing because the money Purcell and others were accused of pocketing, was sitting in a Government of Grenada bank account at NCB (now Republic Bank). That Commission turned out to be wasted tax dollars and a witch hunt.
On 4 February 1997, Parliament passed a motion authorising the Mitchell administration to take steps to ensure that the terms of the sale of the Grenlec shares by the previous NDC administration “are re-negotiated in the best interest of the government and people of Grenada.” Senators Lawrence Joseph, the same Gregory Bowen, Joslyn Whiteman, Patrick Bubb, Roger Radix, Elvin Nimrod, Justin Francis and Chester Humphrey (now President) all voted in favour of the motion.
In Part 2 we will tell the people the results of Mitchell’s re-negotiations and how Mitchell and Bowen’s vendetta continues to harm our country more than 20 years later.