IS AT­TOR­NEY GEN­ERAL THE FLY IN CHASTANET’S AP­POINT­MENT?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By An­gel­ica O'Donoghue-Holder

Hous­ing and eco­nomic devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Guy Joseph was Rick Wayne's sur­prise guest on Thurs­day's TALK. And oh boy, did he talk! Touch­ing on a wide range of pub­lic con­cerns, the min­is­ter served a truck­load of shock­ing re­al­ity that must've cost view­ers at least one sleep­less night. Cit­ing what he de­scribed as in­stances of the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment's mis­use of project funds, nepo­tism and plain mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion, Mr. Joseph said: “In the last months lead­ing up to the 2016 elec­tions, we had a gov­ern­ment that was more in­ter­ested in play­ing pol­i­tics than with prop­erly run­ning the af­fairs of the coun­try.”

Over and over he un­der­scored the prob­lems his gov­ern­ment con­fronted daily with key ex­ec­u­tive and state po­si­tions oc­cu­pied by con­tracted in­di­vid­u­als who are known front­line sup­port­ers of the Saint Lu­cia Labour Party; who openly cam­paigned against the cur­rent gov­ern­ment when in op­po­si­tion.

At one point the host in­ter­rupted the min­is­ter to say: “I have ab­so­lutely no doubt that the peo­ple are, by this time, fed up with politi­cians from both sides mak­ing se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions about their op­po­nents upon tak­ing of­fice, and never fol­low­ing up. Why not take these com­plaints, if sup­ported by ev­i­dence, to court?”

The min­is­ter feigned amaze­ment. He re­minded the host of his gov­ern­ment's predica­ment. “Nor­mally a gov­ern­ment acts on the ad­vice of its at­tor­ney gen­eral,” he said. “If we are to take ad­vice from the present at­tor­ney gen­eral, well, we might as well call Kenny An­thony and ask him how to pro­ceed to court.”

He said he con­sid­ered the present AG a po­lit­i­cal ap­point­ment care­fully dis­guised to look like a reg­u­lar pub­lic ser­vant. She sat in on Cabi­net meet­ings, the min­is­ter con­firmed, “but do you think she can prop­erly ad­vise the gov­ern­ment on how to pro­ceed with le­gal mat­ters that she brought against cur­rent Cabi­net mem­bers in the time of the pre­vi­ous prime min­is­ter?”

Mr. Joseph re­peated him­self: “The cur­rent at­tor­ney gen­eral sits as a pub­lic ser­vant and con­sti­tu­tion­ally falls un­der the purview of the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion. It is a highly com­pli­cated le­gal mat­ter to re­move the AG in her cal­cu­lated cir­cum­stances.”

Ac­cord­ing to Sec­tion 86 of the Saint Lu­cia Con­sti­tu­tion: “A pub­lic of­fi­cer shall not be re­moved from of­fice or sub­ject to any other pun­ish­ment un­der this sec­tion on the grounds of any act done or omit­ted by him in the ex­er­cise of a ju­di­cial func­tion con­ferred on him un­less the Ju­di­cial and Le­gal Ser­vices Com­mis­sion con­curs therein.”

Mean­while “over ten” overseas am­bas­sadors con­tracted by the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion re­main in of­fice, con­trary to the gov­ern­ment's wishes. Usu­ally, said Mr. Joseph, a new gov­ern­ment is left room to de­ter­mine for it­self who will be its overseas rep­re­sen­ta­tives. In the cur­rent cir­cum­stances, the min­is­ter in­formed the TALK au­di­ence, “re­mov­ing any am­bas­sadors would come at a se­ri­ous cost to tax­pay­ers.”

With ref­er­ence to the Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Project, Joseph said: “When the im­me­di­ate past prime min­is­ter Dr. Kenny An­thony re­turned to of­fice in 2011 he in­tro­duced a new pro­ce­dure that re­quired Tai­wanese funds to go through the Con­sol­i­dated Fund. How­ever, we've found out the money was ac­tu­ally be­ing used for mat­ters un­re­lated to the CDP and donor ex­pec­ta­tions.”

Again the host re­minded the min­is­ter that sim­i­lar sto­ries were told about the King ad­min­is­tra­tion when the Kenny An­thony gov­ern­ment re­gained of­fice in 2011. “It turned out to be all talk,” said Rick Wayne, “and the peo­ple took it in the neck. All talk and no ac­tion, all at pub­lic ex­pense.”

Guy Joseph shrugged: “We are back again to an at­tor­ney gen­eral whose ad­vice we can­not trust but who is on con­tract to the gov­ern­ment whether or not we like it. But this is a prob­lem that will be solved, one way or an­other.”

Eco­nomic devel­op­ment min­is­ter Guy Joseph: Can he clear the road­blocks to this gov­ern­ment’s suc­cess?

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