Minister dismisses charges of government discord

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada: Grenada’s Finance Minister and deputy leader of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Nazim Burke, has dismissed newspaper reports suggesting that the government is seriously divided.

Burke said it’s normal for organizations – including governments – to have differences of opinions, but he refused to “exaggerate the problem or make it any more than it is”.

Sowing the seeds of “discord and division” is not helpful to the NDC, the government or the country, Burke said.

“What we need really at a time like this is a united government. Nothing that we say that divides the country can help us at this time,” Burke said.

Burke made the remarks when asked to comment on allegations in the February 19 edition of The New Today newspaper that “there are elements in the cabinet who are bent on destabilizing the government for their own selfish gains”.

The allegations were contained in a commentary published on the newspaper’s letters page. The “elements in the cabinet” were described by the writer as the “Gang of Four”. In its editorial, The New Today said it received the letter from “someone with close ties to the ruling National Democratic Congress government of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas”.

However, Burke dismissed allegations of a “Gang of Four” in the cabinet.

“I do not subscribe to the Gang of Four theory. I would not like to refer to any members of the cabinet as a gang,” he said, adding that he believes all current government ministers want to remain in cabinet.

“I don’t think that what we are facing is a situation where members do not want to serve under Prime Minister Thomas,” said Burke.

Burke acknowledged disagreements are part of politics but “how we deal with those disagreements really ultimately comes to the maturity of cabinet members themselves and the leadership of the Prime Minister”.

Burke expressed surprise when asked about rumours that some cabinet members were deliberately blocking attempts to lay charges and prosecute former members of the New National Party administration on allegations of corruption.

“I have never heard it alleged that there is anybody in the cabinet who does not want prosecution. I don’t think there will be anybody in the cabinet who can stop prosecution if there is going to be prosecution. I don’t have any reason to think that there is anybody in the cabinet who is opposed to prosecution,” said Burke.

The finance minister said various investigations are ongoing and, in one instance, the probe is “well-advanced”.

Burke said investigations require time and urged patience from the Grenadian public.

“We are working with a forensic accountant who has gathered a significant amount of information for us. The police are involved, the DPP is involved, the Financial Intelligence Unit is involved. Investigations are ongoing, I can assure. I’m asking you to take my word,” said Burke.

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