Grenada’s Finance Minister Nazim Burke has categorically denied that state funds were used to finance the Prime Minister’s rally held in St. Andrew on Sunday.
Burke in an exclusive with freelance journalist Nicole Best refuted claims that the Prime Minister’s office was paying expenses related to the rally, a claim which was reportedly made by an official from the Prime Minister’s Minister.
“I want to make it categorically clear that absolutely not resources from the government of Grenada or from the national treasury is being used for this event,” Burke said.
“From my understanding, private persons who are sympathetic to the Prime Minister have made resources available to him and to the constituencies around the country to try to do this in support of him as Prime Minister of the country and as a demonstration of their support and their vote of confidence in him.”
The rally which was announced by Prime Minister Tillman Thomas in his address to the nation last Thursday night, following the resignation of former foreign Minister Karl Hood, was said to be his way of showing gratitude to the people of Grenada for their support of him following the failure of a No Confidence Motion filed against him by Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Mitchell.
“As an act of appreciation and expressions of support for the Government especially in the past two weeks, I in my capacity as Prime Minister, will be holding a national thanksgiving rally at the Grenville car park…” Prime Minister Thomas said in his address.
During Sunday’s rally a number of protocol officers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were present and attending unto the needs of the dignitaries, made up primarily of government ministers and cabinet members as well as members of the NGO community and founding members of the National Democratic Congress.
Burke in response to questions as to why the protocol officers were in attendance and obviously at work, said the fact that it is a Prime Minister’s Rally means that there is nothing wrong with the ‘apparatus’ of the state being made available for the use of the Prime Minister.
“This is a Prime Minister’s rally; to that extent the apparatus of the state can be available, even if it is not being used,” Burke said.
“The fact that public officials are here on their own time should not worry you or any other journalist,” Burke told freelance journalist Nicole Best.
But Burke’s admission is different to what an official from the Prime Minister’s office told another journalist. Press Secretary Richard Simon is reported to have told another journalist that the Prime Minister’s office will collect the tab.
Another journalist has reported that a number of persons from government offices who attended and worked at the rally are said to have filed for overtime allowances for that day.©