Thursday 6 August, 2020

Joseph calls Pierre a fool in latest fallout of Pajoah letter

Economic Development Minister Guy Joseph on Monday called Leader of the Opposition Philip J Pierre a fool for claiming that the PAJOAH letter was a contract and that it committed the Government of Saint Lucia to debt of EC$167.4 million.

This is the harshest of criticisms Joseph has levelled at the Opposition Leader since Pierre first spoke about that letter early last month and called on Prime Minister Allen Chastanet to discipline Joseph for writing such a letter.

Joseph, after calling Pierre a fool, did not belabour the point but attempted to show why Pierre was a fool to call for disciplinary action against him and for his dismissal from the Economic Development portfolio.

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Minister Joseph scoffed at the idea that the letter was a violation of the Ministerial code and that he should resign as a result and said Pierre was absurd to call for his resignation.

Joseph then referred to the Rochamel and Grynberg scandals under the former administration as reasons for Pierre’s absurdity as these two matters are of more worrying concerns to the country than the PAJOAH’s letter.

“Two wrongs do not make a right,” Joseph said but if you (Pierre) want to speak with any moral authority on any matter you must stand as an example of having stood for some principle at some point in time in your life,” Joseph said of Pierre.

Joseph said Pierre had no moral authority to challenge him on the PAJOAH’s letter. He then brought up the Robert Ainsworth letter, which signed by former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony to Englishman Robert Ainsworth suggesting the leasing or purchasing of various parcels of lands in the south measuring 1000 acres for Ainsworth business ventures. That letter was described by Pierre as “a Letter of Comfort”.

Joseph also took Pierre to task for not saying a word about the Grynberg matter that Dr Anthony signed back in 2000.

Joseph said Pierre’s statement that the letter commits the Government of Saint Lucia to any debt was ridiculous and low of Pierre, particularly now that he aspires to be prime minister of Saint Lucia. Joseph said Pierre was stooping low to get at him.

The letter in question, bearing a 12 November 2018 date, was aimed at any financial institution informing that the Government of Saint Lucia was engaged in discussion with a company known as PAJOAH’s Limited and Associates about funding a street lighting and St. Jude Hospital projects in Saint Lucia.

The letter, which was written on the letterhead of the Ministry of Economic Development and with a signature that purports to be that of Minister Joseph, noted that upon submission of Proof of Funding to execute the above-mentioned projects, the Government of Saint Lucia has agreed to enter into a contractual agreement with PAJOAH’s Limited and Associates. And that the Government of Saint Lucia is also committed to repaying the loan of US sixty-two million dollars or EC$167.4 million at a 3.59% interest rate over a fifteen – year period once the projects are successfully completed.

Joseph's latest salvo at Pierre comes five days after Pierre called on Prime Minister Allen Chastanet to fire Joseph from his portfolio of Economic Development, with Pierre claiming then that the letter signified a gross misbehaviour in public office and was a clear breach of the protocols, checks and balances as it pertains to matters of public finance.

Pierre, last month, had called on the Prime Minister to clarify the circumstances surrounding the letter that was circulating in the public domain via social media.

“At that time, I called on the Prime Minister to recognize the seriousness of the letter since Honourable Guy Joseph was alleged to have signed the letter.  I informed the Prime Minister that if the signature was authentic then this was a rather serious matter and Guy Joseph should be disciplined for gross misbehaviour in public office. On the other hand, if the signature was fraudulent then the police should be called to investigate this rather serious matter.  There has been no response from the Honourable Prime Minister,” Pierre said last week.

Pierre, questioning whether the Prime Minister was afraid of what an investigation into the PAJOAH letter would reveal, said “it is an internationally accepted fact that such letters are never permitted except with the approval of the Prime Minister who has publicly denied knowledge of the letter.”

Pierre added that a former Prime Minister has stated that if the letter and signature were indeed authentic then it was a gross violation of the Ministerial code and the Minister should be disciplined.

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