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Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has been called upon to remove Guy Joseph as minister of economic development.
That call is coming from Opposition Leader Philip J. Pierre, who said at a press conference Thursday that Joseph should be disciplined for “gross misbehaviour in public office” in connection with a letter in the public domain from the Ministry of Economic Development “confirming the direct award of over $162 million worth of contracts without parliament approval”.
Joseph, who is currently the minister for economic development, housing, urban renewal, transport and civil aviation, and MP for Castries South East, is alleged to have signed the ‘PAJOAH letter’.
Pierre explained: “In a statement to the press dated 4th April, 2019, I, in my capacity as leader of the opposition called on the prime minister to clarify the circumstances surrounding a letter in the public domain from the Ministry of Economic Development confirming the direct award of over $162 million worth of contracts without parliament approval.
“At that time, I called on the prime minister to recognize the seriousness of the letter since Hon. 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.”
Pierre said if the signature was fraudulent then the police should be called to investigate “this rather serious matter”.
There has however been no response from Prime Minister Chastanet, Pierre claimed.
“Is the prime minister afraid of what an investigation into the PAJOAH letter would reveal?” the opposition leader asked. “It has now been established that the Hon. Guy Joseph has not denied that the letter is authentic and has only sought to hide behind a claim of the Ministry’s document being private.”
Pierre went on to say that it is an “internationally accepted fact” that such letters are never permitted without the approval of the prime minister who has publicly denied knowledge of the letter. He pointed out that the prime minister has also said that government has already sourced funding for the projects mentioned in the letter.
“Further, a former prime minister has, and rightfully so stated, that if the letter and signature were indeed authentic that was a gross violation of the ministerial code and the minister should be disciplined.
“Accordingly, the Saint Lucia Labour Party calls on all parties to totally disregard that letter and request that the prime minister relieve Guy Joseph of the portfolio of economic development for this gross misbehaviour in public office, a clear breach of the protocols, checks and balances as it pertains to matters of public finance,” Pierre added.