Dr Mitchell: To me that was an immoral, dishonest act
“I think it was extremely unfortunate for the government then, to have appointed somebody permanent, as Cabinet Secretary”.
The words of Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell as he revisited the Gemma Bain-Thomas issue on Klassic Radio Wednesday.
The Prime Minister chided the Government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for what he sees as wrong fundamentally, to appoint someone in a youthful position to a permanent job as cabinet secretary knowing that job is a sensitive job for the government of the day.
“I believe those persons should be on contract because even if I leave government today and another Prime Minister takes over the country the present Cabinet Secretary may not be wanted by the Prime Minister because that is a sensitive job. But the Government then went and gave a full appointment, to someone they know just before an election. If the Government changes, that person now would have to be paid while they cannot be in the Cabinet Office,” he added.
This is exactly the case with Gemma Bain-Thomas who, after thirty years as a Public Servant, was appointed Cabinet Secretary under the NDC Government in 2008.
Upon winning the General Elections in 2013 the NNP Government transferred Bain-Thomas to a non-established post created just for her.
The matter had its day in court in 2017 where it was deemed spiteful and she was awarded damages in excess of $650,000.00 plus interest and costs for breach of her constitutional rights.
As the years passed and no monies were paid to Bain-Thomas, the matter was again brought before the court in March of 2019 and she was awarded a further $75,000.00 plus interest and costs as vindicatory damages which to date she still awaits.
When asked live on the air about the payment for Bain-Thomas, Prime Minister Mitchell expressed disagreement with the payment. “I know they are working on the final formula. It is unfortunate because I don’t think that was deserving at all,” he said.
While Bain-Thomas was appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Public Service Commission, Dr Mitchell is blaming the NDC for an act he sees as intrinsically wrong which does not match his political style.
“The country is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars, more than a million dollars for what a previous Government did which I think was fundamentally flawed; I have not done it in my 20 odd years. When I left government in 2008, I could have named Elizabeth Greenidge as Cabinet Secretary, she was never given a permanent position because I didn’t think it was right. … A Government comes in 3 or 4 years and take somebody new in the Public Service and you make them permanent Cabinet Secretary. Is that fair? No, it is not fair.”