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Grenada journalist pleads 'not guilty' to finance minister
Published on November 30, 2012 Email To Friend    Print Version

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada -- One of Grenada’s best-known writers and commentators has accused the country’s finance minister, Nazim Burke, of engaging in a fight for power and badmouthing political friends.

“You’ve done a very good job at that and you needed no help,” journalist Hamlet Mark said on Wednesday in comments directed at Burke, who is also deputy leader of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Burke and Mark were on the same campaign team that brought victory to the NDC in general elections in July 2008.

Since then, however, many members and supporters – including sitting NDC MPs – have distanced themselves from the party, unhappy with the approach in dealing with the country’s economic and political problems.

Mark’s comments on Wednesday followed critical remarks from Burke in response to a news release published by Caribupdate news service. Mark is a Caribupdate director.

The Caribupdate item reported that government was seeking a bailout of EC$10 million from the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to help meet recurrent bills.

“It is the third time the government is turning to the body in a disastrous fiscal year for the Tillman Thomas administration,” Caribupdate said. “The board is to decide in days on the request, but one director reported of members going sour on the constant requests.”

When asked in a radio interview on Wednesday about the Caribupdate report, Burke said the writer “has taken a very strong dedicated commitment to try to bring the government down.”

Mark, in a Caribupdate commentary titled, “Of mass deception and paranoia,” responded with a question and comments to Burke.

“Is that me, sir?” he asked. “Not guilty! It wasn’t me that has spent four years fighting for power, bad talking colleagues and undermining leaders.”

Mark said an invitation to Burke on Wednesday to be interviewed about the economic challenges of the country was declined by the minister, who “walked away without offering to speak at any time”.

The finance minister, according to Mark, has gone on a “well thought-out and orchestrated campaign” to “confuse people and deliberately mislead” them about government’s borrowings from the NIS.

“Burke must stop hiding behind semantics,” Mark said, “and state whether what we ascertain as the facts are true or not; no beating around the bush.”

Mark, in a commentary earlier this year, described Burke as Grenada’s worst finance minister since the country’s independence in 1974.

He has also questioned his participation in some of the activities relating to the October 1983 crisis in Grenada, saying Burke “may be technically right per se in that he was not a member of the Revolution Military Council. But he was their finance guy, and headed the ministry of finance” following the assassination of former prime minister Maurice Bishop.

In addition, Mark has called on Burke to explain “exactly what his role was in 2002 in the plan to unseat Tillman Thomas as the leader of the NDC”.
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