Caricom has rescinded the offer of the position of Deputy Secretary-General made to Guyanese Dr Naresh Singh, who is under investigation in Canada over a possible conflict of interest.
“The allegations and findings of that statutory body of inquiry are of grave concern to the Caribbean Community and the Secretary General. The Secretary General has taken the necessary action to repudiate the offer,” a statement from the Caricom Secretariat said yesterday.
“The Caribbean Community made an offer to Dr Naresh Singh for the post of Deputy Secretary-General consequent upon requisite checks. This candidate had been proposed by the Secretary-General in accordance with the recruitment process for executive management of the secretariat,” the release said. “Subsequent to the offer and Dr Singh’s acceptance of that offer, information came to light regarding certain allegations against Dr Singh which had been the subject of a confidential investigation by the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, which is an independent Agency of the Parliament of Canada.”
Sources said the Canadian investigation has proven embarrassing for Caricom and given the risk of an adverse finding the decision was taken to withdraw the contract.
Singh resigned recently from a Canadian-funded programme CARILED to take up the Caricom position. He had moved to the CARILED project from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) amid an investigation by a watchdog agency of practices at CIDA. Singh was said to have been at the centre of this investigation. CARILED is funded through CIDA and this resulted in Overseas Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino last week referring the matter to the integrity commissioner. Further funding for CARILED has also been suspended.
On February 16, amid the concerns raised about his Caricom candidacy, Singh took the unprecedented step of announcing that he had been appointed Deputy Caricom Secretary General. In a statement issued to the media, Singh said:
“With more than 30 years of experience as an international development specialist, senior manager and policy adviser, I am very dismayed at the unproven allegations that have been circulating in the media.”
“I left CIDA to continue my work in international development in the Caribbean region, under the auspices of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) The short consulting contracts in international development with the United Nations undertaken during my private time while employed at CIDA were permitted by CIDA rules at the time, as long as I received advance clearance.
“I failed to obtain clearance for two or three consultancies of two or three days duration, for which I accept full responsibility. In execution of my consultancies I received a very small number of isolated emails and conference calls during business hours which were inappropriate. At no time did I intentionally break the rules or attempt to enrich myself at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer.”
“The recent suggestion that I may have been in a conflict of interest while at FMC are mystifying.”
“Any suggestion that I left the Caribbean Local Economic development Programme (CARILED) because of media inquiries is totally untrue. I resigned from the position of Programme Director at CARILED in order to accept an appointment as Deputy Secretary General at CARICOM. My CARILED superiors were aware that I had applied for the CARICOM position and supported me throughout the hiring process that lasted nearly 5 months.”
“I look forward with great anticipation to beginning my work at CARICOM.”