Former Finance Minister Carl Greenidge has been sacked as the Deputy Senior Director in the CARICOM Secretariat’s Office of Trade and Negotiations (OTN), following a complaint by the Guyana government over recent statements he made while delivering a tribute at the funeral service for the late Winston Murray.
Sources close to Greenidge told Stabroek News yesterday that he had communicated to them that “CARICOM had sacked him.” Efforts to contact the former PNC minister for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon said on Thursday that Cabinet has registered its rejection of “a seeming abuse of protocol” by Greenidge. The statement which drew the government’s ire was when Greenidge said: “I share Winston’s belief that notwithstanding the trauma of the last few decades Guyana can, with visionary leadership, be lifted from this nightmare in which it finds itself.”
According to Luncheon, “Cabinet went further and decided to notify the [CARICOM] Secretariat that the functionary’s conduct has led to a gross loss of confidence by the government of Guyana in his ability to represent the interests of Guyana and the government at the Community and at bilateral levels,” Luncheon said. He said that the government was not calling for Greenidge’s resignation but that it was advocating for the respect for protocol.
When questioned yesterday about Greenidge’s future at CARICOM, Secretary General Edwin Carrington said that Greenidge is still a member of the OTN but it is unclear whether his contract will be renewed. “As of now Mr. Greenidge is a member of the OTN and as far as I know he has a contract which takes him up to the end of this year and that is very soon,” Carrington said. According to him, “What happens beyond that depends on if there are resources, if we are able to do anything further.” He added, “There are a number of people whose contracts are ending at the end of December, his is one. I don’t know that there is any sanctionable action that one will necessarily be taking on a contract which ends in another week, ten days.”
The official complaint by the government was made by Labour Minister Manzoor Nadir, in his capacity as the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and International Cooperation. Nadir, in a letter, said, Greenidge’s comments “cast aspersions on and brought disrepute to H.E. Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, President of the Republic of Guyana and his Government” and that “his remarks are highly unprofessional and clearly put him in a conflict of interest position.” He added: “I therefore wish to place on record the Govern-ment of Guyana’s loss of confidence in Mr. Greenidge’s ability to represent it and urge that he not be involved in any negotiations that would impact on Guyana or in any negotiations on behalf of Guyana.”
One of the sources close to Greenidge said that this is not the first time the PPP/C administration had sought to interfere with the former minister’s professional development. The source said that shortly after the PPP/C assumed office in 1992, the government refused to support his bid to become the Deputy Secretary General of the ACP Group. He eventually secured the position for a period. However, when he sought to have it renewed, the administration again did not support him. The source opined that “the government was clearly out to get him.”
Greenidge served as an interim Secretary General of the ACP Group in Brussels and Director of the joint ACP-EU specialist institution on information communication technology, at the CTA in Wageningen, The Netherlands.
As Minister of Finance, Greenidge headed the Guyana teams which negotiated agreements such as Paris Club and the first ever programme for the clearance of arrears to the Multilateral Institutions under the so-called ‘Intensified Collaborative Approach’ for chronically indebted countries and buy-back of commercial debt, on which successful management of Guyana’s Economic Recovery Programme and HIPC eligibility were based.
Greenidge has been nominated to be the PNCR presidential candidate for the 2011 general elections by the group which supported Winston Murray before his death last month.