Dear Editor, I refer to the article in the stabroek News (SN 2 16 13) captioned "Naresh Singh says already appointed Deputy

Caricom Secretary General, denies any conflict of interest", and would appreciate the opportunity to comment! The case of the presumptive Deputy Secretary-General of CARICOM … and Dr. Naresh Singh‟s voluntary statements … gets more bizarre by the second! Before our eyes a professional tragedy is unfolding that is painful in its enormity and implications for the national and regional ethos, and offers an insight into just how the “professionally commonplace” in Guyana is totally abhorrent in other jurisdictions. Dr. Jeffrey Satinover once advised that those who persist over the hum of the soundbytes offered to the gullible will find the information they need. We have so persisted, done some reading, and now have to ask the hard questions! CARICOM is much too important to let this one pass! Mr. Singh has neglected in his statement to advise that the incidents leading to his first departure from CIDA were the subject of an investigation lasting over two years. His statement characterizes the severity of the accusations against him as minimal and trifling in nature, and uses casually dismissive words such as “…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 small number of isolated emails and conference calls during business hours which were inappropriate….” The FAIR website ( ) is wont to use decidedly more aggressive language to characterize the first … and second … departure of Mr. Singh from his CIDA and CIDA-affiliated jobs: "… A

former senior official who left the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in disgrace after embezzling government resources – who was supposed never to work again for Ottawa because of his repeated abuses – has managed to find a new dream job... globetrotting in tropical paradise islands with a budget of $20 million provided by his former employer….”
Where else in the list of “tropical islands” that Mr. Singh “globe-trotted” to would FAIR be referring to but … you guessed it … Guyana! The report in the Guyana Times of scarcely 2 days ago (February 15, 2013) carries these fateful words “…Meanwhile, Local Government Minister Ganga Persaud stated that Dr Singh was in Guyana up until Friday conducting interviews for the CARILED national coordinator position, which had been left vacant since the resignation of the previous coordinator. Persaud stated that Dr Singh left Guyana on Friday after speaking about the plans for the CARILED programme….”

One wonders who were the persons “interviewed‟ and who, eventually, would have occupied that "national coordinator" position while Dr. Singh was potentially ensconced in the lofty offices of CARICOM, also in Georgetown.A fundamental point of departure would be the question "Was the position ever advertised in the local press?".

But all this would be business-as-usual in the bizarre and upside-down Guyana context (see the online article “Greed, Genocide … and now „Green‟: Corruption and Underdevelopment in Guyana”; ) were it not for the unusually strong language used by Guyana‟s Minister of Foreign Affairs in immediately reacting to the “conflict-of-interest” issue in the media, and additionally signaling her government‟s willingness to review its „no-objection” advice to CARICOM re Dr. Naresh Singh if the Secretary-General so requested. One senses that the national conscience is finally awakening. We could easily have come to the same decision as Foreign-Minister Rodrigues-Birkett had we read the other utterly damning and unambiguous words of the FAIR website quoted above: “… In September 2010, the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner received a disclosure of "wrongdoing" by this director general of the Gatineau office. Faced with overwhelming evidence, Singh resigned during the investigation….” “… Last week, Commissioner Mario Dion unveiled a devastating investigative report revealing that Naresh Singh had forced officials in his office to work for his personal gain during their working hours, ensuring the monitoring and planning of his private commercial contracts as a consultant in international development….” “… He put himself repeatedly in conflict of interest by conducting personal business with an organization that also deals with CIDA. He even used his offiical CIDA email to correspond with potential customers….” “… In response to the report, Minister Fantino stated that measures had been put in place to trigger an alarm if Singh ever sought again to be rehired by the federal government….” CARICOM‟s Secretary-General, and the Heads of Government, cannot be as dismissive of these words as Dr. Singh has chosen to be. Because two years of investigative work cannot be ignored, and the very least that the institution can do is assess the Canadian report themselves, and require that Dr. Singh respond to the issues raised in detail. Or else they invite the same predicament upon themselves.

The obvious anomaly that still persists is the question of whether there was yet another (recent) incident which has come to the attention of the Canadian Minister for International Cooperation, Julian Fantino. Despite Commissioner Mario Dion‟s report of just last week, the Minister‟s words of February 14th instant are pregnant with other new possibilities: “…"It has been brought to my attention that a former employee of CIDA could have been in a conflict of interest. I am deeply concerned about this matter, which I am referring immediately to the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner for consideration,…." Surely he cannot be referring to the same case which the Integrity Commissioner has supposedly just addressed after two years of investigation? Was this a misprint on the FAIR website? One senses that the local Canadian High Commission, or the office of the Minister of International Cooperation, can clear up this simple detail in a hurry. Exactly how deep does this one go? One can only hope that while the USA laments Guyana‟s listlessness on the Freedomof-Information issue ( ), the Secretary-General of CARICOM, and the Heads of Government Secretariat, will be infinitely more open with the Guyanese and Caribbean public. It is a testimony to the openness and transparency of the Canadian public-servant responsibility-model, then, that the FAIR website was able to reiterate that “…Dr. Singh knew since last October the content of the devastating report against him…. “ Confidentiality requirements in Canada would have kept this information both from Guyana's Foreign Affairs Minister and CARICOM. How, then, does Singh‟s casualness … even flippancy … in his statement of February 16th, 2013, measure up with his knowledge of the content of Dion‟s report, and his characterization of himself to the CARICOM Secretariat during the 5-month interview process? More questions than answers ... And are there any sane answers that Dr. Singh can reasonably offer us at this time? Yours faithfully, Roger Williams

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