Economic Development Minister Guy Joseph yesterday called Leader of the Opposition Philip J Pierre “a fool” for making a big deal about the PAJOAH letter.
What has come to be called the PAJOAH letter is a letter purporting to be written by Minister Joseph that sought funding for a street lighting project and the St Jude Hospital Project on behalf of a company called PAJOAH Limited and Associates.
Joseph has not denied nor affirmed having written that letter.
The letter was dated 12 November, 2018 and bore the letterhead of the Government of Saint Lucia. At its end was a signature asserting to be that of Joseph and a stamp declaring it to be the property of the Ministry of Economic Development, Transport and Civil Aviation.
This latest bombardment from Joseph comes five days after Pierre at a press conference called on Prime Minister Allen Chastanet to fire Joseph from his portfolio of Economic Development as the letter signified “gross misbehaviour in public office” and was “a clear breach of the protocols, checks and balances as it pertains to matters of public finance.”
Pierre, last month, had called on the Prime Minister to clarify the circumstances surrounding the letter that was circulating in the public domain via social media.
According to Pierre the letter was confirming the direct award of EC$167.4 million worth of contracts without Parliamentary approval.
“At that time, I called on the Prime Minister to recognise the seriousness of the letter since Honourable Guy Joseph was alleged to have signed the letter. I informed the Prime Minister that if the signature was authentic then this was a rather serious matter and Guy Joseph should be disciplined for gross misbehaviour in public office. On the other hand, if the signature was fraudulent then the police should be called to investigate this rather serious matter. There has been no response from the Honourable Prime Minister,” Pierre said last week.
Pierre, questioning whether the Prime Minister was afraid of what an investigation into the PAJOAH letter would reveal said, “It is an internationally accepted fact that such letters are never permitted except with the approval of the Prime Minister who has publicly denied knowledge of the letter.”
Pierre added that a former Prime Minister has stated that if the letter and signature were indeed authentic then it was a gross violation of the Ministerial code and the Minister should be disciplined.
Minister Joseph scoffed at the idea that the letter was a violation of the Ministerial code and that he should resign as a result. He described as absurd Pierre’s call for his resignation pointing to the Rochamel and Grynberg matters, during which time Pierre was part of the SLP government, as evidence of Pierre’s absurdity as he felt those two matters were of greater concern to the country than the PAJOAH letter.
“Two wrongs do not make a right,” Joseph said, “But if you (Pierre) want to speak with any moral authority on any matter you must stand as an example of having stood for some principle at some point in time in your life,” was Joseph’s returning salvo to Pierre yesterday.
Joseph further attempted to discredit Pierre’s moral authority challenging him on the PAJOAH’s letter by mentioning the Robert Ainsworth letter. The latter was a letter signed by former Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony to Englishman Robert Ainsworth suggesting the leasing or purchasing of various parcels of land in the south measuring 1000 acres for Ainsworth business ventures. That letter was described by Pierre as “a Letter of Comfort”. Joseph also said he has not heard Pierre speak about the Grynberg matter that Dr Anthony signed back in 2000.
Joseph said Pierre’s statement that the letter commits the Government of Saint Lucia to any debt was ridiculous and low of Pierre, particularly now that he aspires to be prime minister of Saint Lucia.