GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – As Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders gather in Haiti for their 24th intersessional summit on Monday, the man who claims he has been given the green light to be the grouping’s Deputy Secretary General is denying media reports of an alleged conflict-of-interest with a Canadian-funded project.
In a statement, Dr. Naresh Singh described the media reports out of Canada as “misleading and incorrect”, adding that" with more than 30 years of experience as an international development specialist, senior manager and policy adviser, I am very dismayed at tghe unproven allegations that have been circulating in the media".
Foreign Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues is quoted in the local media here as saying that Guyana had originally given CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin La Rocque its “no objection” to Singh becoming his deputy at the Guyana-based regional headquarters, replacing Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite who recently ended her tenure as Deputy Secretary General.
But she acknowledged that in light of the media reports, she has asked the country’s High Commissioner to Canada, Harrynarine Nawbatt to investigate the matter and that Georgetown could reverse its "no objection" if required.
She said also talks have also been held with LaRocque on the issue.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) quoting Mouktar Abdillahi, a media relations advisor for the Federation of Canadian Municipalitie, reported that Singh had resigned as director of the Caribbean Local Economic Development (CARILED) programme, to pursue other employment opportunities.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CBC reported that Canada’s International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino has referred a potential conflict of interest case to the public sector integrity commissioner.
A French newspaper report quoted an unnamed former executive Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) official, who was at the centre of a recent whistle blower watchdog report, as saying that Singh went on work on a CIDA-funded project after he left the agency.
"It has come to my attention that a former CIDA employee may have been in a conflict of interest," Fantino said in a press release last Thursday.
According to the media reports, Singh, left the agency and went to work for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities as the director in charge of overseeing a new C$23.2-million (One Canadian dollar = US$0.99 cents) CIDA-funded project. But he resigned from his post at the FCM earlier this month.
In his statement, Singh said he 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 consultances 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. At no time did I intentionally break the rules or attempt to enrich myself at the expense of the Canadian taxpaer," he added.
Singh said that the recent suggestion that he may have been in a conflict of interest while at FMC "are mystifying".
"Any suggestions 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 and that lasted nearly five months," he said, adding "I look forward with great anticipation to beginning my work at CARICOM".