EDITOR, The Tribune.
Permit me to bring the following to your attention.
During the course of his remarks in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, 6th February 2013, Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Perry Christie, in his defense of Mrs. Michelle Reckley, ”Deputy Director” of Urban Renewal on Grand Bahama, revealed, for the first time, that he was advised of the plight of the Grand Bahama woman who was in dire need of heart surgery, before Mr Greg Moss, the former NIB Board Chairman, was approached by the woman’s family and before Mr Moss issued the letter of guarantee to Doctors Hospital in the amount of $15,000.
Prime Minister Christie revealed that Mrs Michelle Reckley first brought the woman’s plight to his attention.
He said: “. ……Ms. Reckley, I hope she’s listening to me, because I want you to use what has been said about you as an incentive to demonstrate that when you employ FNMs you are doing the right thing, that when you called me to tell me a woman who needed heart surgery and Dr. Sands said, 25, 35 thousand dollars, I never said to the public that I made an intervention as a result of your calling me – this the one they talking about Greg Moss about – that the first 15 thousand dollars came because I made the intervention. And she caused it to happen? The kids of the woman came down here to see me.
“I just met the mother. Saw the evidence of the surgery on her chest. But she did that. She didn’t have to do it. Urban renewal isn’t paying her to do that.”
This is incredible. It’s unbelievable! Why wasn’t the Prime Minister’s involvement in this matter disclosed earlier? Why was it hidden from the public? Mr Christie’s disclosure, whether inadvertent or deliberate, calls for further scrutiny and answers.
Mr Christie’s remarks disclosed that he had intimate knowledge of the incident as he provided details of both the nature and associated costs of the procedure. He also knew the name of the attending physician and that his intervention provided the “first fifteen thousand dollars” of the overall cost of “twenty five, thirty five thousand dollars.”
Mr Christie now needs to disclose the source of the funds provided as a result of his intervention. Were the funds private or from the public’s purse and if so which government agencies were involved?
In addition, the public needs to know the extent to which Mr Christie, Mr. Shane Gibson, the Minister responsible for NIB and Mr Greg Moss were concerned together in this matter.
Mr Greg Moss, issued the following press statement, on 2nd January of this year issued the following excerpt from his statement regarding this issue. It reads in part as follows:
“Greg Moss, NIB Chairman answers allegations.
“Concerning the issuance of a letter of guarantee to Doctors Hospital for fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000), that allegation is true. But the aspersion connected with it is patently and demonstrably false. The facts are that some months ago, on a Saturday, I received a distraught telephone call from a lady concerning her mother who was scheduled to have heart valve surgery at Doctors Hospital the following Monday morning at 8am.
“I did not personally know the lady or her mother. The lady mentioned to me that her mother was in dire need of the heart valve surgery, that the total cost was thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000), that the family had only fifteen thousand dollars and that the surgeon had made it abundantly clear that unless he was paid the full sum that day he would not prepare for, or conduct, the surgery. I telephoned the mother’s local physician to ensure that what I had been told was correct. I then called the surgeon at Doctors Hospital and offered to personally pay him an additional fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) to conduct the surgery but stated that I could not get a cheque to him before the Monday morning of the surgery. To my utter shock, the surgeon refused to accept my promise to pay him and repeated his statement to me that he would not perform the surgery unless he had been paid in full by the end of that day
“As Chairman of NIB, I am vested with the authority to commit NIB to any contract for not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) on condition that I must report the expenditure to the Board of NIB at its next sitting. I telephoned an executive of NIB and directed her to issue a letter of guarantee to Doctors Hospital for the sum of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) on condition that I would report it to the Board and ask that the Board approve it as a donation failing which I would pay it personally. The letter of Guarantee was issued and the surgery was performed. The woman lived. She is alive today. She, her children and grandchildren are grateful. I then decided to not burden NIB with the payment and elected not to ask for it to be approved as a donation. I paid the fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) myself. I paid it through a third party in an attempt (which has obviously now failed) to maintain my anonymity and reimbursed the third party with a cheque of my own from my personal account. None of these matters are in dispute and, again, all parties concerned are well aware of the facts…”
Among other revelations Mr. Moss claimed, “All parties concerned are well aware of the facts”. Is he admitting that Mr Christie, Mr Shane Gibson and female attorney, who acted on behalf of a cabinet minister, were “concerned parties…well aware of the facts”?
This may be an appropriate case for the Public Accounts Committee of the House to explore to determine whether the intervention and letter of guarantee were lawful and the extent to which public funds were utilised and also the involvement of the Prime Minister, the Minister Responsible and the former NIB board Chairman.
Enquiring minds would like to know.
February 11, 2013.