Monday, 8 December 2014

The NNP and Keith Mitchell Killing Statutory Bodies In Grenada.


 Statutory Bodies in Organisational Trauma

Since the return of the NNP to office, Statutory Bodies have had a rough ride with almost every entity in a state of malaise and a plethora of horror stories, some of which are not yet in the public domain

1. Grenada Postal Corporation
Long time manager Leo Roberts was “retired” after an ugly and poorly managed transition to Phillip Gittens who once worked as an accountant in the Corporation. All of this took place under the watch of Shawn Charles, an employee of Grenlec who is said to be an aspiring contender to replace Dr. Claris Modeste Curwen as NNP candidate for St Mark.

For some time, the corporation has been in decline with significant financial losses reported yearly. Attempts by the Chairman to micro manage only served to demoralise staff and management alike. It has been downhill for Gittens since then and he was eventually sent on leave”in the first instance” a few months ago. It is not known if he still receives his salary and staff is unaware of his present status. Devon Rachae seems to have some “holding position” and management functions seem to be exercised through the Executive Secretary and the Manager, Human Resources.

The line minister, Gregory Bowen, held a meeting with staff and he dropped strong hints that a program of retrenchment is inevitable. Since then, there no action has been taken in this regard and uncertainty is the order of the day. Morale is low and the working environment is described as tense.

2. Grave Concrete and Emulsion Corporation
Since the change of government, a new chairman was appointed who does not have any experience in policy development and implementation. As an employee of another state owned corporation, the individual is employed at the lower middle management level. There are other members on the Board who are vastly more capable and experienced than the present Chairman.

The former manager Mr. K Whiteman was unceremoniously dismissed and various members of the Board took turns to “help out” in the exercise of management functions. The level of frustration that came with the new arrangements since election, led to the resignation of long standing operations manager Mr. Marryshow, who is reported to be an activist for the ruling party.

Willie Hercules, former acting ombudsman now sits in the manager’s chair. Mr. Hercules has no known competence in managing any multimillion businesses

Some months ago Hon Gregory Bowen, addressed the workers and again dropped strong hints that retrenchment was necessary. However, the Prime Minister made a public statement contradicting what Mr. Bowen told the employees. It is a known fact that Gravel and Concrete is overstaffed and employees are uneasy and waiting for the next move by the Board and the government.


3. National Lotteries Authority
This corporation experienced a dramatic turnaround during the tenure of the NDC with sales increases of over 150% in four years and significant strides were made in its profitability.
Mr. Jeffery Gilbert was made chairman after the change of administration. He then transitioned to being appointed manager by the same Board he chaired and Mr. Hayden Redhead, a sitting Board member was appointed “special projects officer”. Both former Board members are now full time employees of the NLA.
Recent newspaper reports revealed irregularities in the financial management of the Authority. Available evidence points to Richard De Allie, former Financial Controller, who is the brother of Senator Christopher De Allie. It is reported that he overpaid himself over a number of months and the Board chose to summon him to a meeting to address the allegations.  When faced with overwhelming evidence, he paid back the money and the Board accepted. The actions of the Board may a violation of their fiduciary responsibilities.

4. Grenada Airports Authority
Mr Richard De Allie was placed as Accountant at the Authority. There was no public advertisement of the post and he transitioned from the NLA after giving one days notice. It is reported that the former holder of that positioned was axed as a result of inaccurate reports given about the employee from a close relative of the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance. The straw that broke the camel’s back was that was a suspected supporter of the main opposition NDC.

5. Marketing and National Importing Board
Long standing manager Mr. Fitzroy James was pushed out of the organisation and was succeeded by Ruel Edwards, the then Chairman of the Board. This is the second such occurrence in recent time where the Chairman of state enterprises transitioned to the position of manager to benefit from more lucrative salaries and perks.

6. Grenada National Stadium
The New Board included individuals who were active commercial users of the facilities and a particular member who had a significant outstanding payment owed to the stadium.
One of the first decisions of the Board was to write off the outstanding debt of that particular member and to lower the existing rates for use of the stadium facilities

The level of politicisation of these organisations has impacted on the choice of external auditors. In some cases incompetent audit firms have replaced efficient ones only on the basis of the perceived political connection of the principals of the firm.

The government recently announced new measures to improve on the level of accountability of statutory bodies to include increased ministerial oversight. Can Hon Delma Thomas give adequate ministerial direction to the NIS? There are more questions than answers.

BY Sandra Davis


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