Boards will not be micromanaged – Minister Sharma

Georgetown, GINA, July 8, 2016

Boards of Directors, appointed to manage statutory and other institutions of state will not be micromanaged, Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma said.

In a recent interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Sharma said, “the boards must be independent. We don’t want it to be a political thing, so you’ll see many of them are not linked to, or in the government system. In the previous government, you had members of the government system such as Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Department sitting on the board. Here we have persons from outside sitting on the boards.”

Citing recent occurrences at the National Communications Network (NCN) surrounding the hiring of a Chief Executive Officer for the broadcasting agency, Sharma pointed out that, “… you saw a board member resigning because he felt otherwise whereas the majority of the board had gone in favour of that individual, government did not step in. The minister responsible, the Prime Minister did not step in, so if something should happen, the board will take the responsibility.”

According to the Minister, the forensic audits were commissioned by government to examine statutory bodies, companies and entities that government has direct interest in, with regards funding, to understand their operations and check their efficiency.

“The audit would have pointed out alarming things like persons not taking leave. In one case at the Frequency Management Unit the individual was paid nine million dollars because he didn’t take leave for about eight years. Reviewing the audit to see the most common deficiency, believe it or not, people not taking leave was one of them and it’s important because if you are head of a department and you are not taking leave, it’s an audit risk, it could mean you are doing something you don’t want anyone else to know about. These are cause for suspicions,” Sharma explained.

Additionally, the Minister noted that, Boards of Directors are responsible for the corporate governance of the agencies for which they have oversight and failure to ensure proper execution of such over sight can result in criminal charges being laid, “because you have been given that oversight role and you are allowing all these things to pass.” Sharma added.

Referring to the breaches which occurred under the previous administration, Sharma said, “We wanted to focus on the efficiency and the performance of the boards because we wanted to ensure that when we appoint our boards they know exactly what they must do. They must not do the corrupt things like the past government.  “If they should do the same,  it is directly criminal and they will face charges [prosecution].”

The audits will make that very easy because the auditors are going to marry the boards’ activities with the law and so the new board is now given this additional piece of tool so they would not do the same, he proffered.

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