– says Baksh, Directors associated with major scandals
Shadow Finance Minister of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Carl Greenidge believes that the crisis of confidence in Guyana is due to a number of factors, one of which includes the absence of performance assessment by the Board of Directors of Companies.
He made specific reference to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), which he said has been badly wounded by poor financial management, ill-informed investment decisions, conflict of interest and corruption at the point of procurement.
He opined too that the roots of these problems lie at the interface of Government, its Board of Directors and Management.
Shaik Baksh, currently Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Water Inc. was recently appointed as GuySuCo’s new Chairman. Several past members were retained.
Greenidge doubts that the Board’s new chief and old members will do much, if anything, to improve the company’s performance.
He said that if one seriously considers the poor performance of the past members and the ‘questionable’ history of its new Chairman, then the supposedly new team can in no way be seen as credible enough to ensure the revival of the ailing state-owned company.
Greenidge insisted that GuySuCo’s performance would not improve without drastic change. The development plan for 2014-2017, he said, will have to be drastically revisited by the new Board because it is already redundant.
As he proceeded to examining the members of the board, he mentioned some of those who were retained. These include Dr. Dindyal Permaul, Chief Executive Officer, Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), Mr. Keith Burrowes, Executive Chairman, Board of Directors, Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest), Badri Persaud, Managing Director, Guyana Oil (Guyoil) and Geeta Singh-Knight.
Greenidge said that there has not any been any attempt to justify the retention of the specific former Board members.
The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee said that a case in point is that of the new Chairman who has a “history” and is too closely associated with some major corruption scandals to be credible as a change agent for the kind of new directions needed by GuySuCo.
“On his watch, there was a billion dollar scam involving outdated books for the Ministry of Education exposed by Bohlan Boodoo, a book supplier, a matter cited in the Auditor General’s 2010 report. Furthermore, who can forget, for example, the hilarious but embarrassing performance he put on with Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh at the press conference in 2012 to defend contracts awarded to a company for the procurement of school computers. By his own admission, not one but 38 contracts had been awarded to a company before that company existed and while one of its Directors was 16 years old,” Greenidge said.
In similar vein, Geeta Singh-Knight he said, presided over the collapse of the Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) Guyana. The Parliamentarian said that when the losses for which she was responsible were put to former President Bharrat Jagdeo on the occasion of the announcement of her first appointment to the GuySuCo Board, he (Jagdeo) said in her defence that, “It’s not like it (the money) disappeared or was siphoned off. It might be bad judgment.”(
That “bad judgment” Greenidge said, included breaking the law by undertaking overseas investment significantly in excess of what the laws of Guyana permit. For a considerable period, the former Finance Minister said that it was known that she was in breach of the Insurance Act. For those reasons, he reminded that Raphael Trotman, now House Speaker, had lambasted the decision to place her on the GuySuCo Board.
Additionally, the politician made the point that bad judgment is not normally an asset a responsible employer would seek out in recruiting staff, let alone Board members.
Greenidge also referred to Keith Burrowes and his inability or unwillingness to provide answers to the press questions about the role of GO-INVEST in relation to exceptional fiscal concessions received by Bai Shan Lin. This, he said, suggests no appetite for accountability.
“The poor performance of the company, its Board and management are not a coincidence. It is self inflicted and arises in part from reckless and socially irresponsible behaviour. In one swoop over less than 20 years the Board has managed, no doubt at the prompting of the PPP, to create a de facto homogeneity that is dysfunctional and poisonous,” the politician concluded.
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