— PM Nagamootoo says time right for guidelines on conduct, use of power
By: Kiana Wilburg
It appears as though some Board Members can no longer be relied upon to be guided by their moral compass. As such, Prime Minister and First Vice President, Moses Nagamotooo believes that the time is right for a Code of Conduct policy to be set in motion for all Boards.
The politician made this comment during a recent interview with Kaieteur News.
“I believe that the time is right to have guidelines for what Board Members can and cannot do. It is a matter that should engage the attention of the government. There are already guidelines for the composition of Boards, so it is time to move to the next stage.”
The First Vice President stressed that Members of Boards must understand that they are not above the law, lords onto themselves or immune from prosecution. He stressed that they must understand the importance of sticking to their jurisdiction, showing respect for rules and regulations and bear in mind that they are there to give guidance on policies and not engage in disgraceful acts.
“There is a protocol and a practice of good moral conduct, which they must adhere to. Given what we are seeing, we need to now focus on having these guidelines. So the long and short is that I see the need for guidelines to be issued to Boards regarding the general exercise of their powers.”
The issue of misconduct by Board Members was recently highlighted in a forensic audit report on the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest).
The report said that former CEO of the company, Keith Burrowes, was just as harmful to the company as those he often accused.
Not only did he abuse his authority and treated the company like his private business but Burrowes acted as though Go-Invest was his personal piggy bank.
According to the audit report which was released by the Ministry of Finance on Friday, the former CEO took personal loans amounting to over $3M without approval from the Board. The auditors noted however that those monies were returned in February 2016.
The forensic auditors also stressed that the former CEO was not entitled to an entertainment allowance or salary advance(s) from Go –Invest since his salary was funded from Guyana National Co-operative Bank/Guyana Co-operative Financial Services. Be that as it may, Mr. Burrowes still went ahead and authorized and received an entertainment allowance for himself totaling $480,000, without the approval of the Board of Directors.
Compounding the issue of misuse of authority was the fact that Burrowes instructed that his personal driver, Mr. Nigel Gordon, be paid a sum of $232,365 for carrying out duties as a driver. This is in spite of the fact that his “personal driver” was not a Go-Invest employee. The forensic auditors found that this instruction was given by a Memorandum dated December 22, 2014 and executed the following day.
It was also discovered that there was no clear policy at Go Invest for remuneration of employees. Burrowes dealt with this process in a “discretionary” manner.
Furthermore, Burrowes made it seem as though his Human Resources Officer was redundant. In this regard, forensic auditors found that the hiring function was conducted in an ad hoc manner thus allowing the former CEO to solely make hiring decisions.
In fact, Burrowes sourced applicants, invited and conducted interviews for new hires by himself, instead of utilizing the Administrative Department. The interview committee comprising the CEO, Accountant/Personnel Officer and a Senior Investment Officer was rarely utilized. He also re-designated employees and fixed new allowances for them. The Accountant/Human Resources Officer/Administrative Officer had little or no input in the recruitment and selection process.
It was also discovered that repairs and maintenance of vehicles were performed by mechanics “sole sourced” by Burrowes instead of being tendered.
If that was not enough, Burrowes as CEO, expended over $1M on cell phones for senior staff, his personal driver and the Financial Consultant. This is in spite of the fact that his personal driver and one Financial Consultant were not employees of Go-Invest and therefore not entitled to such privileges.
The auditors concluded that Burrowes’ tenure at Go-Invest was one where ad hoc and peculiar decisions were made in several areas.
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