The New Today

The problems with statutory bodies!!!

The resignation of the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Grenlec after only 13 months on the job is sending a message to Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell and the members of his National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

Benedict Brathwaite, the retired Financial Secretary with Grenlec, is well-respected and considered as a person with very high integrity.

No reason has been given for the sudden manner in which the Grenlec Chairman has decided to exit from the position but it is sending a chilling feeling that all is not well within the Board of Directors.

Mr. Brathwaite is a thoughtful person and is not known to be one to quit that easily and something would have triggered him to take such a position at this point in time.

THE NEW TODAY is definitely not happy with the manner in which the current Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell has been handling some of the statutory bodies which falls under his portfolios.

A case in point is the problematic Gravel & Concrete in which the members of the Board of Directors are not seeing eye-to-eye on many issues and the state body is just left to sail on without any sense of direction.

It is also cause for concern that the Board and staffers at the entity have been trying to get a meeting with the Prime Minister but have been unsuccessful.

It is not acceptable that since taking over the Infrastructure Development portfolio that the Prime Minister has not met with personnel at Gravel & Concrete after six months to outline the policy directive of Congress to this important state body.

There are problems in several state-owned enterprises and Congress is slow to take decisive action to correct the situation.

THE NEW TODAY suspects that the Prime Minister and his Advisors have found themselves in very uncomfortable positions with some of the state bodies due to the decision made in the aftermath of the election victory in 2022 to put a number of party hacks in some of the key positions.

It is quite clear that some of the appointees do not have the capability and capacity to lead these statutory bodies especially in the area of strategic planning.

The current dilemma faced by the NDC has also affected the former New National Party (NNP) of Dr. Keith Mitchell which pursued similar policies and ended up with nothing but “square pegs in round holes” to serve on several of the Board of Directors on statutory bodies.

The issue is amplified by one of the most successful Grenadian in a comment made to us on the plight of these states bodies.

He said the following which should be given serious thought by both NDC and NNP – the two dominant political forces in the country:

“The problem with the way boards are constructed in Grenada is not an NDC or an NNP problem, it is a national problem that must be addressed with a sense of urgency.

Board members of statutory organisations should represent the interests of ALL the stakeholders – the government and people of Grenada.

The board needs to make sure that the business strategies and the governance of the organisations are consistent with stakeholders’ interests.

The most important prerequisite, therefore, for being on a board should be the person’s ability to contribute to the strategy, governance and effective management of the organisation. This means that anyone being asked to serve on the board of a statutory body should have demonstrated expertise and experience that are specifically relevant to that statutory organisation.

In Grenada, however, the approach taken to ensure stakeholders’ interests are addressed is to select people based on representation by various organisations. It is a fundamentally flawed system.

Being a member of an organisation does not mean an individual will be better able to represent the interests of that organisation much less all stakeholders.

For example, just because someone is an Engineer does not mean that person will effectively represent the interests of the technical community.

Each board member needs to be aware that they represent ALL stakeholders.

Many of the people selected to serve on statutory boards do not act as though they represent anyone other than themselves.

Sadly, there are several statutory board members in Grenada whose primary motivations for serving are the meeting fees and to use their roles on the board as an opportunity to gain benefits for themselves and their family and friends.

I have served on a couple of statutory boards and was surprised that several people who are asked to serve on boards do not even understand nor even care to learn about the details of the business.

Many do not take the time to understand the issues and challenges of the organisation, several do not seem to understand P&L (Profit & Loss) statements and some do not even take the time to study the pre-read materials sent out before the board meetings.”

THE NEW TODAY believes that it is still not too late for Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell and his NDC administration to take a fresh look and tap into the many competent Grenadians especially at home who can make a serious and meaningful contribution in uplifting the work of the many state bodies.

The immediate names that can be included on the list are Ambrose Phillip, Dr. Brian Francis and Allan Bierzynski who are very knowledgeable and possess the mindset to make a meaningful contribution towards national development.

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