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Private Sector official: Gravel & Concrete needs a Financial Controller on staff as opposed to a Financial Consultant

Sylvester Quarless – given the job of Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gravel & Concrete

A former President of the Grenada Chamber of Industry & Commerce (GCIC) has expressed concern over the appointment of a Financial Consultant and not a Financial Controller by the state-owned Gravel & Concrete to help put the state body on a firm financial footing.

Speaking to THE NEW TODAY over the weekend, the leading private sector executive suggested that it could turn out to be a very bad decision made by the new Board of Directors to hire a high-paying Financial Consultant who has been on the job for the past five months given the problems normally associated with state-run bodies.

He questioned whether the move was not intended “to pay somebody a money” since a Financial Consultant will just go in and merely suggest the type of systems or methodologies that are needed to be put in place at Gravel & Concrete.

“I think they know what their problem is – they need a Controller not a Consultant. I don’t know if that individual has the expertise or credibility to really rely upon.”

“If you bring in a Consultant I guess the job will be to strip the thing down to bare bone and tell you what your core business is but I will imagine that they know that already. I don’t need you (Consultant) to tell me what is the core business (of the company).”

According to the private sector official, the state body has only a limited amount of items for sale to the public like aggregate, gravel and sand, blocks and the pouring of cement on construction sites and that “is a very straightforward thing.”

“The question is – which of them is losing money which they shouldn’t or where is the leakage which there is – so what you need is a Controller, not a Consultant,” he said.

He also suggested that Gravel & Concrete should have invested money in hiring a Mechanical Consultant/Engineer given the frequent breakdown of trucks that have to go out and pour concrete to its customers.

Gravel & Concrete was put down on a list of companies that the World Bank had suggested to the former New National Party (NNP) government of Dr. Keith Mitchell that should be divested because it was a financial strain on the Treasury.

The company was cited for having too much aged equipment and being over-staffed.

Another leading private sector executive suggested that the time has come for the nine-month old Dickon Mitchell-led Congress administration to review the performance of the Board of Directors appointed to oversee Gravel & Concrete.

He spoke of picking up information about some questionable practices taking place at the company such as the hiring of a Financial Consultant who is operating as an employee of the company and giving all sorts of instructions to staffers.

“If he is a Consultant then he is consulting,” he said.

Speculation is rife that not all Members of the Board of Directors are aware of the hiring of the Consultant.

According to the private sector executive, if a Consultant is hired then the terms of conditions of engagement must be known to the entire Board of Directors.

“I cannot see how someone hired as a Consultant to provide consulting services can be communicating directly with employees. The purpose of a Consultant is to perform an engagement – an advisory function.”

“A manager who doesn’t have the requisite experience or training in finance would engage the services of a Consultant to guide him.”

“Whatever it is that the Consultant comes up with would then have to be communicated through the organisation by the individual who the Consultant is supposed to be advising.”

According to the business executive, there is nothing wrong in the Management of a company engaging the services of a Consultant to assist them in areas where they need advice and strengthening.

“If you are engaging the services of a Financial Controller or Accounting then that person becomes a member of staff. The terms of references of the Consultancy engagement will be interesting.”

“Even if the terms of the consultancy are to develop policies and whatever is submitted to the individual who engaged the Consulting services then those recommendations need to be discussed, accepted and only then implemented and can only be implemented by the management of the organisation.”

“What were the terms of reference of the engagement? Who commissioned the engagement? Who authorised the consultancy and how long is it supposed to last and what are the expected outcomes. You must have a way of determining if you are getting Value for Money.”

THE NEW TODAY has not been able to solicit a response from the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gravel & Concrete Sylvester Quarless on the recruitment of the Financial Consultant at the company.

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