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Ministers should stay out of hiring and firing—TTTI

Published: 
Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ministers should not become involved in the hiring and firing of senior managers. That was the view of the T&T Transparency Institute (TTTI) in response to the recent dismissal of Captain Ian Brunton as chief executive officer of Caribbean Airlines (CAL). The institute, in a statement yesterday, said while it might be prudent for a board to consult with its line minister because of policy implementation considerations, ministers should not become involved with issues which were clearly the domain of the board.Brunton was fired by the new board of CAL which is headed by businessman George Nicholas.

Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner has expressed his displeasure openly over Brunton’s dismissal. In the statement, Richard Joseph, new chairman of the TTTI, said the institute did not know the facts surrounding the current situation with CAL and was unable to express a view. However, in his statement he sought to provide some clarity on the boundaries and responsibilities of the board and the Government. Joseph’s statement said: “Ministers have to be very careful to avoid creating the impression that positions in the enterprise are spoils that are theirs to distribute.

“Such impressions may appear to be nepotism and can undermine the governance of the enterprise and lead to sub optimal performance.”
He said the directors have to ensure appropriate policies are implemented and followed. The board could also approve the hiring of senior management and the award of contracts and purchases of a significant nature, he added. In the case of the CEO, Joseph said, it might have been prudent for the board to consult with the minister. However, he warned the board should not become involved in issues that were clearly in the domain of the senior management, such as the hiring and firing of lower level staff.

“Once there is a crossing of authority lines and responsibilities, governance in the enterprise becomes compromised,” he said. Joseph said TTTI was not aware of any specific agreements or established practice that may cover the relationship between CAL’s board and the line minister. He said TTTI expected the directors would act in such a way that followed the legitimate policy directives of the Government.

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