Thomas still head­ing GuySuCo board –Jor­dan says Cab­i­net de­ferred de­ci­sion on re­place­ment

Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS -

Min­is­ter of Fi­nance Win­ston Jor­dan on Fri­day clar­i­fied that Pro­fes­sor Clive Thomas re­mains Chair­man of the board of the Guyana Sugar Cor­po­ra­tion (GuySuCo) as Cab­i­net had de­ferred a de­ci­sion on a new board.

“…The Chair­man of GuySuCo is still Dr Thomas. The board of GuySuCo ends this month. In keep­ing with his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, [Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Noel] Holder has to bring to the Cab­i­net a new board to be put in place when this one is fin­ished,” Jor­dan replied at a news con­fer­ence, af­ter Colvin Heath-Lon­don, who heads the Spe­cial Pur­poses Unit (SPU) over­see­ing the di­vest­ment of some of GuySuCo’s as­sets, was asked if he was the Chair­man.

While Heath-Lon­don did not go into the de­tails of how he be­gan act­ing in the ca­pac­ity as sub­stan­tive Chair­man, he said that he was “in­formed” that he was the Chair­man of GuySuCo. He did not say who had ad­vised him.

A state­ment from the SPU in Fe­bru­ary had in­formed that the Thomas Board had been dis­solved by a de­ci­sion by gov­ern­ment hold­ing com­pany, NICIL, which set up the SPU. In ad­di­tion, NICIL had in­structed GuySuCo to freeze all hir­ing and not to re­new any em­ployee con­tracts.

“The life of the board of GuySuCo came to an end on Fe­bru­ary 14, af­ter the Board of Direc­tors of NICIL, in a Spe­cial Board Meet­ing, made the de­ci­sion to in­stall a new board fo­cused on the trans­for­ma­tion of the cor­po­ra­tion, as en­vi­sioned by NICILSPU,” the state­ment said

“The NICIL board also in­structed GuySuCo to freeze all hir­ing and to not re­new any em­ployee con­tracts that are ex­pir­ing at this time. NICIL has be­gun work­ing with the man­age­ment team at the cor­po­ra­tion to im­ple­ment man­age­ment changes, some of these changes are al­ready be­ing im­ple­mented and more are ex­pected to fol­low in the com­ing weeks,” it added.

In an ad­ver­tise­ment pub­lished on March 14th, NICIL named HealthLon­don as the Chair­man and listed eight other mem­bers of what it said would be an 11-mem­ber board. The ad­ver­tise­ment car­ried brief bios and photos of the new board mem­bers, who were listed as Fritz McLean, Ko­mal Singh, Ari­anne McLean, Ge­orge Jervis, Verna Adrian, Vishnu Panday, Roshan Khan and Annette Ar­joon. The two other mem­bers, the ad­ver­tise­ment ex­plained, would be GuySuCo ex­ec­u­tives, who would be named when their ap­point­ments are con­firmed.

Min­is­ter of State Joseph Har­mon would later ex­plain that de­spite the ad­ver­tise­ment, a de­ci­sion was still to be made, and when it had been made it would fol­low the pro­ce­dural re­quire­ments, such as be­ing an­nounced by Cab­i­net and be­ing pub­lished in the Of­fi­cial Gazette.

The nam­ing of a new Chair­man of GuySuCo in the ad was also prob­lem­atic as mem­bers of Cab­i­net had chal­lenged the de­ci­sion to have Heath-Lon­don as the Chair­man of the com­pany while also pre­sid­ing over the pri­va­ti­za­tion of four sugar es­tates.

Jor­dan on Fri­day sought to ad­dress the mix up, say­ing that “some of it was some con­fu­sion” and that gov­ern­ment did not move “with haste” to cor­rect the mis­in­for­ma­tion. “There was a sub-com­mit­tee that met and dis­cussed the is­sue of GuySuCo and its board. That sub-com­mit­tee was chaired by Vice Pres­i­dent Carl Greenidge and it in­cluded my­self, Min­is­ter Har­mon and Min­is­ter Noel Holder. That com­mit­tee de­cided unan­i­mously that the life of the GuySuCo board comes to an end and a new board put in place headed by Mr. Lon­don. Mr. Har­mon, be­ing the Sec­re­tary to Cab­i­net, ob­vi­ously car­ried out the in­struc­tion and is­sued a Cab­i­net de­ci­sion to that ef­fect, but all sub-com­mit­tee de­ci­sions have to be car­ried to the full Cab­i­net. It is when it went to the full Cab­i­net that it said no, we need to look at this more closely, they want to be sure where GuySuCo is go­ing, they want to know what they are do­ing, be sure who are these peo­ple and so on,” he said, while ex­plain­ing that this was a nor­mal course.

“In essence then, Cab­i­net de­ferred de­ci­sion on that board, so in do­ing a de­fer­ral, the de­ci­sion that was writ­ten up by the sec­re­tary was null and void, once Cab­i­net did not ap­prove the de­ci­sions made by the sub-com­mit­tee. Let us be blunt, it is the full house at the end of the day who has to ap­prove, dis­ap­prove or vary what­ever the sub-com­mit­tee would bring,” he added.

He said that there are sev­eral in­stances where sub-com­mit­tee de­ci­sions were made, but not ap­proved by the full Cab­i­net.

Ques­tioned about the NICIL ad­ver­tise­ment, Jor­dan said he did not see it, as he be­lieves that he was out of the coun­try on travel duty at the time. “I am say­ing to you the Chair­man is Dr. Thomas… the board is still the board and it ends this month. I was trav­el­ing a lot… I don’t know what ad NICIL put in the pa­pers. I don’t know what ad they had,” Jor­dan said.

Jor­dan made it clear that he was not re­spon­si­ble for GuySuCo and that it was still un­der the purview of Holder, and the Min­istry of Fi­nance is only a stake­holder due to NICIL be­ing re­spon­si­ble for SPU’s work.

“Go­ing for­ward, we are try­ing to keep an arm’s length, as much as pos­si­ble, so that NICIL doesn’t con­tam­i­nate GuySuCo’s op­er­a­tions as the case may be,” he said. “I don’t want it go out there that there is tug-o-war or some­thing...,” he added.

Clive Thomas

Win­ston Jor­dan

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