Categorized | Editorial, News

When will we stop destroying our dignity and integrity?

Editorial – July 17, 2015

The Department of International Development (DfID) and the Government of Montserrat (GoM) Task Force which was appointed and announced to include the local DfID representative and a tourism adviser who had worked in Montserrat and all other Government employees or consultants, have put out a report that the Governments have made public only in the form of a Summary Report which does not match the Executive Summary.

In brief the Summary Report does little for the public who deserved to know and understand far more than it said, taking into consideration the Report itself which from its review (investigation), findings and recommendations do not deserve a pass. While it refers to interviews, they even reported the one side without verification or question with no way to tell that what they report is what they were told. To use a phrase sometimes heard in the courts, ‘they vomited upon themselves’ often. They at times made recommendations based on advice without source, that seemed to be outside of their remit claiming worst of all, in one instance, that it would be unfair to do otherwise.

One example is where an interview is conducted where the person gives an opinion about their feelings or their own recommendations in specific areas and the interviewer informs the Report using the information against the interviewee almost in a vilifying way. Definite conflict of interest when the finding of the subject is critical of the very existence and the poor management and its inappropriateness.

Overall however the report does highlight misconduct and irregularities for which persons should be held accountable and answerable. It reported on an issue we have highlighted more than once previously where the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in effect signed a contract or as they put ‘had a contract’ which in their terms was was not legal. On top of that he must be the only person in Montserrat paid through government who pays ‘no taxes’.

The reports states: “The CEO’s contract states that his remuneration package is “free of any taxes”. However, the Board minutes (which the Reports says was a scarcity) of 11th October 2013 reflect that the Board indicated that all employees of MDC should have taxes and Social Security deducted from their salary…However MDC does not have authority to grant exception from the payment of taxes, it is the Comptroller of Inland Revenue. The Task Force (TF) found no correspondence making a request for exemption, nor any Cabinet (Shareholder) decision approving a tax exemption for the CEO.

The TF though protecting itself, o the contract suggested. “Notwithstanding that MDC did not have legal authority to negotiate such a contract the fact remains that the CEO signed in good faith and therefore it is likely that this should be honoured. There is a matter that should be tested if necessary in the courts. This Government if it is not aware of the problem the ‘tax issues’ this country has faced with its budget with DFID better be sure they show some dignity, transparency, integrity in their dealings with that matter., This is especially so when while they might honour the contract in terms of his ‘illegal’ employment, he should not be paid gratuity, when they were in the throes of dismissing him, especially from any of the findings of the report.

There are any number of grounds in the report that warrant dismissal action, certainly to qualify the “unsatisfactory performance” of his tenure. That he was hired outside of the bylaws of the MDC is also supporting evidence.

Someone recently informed of a Yiddish proverb which says, “a half truth is a whole lie.” When the CEO published the part of the ‘unofficial’ July 2014 MDC review which we present elsewhere in this issue, only that which presents a good picture of the physical performances, when immediately the review condemns the actions. That is misleading and permeates a lie.

What was his responsibility to the Board, who of course had little to do with his employment? Both he and the Chairman came for mention for their poverished performances. The report says reporting on the General Supervision. What kind of performance appraisal could one get when the TF reports in one of its ‘key findings’, that besides having human resources policies and procedures in place, “The CEO appears to have a disconnect with the majority of the staff, including the senior leadership team.”

“Reportedly, during the Chairmanship of Mr. Ryan he made most of the decisions and this is in part reflected in the notes. The Board did not meet as regularly as mandated by the By-Laws as seen by the number of minutes produced. In addition, the Minutes were patchy and did not appear to record key decisions that were made or recommendations to refer matters to GoM or other appropriate persons/entities.”

 

“It is reported that the CEO and some of the directors gave a monthly update to the Board. However the Board minutes do not show any consideration as to whether the projects or activities were in line with the objects of the company. Indeed it is clear that some of the projects requested to be undertaken were outside of the objects but this was not discussed.”

This report even speaks to where when officers make reports these were changed to make the situations look better.

How can this government, including the Governor and DFID, in accepting this report, be acting kindly, without strong action for some people, and for others even when the facts dictate otherwise and acting not in any hazardous way to the people or to them, prosecute them through all manner of persecution.

The following is again just a small bit of what ‘appears’ throughout the report.

3.120 It was clear that the Board did not self-evaluate their own performance, nor did they evaluate the performance of the CEO. (On this he was surely evaluated in this Report so there is no excuse. if what follows is not an evaluation then what is?)

3.121 It is evident that the previous Chairman made many of the decisions and felt very strongly that MDC should not have to comply with GoM procurement procedures. Whilst discussions were had in 2014 about advancing MDC’s own procurement procedures and getting the approval to be exempt from Government procedures this did not materialize. The most striking factor concerning the Boards functioning was that despite the DFID Representative, the Financial Secretary (acting) and the Cabinet Secretary on the Board, inappropriate and (un)authorised use of operating funds occurred. In strict accounting terms, this action amounts to the misappropriation of funds…

Here we must depart from this TF and their comments. The report continues, “However, it must be said that the aforementioned does not indicate that there was any criminal intent in the misuse funds, but rather MDC used DFID funds to manage their cash flow, and to assist Government get projects implemented and executed in a more expeditious manner than would be permissible using the normal procurement procedures of government administrative processes.” (What gives them the right to that statement? And is it even correct based on the secret reports they have?)

This sounds very much like the position the Governor has taken and continues to take, but then what about that audit report which is still either a secret or a mystery!?

The company lawyer and the Attorney General’s office must be absconding their responsibilities to DFID, the Shareholder and the people of this country if they allow individuals to go blameless without at least an official reprimand, or allow gratuity to be paid to people who the TF has shown committed a plethora of infractions and irregularities, financial and otherwise.

For the Governments to sit by and allow ignorance and wrong doings to further permeate in this territory, we must draw attention to something this PDM government has promised and preached. Like a former Government Minister had said we will ask as to: “…above all, the faithfulness of the party to the high ideals, some of which I have mentioned before, integrity, veracity, transparency…” she having referred earlier to, “respectability and integrity to government, to be truly honorable, impartial and transparent in all our actions, putting the well-being of our country above our personal well-being, whether it be economic, political or otherwise.”

 

 

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Editorial – July 17, 2015

The Department of International Development (DfID) and the Government of Montserrat (GoM) Task Force which was appointed and announced to include the local DfID representative and a tourism adviser who had worked in Montserrat and all other Government employees or consultants, have put out a report that the Governments have made public only in the form of a Summary Report which does not match the Executive Summary.

In brief the Summary Report does little for the public who deserved to know and understand far more than it said, taking into consideration the Report itself which from its review (investigation), findings and recommendations do not deserve a pass. While it refers to interviews, they even reported the one side without verification or question with no way to tell that what they report is what they were told. To use a phrase sometimes heard in the courts, ‘they vomited upon themselves’ often. They at times made recommendations based on advice without source, that seemed to be outside of their remit claiming worst of all, in one instance, that it would be unfair to do otherwise.

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One example is where an interview is conducted where the person gives an opinion about their feelings or their own recommendations in specific areas and the interviewer informs the Report using the information against the interviewee almost in a vilifying way. Definite conflict of interest when the finding of the subject is critical of the very existence and the poor management and its inappropriateness.

Overall however the report does highlight misconduct and irregularities for which persons should be held accountable and answerable. It reported on an issue we have highlighted more than once previously where the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in effect signed a contract or as they put ‘had a contract’ which in their terms was was not legal. On top of that he must be the only person in Montserrat paid through government who pays ‘no taxes’.

The reports states: “The CEO’s contract states that his remuneration package is “free of any taxes”. However, the Board minutes (which the Reports says was a scarcity) of 11th October 2013 reflect that the Board indicated that all employees of MDC should have taxes and Social Security deducted from their salary…However MDC does not have authority to grant exception from the payment of taxes, it is the Comptroller of Inland Revenue. The Task Force (TF) found no correspondence making a request for exemption, nor any Cabinet (Shareholder) decision approving a tax exemption for the CEO.

The TF though protecting itself, o the contract suggested. “Notwithstanding that MDC did not have legal authority to negotiate such a contract the fact remains that the CEO signed in good faith and therefore it is likely that this should be honoured. There is a matter that should be tested if necessary in the courts. This Government if it is not aware of the problem the ‘tax issues’ this country has faced with its budget with DFID better be sure they show some dignity, transparency, integrity in their dealings with that matter., This is especially so when while they might honour the contract in terms of his ‘illegal’ employment, he should not be paid gratuity, when they were in the throes of dismissing him, especially from any of the findings of the report.

There are any number of grounds in the report that warrant dismissal action, certainly to qualify the “unsatisfactory performance” of his tenure. That he was hired outside of the bylaws of the MDC is also supporting evidence.

Someone recently informed of a Yiddish proverb which says, “a half truth is a whole lie.” When the CEO published the part of the ‘unofficial’ July 2014 MDC review which we present elsewhere in this issue, only that which presents a good picture of the physical performances, when immediately the review condemns the actions. That is misleading and permeates a lie.

What was his responsibility to the Board, who of course had little to do with his employment? Both he and the Chairman came for mention for their poverished performances. The report says reporting on the General Supervision. What kind of performance appraisal could one get when the TF reports in one of its ‘key findings’, that besides having human resources policies and procedures in place, “The CEO appears to have a disconnect with the majority of the staff, including the senior leadership team.”

“Reportedly, during the Chairmanship of Mr. Ryan he made most of the decisions and this is in part reflected in the notes. The Board did not meet as regularly as mandated by the By-Laws as seen by the number of minutes produced. In addition, the Minutes were patchy and did not appear to record key decisions that were made or recommendations to refer matters to GoM or other appropriate persons/entities.”

 

“It is reported that the CEO and some of the directors gave a monthly update to the Board. However the Board minutes do not show any consideration as to whether the projects or activities were in line with the objects of the company. Indeed it is clear that some of the projects requested to be undertaken were outside of the objects but this was not discussed.”

This report even speaks to where when officers make reports these were changed to make the situations look better.

How can this government, including the Governor and DFID, in accepting this report, be acting kindly, without strong action for some people, and for others even when the facts dictate otherwise and acting not in any hazardous way to the people or to them, prosecute them through all manner of persecution.

The following is again just a small bit of what ‘appears’ throughout the report.

3.120 It was clear that the Board did not self-evaluate their own performance, nor did they evaluate the performance of the CEO. (On this he was surely evaluated in this Report so there is no excuse. if what follows is not an evaluation then what is?)

3.121 It is evident that the previous Chairman made many of the decisions and felt very strongly that MDC should not have to comply with GoM procurement procedures. Whilst discussions were had in 2014 about advancing MDC’s own procurement procedures and getting the approval to be exempt from Government procedures this did not materialize. The most striking factor concerning the Boards functioning was that despite the DFID Representative, the Financial Secretary (acting) and the Cabinet Secretary on the Board, inappropriate and (un)authorised use of operating funds occurred. In strict accounting terms, this action amounts to the misappropriation of funds…

Here we must depart from this TF and their comments. The report continues, “However, it must be said that the aforementioned does not indicate that there was any criminal intent in the misuse funds, but rather MDC used DFID funds to manage their cash flow, and to assist Government get projects implemented and executed in a more expeditious manner than would be permissible using the normal procurement procedures of government administrative processes.” (What gives them the right to that statement? And is it even correct based on the secret reports they have?)

This sounds very much like the position the Governor has taken and continues to take, but then what about that audit report which is still either a secret or a mystery!?

The company lawyer and the Attorney General’s office must be absconding their responsibilities to DFID, the Shareholder and the people of this country if they allow individuals to go blameless without at least an official reprimand, or allow gratuity to be paid to people who the TF has shown committed a plethora of infractions and irregularities, financial and otherwise.

For the Governments to sit by and allow ignorance and wrong doings to further permeate in this territory, we must draw attention to something this PDM government has promised and preached. Like a former Government Minister had said we will ask as to: “…above all, the faithfulness of the party to the high ideals, some of which I have mentioned before, integrity, veracity, transparency…” she having referred earlier to, “respectability and integrity to government, to be truly honorable, impartial and transparent in all our actions, putting the well-being of our country above our personal well-being, whether it be economic, political or otherwise.”