PHILIPSBURG – United People’s (UP) party Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Maurice Lake, on Monday said the Government should consider having members of all government owned company supervisory boards as well as subsidized foundation boards go through a screening process and their candidates should be presented to the Corporate Governance Council in accordance to the rules.
“I believe that all members of government owned boards and Government subsidized Foundations should go through Integrity screening and the Corporate Governance Council.
“Boards and Foundations have to also be more transparent and must be held accountable for their actions and decision making processes.
“Government has to start enforcing the rules and regulations and amend and actualize the current subsidy ordinance with Foundations to enforce the right checks and balances. Imagine Government is subsidizing certain Foundations, and have little say on how they are spending the funds disbursed to them for the work they are doing on behalf of Government and the tax payer’s money.
“Government should change all subsidy clauses with Foundations and put the necessary checks and balances in place where annually the Board is evaluated and audited to make sure they are meeting the vision and mission of all stakeholders. If they are not meeting the vision or mission as set forth in their articles of incorporation, Government should stop the subsidy, or demand a change in the board.
“We have persons sitting on Boards or Foundation for years with no sense of vision or direction for the organization without obtaining any results.
“Government owned Boards and Foundations should be audited by the General Audit Chamber to ensure they are complying with good governance. Their financials can then be reviewed and a report can then be issued to Parliament.
“Government owned companies and Foundations should make a presentation to the Council of Ministers about their plans and investments for their organization every year. This is what transparency is all about.
“Government can't say or do anything but at the end of the day it is the Government’s Minister's that needs to go to Parliament and explain their short comings with little knowledge of the situation. This needs to change drastically.
“Parliament needs to raise the bar and stop entertaining these type of meetings without facts, especially if it is in court which only confuses the public even more and puts the respective minister in an awkward situation to provide sensitive information or documents that the Minister can be held personally accountable for in court.
“There should be an evaluation clause for all Board and Foundations to see if they are achieving their objectives for the organization. If they are not, we need to know why. We have persons sitting on boards for years just for the position and status instead of contributing anything. There should be an age clause to sit on boards or foundations.
“I would like to see more independent young professionals on boards with the right experience and background for the position. There should be a balance or mix between those who are experienced and our young professionals.
“We need to stop lynching our young professionals and give them the opportunity to serve their Country. It is a shame what we see happen to Hiro Shigemoto, Denicio Richardson, Vernon Richards, Edward Dest and a lot more other young professionals without assisting them back with their jobs and restoring their image back in the community.
“We need to put the right people in the right positions on boards and foundations if the Country is to prosper to avoid what is happening now at NIPA and other organizations. The students should not be the ones to suffer from our lack of vision and accreditation of diplomas of the institution.
“There should be a crash course for all members of Boards and Foundations to teach them about Institutional and Individual Integrity of Board and Foundation members. To explain to them what their main legal task is on boards or foundations which should be supervising, strategic planning, approving budgets, audits, curriculum development, strategic planning, approving budgets, audits, curriculum development, strategic investments and not micro managing the business, or institutions or leaking information to social media.
“This is the right time for Government to take the lead to make those adjustments on how Boards and Foundations operate in St. Maarten. The aforementioned can start off on a different track in the second half of 2015 where transparency is a cornerstone in the functioning of these bodies,” UP MP Lake said on Monday.