Reader’s Letter: The CGC – An advisory or supervisory body?

POSTED: 06/15/11 1:28 PM

Dear Editor,

The Corporate Governance Council has been in the news lately concerning the appointment of the former Director of Tourism, Ms. Regina Labega, to the post of President of the Princess Juliana International Airport. The advice given by the Corporate Governance Council was revealed last week during the budget debate by Leader of the Opposition William Marlin (MP). Later Deputy Prime Minister Theo Heyliger, who is the Shareholder Representative for the PJIA, cast serious doubts about the need and even continued existence of the CGC.

In all the back and forth discussions however, some very critical points have been overlooked. The CGC, in doing its statutory duty, had to give advice on the appointment of the new head of the PJIA. Government sought that advice, but apparently did not give the body what the CGC itself called “vital information” to enable it to offer the requested advice.

Now if you do not have the “vital information” on a particular case or issue, why would you give any kind of advice in the first place? It is like seeking a medical or legal opinion and the  doctor or lawyer you pay for the opinion tells you he does not have the “vital information” to be able to give such an opinion, but still goes ahead and tells you, you have cancer. Is that professional? Is that good corporate governance? Should the CGC simply not have withheld its advice until it receives this vital information instead of giving a so called “preliminary negative conclusion” on the matter, whatever that means?

It gets even worse. Is the CGC’s advice not supposed to be confidential, especially when it has to do with an individual? Again, using the comparison with a doctor, how would you feel if this good doctor decides to leak his or her opinion about your condition to the public? The breach of confidentiality by the CGC in this case is serious enough to warrant a thorough investigation, which would lead to a court case if any party feels injured by it. Perhaps the Chairman of the CGC, should follow the example of the Chairman of the Board of Directors of GEBE who made it clear recently that he did not provide Parliament with a report about the company, but rather submitted the report to the Shareholder’s representative.

The role of the CGC becomes quite interesting if one were to read between the lines of what Minister Theo Heyliger stated in his very informative interview with Eddie Williams on For the Record on Radio Soualiga 99.9 Choice F.M. last Sunday. He said something to the effect that people want to make their jobs seem important. He was referring indirectly to the CGC, because he emphasized that no other part of the Dutch Kingdom, including Holland itself, has a body like the CGC. He also said CGC was established to give advice, not to run government. In other words, CGC is an advisory body, not a supervisory one.

The distinction is very important. It is understandable that in order to advise on any issue, one needs the “vital information.” Without this vital information, everything else would be speculation. The CGC, in all honesty, should have been provided with the information it required. Apparently it was not, But then the professional thing to do is stay mum until that information is forthcoming. By not doing so, and by leaking its “advice” to the public, it has forfeited, in my view, all rights to saying anything about the integrity of the candidate for the top job at the PJIA.

Furthermore, it seems as if we are witnessing something similar to the battle between the Curacao government and the President of the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten. From the statements of the Deputy Prime Minister Theo Heyliger, the CGC is an obstacle to swift and efficient service from the elected government. That is why, in some quarters, the probability of its being disbanded is being raised. Certainly the relationship between CGC and government has never been good, and is not likely to improve.

My unpaid advice to the Chairman of the CGC would be for him and his council to do the honorable thing and resign. That is the only way to preserve the integrity and out government in the position to decide if the body will be eliminated totally, or if new members would be appointed who would know that their duty is to advise, not supervise.

Regards,

Cecil Rogers

 

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