Several irregularities at Postal Services St. Maarten

POSTED: 02/19/13 12:23 PM

St. Maarten – A copy of the resignation letter of the managing director of Postal Services St. Maarten (PSS) N.V will be handed over to Parliament, Prime Minister with responsibility for General Affairs, Sarah Wescot-Williams promised yesterday. She was at the time responding to questions and requests made in a central committee of Parliament, as shareholder representative that was convened to discuss the state of affairs at the government owned company; PSS.

Managing Director Denicio Richardson tendered his resignation in late December. His resignation took effect on February 1 and because of the controversial nature of his departure, most of the questions at Monday’s Central Committee meeting were centered on Richardson’s departure.

Richardson’s relationship with the shareholder was often times described as tumultuous and his demands for an employment package and contract remain unresolved. The supervisory board of the post office suspended him on December 27 to January 13, following which the government accounting bureau (SOAB) conducted a quick scan of the company.  Richardson’s suspension was said to have been effected because he had corporate procedures. With the suspension notice, came Richardson’s resignation. Yesterday parliamentarians made it clear that they were in support of Richardson and wondered whether his “forced resignation” was an example of the challenges that young, brilliant St. Maarteners face.  When asked whether the suspension was lawful, the prime minister replied in the negative, adding that no damages can be claimed.

One of the contentious issues for Richardson was the fact that he had no contract in place for the duties he was executing. We could never arrive at an agreement, the prime minister reiterated. A profile of the position also, was never drafted. This is now being done.

“The discussion was whether it was agreed upon by the managing director before 10.10.10 that the position would be taken up with the conditions as NPNA like all of the other employees of NPNA did.

Corporate Governance Council

There was no advice from the Corporate Governance Council when the appointment of a managing director and supervisory council took place. Neither was there any sought for the remuneration of the director.

The prime minister said that she only recently approached the CGC for its advice on a remuneration package that may be feasible for Richardson.

“Based on that we would see what should be paid compared to what has been paid.”

“There was also no agreement between the managing director and the supervisory board of the package that was being negotiated.  However there was no settlement.

“Parties kept coming back around the table, kept negotiating and tried to reach an agreement but in the end that was not achieved,” the prime minister said.

She opined that the deliberations should have ceased a long time ago.

The request for a stipend by the supervisory board of directors was in accordance with the articles of incorporation and it was agreed to in a shareholders meeting. However this too did not go through the Corporate Governance Council.

The stipend came into effect as of September 29, 2011. Although the Members of Parliament requested information on what was the average amount of stipend paid to the supervisory board, the prime minister said that she could not provide the information offhand.

“Numerous discussions have taken place formally and informally regarding the present situation as well as the future of PSS.”

Since Richardson’s resignation in December, the prime minister told parliament that several persons had applied for the position however no decision has yet been taken. The supervisory board of PSS recently decided on the selection criteria, she added, and these would be followed for future appointments.

The prime minister said that with regard to her role as shareholder, she may have been involved herself beyond the scope of her responsibilities to help the company to move forward.

“Often times I consented to meetings that technically, the shareholder representative did not have a role to play in because the shareholder role is clearly defined in the articles of incorporation.

Future of PSS

Based on the SOAB report, the Minister of General Affairs dispatched a letter to the supervisory board of directors, recommending that action be taken on certain areas highlighted in the SOAB report.

The board of directors is also in contact with the union representatives of the workers at the company. Many of them still remain concerned about their economic future while at PSS.

Several suggestions were also made to expand the Post Office’s board to 7 members and additional members have since been proposed. No decision has been on this, the prime minister told parliament.

Strategic Management Group

When asked what the role of the strategic management group was and whether it was successful in its objective, the prime minister said that it was tasked with advising the managing director in building up the institution. The group comprised members of the shareholder representative, representatives of the supervisory board of directors and the managing director himself, along with two other managers. However there was no legal basis for the formation of the group, the prime minister admitted.

“There were no decisions taken by this group but rather supporting the institution PSS in the execution of its tasks and responsibilities in accordance with the instruction of the shareholder meetings and the articles of incorporation,” the prime minister said.

Assets

PSS has no immobile assets at this point in time, the prime minister said.

“We have been fortunate that the building in which NPNA used to be and where PSS is, that building is of PSS on domain land. Had a request for the transfer of the building to NPNA gone through, and then today we would not have had not building.”

The long lease for the building was turned over by government to PSS; however the process still needs to be finalized.

Although the government has 25 percent shares in NPNA, no representative from St. Maarten is on its board, the prime minister only attends meetings as a shareholder representative.

Information such as the rental of cars, the SOAB report and the official profile for the director will be forwarded to parliament at a later date, the prime minister said.

There is some money outstanding from the government which also needs to be paid to PSS.
The prime minister said that the government is also working on the restoration of an overdraft facility that the company once had with a local bank.
When reminded by Chairman Rodolphe Samuel that she still needed to confirm whether employees will be paid on February 25 because of the unrests at the company, the prime minister said that she has not gotten an indication that the salaries are in jeopardy. She added that she was hesitant to confirm this considering the fact that she has received some new financial information that still needs to be analyzed.

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