Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 24th 2015 Contents Over the last fortnight,
a lot of opinions
regarding the decision
making process for
choosing the numer-
ous appointees to State
Boards have been aired
from the nation s pub-
lic, business community and varied political
interest groups. As you read these words, it
is week 3 of the new Government s tenure and
in the first 10 days, there have been 15 Board
appointments to 4 major State companies --
a Board of 4 at the combined Caribbean News
Media Group (CNMG) and Government Infor-
mation Services Limited (GISL), a Board of 5
at the National Gas Company (NGC) and a
Board of 6 at Petrotrin.
This newspaper s editorial on Saturday, Sep-
tember 19, applauded the speed with which
these key appointments were made to insti-
tutions which should be at the top of the pri-
ority list, and the high quality of candidates
posted to the roles of Chairman. The editorial
applauded what appeared to be pre-planning
for this process evidenced by finding suitable,
willing candidates who agreed to shoulder the
immense responsibilities, time commitment
and energy outlay associated with these posts.
Even with such a positive assessment, the
current reality is that over 50 to 80 Enterprises
remain, depending on whose data you use,
with over 900 Board roles left to be filled.
That sizeable number of appointees with the
right and necessary credentials, from a very
small pool of qualified candidates highlight
the challenges facing the new administration.
These are to find, assess, select and appoint
a large number of qualified people in a very
short period of time to some very important,
impactful and influential positions.
1000 positions in 100 days means 70
appointments per week without taking week-
ends off. Is this realistic or even necessary
and how can this be judged? What is clear
through the cloud of emotions surrounding
this topic, is that no agreed set of rules, criteria
or guide exists to govern the identification,
vetting, selection and appointment of Directors
to these critical institutions. We experience
this confused reality in the example of whether
an incumbent Director should relinquish his
or her appointment in order to allow the new
administration to fill their posts.
The TT Chamber of Commerce commented
on exactly this during its weekly Radio pro-
gramme of September 15th. "It is essential
that the new government does not allow this
(selection) process to interfere with the smooth
conduct of the country s business. All too
often we have witnessed the tactic of allowing
certain boards to lapse, to the detriment of
the work of that enterprise. The trickle-down
effect can be significant -- projects stalled or
slowed, tendering processes delayed, and nego-
tiations aborted. All of this translates into a
massive run on the public coffers."
Moreover, while it is important for changes
in board composition on the basis that gov-
ernment appointed directors are most moti-
vated to align their respective companies
medium and long term strategic objectives
with the macro policy formulations of the
new government, this urgency must be seen
in the context that the incumbents are statu-
torily required to act in the best interest of
the company. This generally means that the
incumbents are not stop gaps or holding on
while new directors are appointed. The business
of the company continues notwithstanding
the changes in (the identity of) Corporation
Sole and the line Ministers who may be
required to provide general or specific policy
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt SEPTEMBER 24 • 2015
Continued on Page 9
1000 Directors in 100 Days
How does a Government choose?
•What do these State Enterprises do?
All state enterprises should define what their purpose or mission is and
this statement should be published on their website and in their annual
•Is there really a need for a Board?
Yes. All state enterprises should be headed by an effective Board, which
is collectively responsible for the long-term success of the company.
•How many and what type of people are needed on a Board?
Too few or too many directors can pose problems for effective decision-
making. A board with too few members may not allow the Enterprise
to benefit from an appropriate mix of skills and experience. A larger
board, on the other hand, is typically more difficult to manage, and can
make consensus-building both time-consuming and difficult. The
challenge in selecting the correct board size is striking an appropriate
balance. All state enterprises should choose a board size that will
enable them to: hold productive, constructive discussions; make
prompt, rational decisions and efficiently organize the board
•Who decides that someone can become a Board member?
In most cases, the appointment of board members to state enterprises
is defined by Statute with the Government Ministry normally playing
the lead role in the appointment process. However, many
commentators argue that the chairman of the board and the board
nominations committee can play a very useful part in this process.
•What criteria and assessment process should be used?
In the ideal situation, the Ministry and the board should together
identify the knowledge, competencies, and expertise that the board
needs and subsequently they should develop a person specification
which identifies the knowledge, skills, and personal attributes that a
director would need to possess to fill this need. A suitable candidate
that fits these attributes should then be selected.
5 BASIC QUESTIONS ON WHY STATE BOARDS
EXIST AND THE NEED FOR DIRECTORS:
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