Former Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Mariano Brown, says appointments are being made to state boards on the basis of political affiliation and not according to best practice. He is calling for all such appointments to be based on competencies.
Brown addressed a luncheon at the Trinidad Union Club in Port-of-Spain yesterday. He made the recommendation as he spoke about the performance of state enterprises. He is not pleased with the performance of some State entities and is calling for the operations of the non-performing ones to be wrapped up. “It is not that all are bad, some have performed atrociously, and there are some of those that have to be dealt with,” he said.
However, in the case of the Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott), Brown said that company had received unfair blame for many things “I don’t think people understand the story of Udecott. Udecott didn’t get subventions from the State. Udecott created business projects on the basis of using State lands and some times it was timing in bringing those projects to fruition or completion because you couldn’t get transfer of State lands in time. Those were some simple implementation issues that had to be dealt with,” he said.
Brown was critical of the performance of state-owned carrier Caribbean Airlines Limited, which he said had no strategic direction. “I don’t think we know where they are right now. That’s one of the organisations where we (the previous PNM administration) played politics with the board. We ought not to do that, particularly one where the margin of business is very narrow. Any kind of mistake translates to losses quickly.
“The one thing you want to have is a consistent policy and a consistent board and a board that understands what it is doing and where it is going.” Regarding the performance of Petrotrin he said: “The State got involved in the oil companies, they got involved in the wrong end of the business. You have NP…that’s a margin business.
“You know how to make money in terms of oil companies? In exploration. Where are we with Petrotrin? Its a refinery on one side of the fence—a refinery which is stymied for resources because in large measures we have a huge subsidy. The State does not pay over to NP so NP does not pay Petrotrin. How do you monetise your receivables,” he asked.