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Questions over hiring of new CEO at Namdevco
A month before Krishna Ramrattan was hired as CEO of the National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (Namdevco) he evaluated consultancy proposals submitted for the executive recruitment process—including the position he now holds.
Investigations revealed that in October the human resources committee recommended that the positions of CEO and deputy CEO should be filled. The board approved the recommendation on October 28, 2011. The board, according to the minutes, also agreed to hire an external consultant to assist with the recruitment process.
Four companies were invited to submit proposals for the recruitment. They were:
• Government Human Resources Services (GHRS)—$15,295
• Regency Recruitment—$127,075
• Personnel Management Services Ltd—$91,195
Recruitment process flawed
However, on November 2, Ramrattan sent an e-mail to chairman Robert Ramsamooj listing a breakdown of the proposals. How Ramrattan obtained the consultancy proposals remains a mystery. When contacted yesterday, Ramrattan said only, “Whoever is giving you the information should have confirmed that to you,” before hanging up the phone.
But in the November 2 e-mail sent to Ramsamooj—from the same e-mail address from which Ramrattan’s resume was sent—he stated, “I have done a spreadsheet with the salient matters to determine a basis for you to make a decision what firm should be hired for the executive recruitment.”
Ramrattan wrote that he had to use a simplistic method to review the various agencies to determine which firm should be hired for the recruitment. The e-mail said, “I was unable to determine the one per cent contract for GHRS. Your corporate secretary should check with them to get a figure. You can then put it in the space with [...] this will then give you a complete costing or let me know I will put it in for you.”
He went on, “I estimated the salaries to get a cost for two of the agencies to get the fee. You can change this to the approved salaries. Are you all committed to go this route? I see government companies doing their own recruitment.”
Board decision overturned
The position of CEO was advertised in late November and the application deadline was then extended to December. However, the board decision was overturned and the recruitment process was conducted internally instead. On November 30, Ramrattan forwarded his resume to human resources committee chairman Rohani Maharaj applying for the job.
Ramrattan was among the six applicants who applied for the position of CEO and were scheduled to be interviewed on December 20. The other applicants were: Nankishore Deopersad, Lawrence John, Alvin Seereeram, Aniel Ragoonanan and Barry Joefield.
Copies of the interview assessment forms obtained by the Sunday Guardian showed Ramsamooj formed part of the interviewing panel and awarded Ramrattan an overall score of 97 per cent. The scores he got from other board members were:
William Archie—76 per cent
Deryck Dhanie—75 per cent
Karl Murray—70 per cent.
On the basis of the assessment, and without mentioning that he knew Ramrattan before the interview, Ramsamooj pushed through a recommendation to appoint him.
In a letter dated December 28 to Vasant Bharath, who was food production minister at the time, Ramsamooj wrote, “In keeping with the provisions the tenth board of Namdevco hereby recommends and the minister is being asked to approve the appointment of Krishna Ramrattan to the post of chief executive officer for a period of one year effective January 1, 2012.” The recommendation was accepted.
According to the interview score sheet, Seereeram, who placed second in the interviewing process was hired as the deputy CEO.
Ramsamooj: I tell the truth and the whole truth
While Ramsamooj said he had nothing to hide and only speaks the truth, he did not disclose his link with Ramrattan. Asked if he had ever had any discussion or communication with Ramrattan about the executive recruitment, Ramsamooj said, “No, not all, only on the day of the interview.”
Making no mention of the consultancy proposal evaluation, Ramsamooj said, “Trinidad is a small place. You know almost anybody. But I had no intimate knowledge of him. Personally, we are not friends.” Ramsamooj also denied that the board had decided to fill the vacancies through external companies.
And in a stark contrast to the proposals submitted, Ramsamooj said, “When we looked at the quotes that were supplied with they were all over $100,000 each. We also had to pay for advertisements and so on. “It was not a board decision to hire. It was a decision to get quotes. The tender committee could recommend, but it is up for the board to decide.
“In fact, four members of the eight board members took part in the exercise to interview. The board took a decision to get quotes from recruiting agencies.”
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