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Rein in senior public officials—Mark

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Rhondor Dowlat

Standing Orders of The Parliament ought to be changed so that senior public officials who are found to be unethical and displaying inappropriate conduct and behaviour can be referred by the Parliament to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Committee member of the Joint Select Committee of The Parliament on State Enterprises Wade Mark made the call last week during a media conference where findings of three reports were disclosed.

Mark’s suggestion came on the heels of the JSC’s chairman David Small’s statement that “increasingly” T&T is witnessing embarrassing or potentially unethical behaviour from people in senior positions in state enterprises.

Small said while chairing the JSC on State Enterprises he has observed a pattern of incidences or challenges where accountability seemed to be questionable or not too clear. “People who are in charge of state resources doesn’t seem to understand that those resources belong to the people and they should apply an appropriate duty of care in managing those resources...we try not to cast aspersions, but you get the view sometimes that people feel entitled to be able to do what they want to do with state resources.”

With respect to the State Enterprises Performance Monitoring Manual, Small explained that while the manual itself is a guiding document, entities are expected to apply the rules and procedures in there.

However, he said “a lot of times entities seem to ignore it,” and “they act like it does not exist and do their own thing.”

To address this, Mark recommended that they advance to Parliament the need to translate the manual to a legal instrument with appropriate sanctions and penalties for violations of breaches.

Small said as it stands now, the JSCs can at least put on public record some of the misdeeds or the poor decisions that are being taken by parties inside of the state enterprises.

“But it requires a holistic approach in order to fix these problems. The committee can only go so far in identifying what the problems are, recommend things that can be done to fix those problems, but it requires a holistic approach to fix the whole system,” Small said.


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