By DANA SMITH
Tribune Staff Reporter
A FORMER National Insurance Minister has weighed in on the discord surrounding the National Insurance Board, stating Chairman Gregory Moss should have been suspended pending the results of the government’s investigation.
Kenneth Russell, although praising the government for taking action with the
investigation, noted the suspension of Director
Algernon Cargill and questioned what information led the Prime Minister to decide that Mr Moss would stay on.
“If it was me, I would suspend them all pending an investigation,” he said yesterday.
Also yesterday, Fred Gottlieb, former chairman of Water and Sewerage, Bahamasair, and BEC, called the issuing of a credit card to any chairman or board member, “unnecessary and undesirable.”
Although explaining that his comments were meant in a “general” sense, they come on the heels of claims that Mr Moss and Mr Cargill were alleged to have spent monies on NIB company credit cards, among other things.
Tuesday, Prime Minister Perry Christie had determined Mr Moss will not be placed on administrative leave as a thorough investigation of NIB’s books get underway.
He said investigations will also review Mr Moss’ activity at the Board.
Political pundits have questioned the move considering the suspension weeks ago of Mr Cargill, pending the outcome of a probe into claims made against him in a lengthy, highly sensitive Board report that was leaked. The report was written by NIB chairman Moss to Labour Minister Shane Gibson.
“I never had these kinds of problems when I was Minister,” Mr Russell said.
“I don’t know what information the Prime Minister has as to why he went in the direction that he went in. But if it was me, I would suspend them all pending an investigation.
“I think the Prime Minister is doing right having the audit and investigation done, but if one person got suspended then all of them should have been suspended.”
It is “very important” that the integrity of NIB is maintained, the former Cabinet Minister continued, and NIB cannot be put in a position where the public becomes “suspicious of everything” that is happening at the Board.
“And it should not be put in a position where people don’t have the confidence in the operation of NIB. NIB is very important to the people of the Bahamas in terms of their illness (and) in terms of their pension – especially,” Mr Russell said.
“That is why we have to be very careful that NIB does not get a reputation where all of us start to second guess what’s happening down there.”
In a letter to the editor sent by Mr Gottlieb, the former chairman said: “I question why the chairman or any member of the board of directors of a public corporation should be given credit card for use during the period of their appointment.
“I served as chairman of several public corporations and, as such, did not approve credit cards being given to any board member (including myself) as I deemed this to be unnecessary and undesirable.”