By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
POOR governance practices are the primary the reason for Bahamas Power and Light's (BPL) failures, its chairman said yesterday.
Darnell Osborne, who was addressing a corporate governance seminar hosted the Bahamas Chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors, said that having spent four months in her role "I now understand why BEC/BPL is where it is".
She added: "In my view, the lack of good governance practices is primarily the reason for BPL's failures. Good governance is all about establishing the right culture as it relates to people, processes and structure.
"BPL is not an institution where one needs to wonder what the vision is. Ask anyone on the street and they will tell you want they want: Reliable, low cost, safe, sustainable energy."
Mrs Osborne said the Minnis administration had established a clear tone from day one, setting out that poor performance will have consequences.
She added that BPL's Board had determined that regular meetings with the unions representing BPL line-staff and middle management was a necessity, noting that an antagonistic environment did little for the utility. Despite political interference, she said BPL's staff were hard-working and, despite antiquated and aging equipment - and lack of funding for maintenance - there have been no extended blackouts.
"Corporate governance reform in developed and developing countries in the last two decades has generated some fruitful outcomes, but has not solved the fundamental problems in corporate governance practices. The underlying problems with corporate governance are not just technical or implementation issues, but more about the issues of paradigms, governing approaches and the orientation of corporate governance systems, which are deeply ingrained in this new BPL Board's philosophy," Mrs Osborne said.
"Since July 1 we have been given the challenging task of fixing BPL's problems, not only the technical issues but also BPL's public perception, all against the backdrop of an impatient populace. This Board has already begun by reviewing all policies, employee positions, conducting forensic audits and, in some cases, criminal investigations and also fixing the long-term generation and critical financing needs."
Mrs Osborne said that, for decades, BEC/BPL has been a beneficiary of government bail-outs with taxpayers left repaying the costs. "Once new core practices are put in place by this Board and executive team you should see BPL as a company that provides an affordable, quality service to its residents and a corporation moving from lagging to leading," she added.