By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
A Bahamas Power and Light source is alleging the company’s new board of directors cannot perform its duties due to an extension granted to the previous board and executives by the outgoing Minnis administration.
According to the BPL source, the extension was granted by the Free National Movement government just prior to the election and it allows that government’s appointed board and executives to remain in place, creating an awkward situation.
Speaking with The Tribune yesterday, the source alleged that prior to the election officials at the Ministry of Works assured BPL’s staff there would be a positive turnaround in the relationship between staff and management.
On two occasions The Tribune was called in and witnessed listening tours by then-Minister of Works and Utilities Desmond Bannister as he sought to understand the myriad problems between BPL’s executives, staff and the union.
Since last year there have been numerous occasions where staff withdrew labour and marched around the BPL building.
The work stoppage was said to be caused by the tumultuous relationship between staff and executive management, the union saying its members were severely disrespected by management and an unsigned, long overdue industrial agreement.
The BPL informant said: “The FNM double crossed the union at BPL and just before election when they realised they were losing they went. . . and asked for an extension for the board and the executives in BPL.
“So even though the PLP is in power, (an official) granted an extension to the board and to the executives. The FNM had promised to shake up all the slackness that was going on at BPL with management, but instead they doubled down. They deceived the union. I understand that the FNM forced an extension,” the source alleged.
When contacted, Mr Bannister did not directly answer the question posed, but said board appointments are made the same time each year. He said the issue had nothing to do with the recent election.
“All board appointments, except those which the law specifically provides are for more than one year, are made annually at the same time of the year by Cabinet,” he said. “BPL is no different. It has absolutely nothing to do with elections.”
Pedro Rolle was recently appointed chairman of the BPL board of directors by the Davis administration. The Tribune reached out to him for commentary on the matter.
“I can’t comment on that,” Mr Rolle said. “That’s a matter that is above the status of this board and the previous board. I would prefer the minister himself or someone else in authority to comment on that. I am not going to comment on that matter. I am not going to comment on that at all.”
Under normal circumstances, a board of directors would remain in place after an election until a new board is appointed and the members are then invited to vacate. There is a new board selected for BPL.
The minister is usually involved in that decision and in this case, under the Electricity Act, he or she is actually responsible for appointing board members at the corporation.
The source continued: “The new government is now in a pickle and very frustrated because they cannot make a move as they might be taken to court because these people have a legal extension.
“. . .So we don’t know what is going to happen at BPL because it has two boards now.”
The Tribune also contacted the FNM appointed chairman, Dr Donovan Moxey to see if he could shed light on the matter. He, too, referred The Tribune to the minister responsible.
“I have no comment,” Dr Moxey said. “The board is going through a transition. While we are going through a transition, I don’t see the need to have anything public to say, unless, of course, it is a dire emergency. I don’t have a comment on that so I refer you to the minister.”
The Tribune also sought comment from BPL executives and its Director of Communications K Quincy Parker who did not respond directly, but said the government should answer to the status of the boards.
Mr Parker said: “Board appointments are the purview of the government of The Bahamas. Any questions about the board should be directed to the government.”
The Tribune made several attempts to contact the current Minister of Works Alfred Sears, to no avail.