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Osborne bites back at BPL dismissal

Darnell Osbourne

Darnell Osbourne

THREE former members of Bahamas Power and Light’s board of directors said their work was hindered by “political” interference, adding the board, in particular former chairwoman Darnell Osborne, was “continually disrespected and undermined”.

The statement denied accusations from Minister of Works Desmond Bannister that the six-member board was frequently locked in dispute on critical issues leading to its shock dissolution last week, saying his commentary did not address the root of the problem.

A statement released by Ms Osborne, and former members Nicola Thompson and Nick Dean touted the work of the former board, but said outside forces undermined its functionality and emboldened “certain factions” to “run amok”.

“Recent pronouncements in the press by the minister of public works stating that the board was ‘locked in dispute on every critical issue at great cost to the company’ are untrue, inaccurate and misleading,” the trio’s statement noted.

“This statement does not capture truthfully the root of the real problem encountered by the board. Interference by the political directorate in a board whose very existence was chartered to be devoid of such activities stands at the root. Had the board been left to its own devices without external interferences, the mechanisms in place to prevent gridlock would have been effective.

“It was the interference that undermined the functionality of the board and in particular, the leadership of the chair. Certain factions within the board were thereby emboldened and allowed to run amok in the company and willfully ignore the checks and balances which are typically in place for public interest entities. Without the interferences, not only would resolutions to differences have been achieved, but the board would be left to function in accordance with internationally accepted standards of good corporate governance.

“The board, in particular the chair, was continually disrespected and undermined. There are implications of dysfunction attributable to constant personality conflicts and bickering, inability to make decisions, lack of strong leadership and chauvinism. At the very core of the fracture which developed was a difference in viewpoint of the overriding guiding principles.”

The three said they had several guiding principles - the best interests of the Bahamian people, accountability, transparency, the rule of law, fiscal responsibility and good corporate governance. They said this led to millions of dollars in savings to BPL and will continue to yield savings and build an infrastructure of transparency and accountability for generations to come.

The trio said it appeared they were removed for seeking to ensure that the board “operated in a transparent, fiscally responsible, and ethical manner in the best interests of BPL and the Bahamian people.”

The statement also took umbrage with the manner in which the three were dismissed, saying they were not advised that they were asked to resign in writing even though they received formal letters of appointment.

“It is wholly inappropriate that we have not been asked to resign or were not otherwise dismissed, in writing,” the trio noted. “Furthermore, we were only informed about the appointment of the new board via reports in the media. One of the exited board members was not even afforded the courtesy of being advised in person or in writing, prior to the issuance of the minister’s statement.”

Touting their achievements, the former board members said “customer satisfaction, service reliability, union relationships, relations with the regulatory agency, and staff morale had started to experience improvements at BPL and then began to deteriorate quickly as interferences intensified.”

The three former board members said they wish the new board well and are available to to ensure a smooth transition. A new board was announced on Friday.

Comments

akbar 5 years, 10 months ago

The BPL saga continues while consumers suffer. In another daily the new board chairman is committed to continue the course. Looks like the course is complete failure of this entity while the energy crisis grows. This administration is hell bent on plunging our country into total chaos.

Peace and God is Great.

concernedcitizen 5 years, 10 months ago

For 40 year we have not been able to provide reliable power at a reasonable cost .Let someone come in and build ,own and operate a new plant .Get government out of it ,,PLP or FNM . Cell service despite the hiccups in the beginning is much better w Liberty owning the majority of BTC and calling the shots

Socrates 5 years, 10 months ago

all governments the same. Board members know they are appointed as a reward for support, nothing more or less. politicians have no intention of giving decision-making authority to anyone, after all, thats why they became politicians to begin with. Remember Phil Bethel at Bahamasair commission of Inquiry? he shamelessly stated that he and Frank Bartlett, who was PS at the time, ran the company from his office at Min of Transport in Post Office building. so this is all sadly, nothing new. and it goes a long way to explain that the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Sickened 5 years, 10 months ago

Time to bring in foreign board members?

JohnDoes 5 years, 10 months ago

One would like to question why this Osborne woman with her level of so-called 'expertise' is always in these precarious positions when it comes to businesses & companies. Ive been saying before, she is bad for business, everything she touches seems to dwindle or fall apart eventually. Lets not forget she was the main puppeteer behind that major lay-off of the hard working Bahamians employed by BEC/BPL when they were all of a sudden asked to participate in a drug screening or be terminated 'scheme'. Many employees who never had to do this from when they were hired into their respective jobs & worked some 5, 10, even 15+ years with the company. If you are going to implement abrupt procedures such as this for example. It needs to take place throughout the entire company (executive board as well). This vindictive, narcissist is too high on a pedestal and does not notice or correct any of her own mistakes and passes the blame any chance she can get.

concernedcitizen 5 years, 10 months ago

Its rather strange to claim political interference at a government run company . Is not the Minister of works for better or worse the de facto "CEO" of BPL ??The board makes recommendations but the final call rest w the Minister ,unless it is something that has to be voted on in parliament .Let a company come in and build ,operate and own the majority of shares ,like Liberty w BTC and Aliv ..Get the government out of it

Craig 5 years, 10 months ago

Let's face it, government boards are toothless and have no real power, therefore effectively they serve no useful purpose, which is pretty much a waste of everyone's time and money including the board members themselves. A properly functioning and empowered board is crucial to the health and success of an organization. However if its very existence or who sits on it are left to the whims of one or a small group of individuals then there is no way for it to be effective.

sheeprunner12 5 years, 10 months ago

But ............. the Board members are all paid well for their toothless role.

Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years, 10 months ago

Desmond Bannister should be made to fall on his sword. And Minnis should remind his other cabinet ministers that government sets policies and cabinet ministers with a government corporation in their portfolio are only charged with monitoring the corporation's compliance with the policies set by government. No minister should be otherwise involved in the day-to-day running, decision-making or other business affairs of a government corporation. That's the job of management with oversight from the board, period! And if Minnis does not insist that Bannister resign his cabinet post, then this sends the wrong message to each and every board member of a government corporation. It's high time Minnis proved to us that he's different from Perry Christie and Hubert Ingraham - fire Bannister from the cabinet!

christee 5 years, 10 months ago

I think we are all missing the point here. The board was doing the best it could with the limited resources available. They were trying to maintain control and oversight against wasteful spending. The new CEO came with a plan to downsize staff because BPL is strapped for cash, while at the same time bringing in any number of consultants who are mostly friends and lovers at ridiculous salaries. He wanted to be able to dish out contracts like candy without any checks and balances.The guy is reckless in his behavior and he should have been the one replaced, not the board.

Craig 5 years, 10 months ago

You've just reinforced the point of what everyone has been saying. Government boards are ineffectual due to political interference and that is not going to change any time soon. As long as successive governments continue to appoint boards, which they are legally mandated to do so, there will be interference, especially when boards starts to "mash the corns" of the powers that be. Government boards are a waste of time and money no matter how or with whom they are constituted

Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years, 10 months ago

Right you are.....but it was more Minnis than Bannister who was (and still is) providing Whitney Heastie with all of the political cover he needed (and still needs) for his wrongful hiring and excessive rewarding of so many of his incompetent cronies, many of whom also have close ties to Minnis himself. And to think Osborne actually thought she would have the PM's ear and protection if needed. LOL

geostorm 5 years, 10 months ago

I figured as much. The chairman appeared to be a Corporate leader. I really had high hopes for her. It is very unfortunate the way things turned out. I believe if she was left to do her job, BPL would have been on its way to fiscal responsibility.

bogart 5 years, 10 months ago

As long as any Board..... politically appointed to any Government agency is there..... to ensure that the political directorate policies, initiatives snd plans are carried out,........ then that is a ..recipe for disaster.......common semse.....when appointed persons with professional skills, members of professional bodies.....are mandated to /required to ......carry out political plans, initiatives, policies of political party........... ...So far I nominate only one Board Appointed member for a National Highest Honour for having recognized dis ....corondrum....and promptly resigned sometime earlier from a well known conyroversial finamcial Board he was appointed..............its time prefessionals recognize dis corondrum....in embarassing themselves with years of schooling successfull professional practice...for 5 years political appointment.....and NEXT ELECTION some new govt with different board appojnted professionals do the rrverse political policy.....or how could all professionals continue to do the same money losing or ineffectual tings....if you cant cry.... mightaswell.... laugh.....

DWW 5 years, 10 months ago

The comments here speak volumes more than the actual article

Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years, 10 months ago

Osborne's gonna have to say a whole lot more with all that's being said about her behind her back. She's clearly the targeted scapegoat so even what's left of her reputation is being torn to shreds by the very same politicos she thought she could trust and who are now telling her to clam up and say no more or else. The other side continues to make minced meat of what remains of her tattered reputation in order to save their own hides. Frankly she has very little to lose by telling all there is to tell in as much sordid detail as possible. With all that's happened she can't possibly owe a fiduciary duty of silence to BPL or anyone else for that matter.

sealice 5 years, 10 months ago

we need to hire foreigners to run the country and they can sell off all the utilities hopefully to foreigners who will run it as a business that provides a necessary utility and not some employment slush fund that needs emergency million dollar boosts every year to pay rent on generators

DDK 5 years, 10 months ago

Obviously our governments and their appointed boards have failed miserably at managing the shame that is BEC. Changing the name did nothing to improve the shame. We do have quite a few successful Bahamian owned and operated concerns in this Country. Is there a reason why the procurement of BEC should not be put out to QUALIFIED Bahamian public tender?

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