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OPINION: Natural Resource Fund- Improve the Board Appointment Process

Last Updated on Saturday, 1 January 2022, 12:58 by Denis Chabrol

by Surendra Dhanpaul

In his most recent statement, President Ali is right, “The bill makes it very clear; the minimum qualifications of board members are stipulated in the law and the membership of the board is required to be published in the Gazette.” There may be a pool of several thousand people who meet the minimum qualification. I challenge: what is the basis that any President selects the five? As of right now, the current President has made it clear of one: Integrity. This is a judgment by the President, current and future. I seek not to only point to the flaws but provide recommendations.

My previous letter cited the recommendation of a confirmation hearing by the National Assembly of the board members. Please permit me to expand on that recommendation. The process of board appointment should be that (a) the President nominates the five members, (b) the National Assembly confirms the members through hearings and votes, and (c) the President appoints the confirmed members. Once again, the President is right “The opposition is in Parliament”. The National Assembly is made up of people who represent one hundred percent of the votes counted in the general election. Therefore, by adding the extra level of confirmation by the National Assembly, the board is vetted by every X on a ballot.

Let me further explain the confirmation hearing process recommended. A committee in the National Assembly should be formed and tasked with questioning the nominees. I will defer to the public for their input on the size and composition of the committee as well as how much time each member is allocated for questions. In the private sector, you can consider this as part of an interview process. It provides an opportunity for each nominee to make his/her/their case as to why they are fit for the job. At the same time, it is public, thereby making it more transparent. After the hearing is finished, the entire National Assembly votes to confirm or fail to confirm a nominee. A confirmed nominee can be appointed by the President but one who fails the confirmation process cannot be appointed. I repeat, this vote by the National Assembly represents one hundred percent of the votes counted in an election.

On the matter of reappointments, there should be a limit on the number of reappoints for an individual. My initial recommendation is four making it a total of ten years maximum for an individual, but I welcome other suggestions. Additionally, reappointments are subject to the confirmation process.

Finally, I commend the efforts by people who are speaking out. The private response to my previous letter was that it was a good effort, but the administration will push the Bill, nonetheless. My response is simple: momentum. Momentum is calculated by the formula: mass multiplied by velocity. Increase the mass, you increase the momentum. I am a mass of one, but I feel the momentum increase with every letter, editorial and statement from organizations that pushes back against the Bill, now an Act.

Finally, I call on President Ali to show us INTEGRITY. This is the one quality that He explicitly specified that He would require of Board members. Show us what INTEGRITY means to you, President Ali.