Tuesday 19 March, 2019

Gopeesingh: EFCL a 'runaway horse'

Former minister of education Dr Tim Gopeesingh has continued to call for a new Board of Directors for the Education Facilities Company Limited (EFCL) equipped with requisite skills.

Gopeesingh made the call following revelations at a Joint Select Committee (JSC) meeting on Friday that the EFCL currently faces $550 million in litigation from service contractors.

The former minister said it is clear that a recent “shake up” did not go far enough.

The JSC heard on Friday that the Ministries of Finance and Education were unaware of the litigation facing the company. The Committee was also informed of unqualified personnel holding top executive positions, a lack of internal auditors and deficiency in the monitoring of construction work.

Noting issues with the management of the textbook rental programme, dismissal of managers in a “reckless and discriminatory manner” and “unprecedented” financial authority granted to the Corporate Secretary, Gopeesingh said it was clear that further action needed to be taken at the EFCL.

“It is clear that EFCL remains a rogue company, with a Board of Directors lacking knowledge and competence in corporate governance and extending their reach into the day-to-day management decision-making.

More than that, the Board itself lacks discipline, order and proper procedure, since media advertisements were placed by a Committee and without the approval of the entire Board.”

The former minister stated that the Acting General Manager lacks basic knowledge of the financial state of EFCL, including the sum validly owed to contractors, adding that the granting of spending rights of up to $100,000 to the Corporate Secretary is unheard of in the State sector.

“In general, EFCL remains a runaway horse, without competent and experienced administrators, careful oversight by line ministries and adherence to sound governance principles,” he said.

Gopeesingh maintained that the recent changes to the Board of Directors will make no difference to the mal-governance since directors were retained and promoted.

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“EFCL requires an altogether new Board of Directors with the requisite skills,” he said.

He called for an urgent, far-reaching and independent review of the senior management, with a view to outfitting the taxpayer-owned company with suitably-skilled resources.

Gopeesingh again called for the resignation or removal of Minister of Education Anthony Garcia as he said the Minister has demonstrated that he is totally unfit for public.

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