Hon. Penn’s comments come following the probing of the matter during recent days by the ongoing UK-backed Commission of Inquiry (CoI).
Addressing the matter via a statement on Thursday, September 16, the Opposition Leader underscored the importance of these boards to the national economy.
“These organisations are tremendously important to the people of the Virgin Islands, to our sustainability, and to our economic growth and development. They are expected to, and are relied upon to perform the management of our two economic pillars of Financial Services and Tourism; our National Pension and National Health Insurance Plans; our Energy supply and Health Care services; our Tertiary Education; our Telecommunications industry; our air and marine ports; and our National Parks,” he said.
He continued: “As one can tell, any incompetence on the part of the Board of Directors or the Administration of these organisations can mean disaster for the people of our country. Therefore it is vitally important that the members of the Boards and the personnel of the Administrations are carefully selected. Administrators and other functionaries must be selected for their expertise in the duties they are chosen to perform. Likewise, Board members must be selected for their knowledge of the various policies and strategies necessary for the vision and mission for which the Statutory Body was created to be made a reality.”
Hon. Penn said, however, these posts are given as rewards to supporters of the ruling party.
“Too often and disastrous; however, our elected representatives use these significantly important positions within the Statutory Bodies and their Boards as rewards for the support given to them during the electoral process. On one too many occasions, these human resource selections, mainly based on support for a politician, are inexperienced and incompetent and replace experienced competent administrators and board members,” he stated.
According to the Opposition Leader, these appointments can have catastrophic consequences, particularly for the economy.
“For example, one misstep or one missed opportunity in the management of the Board of any one of our economic pillars because of inexperience or incompetence could mean slower economic recovery resulting in failed businesses, job losses, social unrest, and generally diminished quality of life in our country," Hon. Penn emphasized.
During his appearance before the CoI this week, Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie admitted that in hindsight, his administration should have created a policy to guide the way board appointments are made when they revoked all non-ex-officio members and had them replaced with new appointees in 2019.
The topic continues before the CoI today.