Editorial: Lack of maturity

Some readers probably were quite surprised to read in Tuesday’s paper that the Corporate Governance Council (CGC) had given the green light for the appointment of William Brooks as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GEBE. After all, the candidate has a bumpy history – to say the least – with the local utilities provider.

Following problems with several management members, the Supervisory Board of the Government-owned company had rehired Brooks as temporary manager late 2015, despite the fact that his tenure as director a few years before had not ended well and he had left the island to occupy a similar post in St. Kitts. However, his troubles back then were believed to have been mostly a result of poor relations with his predecessor – the late – Julius Lambert, who after retirement returned to head the board.

The current chairman Rene Richardson argued that Brooks deserved another chance. However, this changed drastically by the end of January, when the board advised the shareholder not to nominate him as CEO and issued a highly critical commentary on his functioning.

He was accused of actions and decisions beyond the authority given to him from the start and behaving as if he were statutory director. Several personnel moves were said to have been a violation of Brooks’ competency, including that of his brother for whom a vehicle reportedly also was purchased at a higher price than the maximum amount of NAf. 50,000 a director can spend without consulting the board.

The UP-led Government at the time suspended a decision on the CEO appointment. However, the new William Marlin Cabinet clearly saw things differently and soon initiated the process to replace the Supervisory Board instead, due to a “series of things,” including the spreading of confidential information about the company “in the media left and right.” The CGC agrees that there are enough grounds to terminate the board members.

So, the matter has now come full circle, but it’s actually a sad indication of how in St. Maarten there often can be diametrically opposing views on the same issue based on political affiliation. Care must be taken that such apparent lack of maturity does not have negative consequences for GEBE’s operations, especially the distribution of water and electricity on which the Dutch side and its tourism economy strongly depend.
Source: Daily Herald
Lack of maturity