Were Board Members vetted? The public needs to know

One local activist is questioning the government’s shake up of the board members of Petrotrin’s successor companies.

   Transparency Activist Afra Raymond

During yesterday’s Post-Cabinet briefing, Energy Minister Franklin Khan announced the new members to four of the boards: Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Limited; Heritage Petroleum Limited; Paria Fuel Trading Company and Guaracara Refining Company Ltd.

Transparency Activist Afra Raymond said the move appears to be one in which the state places its interest above the needs of the country. He said he longs for the day when people can make appointments that are free of party politics. Raymond said it didn’t happen with the past People’s Partnership administration and it is scarcely happening now.

During the briefing yesterday, Khan announced the removal of the Boards’ Chairman Wilfred Espinet and Heritage Petroleum Company CEO Mike Wiley. Instead, outgoing HDC Chairman Newman George will chair Paria Fuel and Guaracara Refining Company and Michael Quamina will chair Trinidad Petroleum and Heritage Petroleum Limited. Both George and Quamina have been linked to the PNM as George is the husband of current House Speaker Brigid Annisette-George, and Quamina, an attorney at law, has represented Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley on private matters in the past.

Khan asked whether the Government has followed best practices in vetting board members before their appointments. He said the convention is that members are given a medical examination and evaluation before they are placed in such a high-stress environment. He questioned whether Wiley was given an examination, since the former CEO is currently undergoing treatment in the US for cancer.

Raymond said information like this should be shared with the public.