Wed | Aug 15, 2018

NHT board defined by arrogance

Published:Saturday | November 29, 2014 | 12:00 AM

NHT board defined by arrogance


It is unfortunate, though unsurprising, that this National Housing Trust (NHT)-Outameni controversy has gone on for so long, but it simply will not go away until the prime minister emerges from the shadows to fully address the various issues herself instead of doing so through various spokespersons.

One only has to review the disastrous attempts made by the NHT?s spokespersons and the information minister, at a recent post-Cabinet press briefing, to appreciate this.

It is also important for the prime minister to take the following into consideration.

1. The most significant stakeholders in the NHT are the contributors, and their sensibilities must be respected in much the same way that the directors of a privately owned company must respect the will of its shareholders. It is not good enough for the NHT?s directors and/or the Cabinet to spurn what appears to be the popular view that this is investment and the various other raids on the funds for purposes unrelated to housing are inappropriate for the NHT.

2. It is not sufficient to retain the existing board on the basis that it has done nothing wrong or corrupt. Surely, there must be other criteria such as its loss of credibility with the public, and whether it has competence in modern governance requirements.

3. No one can reasonably expect the NHT board to submit every investment to the prime minister for ratification, but there should be a regular reporting regime, through the permanent secretary for the Office of the Prime Minister, and policy positions for investments that are not directly for housing should be obtained from the portfolio minister.

4. The clause in the NHT?s mandate that was used to justify this investment was obviously intended to enable the institution to invest its liquid funds. The act should be suitably amended to make the intent clear, thereby pre-empting similar controversial investments.

5. The display of arrogance by Senator Lambert Brown, Minister Robert Pickersgill, Huntley Medley and others, in their interaction with journalists, is altogether unacceptable. They seem not to have heard former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson?s warning to shun arrogance. The prime minister would do well in advising them to heed his advice.

I trust that the prime minister will use this experience as an opportunity to improve her communication with media and the public at large.