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Follow through with right-sizing

Sunday, November 12, 2017

State-owned Caribbean Airlines suffers from the kind of prolonged dysfunction that can dishearten the most loyal employee and disappoint the most patriotic traveller. Successive administrations have essentially done the same thing at CAL and most other state enterprises: appoint select interests to boards and fill top positions with not necessarily the most skilled candidates, but those finding favour with political power.

The recommendation by the Joint Select Committee of Parliament for a wage freeze at CAL until the company right-sizes itself is overdue in the current economic context. The counsel to fill key positions with properly qualified staff guided by more effective management structures, is advice that all state agencies should also apply. 39 state enterprises have now accumulated debt of some $44 billon. State boards simply cannot continue to preside over figures like these.The JSCs report on CAL contained a recommendation for the airline to “follow through with plans” and while it specifically applied to plans to conduct a manpower audit of the management structure, the ability to “follow through” remains a fundamental weakness at all state enterprises.

Over the years, most state companies have promised turnaround but have failed to deliver. There have been plans, but they haven’t been properly executed. It is our hope that the ability to follow through would be demonstrated as a matter of urgency and not just by the current CAL board, but by boards and executives at each of these 39 state entities.

Do what is right

No one enjoys paying taxes but if the estimated income of roulette machines suggested by the Finance Minister is correct, then gaming industry stakeholders haven’t been putting all their cards on the table.

According to Colm Imbert, each of these roulette machines could possibly be clearing cash upwards of half a million dollars each year. While some 900 establishments may house gambling devices, it is being reported to the Parliament that less than 100 members clubs are officially registered with the FIU. If these figures are accurate then something is wrong with the narrative of owners who say they will be forced to cut staff just to pay higher taxes, or face closure. Either their operating models are wrong, or they may have been benefitting for years from what some suggest appears to be tax evasion. While Minister Imbert’s figures should be substantiated or credited to more than a source, the industry does need to be regulated and bear its fair share of taxation.

A century of excellence

Look out for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a “A Century of Excellence”, the book celebrating the Guardian’s 100 years in business (on pages A20 and A21). We have documented the stories which shaped our nation over the last century and we look forward to telling more of your stories as we move ahead.


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