“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,” he said during a statement released today, September 16, 2021.
“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. 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,” he added.
Hon Penn, who was part of the previous National Democratic Party (NDP) that was in the practice of replacing Board Members following elections and also had a history of firing civil servants who they believed supported another party, said 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.”
Penn expressed that these political appointees can be detrimental, as they could have “catastrophic consequences for our economy.”
He sought to explain what he meant: “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.”
“Statutory bodies, specifically those created here in the Virgin Islands, serve as semi-autonomous organisations that act like private corporations with the purpose of implementing government’s policies. Because of their flexibility, they are able to act much faster than the government’s administrative bureaucracy. The Board of Directors guides the organisation in the expeditious implementation of government’s policies and delivery of the services they are created to deliver. These organisations are tremendously important to the people of the Virgin Islands, to our sustainability, and to our economic growth and development,” he further said.
Hon Penn also said these bodies are expected to and relied on to perform the management of the two economic pillars- Financial Services and Tourism- and other areas of importance.
The topic of statutory boards is also being ventilated in the UK-sponsored Commission of Inquiry.