Former Chairman of the Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB) Samuel Andrew has laid the financial debacle in which the state enterprise has now landed itself squarely at the feet of Ruel Edwards who has been removed by government as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and given another top-paying post within the Ministry of Finance.
Andrew has accused Edwards of hiding the true financial position of MNIB from the Board of Directors for years.
The former Board Chairman sought to explain his role in the MNIB financial debacle in light of a recent article published in THE NEW TODAY about the almost bankrupt state of affairs at the state body.
In a written response, Andrew said: “Initially, the parlous state of finances at the MNIB was only revealed to me when a colleague telephoned me to indicate that a foreign sugar supplier was seeking redress for the payment of outstanding amounts for sugar supplies after numerous successive undertakings to pay from the CEO were not honoured.
“These facts of financial expose were previously concealed from the Board for almost two (2) full years. Upon receiving the query from the supplier, I requested a full report on the financial status of the MNIB; the Board was stunned into silence, regarding the extent to which the true financial status of the MNIB was concealed”, he added.
Following is the full release from the former MNIB Chairman:
“Fellow Grenadians at home and abroad, I take this opportunity to write to you concerning an article that appeared in the Friday June 29, 2018 edition of the ‘The New Today’ – entitled “Samuel Andrew removed as head of MNIB”.
Further, it has also been brought to my attention that several messages and statements are being shared on social media with respect to the article and the affairs of the Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB).
The caption in the newspaper article “Samuel Andrew removed as head of MNIB”, appears to link the non-renewal of my appointment as Chairman of the MNIB to the alleged financial challenges currently being faced by the MNIB.
In fact, there is a subtle implication that the Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell (who is also Minister responsible for Economic Development within whose jurisdiction falls the MNIB) had terminated my Chairmanship because of suspected culpability on my part in the development of the financial crisis that now seemingly engulfs the MNIB.
In as much as I was the Chairman of MNIB for the past five years, I consider it prudent and necessary that I address the issue to clear my name of any perception of wrong doing.
The overwhelming underpinning of my insistence to offer clarity and truth in this matter rests with my upbringing and the lessons of virtues that my mother, who is still alive, imparted to all her children.
One of the invaluable virtues she taught us was, “A good name is better to be chosen than precious ointment”.
Later, superstar Robert Nester Bob Marley cemented that belief in me with his counsel, “Don’t gain the whole world and lose your soul, wisdom is better than silver and gold”.
Honourable Dr. Keith Mitchell, in his advice to many of us as new party entrants, on numerous counselling occasions, reminded us that in the arena of politics and public life, perception is as powerful as reality.
I, therefore, have absolutely no doubt, that he would be supportive of my endeavours to dispel all perceptions of wrongdoing and impropriety on my part in the MNIB saga that, if left unanswered, could provide a foundation for the peddling of insinuations, character assassinations and misdirected blaming.
Therefore, I want to make it emphatically clear and declare unambiguously that during my tenure as Chairman of the Marketing and National Importing Board that I was never involved in any misconduct or misdealing with respect to the financial affairs of the MNIB.
To this end, I am open to facilitate an engagement with the media to clarify any outstanding questions, issues, or uncertainties surrounding my stewardship in relation to the recent emergence of knowledge of the MNIB’s alleged financial precariousness in the public space.
Initially, the parlous state of finances at the MNIB was only revealed to me when a colleague telephoned me to indicate that a foreign sugar supplier was seeking redress for the payment of outstanding amounts for sugar supplies after numerous successive undertakings to pay from the CEO were not honoured.
These facts of financial expose were previously concealed from the Board for almost two (2) full years.
Upon receiving the query from the supplier, I requested a full report on the financial status of the MNIB; the Board was stunned into silence, regarding the extent to which the true financial status of the MNIB was concealed.
As Chairman, I took the responsible action of bringing this development to the attention of the Minister with Responsibility for Economic Development at the time, Minister Oliver Joseph. I kept Minister Oliver Joseph continuously appraised of the situation at Marketing Board, at times even drawing the ire of the CEO.
There is nothing that the Board or the Chairman could have done differently in circumstances where they were denied critical financial information.
Ultimately, the Chairman of the Board is responsible for the effective management and administration of the organisation. However, it should not be expected that the Chairman should go around the organisation seeking alternative information from managers outside of the office of the Chief Executive Officer without undermining the authority of the Office of the Chief Executive Officer.
It was the duty of the CEO to report, honestly, accurately, timely and objectively, on the operations of the Organisation to the Board of Directors following the unwritten but agreed protocol of full engagement and full disclosure.
Realistically, the Board can only function effectively and make effective decisions based on full disclosure of information and sound information coming from top management via the office of the Chief Executive Officer.
I wish the new Chairman well but would like to proffer some advice, especially in view of the process that landed the MNIB in the unfortunate position it now finds itself.
There is a compelling need for the Board to craft new employment contracts for top management of the MNIB and, particularly and urgently, for the position of Chief Executive Officer.
In the case of the CEO, the employment contract must include a clause on full disclosure to the Board of all pertinent matters, financial and otherwise, in order to guarantee effective decision making at the Board level.
Such a contract should have clear, strict and direct consequences for concealment or non-disclosure of information to the Board which deemed by the Board could have the undesirable effect of placing the organisation at dire risk.
As a committed farmer, and one who is totally committed to the noble cause of the development of the agriculture and agribusiness sectors of the economy, and as a conscientious and patriotic Grenadian, I wish this national icon – the MNIB -greatest success in the future”.