Chairman of the Transport Board Gregory Nicholls is strenuously denying a recent social media report, which implies needless rehiring is taking place within the state-run organization, amid talk of a second round of retrenchments.
This morning Nicholls revealed that the Transport Board had issued three-month contracts to five persons to fill positions critical to ensuring that the organization is in keeping with requirements under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.
Yesterday, it was circulated on social media that the Transport Board had hired a Fleet Management Consultant, Booth Person, two Account Assistants, Internal Auditor and Project Manager. The post claimed that the salaries for these persons totalled $50,000 per month.
However in his interview with Barbados TODAY, the Transport Board Chairman went into great detail as to the indispensible function that these temporary staff members provided.
“We have not hired any full-time persons at the Transport Board. We hired two persons in the accounts department because those skills were not in existence in the department. We are under a rigorous reporting requirement under the IMF programme to provide Government with daily updates as to the financial status of the Transport Board. The organization is at the forefront of the IMF programme because of the large amount of transfers on a monthly basis for operations,” he explained.
Additionally, Nicholls pointed out that the organization had poorly kept records for the last seven years, which was not only a contravention of the law but also allowed for pilfering to run rampant at the Board. He noted this is why the internal auditor was so desperately needed to perform a major clean up of the records.
“We are under a special audit by the Auditor General and therefore there are information requests that we will be compliant with. Our auditors, Ernst & Young could not complete the audit because Transport Board’s financials were not in a state of readiness. This has been so for the last seven years and the board is determined to publish audited financial statements at the end of the financial year as required by law. So we had to bring in that capacity,” said Nicholls.
He further explained that the Transport Board “has millions of dollars in parts stored” and there is a situation where a lot of parts have gone missing. Additionally, he said: “There were parts purchased under the last consultant that cannot be accounted for. Therefore the internal auditor, who is on a short-term contract, is assessing the financial policies, inventory, storage and management policies of the organization.”
The other contracted persons will be responsible for building out the technical framework for the Transport Board’s transition to electric buses as well as creating a cashless entity, Nicholls revealed. Lamenting that people seemed bent on undermining the progress of the new board, he pointed out that several managers and supervisors have either retired or opted for voluntary separation in recent times and the Transport Board has not replaced those persons although several workers were currently performing dual roles.
“If my charge is that only five people get jobs in Transport Board after a change of Government then I feel that we have done well. My ministers [Dr William Duguid and Peter Philips] have not bombarded the board with requests for jobs in order to answer the employment needs of their constituents,” he said.
“We are not tolerating that behaviour and I want to thank them for leading by example in this regard. The hiring of these five persons pales in comparison to the $3 million dollars in a failed project at Mangrove where the last Government attempted to rebuild transmissions and others parts to the financial detriment of the organization,” he added.