A leaked memorandum purported to be a Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) Board of Directors paper has identified a Canadian-German to take up the position of Chief Executive Officer of the tourism agency, with an annual salary of $240,000 and a package of allowances.
But Minister of Tourism Senator Lisa Cummins has insisted that Government has not approved anyone for the top post at the BTMI.
The widely circulated document dated July 29 and obtained by Barbados TODAY, said that Jens Thraenhart beat out the second and third choices, Paul Nursey and Stuart Bowe in the state agency’s selection and recruitment process of selection.
The document said: “Whereas the Interview Panel as assigned by the Board has unanimously agreed to recommend Mr. Jens Thraenhart as the candidate for the position of CEO of the Company subject to reference and background checks being conducted, be it resolved that Mr Jens Thraenhart be and is hereby recommended for appointment to the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Company, for a term of three years with the option to renew, subject to reference and background checks being conducted.”
It was also outlined in the purported BTMI document that Thraenhart, who according to a bio on his official website “has over 25 years of international travel, tourism and hospitality experience”, would receive an annual income of $240, 000 (US$120,000) and several perks.
The new BTMI chief is to be provided a fully maintained company vehicle; a pension gratuity payment equivalent to 20 per cent of basic annual earnings; a contributory medical plan; 42 calendar days (30 working days) annual vacation; overseas travel (personal); 21 paid sick days annually; membership subscriptions to professional and/or social clubs to a maximum value of $6,000 per annum; the cost of residential utilities, excluding the cost of water which is to be paid by the BTMI.
In addition to an annual performance incentive fee, the document stated that the BTMI will assume responsibility for the costs associated with the relocation of the new CEO’s family (partner/spouse and children below the age of eighteen years) to Barbados.
“Covered in these costs shall be the cost of airfare to Barbados on commencement and return upon completion of the assignment; the transportation of personal effects (up to a maximum of one 40 cu. ft. container) and transitional housing for three months to a maximum of $5,000 per month, inclusive of utilities,” it stated, adding that benefits also include housing and tuition allowances.
Senator Cummins did not confirm or deny the authenticity of the document but said that she had not seen it and that Cabinet had not approved anyone for the BTMI chief’s post.
She told Barbados TODAY: “I don’t know what document you are referring to. I haven’t seen a document but if you understand what governance is, the board cannot hire without an approval from the ministry and from Cabinet.
“So, anything that you are seeing I have not seen so I cannot speak of. So your assertion that somebody has been hired since July is inconsistent with basic principles of governance of government companies.
“But even if you send me a memo, I am saying. . . that no one can be hired in a government company at the level of CEO without it having been approved by Cabinet.
“So, any document in circulation cannot speak to anyone who has been hired because Cabinet has not considered any paper for any hiring of a CEO for the BTMI. Anything you are seeing has not been seen by me or by the Cabinet of Barbados.”
Former Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, recently named as the Democratic Labour Party’s spokesman on tourism, chided Senator Cummins for engaging in what he believed was semantics on the issue of the new BTMI head which he maintained was “a done deal”.
He also claimed there were other changes in the works at the BTMI.
“The place needs leadership,” Sealy told Barbados TODAY. “The morale is at rock bottom and a Minister playing games over whether the CEO has been formally or informally appointed, that is not what we need now. Tourism needs direction, it needs focused, coherent and mature leadership.
“It is not getting it at the moment . . . when they are planning a restructuring and the board intends to eliminate a number of administrative assistants as well as a number of business development officers.
“We already have the staff at razor-thin levels. How can you be eliminating business development officers at a time like this? Let me just say that that is crazy at this stage and all of Barbados will have to pay a price for that.”
The CEO post has been vacant for almost two years since former CEO William Billy Griffith, who was in the position since the inception of the BTMI in 2014, resigned in 2019. (KC)