Many of the recommendations made in the 2015 forensic audit into the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) have been implemented but the Board has decided that the company should not be liquidated.
This is according to Officer in Charge Horace James, who said that instead of liquidation it was decided that a Privatization Unit would be set up to independently deal with some of aspects of NICIL’s operations. Speaking at an end-of-year press conference on Friday, James said that what was done in 2016 was guided by the forensic audit conducted in 2015. He said NICIL has begun to apply some of the recommendations outlined. According to James, the first major issue raised in the audit was the liquidation of NICIL and the appointment of a receiver to oversee the liquidation process.
Consultant Anand Goolsarran had said in his final report that NICIL should be liquidated as a private limited liability company under the Companies Act 1991.
But James said, “Early in the year, the NICIL Board met and they considered that recommendation but… didn’t think that NICIL should be liquidated, at least now and a decision was taken by the Board that a recommendation be made that NICIL retain both its original custodial and oversight role as a holding company for various subsidiaries and affiliates, and also its later developmental role involving capitalization, financial and legal restructuring and management with respect to certain projects approved by Cabinet.”
Based on this decision, the Board continues to allow NICIL to carry out its functions but with some amount of modification. He said one of the major changes recently approved was to the management cooperation agreement between NICIL and the Privatization Unit.
Under the former CEO Winston Brassington, he explained, it was “almost one entity”. The Board and the government have now decided that there will be two separate Boards, the NICIL Board and the Privatization Board, he said, adding that NICIL has also terminated the management cooperation agreement which had one person (Brassington) functioning in both areas. Now there are two distinct entities with separate roles: NICIL is a holding company and the Privatization Unit will handle all the privatization matters that the government may wish to undertake, he explained.
Among those on the Privatization Board as gazetted on July 23 are Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin, Dr Grantley Waldron, Patricia Bacchus and Jerome Khan who is the private sector representative. Finance Minister Winston Jordan has removed himself. He has also stepped down from the NICIL Board as had been recommended in the audit report, James said. Asked what other recommendations from the report were implemented, James said the executive director and the deputy were sent on administrative leave, a transactional audit started to follow up the forensic audit, regular valuations, pursuing the outstanding sum for the GTT shares and NICIL taking guidance from the National Procurement Policy, in the absence of its own rules.
He said NICIL has written to the minister with regard to having a NICIL member on the Boards of all its subsidiaries. He said NICIL attends the AGMs of all subsidiaries and provides input.