DeCaires calls for reform
SOME of the island’s businesspeople are calling for more attention to be paid to corporate governance in both the private and public sectors.
This call came during a panel discussion following a workshop on Corporate Governance: A Global Perspective To Best Practices that was put on by Certified Management Accountants (CMA) at Hilton Barbados last Wednesday.
Ronaele Dathorne-Bayrd, PWC partner, said one of her major concerns was that Barbadians were not educated enough on the subject of corporate governance and therefore they were yet to “embrace” it.
“I don’t think we are anywhere near where we need to be. . . . Yes, there are interlocking directorships, there are several main ‘corporate governance best practice’ issues that we could talk about, but my main concern is that we have not focused enough on the issue.
“We talk about it off and on and it seems to be coming to the fore again. But we have not sufficiently acknowledged how important it is to our companies,” she said.
Sagicor’s vice-president and legal counsel Althea Hazzard said she thought having more corporate governance initiatives, especially for companies in the financial services sector, was important.
Also sharing concerns on the topic was businessman Chris de Caires. He said in a small society like Barbados it was hard for “smaller people” to make certain chief executives accountable when they were not doing what they should.
“I think we have a substandard level of management that we just accept because we just can’t deal with it. It is actually more pronounced, in my mind, in the private sector because they have very few constraints on them,” he said.
“We need to have a private sector and public sector reform to make Barbados a lot more competitive. At the big public company level I think one of the issues that has arisen in the last decade or so is the dominance of certain chief executives on the board.
“If you look at it, as a small environment – and Barbados is a very conservative type of environment – people don’t like to challenge. Once you are in that dominant position in a small environment, you tend not to get challenged. I think that is one of the issues,” he added.
Corporate governance refers to the set of customs, processes, laws and policies affecting the way a company is controlled, administered or directed. It also includes relationships between stakeholders and the goals for which the company is governed. (MM)