New ride for CAL boss
In the face of a $339 million loss, State carrier Caribbean Airlines is now paying $20,000 a month to local company Triple D Rentals to lease a Toyota Prado vehicle for chairman Rabindra Moonan.
The Sunday Express understands that Moonan initially requested an Audi Q7 to be leased for the chairman’s use but subsequently changed his preference to the Prado.
The Sunday Express was told that it actually cost the airline more to lease the PCL-licensed Prado than the Audi Q7.
Moonan requested the vehicle be delivered on the first day of his board meeting on May 9.
It was authorised by CAL’s legal department.
Contacted yesterday, Moonan asked why this issue was news.
“CAL may have leased a Prado for themselves and they have used it to transport me to various events. If there are any events which I attend on behalf of the company, the company provides me with transport,” he told the Sunday Express.
When it was pointed out that former chairmen did not enjoy such luxuries, Moonan defended the lease: “The last chairman was George Nicholas III. I live in San Fernando. At times, I have to go to three meetings in one day.”
CAL sources explained that it was an unusual development in the company as only board fees have traditionally been paid to the directors.
But the State Enterprises Performance Monitoring Manual titled: “Improving The Corporate Governance Framework for State Enterprises” published by the Ministry of Finance in July 2011 and given to all State appointees states under the Car Loans section: “Company cars of car loans should not be granted to chairmen or directors.”
Further the manual lists exactly what chairmen are entitled to: a monthly fee and a travelling allowance.
The Sunday Express understands the chairman of CAL is paid a meeting fee of $7,000 and is entitled to $1,000 in travelling.
The vice chair is paid $6,500 per meeting and is entitled to a $750 travelling allowance while directors are paid $5,500 meeting fee with a $500 travelling allowance.
The Ministry of Finance held a workshop for all State appointees last year to make them aware of their fiduciary responsibilities.
That meeting was attended by Nicholas.
Moonan explained that his focus was on the “bigger picture” at CAL.
At the moment, the airline is facing “operational risk” with its debt challenges.
Finance Minister Winston Dookeran had said Government will have to intervene to keep the airline flying even as it faces some US$140 million in bills—$40 million to various entities and US$100 million to France’s Aviones de Transport Regional (ATR) .
Dookeran said his ministry had asked the State airline for a list of its financial requirements and a business plan for the future which will inform the amount and type of intervention which the government will pursue for CAL.
On May 4, Dookeran disclosed to Parliament that the airline made an unaudited loss of US$52.8 million ($339.5 million) for 2011 while Air Jamaica recorded an unaudited loss of US$38.1 million ($245.2 million) for 2011.
Despite the losses, CAL remains committed to expanding its network to London next month for the London 2012 Olympics. Transport Minister Devant Maharaj has said the route’s feasibility will be reviewed after six weeks.
But the Sunday Express learned that the airline was recently facing problems with getting its two aircraft for the route prepared in time and it resulted in a slashing of flights which were previously proposed. It was learned that one aircraft would operate the route from June 14-29 while the other aircraft will start from June 30.