The Daily Herald reports how Commissioner Chris Johnson presented the draft statutes of the Saba Electric Company N.V. to Island Council members in Tuesday’s Central Committee meeting. The document was not submitted for approval or disapproval to the committee, but as a formality for adoption in Friday’s Island Council meeting so that the document can be forwarded for final approval by the Minister of Interior and Kingdom Relations. Johnson said the draft is based on standards reviewed by lawyers, notary, by Ministry of Economic Affairs and is a necessary step towards establishing the company.
One issue he pointed to was the protocol on ownership of shares. He confessed that by not being a specialist in this, he would seek professional council should the committee have specific questions. He highlighted that he too found the issue of purchasing of shares confusing, explaining that the article allows in the long-term establishing prices for shares, a non-issue for the current state of the utility company fully owned by government and which is not expected to make a profit. He echoed concerns that this may allow a competitor to purchase shares in the company. With any public sale strictly regulated under CFT supervision and FinBES laws this is unlikely to be a valid concern Johnson explained. The company’s supervisory board made-up of maximum three board members is to be regulated through the code of corporate governance passed on June 21. The statutes establish annual general shareholders’ meetings reviewing the supervisory board while placing term limitations.
Central Committee Chairman Rolando Wilson inquired if the supervisory board can suspend the managing director without giving the opportunity to defend actions. The draft extends such opportunity. Wilson also received confirmation that the board secretary is one of the three members and was given an explanation by Johnson as to how a tie vote is regulated in case quorum is secured by only two members. Wilson also inquired into the termination of employee contracts and the issuing of new ones, including a six-month evaluation period until new job-descriptions are issued. Commissioner Johnson explained that the memorandum of understanding clearly allays labour union concerns with benefits carrying on into the new company. If the six- month evaluation identified added responsibilities these can be paid retroactively. The evaluation is to be done by a specialized firm to avoid suspicion of bias.
The Commissioner also responded to Councilman Carl Buncamper’s inquiry into the remuneration protocol for the travel expenses of the utility director stating that the same rates will apply across the board for all government-owned companies. He noted that Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp is expected to appoint the government’s board representative and that travel costs associated with that are expected to be the ministry’s responsibility.
Answering Councilman Ishmael Levenston’s questions, Johnson explained that board members can serve a three-year term with one reappointment option. Commissioner Johnson updated the committee on Saba’s Executive on an upcoming meeting today, Thursday, with the utility’s labour union. He also briefed them on the official visit to St. Eustatius last week and the full coordination between himself and Commissioner Reginald Zaandam regarding the utility company’s transition.