Minister Clarke indicated that Cabinet recently approved a set of Policy Guidelines for the Nomination, Selection and Appointment of the Boards of Public Bodies which he describes as “a quantum leap in the governance of public bodies in Jamaica.”
The Public Service Minister says the new rules have come about because it is essential to have a formal and rigorous process for reviewing regularly the performance of the board, its committees and individual directors and purposefully addressing any issue that may emerge from those evaluations.
He lamented that with the approximately 190 public bodies in existence and with each with board membership ranging from a low of seven to a high of 17 persons, incoming administrations can struggle to adequately to fill over 2,000 board positions on a change of government. “The current system, which is informal, relies on the memory and personal contacts of the minister, the permanent secretary, and advisors.
This is how we have been doing it for decades. It is inefficient and ineffective. It doesn’t allow for suitable diversification, nor for the range of skills necessary to be represented on each board as no minister, no cabinet has names of 2,000 persons on their fingertips, classified by competence, qualification and experience,” Dr Clarke emphasised.
A major development as regards the guidelines is that the regulations will require retention of at least a third of the previous board directors to ensure continuity in governance even if there is a change in policy direction.
“It will be crucial that board members understand what their role is. If they do not agree with the policy of the day, they can resign, but their role will be to ensure that the policy of the day is carried through. Ministers, accountable to the people, through parliament will need to be able to rely on this,” Dr Clarke stressed.
He asserted that the Policy Guidelines, which are benchmarked against international best practices, will provide a framework that will strengthen the governance and accountability system of public bodies.
“When you serve on a public board your role and function is not allegiance to a party or to the party that formed the government when you were appointed. Instead your allegiance is to the instrument of your appointment, the governance principles on which you were appointed and by extension to the people of Jamaica,” Minister Clarke said.
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