In T&T: Water more than flour at NFM

14 August 2012

Shake-up pending at NFM? “It has not had a confirmed chief executive since 2009.”

The board of National Flour Mills (NFM) has voted that its existing chairman Jacqueline Burgess be replaced by a director, Suresh Maharaj.

Seven directors — Ross Alexander, Sterling Chase, Doolarchan Hanomansingh, Alimuddin Mohammed, Bridgelal Neebar, Harrisford Mc Millan and Sardanand Ramnarine have voted for Maharaj to replace Burgess.

The Express understands Burgess, who was present at the NFM board meeting when the vote took place last Friday, subsequently left the meeting.

Burgess, who holds several positions including a directorship at Burgess and Company, a regional coordinator for the Ministry of the People and Social Development in its Poverty Reduction Programme as well as an administrative officer of Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA), was appointed as chair of NFM by the People’s Partnership Government in March 2011.

NFM is one of five companies in the Government’s holding company National Enterprises Limited (NEL) which is publicly traded on the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange (TTSE).

Only three weeks ago, the board held its annual general meeting and announced its 2011 results.

The only public announcement was the resignation of Monique Patrick as a director.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Burgess responded: “I haven’t heard your question but I don’t want to talk about it. I have no comment to make on the matter.” Maharaj did not answer calls or texts to his phone from the Express.

Of late, Burgess and her board have butted heads with the selection of a chief executive. The Sunday Express has reported exclusively that the candidate selected as the new chief executive, Brian Frontin, was met with strong opposition by the directors.

They had opposed Frontin’s appointment based on what they described as an “improper selection” by Burgess.

Following newspaper reports on the preferred chief executive candidate, former Education Facilities Company Limited chair Ronald Philip, the NFM board had met on May 9 to deal with the issue. Burgess had opted to appoint the person with the second most votes (Frontin) while the board favoured a re-vote on the issue.

On May 24, the directors wrote to the Prime Minister stating the issue could affect Government’s credibility, in particular that NFM was a publicly traded company which by its very nature demanded the highest level of sensitivity and compliance with the provision of the Companies’ Act. Frontin subsequently turned down the job.

NFM is once again looking for a chief executive. It has not had a confirmed chief executive since 2009 after Neil Rolingson resigned. All subsequent appointments to the posts were in an “acting” capacity.

A meeting between line Minister Vasant Bharath and the NFM board was carded for 11 a.m. yesterday but was cancelled following the declaration of a public holiday.


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