The AID BANK Saga
We are heartened by the fact that government has appointed a committee to look into allegations of impropriety at the AID bank following the published complaints of a group of employees.
We believe that the allegations are serious enough for the committee to make a superlative effort to get to the bottom of the problem at the AID Bank. We note the presence on the committee of Reverend Watty, someone we can count on for balance and a sense of fairness, but besides the selection of former commercial banker Pershin Waldron and a practicing accountant, we see no reason to be optimistic that the investigation will be as thorough as it needs to be. We would be more comfortable to see someone with Human Resource management skills, or someone with good credentials in corporate management serving on the committee, in addition to those already mentioned.
The work of the committee should not be understated because the allegations are as serious as can be imagined. The charges go to the heart of corporate governance, an issue which has been receiving much needed attention lately. We hope the focus of the investigating committee will be on the substantive matters raised including the misuse and abuse of directors' authority, improper and unethical relationships between some directors and employees of the bank, excessive expense reimbursements and generally, a thorough review of the management practices of the organization to determine whether it is living up to its promise and its mission.
And indeed, the work of the committee would not be complete unless there is a serious consideration of the mission of the AID Bank itself. We know of previous attempts to fold the AID bank into the National Bank of Dominica in light of the considerable overlap in the character of their loan portfolios and the synergies that would be realized if a merger were consummated. Since the plans were shelved following the advice of the World Bank, we have not heard government reiterate its commitment to the AID bank as a vital institution in the development process. It may well be that government's apparent indifference to that institution may have been a contributing factor to the sense of drift and lack of focus which are evident in the complaints of the disgruntled employees.
There is need for a clear statement of appreciation of the work of the bank as well as a clearly defined mission statement and the necessary human resources for it to accomplish its mandate.
The complaints of the bank's employees are clearly, a wake up call. The AID Bank needs fixing and the appointment of an investigating committee is a necessary step in this long overdue process.
Dr Clayton A. Shillingford
President, Dominica Academy of Arts & Sciences (www.da-academy.org).