Public Report on the appointment of the Deputy General Manager of the Vanuatu National Provident Fund - November 15, 1996 - Emalus Campus
In 1994,the position of Deputy General Manager of the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) became vacant. Late in 1995, the position was advertised. The advertisement called for someone with tertiary qualifications in finance, commerce or business administration. In addition candidates were required to have 3 years’ experience in a commercial environment with knowledge of investment appraisals.
Nine applications were submitted prior to the closing date. Two applications were submitted after the closing date including that of Thomas Brothy Faratia. The board of VNPF considered the nine applications and identified two candidates with suitable qualifications for the position of Deputy Manager. However, rather than offering the position to either of them, the board minutes revealed that no appointment would be made until the Minister of Finance Willie Jimmy had been consulted. The Minister had written a letter of recommendation to the board on behalf of Mr Faratia seeking his appointment. Mr Faratia was clearly unqualified for the position but was a political ally of the Minister and had recently lost his seat in Parliament. He was subsequently appointed by the board for the position.
The Ombudsman’s investigation revealed that the meeting of the VNPF board during which the application of Mr. Faratia was considered was conducted without a quorum. The investigation also revealed that the Board did not act independently, that its appointment of Mr. Faratia was influenced by the Minister and that his appointment was contrary to the interests of the VNPF. During the short time that he held the position, Mr Faratia was reprimanded for lack of attendance, lack of punctuality and misuse of a VNPF vehicle.
· That the Attorney General investigate possible liability of board members for acting improperly
· That a Trustee Act be passed to provide for proper administration of trust funds and which specifies duties of trustees towards funds – including the prohibition of payment of commissions and stressing the independence of board members.
· That the Prime Minister reprimand the Finance Minister in relation to his interference with the Board’s hiring of the Deputy General Manager.
· That the appointment of Mr Faratia be declared a nullity. (It was noted that this had already been done)
· That the position be re-advertised and that it be filled only on the basis of merit.
· That the appointment of members of the Board of VNPF be for a fixed term to minimize political influence and that Board members be qualified on the basis of independence, relevant knowledge of finance and business and a willingness to seek independent advice.
Written by Edward R. Hill
UNDP Governance and Accountability Project
© Ombudsman of Vanuatu
Published here by University of the South Pacific, School of Law Web Site - www.vanuatu.usp.ac.fj