Corporate governance of States-owned companies criticised

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The criticism from Deputy Kirsten Morel came during the debate of Assistant Treasury Minister Lindsay Ash’s proposition to extend the terms of three directors for the States of Jersey Development Company, along with generally lengthening the terms of office from nine years to 12 – which was marginally passed by 23 votes to 21.

In his attack, Deputy Morel accused the minister and the department of not doing their jobs properly as the first line of scrutiny.

He also said serious questions needed to be asked of the Jersey Appointments Commission, who signed off the proposition.

Deputy Morel said: ‘The idea of extending this from nine years to 12 is utterly unacceptable. It shows the shareholder function within Treasury is not operating properly. We have said before that it is time to get this house in order and, under this Assistant Treasury Minister, nothing has changed. Extending this time period makes directors comfortable.

‘There is a culture in Jersey where the same people go around and around and around and to recommend this change to 12 years is outrageous. There is a failure at ministerial level to get to grips with the standard of governance of the companies that we own.’

A number of politicians questioned the proposition, and its lack of detail, with others voicing unhappiness over any changes to the lack of diversity among States-owned company directors.

Some Members also criticised the salaries of some directors.

Senator Kristina Moore also put forward a proposition calling for it to be sent back to Scrutiny, but this was later withdrawn.

Responding, Deputy Ash said critical comments on wages paid to directors were off the mark and that the salaries they received reflected the going rate. On the subject of diversity, he added that, under his watch, three women had been appointed to key positions within States-owned companies.

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