By ALTHEA PASCALL-NICHOLAS, www.newsday.co.tt
NEWLY APPOINTED Chairman of the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Ralph Henry, says that any member of the board who thought that he could not function under the regulations stipulated by the Govern-ment could resign. Henry made this remark while responding to a question on the independence of the Authority, at the Authority's media launch at the Trinidad Hilton on Thursday. Henry explained that the Authority was established by the Government through an Act of Parliament, adding that it was the Government in power that would administer those Acts.
He went on to explain that the Authority was only independent as far as the independent thinking of the members, noting that the Authority was operating similarly to a statutory board, where the Minister made the recommendations and the President made the appointment. This, he said, meant that the government has a substantial say in the final decision to be made on any recommended issue, but at the stage where the discussions and deliberations of the board are taking place, this process was entirely independent of the Government. He said that every selected member of the Authority was aware of this, and was placed in their posts for that purpose. Henry explained that appointments were made based on the appointees' competence in various areas of the economic and social life of this country, and were expected to think independently and to contribute in the best interest of the people. Henry said that the government may not agree with the proposals set before them by the Authority, but this would not prevent the Authority from thinking as an Independent body.
He said that if the Authority's Board members thought that this was something totally out of sync with them being able to contribute as independent people, then they could do the required thing. Asked if the required thing would be to resign, Henry said, "If people felt so, of course, that's normal." "If you made a recommendation that you felt was so much in the public interest, and the government went so far out by doing something entirely different that you did not feel you could function as an independent board, then you are entitled to resign." He said that the issue was not about creating a tension and a conflict, but in the final analysis the Government is the responsible agency to implement the recommendations made by the Authority. Henry went on to explain that while the Act allowed the Government the authority to have the final say on the applicants who would get licences, their recommendations to the Authority must be accompanied by written technical reasons justifying their decision.
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