Staffing board’s Smith dismissed

Business Staffing Plan Board member Donnie Smith has been dismissed from his position as deputy director.

Board Chairwoman Sherri Bodden-Cowan confirmed that three letters from the Chief Secretary were handed to her during the board’s meeting last Wednesday, one of which was address to herself, one to Mr. Smith and one to board member Jeff Webb.

‘The letter thanked Mr. Smith for his services,’ said Mrs. Bodden-Cowan, ‘and his services were no longer required.’

Mrs. Bodden-Cowan said the letter contained no indication of the reasons why the dismissal was made. ‘It was the standard letter that is sent out. It did indicate the decision was made at a Cabinet level,’ she said.

Mr. Webb was made the new deputy chairman with immediate effect, and John Thompson was made a new board member with immediate effect, Mrs. Bodden-Cowan said.

The Business Staffing Plan Board came into existence in January 2004 as a branch of Immigration.

Mandatory for employers with 15 or more work-permit holders, the Business Staffing Plan allows employers to speed up the work permit approval process.

Mr. Smith served as the deputy director of the Board since its inception, after having spent the three prior years on the Immigration Board.

After Hurricane Ivan, Mr. Smith acted as chairman of the board in the absence of Mrs. Bodden-Cowan until the beginning of December.

Mr. Smith also served as the chairman of the George Town branch of the ruling United Democratic Party until an internal party squabble with incumbent George Town MLA and Cabinet minister Frank McField led to his resignation along with many other branch directors.

Three weeks ago, former UDP Cabinet Member and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Linford Pierson announced he had formed a new political team called the People’s Democratic Alliance to contest the upcoming elections in George Town.

Mr. Smith indicated he holds the position of chairman of the PDA.

‘I hope that this decision was not made purely on a political basis,’ Mr. Smith said. ‘However I do have concerns… and wonder if my being the chairman of the People’s Democratic Alliance… played any role.

‘I considered my tenure on the board to be my service to the people of these islands, not to any political group,’ he said.

Mr. Smith said he enjoyed working with his fellow board members over the past four years.

‘I was happy to give service to the community, especially in the post-Ivan period when there were many challenges facing the companies, which could have affected the economy,’ he said.

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