ERA issue holds up Finance Committee

The Finance Committee concluded is review of budget allocations with the exception of allocations for the Electrical Regulatory Authority, which is currently chaired by Opposition MLA Cline Glidden.

A vote was not taken on the budget items to allow Mr. Glidden, and fellow West Bay MLA Rolston Anglin who is also a director of the ERA, a chance to resign their posts.

Mr. Glidden, who was appointed the first chairman of the ERA and remained in the position after the election, questioned Minister of Infrastructure Arden McLean about the ERA budget allocations and purchase agreements for the next fiscal year.

During the questioning, it came to light that the ERA had not conducted a meeting since the People’s Progressive Movement Government took office a little more than a year ago,

Mr. Glidden said that he had tried to call a meeting of the ERA shortly after the elections last May, but that the Minister with responsibility, which was then Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts, had issued a letter saying the meeting should not be held and that no other meetings should be called until further notice.

There was an indication at the time that the Government would act to remove Mr. Glidden and Mr. Anglin from the Board in due course, Mr. Glidden said.

‘We’re still waiting for the Authority to go ahead with meetings or to be removed,’ Mr. Glidden said during the questioning. ‘There have been no further meetings of the ERA that I’m aware of, and it’s been operating without a chairman.’

Mr. Glidden said he was not consulted with by the ERA Managing Director Phil Thomas and he asked Mr. McLean to whom the Managing Director was reporting if it was not the chairman of the Authority.

Mr. McLean did not answer the question directly, but explained that ERA directors are appointed for three-year terms.

‘We’re awaiting a resignation from (Mr. Glidden and Mr. Anglin),’ he said. ‘There are no provisions (in the ERA Law) to have them removed, not even in the interests of the country.

‘In most developed democracies, when governments change… what is common practice with most political appointees is for them to resign their post to allow the government to reappoint the positions.

‘I have been given no such resignations.’

Mr. Glidden pressed the issue of questioning to whom Mr. Thomas was reporting. He also questioned whether the budget submission under the circumstances was appropriate.

‘If this budget allocation is not done in conjunction with the Authority, which is the governing body, this item of the budget should not be coming,’ he said.

Mr. McLean questioned why the ERA Law did not allow for the board of directors to be easily replaced.

‘Government has been hamstrung by the law that the previous government put in place,’ he said.

‘The only way I see (removing Mr. Glidden and Mr. Anglin) could be done is to change the legislation.’

Finance Committee Chairman Kenneth Jefferson said the appropriation was valid regardless of the strange situation.

‘The work of the Authority needs to continue,’ he said.

After Mr. Glidden once again asked to whom the ERA’s managing director was reporting, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts responded.

‘The ERA had a duty to perform the functions it was designed to perform,’ he said. ‘It functioned and reported to the ministry.’

Upon hearing that, Mr. Glidden gave an undertaking to resign from the ERA.

‘I see no difficulty in the resignation,’ he said.

‘If at some time I would have been notified that the Authority wasn’t operating and that I needed to resign, I would have resigned.

‘In the meantime all this time has transpired,’ he continued. ‘All that has happened has happened because of the lack of communication coming forward.’

Mr. Tibbetts asked Mr. Glidden and Mr. Anglin if they were prepared to vote on the ERA appropriation before their resignation, or if they would prefer to wait until afterwards.

Mr. Glidden and Mr. Anglin chose to wait until after their resignations.

Contacted on Thursday, Mr. Anglin said he was preparing his resignation that day. Mr. Glidden said on Monday his resignation letter was already prepared and would be submitted by the end of the day.

Finance Committee is set to reconvene on Wednesday to deal with the ERA issue, after which the House will reconvene to deal with a variety of bills.