Misuse, misappropriation and abuse of company funds were some of the allegations pointed towards certain staff members of the TSTT. This information, which was thrown out into the public domain a couple of weeks ago, caused a few ooohs and aaaahs and then it boiled down like bhagi and no one remembers that it ever happened.
These improprieties that have allegedly taken place at TSTT, are being used as an argument that they should not close all of their retail outlets. However, this argument is weak and cannot be used as justification for non-closure of their stores.
Closing of the retail stores would significantly reduce a lot of expenses for the company, which, hopefully, would be put to better use.
That being said, one cannot disregard the allegations that have come forward in the public domain. The information was pretty disturbing, because if it is true, it demonstrates that there is a lack of internal controls in the organisation or worse, that these are not being followed. It is a perfect example of information asymmetries that exist in organisations, since it was alleged that the board was unaware of the transaction.
What amazes me is that after this information reached the media, no one from TSTT issued a statement. It appears that principles of crisis leadership are absent or that they just do not care because they know, as with everything that hits the public domain in this country, people speak about it for a day or two and then everyone gets amnesia and life and corruption continue to go on.
Trinbagonian society needs to understand that these sorts of things affect the entire country, it is not limited to that specific sector. These are the sorts of things potential investors take notice.
The sad truth is that these sorts of improprieties are not limited to TSTT. Right now, Petrotrin is embroiled in yet another multi-million scandal. This time it’s fake oil or may be I should call it Oilgate since there seems be a lot of ‘gates’ lately. And these ‘gates’ will continue because the habit of giving highly paid positions and/or contracts to family and friends will not stop any time soon.
Nevertheless, corruption is not the only social ill plaguing our society. Lawlessness, bribery as well as crime are also symptoms of a much bigger problem, which is that the laws and regulations are not enforced. It demonstrates that external and internal corporate governance systems are severely lacking.
There is failure in the rule of law in this country. From the politician to the man who litters on the street, not one person is brought to justice. This social norm must become unacceptable.