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Property Matters – The EFCL Query Part 3

Published Tuesday July 19th, 2011

Last Thursday the EFCL published a full-page response to the first article in this series – see here.

Although it was comforting to see the clear statements on EFCL’s ‘speak out’ component, Whistle-Blowing policy and procedure and Fraud Policy, the central concerns are greater, if anything.

I deliberately used the word response, since no reasonable person could consider that advertisement to be a reply to my emailed queries.

If EFCL were really replying to my query, it would have been no problem to provide a copy of the documents and answer the simple questions.

EFCL’s preferred course of action is to spend more taxpayers’ money on expensive artwork and advertising, so the further question is ‘Why?’.

Considering that all I was doing was questioning the existence and origin of an important policy of this State-owned company, it is perturbing to be having this level of challenge in getting a simple clarification.

As I wrote in this space last week – ‘So, what is the secret?

What could be the delay or difficulty in providing a copy of the EFCL’s Confidentiality Policy, as requested?

In the first article in this series, I posted the documents which had been passed to me - see here. The simple question is whether these are the genuine documents. There was no attempt by EFCL to even answer that important query.

It is important because the EFCL advertisement told readers that

“…Employees were not asked to sign under threat of dismissal…”

The first sentence of the preamble of the Staff Confidentiality Agreement is -

“All new and existing employees will be given a copy of this confidentiality policy and will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement at the time of hiring or during their service to the company.”

The emphasis is mine - yes, it reads ‘required to sign’.

But there is more, because the EFCL advertisement also stated that –

“Staff who asked for time to get external advice, were allowed to.”

However, clause 1 d. of the Confidentiality Agreement states –

“The existence of this agreement and its terms are confidential and none of the parties to this agreement may disclose anything about this agreement or its subject matter or implementation to any person except if required by law to do so.”

It is clear that the EFCL advertisement and the documents sent to me cannot both be true.

So, which is true?

Why did EFCL not send or publish the documents?

Quite frankly, it appears that EFCL is making a great effort to conceal or obscure its true policy on confidentiality, for whatever reason.

If this is the kind of effort being put into obscuring the elementary policy of this State-owned company, I can scarcely imagine their reaction to queries on particular projects, Directors’ benefits or tender procedure.

The behaviour of the State and its agents must be exemplary. Public Officials have an obligation, in my view, to behave in a fashion which fosters trust and good order.

It is all starting to resemble a tangled web, sad to say.

Again, I hope that my doubts are misplaced.

 

Afra Raymond is President of the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry (JCC) and Managing Director of Raymond & Pierre Limited. www.raymondandpierre.com.

Afra Raymond - Property Matters

Five simple questions for EFCL…
  • Is there a new EFCL Confidentiality policy?
  • When did that come into effect?
  • Would you please provide a copy of that policy?
  • Was that policy approved by the Board of Directors?
  • Is the Ministry of Education aware of this new policy?