The greatest achievement of the outgoing chairman of the National Gas Company (NGC) Gerry Brooks was his ability to reduce the claims against the company, $4.2 billion, to manageable proportions according to Energy Minister Franklin Khan.
Khan said the claims resulted from the “tardiness and negligence of the UNC government for not negotiating a new gas contract.”
In reporting to Parliament on Brooks' decision to resign as Chairman of the NGC and its group of companies the Minister argued: “He faced many challenges, the most significant of which resulted from the tardiness and negligence of the United National Congress for not negotiating new gas sales contracts, which left him with a burden of over $4.2billion in claims. He has brought it down to manageable proportions. That is his greatest achievement.”
When Brooks assumed office the NGC was facing major law suits from companies on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate for the lack of provision of gas. Trinidad and Tobago has been facing natural gas curtailment and as aggregator the NGC has been faced with litigation from the downstream sector because the state enterprise had gas agreements with the upstream producers that did not contain penalties for failure to provide the NGC with their contracted quantities of gas.
The Energy Minister promised the post of NGC chairman will be filled in the “shortest order” and there’s enough depth at the NGC to fill the space Brooks will be leaving.
Khan responded on the issue in Parliament yesterday following queries by UNC MP Roodal Moonilal on Brooks’ recent resignation which will be effective month end. He’d filled the post since October 2015. Brooks was appointed Professor of Practice last year by the University of the West Indies in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Apart from lending support to UWI, his resignation also stated he’ll be returning to law and family practice which he intends expanding, Khan noted.
Moonilal had asked if Brooks’ departure will pose any added challenges for NGC going forward, given challenges in the energy sector, and when a new NGC chairman might be expected.
Khan replied, “Obviously one of the most important state sector positions is chairman of NGC and that position will be filled in the shortest order with the person with the required competencies. Mr Brooks will be missed, (but) I think there’s enough succession, there’s enough depth at the NGC to fill the space he’ll be leaving. And most of the negotiations that the Prime Minister championed when we were abroad (recently) were Government negotiations,”
The Energy Minister added, “Service on state boards are voluntary positions for people willing to bring their skills, talent and expertise to bear in the performance of national service—it’s not a job...in that context, Mr Brooks was one such person.”
Khan noted Brooks was an attorney, Law Association vice chairman and former Chief Operations Officer at ANSA McAl.
“He brought to the task, experience in law , negotiation and commercial evaluation. Government and the Energy Ministry want to thank him for a well served time as chairman of NGC.”
After serving from 2015, Brooks’ remuneration package attracted controversy when Government—in Parliament in 2016- confirmed Brooks earned a monthly total of $82,500 in board fees and travelling allowances from the ten energy company boards he headed and served on. Then Energy Minister Nicole Olivierre had said Brooks was paid a total of $73,000 a month from board fees for the ten boards and, in addition, a total of $9,500 a month in travelling allowances.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar subsequently condemned the situation of multiple boards and fees, alleging Brooks was the PNM’s “Calder Hart.”
The Finance Ministry later reviewed it and Brooks’ monthly salary from NGC state boards was dropped from $82,500 to $69,000 and his travelling allowances were discontinued.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert said Brooks asked that the allowances he’d been receiving be discontinued immediately. Brooks also resigned from the board of National Helicopter Services Ltd that April.