July 7, 2008

FDB chief sent home

FDB chief sent home
Saturday, July 05, 2008

FIJI Development Bank chief executive officer Tukana Bovoro was forced to take leave two weeks ago.

Yesterday, he said the reasons behind the move were still a mystery to him.

"Yes, I am on leave and I don't know when I will start," he said last night.

Board chairman and acting chief executive officer Taito Waradi did not return calls placed to his office.

Finance permanent secretary Peceli Vocea said the ministry did not manage FDB and all queries related to the bank's operations should be addressed to board members.

When told it was at the directive of interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry that the bank had restructured its lending policy, Mr Vocea insisted "we have nothing to do with Mr Bovoro's leave".

Fiji Bank and Finance Sectors Unions general secretary Pramod Rae said his members had been in the dark and the chairman was not responding to calls. He said the silence and mystery surrounding Mr Bovoro's leave was "not good for the bank, not good for the staff and not good for business".

He said the board should be open and transparent because the bank was like a ship without direction, especially when it was being restructured.

"The chairman is not responding to our queries. How long will this go on?

"They should resolve this quickly because it is odd that is happening while a major restructure is going on.

"The man who is supposed to lead the change is not there.

"It's like a ship without direction. We are anxious and I want to get to the bottom of this because I have to protect my members' interest.

"We had signed an agreement on the restructure but it was held up for two weeks. We are just starting again and it's just left for the bank to implement it."

Mr Bovoro had earlier said staff at the bank would be given a choice to take a redundancy package and would not be sent home against their will.

He said records showed agricultural and small business loans had resulted in heavy losses for the bank.

Earlier this year, the FDB acted on Mr Chaudhry's call for it to relook its operations by halting corporate and housing loans, which made up $298.44m worth of loans or 76 per cent of the loans portfolio in 2006.

With 5888 accounts at a value of $392.69m at the end of 2006, 76 per cent for home and corporate loans was $298.44m.

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