Former executive director of the Social Investment Fund (SIF), Daniel Cano, continues to deny any personal involvement in illegal practices leading up to his resignation earlier this week. But he did admit that he allowed a culture of laxity to take over at the organization that allowed contractor Kennard Smart to complain to the Contractor General of being shaken down. He tells us how in retrospect he would have approached the problem.
Daniel Cano -Former Executive Director – SIF:
There was no policy prior to 2010. At that point we realized that this was a problem. We established a policy there, a set of rules, that all gifts have to be declared. If they weren’t declared, that was cause for reporting you to the board, that obviously by your actions you had some other intention. Let me tell you what a gift is: It’s not money, it could be you go to a workshop and they give you a little packet with a water bottle in there and a little bag. Declare, you have to declare every single thing. If you don’t want to keep it, that’s fine. You can submit, we will raffle it, give it away, whatever. Or if you want to keep it, as long as you have declared it and a value is put to it by the Finance Unit, and it’s not anything excessive, you’re allowed to keep it. So that was the policy that was established. To my knowledge, staff adhered to that policy after it was established. The problem was before that, that there was no policy and things apparently – I don’t know. I won’t speculate what happened between Mr Smart and the others.
As for Kennard Smart, Daniel Cano said he started getting contracts after the UDP took office in 2008, but pointed out that even if he was a friend of the party he would still be subject to rigid procedure.
His first contract would have been late 2008. I( cannot recall Minister Contrereas ever saying, “Look favourably on Mr. Smart.” Even if any other minister has said, “Look favourably at Mr Smart,” the procedures still have to be followed. We can’t go outside the procedures. Once we go outside the procedures, and it goes to the Contractor General, they will send it back. It goes to the bank, they will sent it back. It will not go.
Mr Cano would not be led into speculation as to Kennard Smart’s motives or the extent of his former colleagues’ contacts with him, but he admits to poor decision making on the matter.
(Concerning Christmas gifts) When we instituted the gift policy we decided, you know what, this is being declared, it is not something being hidden. So it’s not something that we feel that had to be discontinued at that point.
(Concerning the dismissal of four staff from SIF) The process that was undertaken through the investigation, I have no difficulty with. What occurred exactly between Mr Smart and the officers, only they will know, only they can say. I can’t comment on that.