Makivik treasurer promises transparency, equity growth if re-elected
“As much as possible I try to find ways to provide more information to beneficiaries"
Makivik Corp. treasurer Andy Pirti is running for re-election this month with a pledge to introduce more financial transparency and a new procurement policy for subsidiaries under Nunavik’s Inuit birthright organization.
Pirti, first elected as treasurer in 2014, is in a two-way race against newcomer candidate David Dupuis on Jan. 19.
“I feel like I’ve started an engine,” Pirti told Nunatsiaq News. “I’ve put in place a few policies and… a culture of trying to grow equity as much as possible.
“I’m very comfortable where I am now and I’d like to continue.”
Originally from Akulivik, the now Montreal-based Pirti started working for Makivik in 2005. He served as assistant to former treasurer Anthony Ittoshat until 2014, when he ran and was elected as treasurer.
Pirti’s election campaign is centred around four commitments:
• developing a Nunavik procurement policy that will help local regional businesses obtain government contracts: The policy would work by awarding Nunavik businesses additional points because of the higher cost of living requirements. Currently, the bidding process favours southern bidders, Pirti said, because those businesses can usually provide a service more cheaply;
• growing Makivik’s equity and sustainability: since he was elected as treasurer in early 2014, Pirti said he’s helped the organization grow from $347 million in its value of shares and ownership interests, to $424 million in 2016. “The cost of living keeps growing, so its important to generate more revenue,” he said;
• expanding on Makivik’s employment training and retention program which offers support to the roughly 1,500 Nunavik Inuit who are employed with the birthright organization or its subsidiary companies: The program is designed to help entry-level employees move into more senior roles and a succession plan to fill the positions of senior employees approaching retirement, he said; and,
• fostering strong language and culture skills: Pirti said he will advocate for an investment of $200,000 a year over five years towards the preservation of Inuit culture.
Drawing on past accomplishments, Pirti said his biggest success as treasurer is improving how Makivik reports its financial information to its board of directors and to beneficiaries in general.
Pirti campaigned on the promise that beneficiaries should have more access to Makivik’s financial information, a tricky balance for a corporation that manages a multi-million-dollar fund on behalf of Nunavik Inuit, and yet is not a public entity.
“As much as I can, put more detail in the balance sheet,” he said. “I’m still pushing for the disclosure of financial statements in the annual report.”
Makivik’s financial transparency came under fire in 2008 when Nunavimmiut learned that executives and board members of one of its subsidiary companies, First Air, earbed $1.5 million in bonuses.
All of Makivik’s executives serve as directors to the corporation’s subsidiaries, roles for which they have typically received some remuneration.
To remedy potential conflict, Pirti said Makivik passed a resolution last fall that consolidates the executives’ compensation under the corporation.
That means elected executives no longer receive directors’ fees from the subsidiary companies they serve. Instead, he said Makivik has adjusted its executives’ salaries to industry standards.
Pirti maintains that Makivik’s subsidiaries have a right to keep financial information private, and the treasurer did not deliver on a 2013 campaign promise to revisit a corporate by-law that would have made that information more readily available.
“When a company is competitive, there’s sensitive information that must be treated with diligence,” he said.
But Pirti says he still pushes for more disclosure—not to the greater public necessarily, but directly to Nunavik Inuit.
“As much as possible I try to find ways to provide more information to beneficiaries,” he said. “I always tell Nunavimmiut to get in touch if they have any questions.”
On Jan. 19, polls will be open in Northern Village offices across Nunavik and at Makivik’s Montreal office between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Nunavik beneficiaries can also vote in advance polls Jan. 12 at the same locations between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Makivik’s vice president of resource development would normally be up for election the same day but this year, its sitting VP, Adamie Delisle-Alaku, was acclaimed to the position for another three-year term last month.
Visit Nunatsiaqonline.ca later this week for a profile of treasurer candidate David Dupuis.