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Many of the 89 recommendations of the Lutchman Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the Public Service of Guyana, 11 May 2016, support the creation of a Professional and Politically Neutral Public Service to provide for efficient and effective service to the national community. The COI strongly supports the enactment of a Public Service Law for the Public Service as is the case in other Commonwealth countries. The National Assembly, the Government and the Public Service Ministry should carefully consider the other related COI recommendations, or declare otherwise; letting the public know why there is no interest in creating and developing a Professional and Politically Neutral Public Service by a Public Service Act/Law for the national good as called for in the COI recommendation #1.
The other Recommendations contained in the COI, include:
The Public Service Commission (PSC)
Concerns were raised about the ability of the PSC to discharge faithfully its constitutional responsibilities. The COI affirms that the intended independent Constitutional status should be preserved and protected as in other Commonwealth States, including Canada whose Public Service Act provides for an Independent Public Service Commission with exclusive authority on employment in the Public Service.
The Commission emphasized that it is imperative that the appointment in the Public Service should be based on merit, and should be made by a Commission that is credible and adequately qualified. The COI in its # 6 Recommendation, states:
“The Public Service Commission should always be constituted with suitably qualified and competent persons of unquestioned integrity who would strive to be fair and impartial in the execution of their duty in consonance with the Constitutional prescription that they exercise independent judgement and not be influenced by political and other external or extraneous considerations.”
The Authorities should not appoint Members of the PSC who have any conflict of interest. This was blatantly disregarded with respect to some members of the PSC in the past, and this should be corrected in all future appointments to the PSC by the Government and the National Assembly in the faithful discharge of their constitutional duties in the public interest.
Recruitment and Selection in the Public Service.
Recommendation # 9 calls for the Constitution and other Laws to be appropriately amended to empower the Public Service Commission to appoint Permanent Secretaries and Regional Executive Officers to remove direct political appointments to Public Service positions.
Recommendation # 10 calls for all appointments to Public Service positions by open internal and external completions to obtain the best from the labour market.
Recommendation # 11 advocated that all appointment’s by the PSC to be based on merit and be free from political influences, and meet the essential qualifications and requirements to be performed.
On Contract Employment, the COI noted that: -:
– contract employment in the Public Service is done outside the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission;
– retired at 55 Public Servants, are recruited on lucrative contract terms and conditions;
– there is arbitrary use of tax payers money for Public Service employment by the political directorate without regard for the optimum staff required; and
– there should therefore, be forensic personnel audit justification, for every position in the Public Service with suitably qualified, experience and skills required .
The COI accordingly recommended that:-
– Contract employment of low level and general staff in the public service should end. However, contract employment in the public service should be restricted to high level, professional, scarce skills not available in the Public Service, and for project work. (Recommendations #13 & # 14)
– There should be higher retirement age of 60 and 65 for public servants with corresponding higher public service pensions and NIS pensions. (Recommendation # 15)
– No public servant who retires from the public service before attaining 65 years should be employed on contract (Recommendation # 15)
– there should be justification for each staff in each Ministry, office, division, department, and unit with the appropriate organizational structure to be evaluated and determined by human resource and organizational audits. (Recommendation # 16)
Training and Staff Development :
The COI recommended that there should be a high level representative Committee of Permanent Secretaries to identify, on the basis of merit, candidates to be awarded fellowships and scholarships.(Recommendation #17)
Salary and Remuneration Commission
The COI recommended, as in case with Trinidad and Tobago, A Salary and Remuneration Commission be established by law to make periodic recommendations to the National Assembly on remuneration for high level political and public service offices including the President, Vice-Presidents, Prime Minister, Ministers, Leader of the Opposition, Members of the National Assembly, Permanent Secretaries, Regional Executive Officers, and Regional Chairpersons. (Recommendation # 57)
This Commission should also recommend to the National Assembly, the appropriate remuneration for judges of the High Court and the Court of Appeal, and Constructional offices.
THE COI recommended the resumption of Collective bargaining in good faith encounters at negotiations, and conciliation/mediation processes Failure at these levels to resolve issues in dispute, require reference to a mutually agreed Arbitration Tribunal in keeping with the existing procedures, OR as recommended in the COI, to the National Assembly, based on the recommendations of a Salaries Review Commission for final determination. (Recommendation # 58)
ThePublic Service Appellate Tribunal
The COI recommended that like the Public Service Commission, the Public Service Appellate Tribunal should be appointed with suitably qualified persons with no conflict of interest, to adjudicate on disputes with the Public Service Commission. (Recommendation # 60)
The Public Service Ministry
The COI recommended that the Public Service Ministry, and the Public Service Commission should be constituted with professional personnel with high integrity to rebuild trust and confidence in the Public Service. (Recommendation # 73)
The acceptance and implementation of the recommendations of the COI are essential for good governance, transparency, public accountability, and management of the Public Service. The Public Service Ministry and the Public Service Commission are charged to ensure fair employment practices, and developing a professional Public Service to serve the national community fairly and impartially.
These recommendations speak to removal conflict of interest at professional and political levels, setting the procedure for finality of public negotiations, and having the National Assembly setting the remuneration of those in the Governing Authorities and the remuneration in the Judicial system and other Constitutional Offices.
The adoption and Implementation of these and other recommendations will rebuild confidence and trust in our country for the good of all.
I again invite persons and organization with interest, to join the discussion and debate these recommendations of the COI in the Public Service, and call on the Government and the National to take the appropriate actions in the national interest.
Samuel J. Goolsarran