May 21, 2015 News
-reviewing retirement age, contract employees
– political appointments to go though window
-accepts resignation of public servants candidates who campaigned
-renewing relations with GPSU
President David Granger signaled intentions to review the current retirement age for public servants, yesterday, saying that his administration also was not keen on placing too many Government workers on contracts.
It was the first major engagement between the Head of State and Heads of Department since he was sworn in last Saturday at the Parliament Building.
During the morning meeting at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre formerly the International Convention Centre at Liliendaal, the President said that he was expecting the quality of services to improve significantly across the country, with political appointments in the public service not likely to come anytime soon from his administration.
He also said that he will be accepting a number of resignations from public servants who resigned from their posts to campaign for the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) for the May 11.
There were at least four senior officials and Department Heads under the Government whose names were on the lists for the PPP.
These included Mahender Sharma, Head of the Guyana Energy Agency; Dr. Rajendra Persaud, Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Sugar Corporation; Collin Croal, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Local Government, Badri Persaud, Managing Director of Guyana Oil Company, Omar Shariff, Elisabeth Harper and Alexei Ramotar, Head of the troubled E-Governance Project.
President Granger did not name the persons whose resignations he has accepted. It had been widely expected that a number of Heads of Department who have openly been in support of the previous PPP administration, would have been sent packing.
However, President Granger made it clear that he was not in the business of witch-hunting.
Rather he wanted all hands of deck.
Regarding the role of public servants, Granger noted that they are the engine behind the smooth running of the executive, responsible for ensuring the necessary infrastructure and services are kept going to ensure a better quality of life for Guyanese.
During his elections campaign work in recent months, especially in the hinterland, Granger said that he encountered large pockets of poverty with citizens having little or no access to television, radio, telephone and even a newspaper.
Public Service is an Engine
This all has to change, he said. The entire country must move forward and the engine to make that possible will be the public servants, he added. Systems will have to be strengthened in all the regions, spurred by a public service that will have to become more resourceful and reliable.
Granger said that his vision for Guyana includes communities where people interact with community centres, playgrounds and increased economic activities.
The reality is that pensioners in some communities face nightmarish experiences to collect their pensions. In the Rupununi, some paid $5,000 to travel to a location to collect their old age pension of $13,500.
There is need for stronger regional administrations with banks, aerodromes and improved educational facilities in each region.
President Granger, who is convinced that Guyana is the most bountiful and beautiful country in the Commonwealth, also announced plans to increase the number of townships, including for places like Mahdia and Mabaruma.
A retooled public service will have to respond to needs of all the Regions. Granger warned that the public servants must live by different rules and not attempt to be politicians.
Rather, they must exercise “administrative neutrality”. There will be no granting of fibre optic cable projects to close relatives.
In the Granger administration, public servants will not advance unless they are assessed under what the President called a merit system.
Very shortly, the administration will move to establish what is called the “Public Service Staff College”, that will offer Public Management and other developmental courses.
The college will be established from the current training section of the Public Service Ministry.
There will be little options for promotion in the public service unless persons are qualified.
He stressed that it is not the business of public servants to be disloyal to the political bosses.
The President has signaled intentions to renew ties with the Guyana Public Service Union and other bargaining bodies.
The previous administrations under the PPP had severed relations with GPSU, arbitrarily announcing salary increases for public servants for a number of years, in breach of the collective labour agreements in place.
Granger said that he will also be looking to raise the pay for public servants and it is a fact that morale has fallen significantly, affecting efficiency.
Government will be examining the conditions under which police and teachers especially were working. The intention is to arrest the flight of workers from these critical areas.
Regarding corruption in the public service, the Head of State, made it clear that corruption is linked to low pay.
He expressed concerns over graft and the perceptions by persons that it is widespread. Guyana can no longer condone the giving of bribes for simple services…it must become an “unbribable” state.
Addressing concerns raised that too many public servants are working under contracts, Granger saw a flaw in this arrangement…it literally places the worker at the mercy of the Ministers, forcing them to do and say what sounds to be the right thing.
While contracts will not be done away with, the preference by the Granger administration will be to have workers know that their service of tenure is guaranteed.
Among some of the top priorities of the new administration will be giving teaches laptops and connecting the jails, police stations and courts with wifi internet connections.
According to President Granger, Guyana has a bright future and can escape the clutches of poverty with public servants counting themselves as a critical partner.
Among some of the persons there yesterday were Chairman of the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL), Winston Brassington; Head of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Khurshid Sattaur; Auditor General Deodat Sharma; Chiefs of the Demerara Harbour Bridge and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Rawlston Adams and Ramesh Geer, and Head of GINA, Neaz Subhan.
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