Oct 04, 2015 News
Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Public Security, Angela Johnson, has said that an adequately functioning Public Service is one that is free from political interference and influence.
Johnson was called on to provide information to the Commission of Inquiry, (COI) into the operations of Guyana’s Public service. The COI was set up to inquire into, report on and make recommendations on the role, functions, recruitment process, remuneration, conditions and other matters pertaining to the personnel employed in the Guyana Public Service.
The exercise is expected to yield information and recommendations which will be used in the reformation of the operations of the Public Service.
On Friday, Johnson told the panel of Commissioners, inclusive of Professor Harold Lutchman, Samuel Goolsaran and Sandra Jones, that a public service free from the political interference will provide for a greater level of proficiency and efficiency.
The Permanent Secretary then detailed her qualification and experience in the area of public security to the panel.
The witness said that she had worked in the National Service and had attended the University of Guyana, (UG) before pursuing an EU Scholarship for a Masters in Public Sector Management.
Upon completion of her studies, the witness said that she returned to the public service but was transferred to work in the Ministry of Public Security.
Johnson said that she underwent training in various aspects of public security including in the prison and Fire Service.
Additionally, Johnson said that she worked in the management of policies with various government agencies.
The witness explained that she is currently employed on contract. The contract she said is set for renewal every three years. However, Johnson admits that some degree of uncertainty surrounds the employment of a contracted worker. In response to questions about the details of the contract, the Permanent Secretary related that “I received a contract. I looked at it, I felt it was ok and I signed it.”
Questioned about the difference between the types of workers, Johnson admitted that while traditional and contracted Permanent Secretaries are expected to perform the same roles and functions, a contract worker does not enjoy equal security. The PS explained that a contract worker’s employment will continue based on evaluation while the traditional workers are employed until the age of retirement.
She is hopeful that the public service reforms will answer such challenges.
“An adequately functioning public service will remedy the situation,” she said.
Speaking specifically about her employment as the PS of Public Security Ministry, Johnson said that she is responsible for the daily administration of the agency as well as the accounting and financial management.
The witness told the panel that she also assists the Minister of Public Security with the formation and implementation of policies. Johnson was then presented with a series of questions about public servants and political interference.
In response, she told the commission that she agrees 100 percent with the notion that public servants should be free from political influence or interference.
The witness held that “the government will come or go based on the electorate but we, as public servants, should always follow the rules and regulations.”
Johnson further noted that those regulations also safeguard employees within the sector.
“As a PS, there are instances in which the Minister would try to tell me what to do … but once it is outside the rules and regulations I would write and let the Minister know that …”
Johnson maintained that as a civil servant a person’s chief priority is to represent the interest of the public in any situation.
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