For its first twenty months in office, the APNU+AFC government came in for scathing criticism over the lack of opportunities that it was providing within the government for young people.
Concern was expressed that a great many retired persons, including ex-military personnel were being utilized within the bureaucratic structure, thereby stifling opportunities for young people. This led to charges that the government was being militarized.
The young people who voted for the coalition feel betrayed and ignored. They have seen retired persons being rewarded while they are left out in the cold. The young people have lost confidence in the government. Many of them cannot find jobs, and many of them with jobs in the government cannot see any prospect of them being promoted to head the agencies where they work, because of this practice of retaining and employing retired persons beyond the age of retirement.
The Kaieteur News of January 24, 2017, featured Guyana’s newly appointed Chief Parliamentary Counsel, Mr. Charles Fung-A-Fat S.C. He was a Principal Parliamentary Counsel since 1987 and then moved up to Deputy Parliamentary Counsel. He had to wait a long time to be appointed to the position which he deserves.
For many years a retiree was retained in the position of Chief Parliamentary Counsel, even though Mr. Fung-A Fat could have done the job.
The claim by the government, therefore, that it is reviewing guidelines for the appointment and tenure of persons on government bodies, and that this is all part of a plan to appoint “younger” persons, is laughable.
After packing the government structure with retirees and after appointing ex-military officers to undertake commissions of inquiry, the government now has the temerity to inform us that it is reviewing guidelines for the appointment and tenure of appointments to government bodies. This is after it had issued marching orders to two long-serving ex-justices who were Chairpersons of the Public Utilities Commission and the Police Service Commission.
It may be helpful now for the government to establish clear retirement ages for public office, so as to ensure that “younger people” are given more opportunities for upward mobility.
Teachers are required to retire at age 55; tenured public servants at the same age. The government should extend the retirement age for teachers to 60 years of age, but make it optional for those who wish to retire at age 55.
For present Ministers of the government, the retirement age should be 75. For new Ministers, no person past the age of 65 should be asked to serve as a Minister. The retirement age of the President and Prime Minister should be eighty years old.
In terms of state agencies which are not part of the traditional public service, the age of retirement is usually set at sixty years. For those who are over sixty and working within the system, they should be retired or allowed to work until such time as their contract ends. No person above the age of sixty should be employed within any government agency, period.
The implementation of these guidelines will see an exodus of old fogies from within the system. Younger persons will be promoted and provided with the opportunities they need.
For positions in which the person is required to be a judge or ex-judge, the suggested age at which the person should be encouraged to demit should be 75 years, similar to a Minister, since judges retire at age 65.
For government Boards and Commissions, no one above the age of 65 should be appointed and 50% of the positions should go to women and 50% to persons under 55 years of age. This will provide gender and youth balance.
These measures will encourage young people within the government’s bureaucracy. There are a lot of persons who are being denied promotions because of the retention of employment of persons who are past the age of retirement.
The government must have a realistic policy for retirees. Once you reach retirement age, you should go. This should be the general policy, so as to not hold back persons working below.
The government should not have a selective retirement policy; one that suits their friends and cronies but which discriminates against others. The time for setting the policy has arrived. The public waits to see what the government will decide.
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