The administration has denied a deliberate plan to fill key state jobs with persons with army experience.
Fielding questions yesterday during a taped interview of “Public Interest”, President David Granger
made it clear that his government will not discriminate when it comes to hiring.
Rather, the perception of “militarising” is totally wrong.
The government is merely continuing the “tradition” started under consecutive regimes of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), of choosing experienced persons.
The Coalition Government, which charged to power in May 2015, vowing to stamp out corruption and nepotism, has been facing criticisms, from especially the Opposition, about a number of former army officials being appointed to key positions.
At the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO), former army chief, Brigadier George Lewis, is now performing the duties of the CEO. Lewis was appointed as Deputy CEO a few weeks ago.
At the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), the new CEO is Lt. Colonel (ret’d) Lelon Saul.
There are also a number of advisors with military background at the Ministry of the Presidency, and Commissions of Inquiries are in many cases headed by former army officials.
Asked to respond on the criticisms and whether it was “jobs for the boys”, President Granger, a former army chief, stressed that he had nothing to do with Lewis’ appointment.
“I have nothing to do with the appointment of the GPHC person or CH&PA’s (appointment). They are human beings; they are citizens of Guyana. I did not ask for them to be appointed. In fact, one of them was kind enough to say…“Oh I am sorry I did not notify you before I am applying for such and such a post”. So these were not my nominees.”
Granger disagreed with the use of the word ‘militarise’, saying that it does not simply mean the presence of army persons.
“I don’t want to go into definitions now, but it means that it gives the impression that the country is being militarized which is not true. We are still civil. Have you seen me in a uniform in the last five years? No. So the country is not being militarized. The mere appointment of persons who had military services is not a sign of militarisation.”
The Head of State pointed to his Cabinet of Ministers had only two persons with military experience.
“There are five lawyers…I am not legalizing the Cabinet because we have five lawyers.”
He insisted that the practice of recruiting former military officers was not started by the coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) + Alliance for Change (AFC).
Rather, former army chief, Major General (ret’d) Joseph Singh was there before the Coalition Government got in.
“Major General (Michael) Atherley was there before I got in. And Colonel Chabilall Ramsarup was at the CDC (Civil Defence Commission). Colonel Francis Abrahams was in the CDC.”
Granger also listed Colonel Ann McLennan who is now Chief Magistrate.
“Colonel Jawahar Persaud (former Accountant General…in fact there were two serving officers that were not even retired yet (that were appointed).”
According to President Granger, turning to experienced army officials and persons with army background is nothing new.
“So when you look at the list…when you look at the nominal role…who were employed by the (Bharrat) Jagdeo/ (Donald) Ramotar regime, you will see they have been doing a lot of poaching not only from the veterans of the (Guyana) Defence Force, but also from the serving officers of the (Guyana) Defence Force.”
Granger made it clear that his administration merely carried on the tradition because “as far as we are concerned they are citizens of Guyana, and if they are felt to be competent in a particular function…in a Commission of Inquiry…why should I discriminate against persons? We need to look at all Guyanese and judge them on the basis of merits, not based on some profession they held in the past.”
He said that he is certainly not bent on militarising the country.
“I look for the best, qualified persons. Look back and see what the PPP was doing, including the appointment of Mr Ronald Gajraj…he served under me. He was a former Minister of Home Affairs.”
“Public Interest”, a weekly programme with the Head of State, would be aired this evening on the National Communications Network (NCN) after several weeks without one.
Granger said Wednesday that he has been busy as Chairman of CARICOM and has promised to hold a long-awaited press conference on his return from the regional summit to be held next month in Grenada.
Participating in the programme yesterday were Leonard Gildarie, Senior Reporter/Assistant Editor of Kaieteur News and Janelle Persaud, News Editor of NCN.
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