Former Minister of Local Government, Ganga Persaud has added his voice to several individuals questioning Town Clerk Royston King’s apparent reluctance to proceed on leave.
“The Municipal laws provide for the Town Clerk going on leave. It is only fair that the Town Clerk proceeds on leave,” Persaud said.
He told Kaieteur News that there are a number of benefits that can result from King taking his annual leave, from that which would have accumulated for quite some time.
“It allows for the office holder a number of benefits; relaxation, have a different outlook on the work being done from the outside looking in, how you would have managed the office and it allows for you to attend to whatever personal business you may have.”
Secondly, Persaud said that when a public official takes his or her leave, it allows their deputy or someone else that has a different perspective to sit in the office, though for a limited time.
“That person would bring some degree of newness and change to the way that office functions and it acts as a motivator for other staff members.”
Further, the former Minister said that King taking his leave would fit into the government’s policy that public servants should go on their vacation leave. Persaud said that his party fully supports the government’s stance on the issue.
Meanwhile, political analyst and commentator Frederick Kissoon agrees that the Town Clerk should take the leave he has accumulated and is due him.
Additionally, he said that the government’s position was reiterated by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon in March of this year in relation to very senior public servants not taking their leave.
According to Kissoon, it is surely moral, legal and political slackness to have a town clerk that refuses to take his leave, coupled with central government through the Ministry of Communities turning a blind eye to the issue.
“It is morbid hypocrisy. The worst form of double standards. Each time this government opens its mouth and criticises detractors including the opposition, it loses its moral gain.”
Kissoon said that he, along with other commentators including Dr. David Hinds, have been advising the government in their weekly writings in the press. However, he believes that it appears as though the government does not care about the image they are painting.
“It is one of the egregious acts of public service nonsense. Now that this matter is in the public domain, the Minister of Communities, civil society and commentators should demand he (King) goes on leave; there is a deputy town clerk that can act in his place. Ministers of government go on leave, police officers go on leave.”
Asked whether he believes the delay in the establishment of the Local Government Commission (LGC) has allowed this state of affairs to continue, Kissoon said that the matter of the LGC is a political conspiracy.
“There are three members of the Commission aligned to the PPP. I believe the thinking of this government is to keep out the LGC and let their government deal with the municipality but in doing so, they lose the moral high-ground and from President Granger and Nagamootoo onwards don’t understand that they have already lost it.”
The matter of public servants refusing to take their leave has been an issue since 2015. In September of that year, four months after the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) coalition took office, its cabinet said that public servants will no longer be allowed to accumulate leave and negotiate for payment in lieu.
Though central government does not exercise authority over the municipalities directly, the political parties have representatives on the councils. Hence, efforts can be made to have the issue discussed at the level of council. According to Persaud, the council has the power to send the Town Clerk on leave. On the issue of whether the Minister can order King to take his leave, he said that the Minister can only approve or disapprove of a request for an extension of leave.
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