In a surprise move, Government has not renewed the contract of Vibert Welch, Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Education.
The PS, who was moved to that key ministry last year in a shakeup by the Coalition Government, reportedly will be spending his last day on the job today.
The PS is the second most powerful person in the Ministry after the Minister, responsible for the purse strings. Ultimately, he is the one who is supposed to be running the operations of the Ministry, while the Minister is supposed to be charged with policy-making.
The Education Ministry’s Public Relations Department yesterday said that Minister Nicolette Henry was out of the country. It could not confirm anything on Welch.
Calls to Welch’s phone went unanswered. However, a senior Government official disclosed that the official’s contract had expired and it was not renewed.
The Ministry is one of the biggest ones for Government.
It is highly unusual for the contract of a PS not to be renewed in a middle of the financial year.
However, similar to the Health Ministry, the Education Ministry has been coming under fire in recent months for problems with contracts and spending.
Welch came under scrutiny last year for a $500,000 guard hut for his city home.
At this Health Ministry, earlier this week, Minister Volda Lawrence announced that she is calling in the police and auditors of the Ministry of Finance.
While officials were tightlipped yesterday, sources indicate that the Administration was unhappy with the management of the school feeding programme and the accounting of the resources, including food, and the costs attached.
Millions of dollars are being expended annually for the programme, which has been rolled out in all the regions.
In March 2017, it was announced that Welch being moved from the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs to the Ministry of Education.
It was part of a major reshuffle to ensure efficiency and accountability in the public service sector, the Ministry of the Presidency had said.
The reassignments had affected the Ministries of Agriculture, Education, Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Legal Affairs, Public Health and the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport.
The Government, in making the announcements, said that they were particularly disappointed with budgeted spending.
In 2016, less than 50 percent of budgetary allocations were spent by ministries.
In the last three years, the Administration has been insisting on more training for the public service, of which the Permanent Secretaries are part of.
A Public Service College has been launched and with several policies being reviewed.
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