One of the more noticeable performance gaps in recent years has been in relation to the non-implementation of any recommendation from the much vaunted Commission of Inquiry into the Public Service of Guyana of 2016.
However belatedly therefore, one is compelled once again to invite attention to its Chapter 6: Retirement Age for Public Servants.
The following paragraphs are immediately relevant:
“The retirement age in the Public Service is 55 years, and with approval 50 years. Public Sector organisation such as the Bank of Guyana, the National Insurance Scheme, the Guyana Revenue Authority, and staff of the Audit Office of Guyana have a retirement age of 60 years. The Private Sector also has higher than the Public Service retirement age based on pension schemes providing for retirement between 60 and 65 years, and with no fixed retirement age for top executives. Similarly, there is no retirement age for Parliamentarians and Ministers. The retirement age for staff at the University of Guyana is 65 years, and for the members of Judiciary and the Auditor General, the retirement age is 65 years.
It is argued that the age of 55 is too early an age for retirement for Public Servants. Testimonies to the Commission support and advocate for higher retirement age for Public Service staff. The contention is that at age 55, Public Servants would have acquired deep knowledge and wide experience in public management and in their professional and specialist fields. Therefore, it is a great loss of skills and expertise to the Public Service with a retirement age at 55. This is one of the arguments used to justify the re-employment of retired public servants on contract immediately upon retirement.
A survey of Human Resource Practitioners in the private sector recommends a retirement age of between 60 and 65 years. This is also in line with testimony to the Commission by public servants and private individuals. This is also in line with testimony to the Commission by public servants and private individuals. The advocacy is for retirement age of 65 years with an option of retirement at 60 in the Public Service to provide for the retention of valuable, experienced and skilled professionals.
While the age of retirement for civil servants is 60 years in the British Virgin Islands, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, the current retirement age is 65 years in Bermuda, and 66.5 years in Barbados and in Dominica has abolished the retirement age on the ground of non-discrimination, while International Organisations within the United Nations System retire International Civil Servants on attaining 62 of years. The current retirement age in the Republic of South Africa is 65 years. (Public Service Act, 1994)
The higher retirement age of 65 years would provide for higher pensions under the Pension Act for public officers who would also continue to contribute to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) until the age of 60 years when NIS pensions would be paid. This would further increase the finances of the NIS Scheme by the extended contributions from the employer and the employees for an additional period of five years, thus convinced that a higher retirement age for Public Servants would be mutually beneficial to the State, the public employees, and the National Insurance Scheme.”
As a consequence the Commission proceeded to make the following recommendations:
“That the retirement age for new entrants into the Public Service, and those currently in the Public Service who are below 50 years of age, be retired on attaining 65 year of age, with the option of retiring on attaining 60 years;
That pension entitlements be calculated at a maximum of 43 and one-third service years;
That public servants who are currently below 55 years of age, be allowed the option to retire on attaining 60 years or any time before 65 or on attaining 65 years of age;
That no person retiring from the Public Service before attaining the age of 65 years should be employed on contract in an established Public Service position.
That the Pensions Act Chapter 27:02 be amended as may be required to provide for higher pensions as a result of the higher retirement age.”
Of course there has been no indication that any of the Commission’s sponsors could have read the Report’s recommendations, or else they would not have rejoiced about what is comparatively an extinct ‘statutory’ retirement age (as reported in another section of the media on December 5. 2019)- that is effective since the colonial days.
The embarrassment which accompanies this insensitive announcement is compounded by the proud admission by the Ministry of Education of its inability to facilitate any of the 230 days’ annualised leave-taking over the years of employment, if only in recognition of the need to prepare a potential successor. Should not then the single Human Resources Manager in the Public Service (resident in the M.O.E) assert to the mis-informed decision-makers that such a successor could only act as Chief Education Officer until September 1, 2020- a pregnant period?
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