–two vacancies waiting to be filled
Members of the Public Service Commission (PSC) were yesterday sworn in by President Bharrat Jagdeo at the Office of the President and their first order of service would be fill two existing vacancies.
Former chairman and vice-chairman, Ganga Persaud and Carvil Duncan, along with Michael Desmond Hope, Vera Naughton, Cecil Seepersaud and Vedyawattie Looknauth are the members of the commission. Looknauth is the only new member; the others served on the last commission.
In a brief comment to the media, Persaud said the previous commission demitted office on July 6 and from that time to now the work of the public service continued. As such, he envisages that there might be some pressing matters for the commission to address and arrive at conclusions. He disclosed that the secretary of the commission has already indicated that there are two vacancies that need to be filled. Applications would have already been submitted and the persons “would be anxiously awaiting a decision by the commission.
“I guess we would have to treat with those two and then there might be other issues at the commission waiting,” Persaud said. However, he pointed out that there was a shorter period when there was no commission, unlike the last time when there were many issues for the commissioners to address immediately.
The fact that five of the six members of the previous commission have returned would mean that most members are aware of how the commission functions, he said.
“I think we would have a wonderful working relationship on this commission as we did on the last commission and we are going to work committedly to enhance whatever we can do in the public service and the life of public servants based on mandate,” Persaud said.
He pointed out that the basic function of the commission is to make appointments and as such without a commission there can no appointments.
“And we also deal with disciplinary issues so if there are persons whom allegations have been made against; those persons are going through a period of tension, anxiety and what have you because a decision has not been arrived at. And then also we deal with the aspects… of benefits and so on for public officers so as they retire they need to get their benefits,” Persaud said. The commission also approves for persons who act in positions to be paid.
“So basically the mill of public service as it relates to upward mobility, regulatory mechanisms and so on is driven by the commission,” Persaud said.
The members will be the ones to select the chairman and vice-chairman of the commission.
The five commissioners who served on the last commission are now involved in a court matter and have to show cause why their decision not to appoint acting Chief Education Officer Genevieve Whyte-Nedd to the substantive post should not be set aside. Whyte-Nedd moved to the court through her attorney Nigel Hughes and called the decision not to fill the vacancy an unconstitutional one.
Appointment of Chief Education Officer falls under the purview of the PSC which is empowered under Article 120 of the Constitution to make the appointment and although the last commission met on July 6 it took a decision not to fill the vacancy.
Whyte-Nedd, a veteran educator has since proceeded on pre-retirement leave, but her court application was filed prior to the notice of her leave being served. She alleged in court documents that the former PSC which was established in 2007, failed to fill the vacant post of Chief Education Officer, but that the commission considered and filled several other vacancies including that of Assistant Chief Education Officer (Primary).
Whyte-Nedd was acting in the position of Chief Education Officer since September 2005. Prior to this, she had also acted in the same position for the period October 2001 to October 2002. She said the Education Ministry advertised for the position of Chief Education Officer in March 2006 and again in October 2006, and on each occasion she submitted an application for the said position.
The veteran educator, who commenced her career in 1971, said she wrote to the commission on April 15, 2008 enquiring about the delay in filling the position and also requested a response. On November 7, 2008, the Minister of Education later acknowledged receipt of a letter from the Guyana Public Service Union which was sent in October.