Retirees in the public service should not be able to continue in their positions at a higher salary for any length of time
Since I returned home in February this year, yesterday was the second time I went to
the National Assembly to witness the debate on the two financial papers tabled by the Minister of Finance.
My first observation was the presence of two senior officials of the Ministry of Finance to assist the Minister in answering questions. These two officials would have reached retirement age almost a decade ago, and given their advanced age, it would appear extremely difficult for them to cope with the day-to-day full-time demands that are associated with the work of their respective offices.
That apart, in all probability, these officials would have retired from the public service and were therefore were in receipt of the usual lump sum gratuity and reduced monthly pension. Yet they are allowed to remain in their respective positions and enjoy enhanced emoluments as contracted employees with a twenty-two and one half per cent gratuity every six months. This would be in addition to duty-free concessions every three years for a reconditioned motor car and/or access to a state vehicle and a chauffeur, and 24 hour guard service, all at the expense of the state and hence the taxpayers of this country.
I am not against the rehiring of retired persons in circumstances that are justifiable, for example, the exigency of the work situation, or until a replacement is found. However, it is wrong for a person to retire in a position today and continue the next day in the same position at a significantly higher salary and for an extended period of time. Such a situation would have a demoralising effect on the staff of the department or agency concerned, especially the number two person who would have aspired to head the department or agency concerned. It would also have not only an adverse effect on mobility within the organisation but also militate against attempts to have a truly professional public service. It also does not speak well for succession planning.
At the United Nations, if it is necessary to engage the services of a retiree, he/she has to occupy a lower position and for a short period, as a consultant. In other words, the retiree is engaged ‘off-line‘ vis-à-vis the authorized establishment. In addition, the retiree cannot earn more than $20,000 in any one year otherwise he/she has to forego his/her monthly pension. He/she cannot have both, unlike the situation that currently prevails in the Guyana Public Service, which may very well be unprecedented in the public service of other countries.
I recall my own case where the UN Board of Auditors was desirous of delaying my retirement by six months to facilitate preparations for the all important Board meeting which took place last month, coming at a crucial point in the history of the Board. It was an exigent circumstance. Yet the Secretary General declined the Board’s request since he had already made it a policy that there will be no extension of the retirement age. As a result, the recruitment procedures for my
replacement had to be fast-tracked to ensure that my successor was in place before I demitted office.
It is my sincere hope that those in authority will reflect on the issue I have raised and take appropriate measures to address what I consider a significant deficiency in our system of governance.