Appointment of a Registrar for the Deeds Registry is vital in the transition to a semi-autonomous entity

Dear Editor,

Belatedly I must pay my sincerest respects to the new President of the Guyana Bar Association for the energy he has invested in this organisation, and retrieving its image of authority.

The most recently published commentary on the patent lethargy that has stultified the productivity of the Deeds Registry, and retarded, for no less than ten years, the statutorily required transition process – from a public service agency to a semi-autonomous entity, is timely, and hopefully will span corrective action.

One always wondered whether the Public Service Commission and Public Service Ministry were ever alerted to the relevant provisions of the Deeds Registry Authority Act 1999, as shown below.

There is no reason to doubt that awareness of their involvement would have motivated a more concerted approach to implementing their statutory responsibilities.

In this connection kindly provide space for the following provisions of the Act:

“6.  Functions of the Registry as to employment, etc

In addition to the functions mentioned in section 4, the functions of the Registry shall include the functions that were discharged by the Public Service Management within the Ministry responsible for the Public Service on the date immediately preceding the appointed day and are as follows –

(a)  to determine job descriptions and specifications;

(b) subject to section 5 (3) and (4), to hire, discipline and dismiss officers and employees of the Registry;

(c)  to determine the conditions of service, including remuneration;

(d) to maintain a staff list; 

(e)  to  provide for a wages and salaries regime and to provide for grading of officers and employees and for leave, overtime, training, allowances, and hours of work;

(f)   to make provision for the payment for pension, gratuity or other allowances in respect of the service of the officers and employees of the Registry upon their retirement therefrom;

(g) to establish and implement a written code of conduct for all officers and employees of the Registry;

(h) with the approval of the Minister, to retain the services of professional persons and experts and pay such remuneration in respect thereof as the Registrar, with the approval of the Minister, may determine; and

(i)   to provide for the implementation of any operational procedure regarding the functions specified in paragraphs (a) to (h), inclusive.   

7.  Officers and employees of the Registry

(1) Before the appointed day, the Government and the Registrar shall, with the approval of the Public Service Commission, notify the officers and employees of the Registry that the Registry wishes to retain them as officers and employees after the appointed day, and such officers and employees shall be engaged on terms and conditions as may be agreed upon between the Registrar and each person so employed and, which taken as a whole, are no less favourable than those applicable to him immediately before the date, and the Registry shall, in respect of the persons employed, be the successor of the Government with regard to such officers’ and employees’ leave and superannuation rights and benefits, whether accrued, earned, inchoate or contingent.   

(2) For the purposes of every law, determination or agreement relating to the employment of each of the officers and employees of the Registry retained under subsection (1), including the determination of and right to receive superannuation benefits, such employment shall be deemed to have been uninterrupted and the period of service of each such officer or employee with the Registry, and every other period of service of that officer or employee that is recognised as continuous employment with the Government, shall be deemed to have been a period of service with the Registry.

(3) No officer or employee retained under subsection (1) shall be entitled to receive any payment or other benefit by reason of this Act.”    

 It is clear from the foregoing that the transition process cannot be rushed, certainly by any single agency.  

 In the meantime one hopes that the staff affected will be given fair and ample notice of their status change; assignments to new or revised tasks in reconstructed operational components of a revamped organisation structure; related systems; and, most importantly, the new human resource management systems (including compensation) designed to assume the role of the Public Service Commission as specified.  All deriving from Consultancy Reports, nearly five years old.  

Of course the efficacy of these major changes will depend on the appointment of a Registrar. The candidate for the post will be required to have more substantive management skills than was probably heretofore required.

 Yours faithfully,
 E B John

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