More than two months after questions were first raised as to how a former PNC MP, Jennifer Ferreira-Dougall, 63, came to be appointed as the Deputy Regional Executive Officer (DREO) of Region Three, no information has been provided by the Public Service Commission (PSC) confirming that the post was advertised as should be the case.
Ferreira-Dougall’s hiring at Region Three has raised concerns in the context of charges that the APMU+AFC administration has been handing out jobs arbitrarily to persons associated with the former PNC government and those allied to it.
With Ferreira-Dougall being past the age of retirement, her hiring also underlines the point that qualified persons within the system are not being allowed upward mobility.
When SN contacted Ferreira-Dougall in May on the procedure for her appointment, she snapped: “Why are you asking me that? Why don’t you ask the Public Service Commission or the Ministry of Presidency?” The Ministry of the Presidency should have nothing to do with these appointments. When asked about the appointment, Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan had said that Ferreira-Dougall followed the procedure.
Advertisements for the senior positions are usually posted at the departmental offices within each region and the minister said Ferreira-Dougall got the job based on the vacancy that was advertised.
However, a reliable source insisted that no advertisement was posted in this case and that no discussion was held at the RDC statutory meetings about a new DREO being appointed.
According to the source, the vacancy existed for five months and that even though it was not advertised, he was surprised when Ferreira-Dougall simply turned up for work one day.
Bulkan told this newspaper that the appointments for those positions are done through the Public Service Ministry.
He said there was an opening for the position “due to the unfortunate circumstances concerning the former DREO, Ameena Hinds who was apprehended by US customs for the trafficking in illicit substances.”
According to him, as a result, “There would have been an urgent necessity to fill that vacancy with obviously someone who possesses the requisite qualifications.” This did not only require academic qualifications, he said, but experience as well.
He pointed out that Ferreira-Dougall was chosen because she served as a member of the National Assembly with the People’s National Congress for an extended period of time. On that note, he said she was “clearly eminently qualified to meet the requirements of the position. And it was on that basis and the expediency of those circumstances that would have led to her appointment.”
The source had lamented that the “position ought to be advertised” to give other people a chance to apply. They have a lot of young people who are qualified and could have filled that position.”
To that, the minister told SN that “the ministry would have had other applications on file as well that would have been looked at and considered but in the end, the determination was made that Ferreira-Dougall would have been an appropriate candidate to be considered to fill that appointment at the time.”
In relation to the procedure, SN was told that the PSC was responsible for advertising the position and for eligible persons to apply.
The official said that the selection is usually done based on the qualifications and experience of the applicant. The PSC would then conduct interviews in the presence of a representative from the RDC.
The applicant is required to have a university degree, a diploma or certificate and at least 15. Repeated attempts by Stabroek News to garner information from the Public Service Commission on the advertisements and the appointment have failed.
Meanwhile, a source from the region had pointed out that Ferreira-Dougall, 63, is past the retirement age of 55 and that two employees from the region were sent home because they were 58 and 59-years-old.
If the Local Govern-ment Commission (LGC) had been in place, it would have taken charge of overseeing the filling of the vacancy.
However, more than a year after local government elections, the APNU+AFC government is yet to conclude the process for the setting up of the body.