The APNU+AFC coalition government has had a tremendous lot to clean up administratively since attaining office in 2015. Several measures have been put in place to ensure that government departments function and businesses find it easier to function. But even with these developments more needs to be done. One area where President Granger could be decisive in making changes to ensure that his administration maximizes policy decisions is by evaluating his ministers’ performance.
I am sure the President must be aware of the letters and comments in the press and social media on the performance of two of his ministers, Attorney General Basil Williams and Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan. All I will say in relation to the Attorney General in this letter is that to date he has had no success in the High Court on any of the issues on which he has presumably advised the President. Mr Williams’s tenure thus far has been defined by failure after failure. The most recent (presumably on the Minister’s recommendation) is the President advising the Police Service Commission to halt all promotions of senior police officers in violation of the Constitution as has been recorded in the press.
Since being assigned the Public Security portfolio Minister Ramjattan has done little to reassure the public that they are secure. Road accidents and violent crimes continue to skyrocket and corruption in the Police Force continues unabated. But to top this all off is the Minister’s stewardship of the Prison Service. In 2016 seventeen inmates were incinerated and a section of the prison was destroyed by fire, and a Commission of Inquiry was established to look into the circumstances that led to the horrible situation. This commission made several recommendations, many of which were organizational in nature and would not have entailed any financial expenditure, yet they were not implemented. As a result, in 2017, the mother of all calamities occurred at the ancient Georgetown Prisons. It was burnt to the ground and an officer murdered by prisoners, and several of those prisoners escaped including some of the most dangerous inmates who may still be wandering the countryside. The aftermath of this fire is the stuff of the Link Show, with the stories of the prisoners in the Lusignan swamp butchering their own cattle and eventually burrowing out for a few nights of freedom. Through all of this the Minister rejects personal responsibility and his supervisor, President Granger will not criticize him for his performance.
Now we come to the issue of the promotion of police officers and the President’s unconstitutional act. In most normal circumstances an able and diligent Minister would have requested to see a copy of the list of officers to be promoted from the Police Commissioner whom he supervises. He would have perused the list with his senior advisors for any issues that may lie within and advised cabinet on those issues. All of this would have occurred long before the list is sent to the Police Service Commission and the President finds himself once again in another constitutional conundrum.