Guyana still to act on recommendation to increase pensionable age

Dear Editor,

The following is by no means intended to be an ad hominem critique. On the contrary, it is a commentary on the product of a defective process which demands serious self-examination.

Most informed readers would take exception to the effrontery displayed in the letter to SN of July 29, emitting from the Ministry of Finance `The Public Service is not a rest home’, regarding identified senior officers who would have recently departed from that agency, whether voluntarily or not.

It is unacceptable that the PRO of that Ministry should assume a status of condescension towards officers of superior education and experience.

Confused as the letter’s recital has been, the following observations are made in sequence relative to its highlighted comments.

For example, if it were true that that the Chief Executive Officer of the National Procurement and Tender Administration was on contract, as thousands of Public Servants are, then the question of ‘pensionable age’ could not possibly apply. Neither does the misinformant have the capacity to evaluate the quality of his performance, nor for that matter, of the performances of any of the other named officials. So that repeating the Ministry’s ‘thanks’ to them is the height of gratuitousness, particularly when read in the context of a purported ministerial policy, that would appear not to reconcile with a more substantive national policy, which has actively pursued the contracting of aging employees (including retirees) across the Public Service.

In this regard the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Service specifically recommended the pensionable age of 55 years from the colonial era be increased to a minimum of at least age 60 years. Guyana however, remains in a state of constipation compared to say, Barbados and Jamaica for example, where the retirement age is 65 years. Other Caricom States retire at least at 60 years.

Indeed the retirement age in several of our Public Sector Agencies is as follows:

●             Guyana Geology and Mines Commission – 60 years

●             Guyana Revenue Authority  – 60 years

●             Guyana Power and Light  – 65 years

●             Guyana Sugar Corporation  – 60 years

So that the resort to this rationalisation actually speaks to a more troubling human resources environment obtaining in the Ministry.

Highly disrespectful is the assertion that the ‘Public Service is not a rest home’. The principals involved should seriously sanction this display of impudence, if not ignorance, and arrange to have this comment withdrawn.

For, on the contrary, what is lost is invaluable institutional memory. So that the pompous reference to young scholarship awardees, apart from rubbing salt in a self-inflicted wound, hardly takes account of the substantive experience span required for the purported successors to be truly effective.

The abandon with which the Ministry is associated in respect of reference to skills for an impending oil and gas construct certainly does not square with well published views that there is little or no relevant strategy at the national level for the development of human capital to cope with the prospective challenges inherent in this new sector.

Intricated in the whole commentary is the bold presumption that there are not those in the targeted audience who do know much more than this ingénue.

The offence it has inflected on the persona of the officials concerned would have done little to enhance the image of integrity any Government agency should display.

Yours faithfully,

E.B. John

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