PM calls for modern personnel management system in the Public Service
The judgement in the case between the Public Service Union (PSU) and the Public Service Commission (PSC) has this country’s prime minister calling for a modern system that records the performance and other relevant information on public servants.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves was speaking at his first press conference of the year when he answered questions in relation to the High Court’s judgement that the PSC failed to be fair transparent and objective in the promotion of some public servants.
The judgement revealed that the PSC was unable to provide the court with some documents critical to their case, namely a seniority list and yearly confidential reports on public servants in the respective ministries.
“I want to see a modern system and if the judge’s comments contribute to this happening, I’m all for it. I’m happy about it. Don’t for one moment believe that Comrade Ralph wants anybody to be appointed on the basis of any ‘friend friend’ arrangement. Not at all, I don’t have any interest in that,” Gonsalves said yesterday.
Although he said that he has not yet read the judgement, the prime minister said he was advised that “the preparation for the case, the actual evidential basis…by the relevant persons could have been stronger”.
The prime minister said that permanent secretaries and supervisors within the ministries need to document what workers are doing, but the lack of documentation has been an issue since before he was voted into government.
As a result, the relevant information on public servants does not get to the PSC.
“I can’t do a permanent secretary’s work for him or her, but I have called for a modern system of personnel management which would require basic compliance with those kinds of rudimentary things,” he said.
Gonsalves also said that the Public Service Commission is an independent body under the Constitution. And as prime minister, he has no direct involvement in the appointment process carried out by the PSC.
He further said that the appointments that he is constitutionally responsible for include permanent secretaries, ambassadors, police commissioner, deputy commissioner of police “and I carry out my role scrupulously in accordance with the Constitution”.
But the Prime Minister expressed belief that “the names of all those persons would have been in the wash for the Public Service Commission and it is for the Public Service Commission to say why they gave a greater weight to somebody with the qualifications, though not with the same experience as against somebody with the experience and not the qualifications and an assessment on performance, the relative performances.”
Gonsalves repeatedly rejected the notion that the judgement reflects negatively on the government. He said that resources have been spent on a public sector reform, which requires cooperation of the Public Service.
The Prime Minister reiterated that he wants the best persons to get promoted but he cannot compel a public servant, namely a permanent secretary to ensure that reports are kept and forwarded to the PSC.