Seeking To Remove the Service Commissions1583 14 Jun, 2012
Minister of Local Government [Mr. G. Persaud]: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I rise to make my contributions to the motion moved by the Hon. Member, Mr. Greenidge, in which the Hon. Member is seeking to remove the Service Commissions, namely the Judicial Service Commission, the Public Service Commission, the Teaching Service Commission and the Police Service Commission, from the Schedule of budget agencies.
The Hon. Member, in his motion, has advanced the following reasons for this motion:
“Having these Commissions listed in the schedule of budget agencies seriously compromises their independence.”
I am certain that the Hon. Member can provide empirical data and/or evidence to this House in support of this statement, the reason particularly saying that the independence of these four Service Commissions are compromised or are limited. I am certain that that is a simple request because the Hon. Member is a responsible Member of this House.
Secondly, often in this House we are reminded of the benefits that can be derived from consultation and a consultative approach to problem solving. Hence, I am convinced that any consultative approach has inherent values. I am certain, here again, that the Hon. Member, Mr. Greenidge, before he would have brought this motion to this House, would have engaged the Judicial Service Commission, the Teaching Service Commission, the Police Service Commission and the Public Service Commission in getting from them whether this reason that he has advanced here, that their independence is interfered with, holds any element of concern or, to say the least, facts. To do otherwise, I think, is irresponsible. I agree with the Hon. Prime Minister. This House’s time could have been better spent on issues of the parliamentary agenda and the developmental nature of Guyana.
I do not want to think that the Hon. Member, Mr. Greenidge, would have brought this motion to this House based on his own opinion and his own views and, maybe, influenced too by his previous experience when he was resident and a Member of this Guyana’s Parliament. I hate to think that this Hon. Member would have done that. And so I guess that he can provide us, too, with some evidence of consultation so that we can understand that the Hon. Member, Mr. Greenidge, is representing the cause and a real and true cause of the Service Commissions as stated in this motion. Unless that happens, this House might be led into passing a motion that will not bring any benefits to the working of the Service Commissions. [Mr. Ramjattan: You bring the evidence that they are running real well. Go and bring the evidence that they are perfect.] I did not bring a motion! My good friend, as usual, always misinformed, woke up from his dream world.
The Hon. Member, Mr. Ramjattan, referred to me as Chairman of the Public Service Commission in present tense. It shows how little knowledge my good comrade has with regards to the constitutional provision which established the Public Service Commission. Here is an Hon. Member who would have just spoken on this motion saying blah, blah, blah about the Public Service Commission and the Service Commissions. Article 200 of our Constitution clearly states how the Public Service Commission should be comprised. It also delineates very clearly how the members of the Commissions are selected. I cannot understand how a Minister of the Government can still be acknowledged by my good friend, in present tense, as Chairman of the Public Service Commission unless his intention was to further seek to take my character to his level.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Minister, I think we were going well. I have no idea where your character is and where his is, so one may actually be helping the other. I do not know, but let us refrain from going in that direction please. Keep it honourable and above the belt.
Mr. G. Persaud: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am just carried away by the little...
Mr. Speaker: Let us not get carried away.
Mr. G. Persaud: I am going with the flow Mr. Speaker.
When I served as Chairman of the Public Service Commission, by being appointed as Chairman of the Public Service Commission, I had the privilege of serving as a member of the Judicial Service Commission as well the Police Service Commission. During that five-year period, I was fortunate to work with these three Commissions under the present system of budgetary allocations and the budgetary process, and I am unaware of any concerns expressed either openly or privately at any meetings of those Commissions with regards to the budgetary process.
The budget in itself for these Commissions, except for the Judicial Service Commission which does not have a full functioning secretariat or did not have at that time, had allocations placed under a statutory head and they are still being placed there, just like our Parliament allocation where provisions are placed under a statutory head and then there are allocations made under line items as per programmes. Therefore, all expenses relative to the chairperson and members of all those Commissions are covered under the statutory allocations, just as I repeated in the National Assembly.
Listening to the Hon. Member Mr. Greenidge when he stated that such a situation compromises the public servants and cause them to move from non-partisan to partisan was a very unfortunate statement. That statement sought to discredit the hardworking public servants in this country and is speaking about an era which does not exist now but in which the Hon. Member was a Member of Parliament. So history seemed to have missed a gap. I say it is very unfortunate that when we as Members of Parliament seek to protect Guyanese, and seek to address issues in the interest of Guyanese, we use the opportunities to pull down Guyanese, based on our own feelings and misguided thinking, and not based on facts. So it was so unfortunate that that statement had to be made here of our public servants.
The Hon. Member Mr. Ramjattan spoke about administrative independence in these service commissions and he referred to the members of the commissions. The members of the commission are not administrators; their roles and functions are clearly stated in the Constitution. So I do not know, but the Hon. Member seems to be very far removed from the way these commissions are working. I have been working with those commissions. I am speaking from experience; I was there; I am not peripheral. I recognise what we speak of in terms of independence, and about removing seeming muzzles from public servants. We have to be very careful if we are really serious. Or do we intend to muzzle people? Do we have their interest at heart when we say that we want to allow them to have… [Mrs. Backer: Which motion you speaking on?] This very one. I am speaking based on what the Hon. Members Mr. Greenidge and Mr. Ramjattan would have spoken on. I will maintain that line. My good colleagues have shared with us the legal parameters. I am dealing with the administrative parameters which these Hon. Gentlemen would have shared.
I wish to say that we are making a storm in a teacup because we have not been presented with any evidence of a substantial nature here that anyone’s independence at the service commission’s level has been interfered with. So I will call it a storm in a teacup unless the Members on the opposite side of this House can provide empirical data and information to support the motion moved by the Hon. Member Mr. Greendige. I wish to urge all the Members in this House that support can only be given to this motion if the amendment as proposed by the Hon. Prime Minister is accepted. For the motion as presented, I urge our Members of Parliament; do not give support to the motion as presented unless the amendment as proposed by the Prime Minister is accepted.
Thank you Mr. Speaker. [Applause]
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