Public service

PSA president warns: leave the civil service alone


The president of PSA, Leroy Baptiste. –

A day after the Prime Minister suggested that executives from the private sector should be allowed to lead the civil service, the president of the Civil Service Association (PSA) Leroy Baptiste said the civil service should be left as it is.

At the opening of Nutrimix’s Next Generation hatchery in Couva on Monday, Dr Rowley said there needed to be an overhaul of the civil service with the leaders, the permanent secretaries, drawn from the private sector.

He said: “If I tell you now that I think Permanent Secretaries (PS) should not only come from those who rise and float to the top of the civil service, but should also come from managers in the private sector. who are hired into the public service to bring management skills to the public service, wait and hear what I am accused of.

Baptiste said this approach is not new since in the past governments created statutory bodies in the name of cutting bureaucracy, but the country is no better off now with them.

“You’ve had this kind of rhetoric…time and time again and that’s been the rationale for moving from the civil service to various entities, for example the Department of Health. We’ve moved from the Ministry of Health staff to the regional health authorities. Are we better off?

He said measures such as those suggested by Rowley will create avenues for politically appointed leaders in public service who will answer to those who appoint them.

He referred to the Tourism Development Company and the Housing Development Corporation which used to be operated by public officials under the PS but are now run by people appointed by politicians.

Rowley said on Monday: ‘Many of them (permanent secretaries) are not managers and do not take responsibility for the management of the departments they lead, which have such a big impact on people’s daily lives, whether you are an investor or a consumer. And we need significant changes in the public service of the 21st century.

Baptiste said the problem is not the iterations of public entities run by the private sector, but the political involvement.

“The problem in this country has been the politicians and the political interference and control that have hindered the development of this country.”

He cited, as an example, a state entity in which there would have been seven CEOs in as many years.

“I reject the Prime Minister’s statement as yet another attempt to exercise more political control, which amounts to political interference that will undermine the isolation the civil service is meant to have.”

Baptiste said Rowley’s statement will only allow politicians to circumvent civil service commissions and give politicians ultimate control that will not benefit citizens.

Princes Town MP Barry Padarath said the Prime Minister’s claim was more about Rowley and his Cabinet’s incompetence as leaders than the inability of permanent secretaries to run their departments.

As a shadow public administration minister, Padarath said the buck stops with the prime minister and his cabinet.

“A PS can be moved by a Prime Minister by being reassigned with the stroke of a pen. Therefore, it is dishonest of Rowley to give the impression that permanent secretaries are to blame for poor project management and hampering the working process.

He said permanent secretaries are not the ones who make Cabinet decisions or formulate government policy, adding that under Rowley the government placed several former permanent secretaries on state boards and in advisory positions in various ministries. .